You cannot understand it unless you have done it. Do you know how hard it is to go out for a run, on a dark, cloudy, rainy afternoon. On this day, I talked myself in and out of going out for a run at least a dozen times before my foot crossed the threshold of the door to go out. I was almost convinced that I wasn’t going to do it, as I sat on the sofa looking out at the rain just 5 minutes before my self-scheduled time to go. Nobody to meet, no motivation to go except for the little voice in my head telling me that I should go, I will enjoy it. So I changed, put on my still-damp-from-the-last-run shoes, opened the front door, sighed, and stepped out into the rain.
When I got to my start point, I sat in the car for a minute, not completely convinced that I was going to actually get out of the car. Once out its just a matter of getting past the 5 minutes of uncomfortable cold-wetness, and then that fantastic internal combustion engine that is the cardio-vascular system starts sending the warm blood to cool and damp fingers and toes, and you begin to feel the glow of running.
It was quiet on the trail today. Impossibly uncommonly quiet. I did not see anyone. ANYONE. Not one single person. Normally, even on the darkest, dismalest day, there will be even one dedicated dog walker. But today, NOBODY. Alone in the world.
A run in the rain is an assault on all the senses. Maybe assault is not the right word. Its a treat for all the senses, stimulating, scintillating each one all at once. The sound of the rain on the trees above, on your head, the sound of your steps, your breathing, the sound of the wind in the trees, in your ears. The sight of the familiar landscape shrouded in cloud and fog. The colours all muted by the grey, a pointillism of raindrops. The woods have a distinct smell. They smell of leaves and wood and rain and the river. Rivers have a distinct smell too. The smell of this river takes me back to my teenage years of paddling on the Klip River. The touch, the feeling of running in the rain… the feel of the rain on your face, the and the wind on your neck. The feel of the trail under your feet, every pebble and root and puddle. The feel of your lungs burning on the hills and the feel of your thighs burning as you near the top of the steps. And taste. Taste the salt of your sweat muddled with the rainwater that runs down your face. When else do you feel so much, hear so much, and revel in every millisecond of it.
As comes with the rain, it was muddy out today. Very muddy as its been raining for a few days in true Manchester-Autumn style. So I know its nice to have dry feet, but once your feet get wet, they’re wet, and once they warm up in your soggy shoes then you are free to run through the puddles, the mud and the slush with the joyous abandon of a child. When did you last run in the mud? Jump in a puddle? Its fun, and a bit of reverting to childish mentality that I cherish. When did you last run as fast as you can? Move our legs at their maximum possible speed? Even as a ‘runner’ I don’t run as fast as I can very often. But today I did. Sprinted so fast (relatively, for me) that if I tried any harder I would actually find my face on the ground. Its exhilarating. It hurts. Its wonderful. It lasts only a short time but when I pulled up, at my car, my heart was beating its fastest and my lungs screamed for air. My legs glowed with all the blood my poor heart was pushing there, and I could not help smiling. Nobody there to smile at, but smiled at myself. Then got in the car, and that was that.
You can’t ‘get’ it unless you have something that makes you smile, even when you are all by yourself. Something that you do to make you happy. Something you love. Something your life would emptier without.