About three years ago, in the cold of January, I got off the subway and walked back to my tiny studio apartment in Manhattan. It was only about 6PM but it was already dark. I had nothing to do that evening and I didn’t want to spend my free time sitting around at home. I changed my route and instead of going home I went to the running store and purchased a running jacket. When I got home I immediately put it on along with sneakers and went to the park before I change my mind.
Since it was my first run ever outside of high school sports class and the gym, the first few runs were hard to get used to. For some reason I had a constant mental battle with myself about quitting and going back home. But I stuck through it and started increasing my running distance a little every day. Exploring new and unfamiliar routes in Central Park was exciting and I enjoyed being alone most of the time since it was cold and dark out.
With time, I’ve noticed how my patience improved. I no longer had to convince myself not to quit and go home but started enjoying the runs. My patience also improved at work, I was able to concentrate better and focus on my work better that I was able to before. The change was significant. Running became an addiction and I went immediately after work, no matter what the circumstances were. When it snowed, I still went out - I loved the feeling of being almost alone in the huge park and the sound of my shoes hitting the snow. The air was fresh and cold. As the months passed, the distance of each run increased, my speed increased and running became easier. I no longer waited for the run to be over, I enjoyed it.
Going running has an amazing ability to reset my brain. All the frustrations I have before a run seem to disappear. It’s kind of like meditation. I tried running with music or with a podcast but I didn’t find it enjoyable. I like to let my brain go blank or bring up random thoughts when I run.
After a year or so I’ve signed up to organized races that took place on the weekends. To my surprise the races were huge and very well organized, a few thousand people that gathered together early on a weekend morning to run. At the beginning the national anthem plays, then the race take place and at the end volunteers give out apples and bagels.