It’s now a scientifically-proven fact that running is a great way to reduce stress, but I must say that even before the men in white coats graced us with their expert opinions, I was aware that I’m much more chilled out when I get at least 3 or 4 decent runs in every week.
Received wisdom, not to mention author Haruki Murakami in his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, would have us believe that running time is when we can organise our thoughts and our lives, and even outline the structure of our next best-selling book.
Really? Gosh, all these years I’ve been running and getting it even more wrong than I thought. Because, for me, running is a time to take my mind off the hook and forget all of the petty annoyances of everyday life, from the constant media presence of that dreadful Sarah Palin woman (pictured above, sorry, couldn’t help myself) to the continuing global financial meltdown and even the fact that the plot of my current book has just disappeared up its own fundament.
Since when did running have anything to do with thinking? Running is a time to enjoy the wind in your hair, and, if you live on the West coast like I do, the sand and hail in your face. It’s a time to crank up the embarrassing 80s rock that you’re not allowed to play in the car and to let Eddie Van Halen’s screaming guitar and Stevie Nicks’ whiny vocal stylings render you completely incapable of cogent thought for an hour or so.
Good God, if I wanted to think about what a state the world is in, I’d have cheese on toast and a large espresso while watching Newsnight, as a precursor to spending the night in a wakeful nightmare involving Gordon Brown personally repossessing my house.
Nope. We all need to switch off sometimes, and until I acquire either the serenity to join a Buddhist meditation group or the white PJs required to learn Tai Chi, I shall continue to seek introspective oblivion by strapping on a pair of Asics running shoes and heading out into the night, there to spend a sweaty, breathless hour enjoying the outdoors and avoiding overt ratiocination as much as possible.