Alone - Heart

Along the path of my process here, I have been blessed by the offers of help from so many great human beings. One of the things people often offer is to run with me. I see people running together all the time. It looks like they love it. They just jog and chat and sweat and bond. And considering the folks who have offered, I would have an amazing collection of conversations to add to my list of awesome things running has provided for me. 

But it turns out that at the top of that list is the opportunity for solitude. Who knew?  I don't listen to music, I don't bring a phone, I don't pace by friends. It's an amazing feeling to set the world down and choose to be alone. I'm a social creature. Very social. I love people. I love the reality of them, the idea of them, their stories, their cadence and their faces. I love the puzzle of humanity and the courage. I love our failures and our inextricable need for each other. So for me, choosing the alone thing is an anomaly. But I have never really questioned that it's exactly part of the point. I ran with Beth and Chelsea once in my first 5k. Then I ran about 2 miles with Judith one time. And back to alone I ran.

It's funny how the pace of the world works on me. It wears me down, slowly, a little tooth, and I don't notice it until it hits nerves. The running holds the nerve collision off. My brain does all kinds of weird gymnastics and I get to both do the flips, and watch them. I stretch it out, like a hamstring, stiff and resistant until the heat kicks in. Everything in my mind loosens up and eventually it touches its own toes. I get to witness my tendency toward self-defeat and slowly work out an antidote. Then when I'm done running, I can take the antidote back to the world with me and use it in other situations. Most notably, writing. After a day of crappy prose, I don't have to name it crap. I can just accept that some writing is alive to be edited, not to appear on the page, but to lead me to the next crop of words that works. Like growing ground cover to work into the soil. It makes the soil better even though the vegetation itself is not food. 

The aloneness also lets me actually arrive in my body. As a pudgy American woman, the world has told me for years my body is not a thing to be lived in, but a thing to ridicule and change. Being a card carrying, flag waving, out and proud feminist, I have struggled for years trying to accept that I am just fine the way I am. Albeit I've tried this from a very sedentary lifestyle, which isn't a particularly healthy way to appreciate a feminist body. That said, I think the running is making me a human who gets to live here, at home in the body. I mean, I can't believe it can do this shit. I carry around 168 pounds for about 3 hours. And the thing just keeps going. Hips, thighs, broad shoulders, all of it. I think I wouldn't really get to come to a place of friendship with this if I was distracted by companionship. Plus I get so happy when I see other zaftig women out there walking and running. We are so badass. This is what a feminist looks like, alright. Sausage outfits for everyone, I say.

And one more remarkable thing about being out there alone is this feeling of being accountable to myself first and foremost. There's no one else. No one knows where I am, really. They can't reach me. Any emergency will have to wait. It's just me. My thoughts. Some strange way to get to know myself each day. And know that I can do things I never thought I could do. Or that it never even occurred to me I would want to do. 

People, make no mistake... I still don't actually like the running. But I am loving all the side effects. I never feel lonely out there. Just alone.

Sara Elise.


  1. Like Like Like!

  2. I just recently realized that I look forward to solo runs as well, which a year ago I NEVER thought would happen. I do need music, though, so I'm prone to running down the street exclaiming (out of tune) "TIK TOK!"

    Your comments about your body made me laugh: As the heiress of an Eastern European Peasant Farmer body that would be perfectly comfortable swinging a scythe in a wheat field, I will never be a gazelle, so if you're in my way you'd better move or get mowed down. I'm finally beginning to appreciate the strength that my body has. My pooch, however, is not appreciated and is welcome to take a hike.

    Keep running like a girl.