Posted on January 04 2009
Medicine is something that cures you when you’re in pain, with today’s doctors, medicine can make almost anything go away. There is one thing though that no matter how many pills you take you will never be able to get over. Simply put, it’s love. You can’t forget a lost love with pills, you can’t create a new love, you can’t love with pills. There is one thing though that can cure love, that is running on hills. I’m not talking about running on steep roads, or running on a treadmill with the incline setting to the max, i’m talking about running hills in the woods, in nature, away from all the distractions of the man made world. You slide your feet in your muddy, worn out shoes and start with an adamant mind set. You tell yourself that you’re going to run the whole way without stopping, you start planning your run. Your normal 6 mile run soon turns into a 9 miler after all the small additions you make. Your first mile feels easy, nice and relaxed, you can take on the world, and then you hit the first hill.
At the bottom of the hill you are telling yourself that it’s going to be easy, that you’re in great shape and that you’ve done it a thousand times before, but after a few heavy strides you start to wonder why the hell you decided to run up this hill. You ask yourself “Why on earth would I want to put my body through so much pain?” By the time you’re half way up the hill, you start to rethink all your ambitious modifications to your run. You start thinking “I’m already tired now, by then i’ll be dead, I’ll just do less”. As you labor your way up that hill you keep thinking that you have to take more off to make your run easier, you think that your run is already wasted and if you keep going it will just be painful, worthless miles.
By the time you get over the crest of the hill your legs feel like rubber, they beg you “take a break, please take a break!” and just as your mind is about to succumb to your legs’ desires, your heart kicks in and tricks you into thinking that if you keep running, you’ll feel better. Where a scholar would think “Oh well, the lactic acid in my legs is building up and my cardiovascular threshold isn’t sufficient to keep me going, so i must stop and give my legs some oxygen”, a runner thinks “I don’t care, I’m gonna keep going”, a runner wouldn’t give up, so to keep yourself from the shame that will eat away at you slowly from having stopped on top of a hill, you press on and keep running. Your first few strides are hard but then you get back into your rhythm and start to speed up again. Before you know it you’re going as fast as you were before the hill, you extend your strides and suddenly you’re moving faster and faster. You start to drown out your heavy breathing, the uneven sounds of your shoes hitting the ground, conversations of hikers you pass, everything is starting to take shape, but then you realize something that really bothers you. Why are there so many god damn people here? I run here to get away from it all, and yet I keep passing people who are taking a late afternoon walk. Maybe the reason they came here is the same as mine, to get away from everything, but how can you enjoy it just walking? Sure you’re moving slower but your mind isn’t concentrating on the beautiful landscape around you, you keep thinking about your job, school, friends, everything. You’re not at peace, all these distractions keep you from enjoying your run, so you take a couple turns and before you know it you’re running down the steepest hill you’ve ever seen.
The downhill isn’t much to write about, it’s pretty forgettable actually. Everything goes by too fast and you don’t get tired from it. The only reminder that you’re running is the burning sensation you get on your feet from trying to hold back on the downhill. You reach the bottom and then you realize what you have just done. You just lost 800 feet of elevation over a mile and now you have to make it all up to get back. At first you feel like crap, and you wonder why the hell you just did what you did. Why couldn’t you just do the classical thing and follow everybody else on the easy path? After your first few uphill steps you know that you made the right decision. Who cares if it is harder? Who cares if you’re going to feel a pain in your legs for 4 long uphill miles? Who cares if you’re going to want to stop and rest but you know you won’t let yourself do that? You can finally think in peace.
The trail flys by under your shoes, even though you’ve never been more tired, you’ve never been more alive. You carefully maneuver around every obstacle in your way, a sharp rock, a patch of lose soil or a fallen tree. Soon uphills and downhills are all the same, it doesn’t matter how hard it is, your legs carry you up and down them. Nature starts to surround you as the trail narrows and all the overgrown bushes rub against your legs as you blast past them. Soon there is no sense of time, no sense of pain. It’s just you and the trail, you start to forget everything. Your lost love is now gone for you have found a new love in running. Sweat streams down your face but you don’t let up, you keep running harder and harder no matter how much it hurts. You leave all your troubles behind you, in the dust you kick up. You finally reach the top and as soon as you cross it, you look for another hill to run up. All the additions you made in the first place start to come back, you keep tacking on mile after mile, hill after hill. Nothing can stop you, the wind tries but you try harder, the sun trys to burn you but you stay cool, the hills try to push you down but you push up them. The only thing on your mind is running, the pain in your legs and the happiness in your mind and body.
With one final stride you cross that finish line you drew when you started running, all the pain is gone and you can finally rest. Maybe when you’re relaxed and at home, you can’t stop thinking about her. She keeps hurdling all the mental obstacles you throw at her and she finds her way back into your mind, but at least for a couple miles, you don’t have to feel pain you get from thinking about her. You don’t have the burden of missing her, it’s just you and yourself in the most magnificent place in the world. A run cures everything, and the best part about it is that it doesn’t run out, whenever you need a pick me up you lace up your running shoes, and run.