The Art of Exploration · a diary of day trips, natural places, and miscellaneous adventures

The Art of Jogging

Monday, May 11th, 2009 in Illinois
The Art of Jogging

I’ve been running a lot recently. I am not a good runner, I am not fast, and I do not derive easy pleasure from the sport. I find it to be painful on my joints, producing kinks in hips and ankles alike. I tend to get an upset stomach if I don’t run after meals at the proper interval, and that interval is anything but predictable. I think it might depend on the phase of the moon.

Despite these drawbacks, I run. Gradually, I am uncovering small rewards from doing something I am not good at and I do not enjoy. I am finding the small rewards of doing something that is good for me but whose benefit seems to be entirely disconnected from the more immediate torture of actually doing the task. The amazing thing is that now I wonder if there are rewards in everything, if you simply look in the right places.

Today there was a chill in the air and a pit in my stomach. I did not run today but I did run yesterday. I went to Independence Grove and parked my car at the far end by the picnic pavillion. The parking lot was nearly full with people who had flooded in for a native plant sale. I wandered through the plant sale. There were rows of picnic tables covered in milkweed and shooting stars and snakeroot and joe pye weed. People bumped their way through the narrow isles. I could not stay long, I could not deal with the pushing and shoving. Not when the whole park waited beyond, wide open—a vast people-less space. I made may way to the exit at the back corner of the pavillion.

Once outside, I started a slow steady jog. I thought about going all the way around the lake and how much energy it would take to run those three miles. So I started slow and thought about how I would have to do this for the next thirty or forty minutes (yes, I’m a slug). I thought about the plodding, the pounding of feet on gravel-track and how much energy it would take to make it around the circumference of the lake.

And my mind wandered from that point, thinking of the tasks I needed to do for the rest of the day, worrying about silly things and dreading the mountains of projects I needed to push through that week. I kept my slow pace going and before I knew it, I had encircled the entire lake. I was finished with my jog for the day.

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