Why I run

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When I run, I feel my legs unstiffen and stretch. I run to luxuriate in the co-ordination of my legs and chest. Like a person meditating, I run to let my head empty of all pressing thoughts. I run for the sudden, temporary exhilaration as I let my knees pick up and my body moves faster, to its goal.

When I was a schoolboy and I ran, I felt that my body was free with the effortlessness of a perpetual-motion machine. Had someone asked me to run from one end of the country to the other, or had I been asked to run an ultra-marathon through a vast, empty desert, neither task would not have seemed, I would have only wondered how long it would take me. I knew with absolute certainty that I could run any conceivable distance simply by allowing my pace to slacken and my body to keep going.

Even today, reminded as I am when I run of the weakness in my joints and tendons, the exercise makes my whole body buzz in joy. The effort of work lightens, my skin feels loose. I am taken back to other times and I become young once more.

[from my book Lives; Running]

[Lives; Running can be ordered from Bookmarks bookshop]

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