Running in the Dark

Do you run in the dark?

I live on a running trail surrounding a pond. Oh the trail isn’t long, but it is right outside my door. So when I’m not running on it I’m often looking at it. Sitting on my porch admiring the view from the intersection of one of Austin’s busiest corners. Only here can you get urban meets rural in the same square block.

Tonight I was relaxing on the porch, a half-moon waxing in the sky the evening having fallen leaden with the dark and I heard the crunch of a runner on the path. You can hear the difference between a runner and a walker easily. I could feel the rhythmic pft pfatt of each step as one foot hit slightly heavier than the other. Walkers are much more uniform.

Yet it was dark.

I couldn’t see the runner because the half-moon didn’t refract light without the benefit of the ersatz cloud cover. Our running trail has no lamps – people run during the day. But my hero came along alone and determined nonetheless to get in his run no matter what. He ran the course over and over – about a half-mile once around – trying to get his time in for the day.

At first I laughed at him: who runs in the dark?

But the longer I sat on the porch and heard his steady foodstep telegraph his approach and then fade away as he made the bend the more I began to get it. The more I began to appreciate the one who runs in the dark versus not running at all.

He had to run today. He committed to it. And he would feel better when it was done, not because he was finished but because he had done it. He had accomplished a goal. The way you and I feel when we take something on we don’t necessarily want to do, but we do it anyway. Like getting up at 5am to get that workout in, or staying one more hour to get the job done. Or taking that day off for real with no phone back to the office because our partner deserves some undivided time.

You see, I understood what the runner was up to. What he was up against. He had a choice: get this run in despite the lack of day or go home wishing he had.

How many times do we face that choice ourselves?

Things are seldom optimum. We rarely have enough time, knowledge, money, patience… and yet, life goes on. Whether we run or not, time marches on.

No, I don’t want to run in the dark, but I want to run, I want to move, I want to be alive. I want to feel my body push and then push a little more and the fall asleep at night without regret. I want to push my body, my mind, my heart and soul. Even if it means running in the dark.

You do too.

It isn’t that we’re running in the dark, it’s that we’re running.

Go lace up your shoes.

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