Who am I? What a paradoxically mundane yet profound question. Yet, there it is, staring back at me from the computer screen. I’m a runner. It is fair to say that I am no accomplished runner, no runner of note. I’ve never finished a marathon. In fact, I’ve never finished a race beyond the 5k distance. I’m an injured runner, returning to the sport after quitting in 2004 due to injury. I’m a struggling runner, wrestling with self doubt, injury, fatigue, and only a vague vision of what kind of runner I want to be. But, this is not all that I am.
I’m also a writer. I am no accomplished writer of note. I’ve never finished writing a novel. In fact, I’ve never finished any story of a length beyond a short story. I’m a lost writer, returning to writing after giving it up in 1998 in order to find a sensible career with a future. I’m a struggling writer. I roll around in my mind with demons, writer’s block, self doubt, fatigue, and a tiny spark of inspiration that daily threatens to go out again, maybe this time forever. Even this is not the whole story.
So, what do the two have to do with one another, or more importantly, this blog?
The parallels between my runner self and my writing self have been lining up more and more each day. I find that running has become a metaphor for my life and writing a metaphor for my running. They nurture one another somehow. When I run, I feel more creative, more positive, more focused, more optimistic, more ME. That was the question I started with, after all. Sometimes I don’t know who Jennifer is, but I almost glimpse my long forgotten and neglected true self on the running path. I’m chasing after her, after me.
Then there is the travel. I love to travel and have spent the last few years living as an expat in England and traveling around Europe. Running is a great way to get to know, not only yourself, but a new place and, to some degree, its people. It is fine and good to drive around in a car or ride the bus or train, but if there is one thing that Europe has taught me, it is that if you really want to know a place, you have to slow down and you have to use your feet. Running puts me in a sort of meditative state where I really notice the little things around me. I start to absorb into my surroundings and there is less between me and the place when I am running through its streets and paths.
That’s it, that’s why I’m writing and why I’m writing about running. When I run around the world, I feel more in tune with it and with myself. I don’t know what it all means yet, but I’m hoping that writing about it will bring some clarity.
Oh, and like all runners, I simply love to talk about running. My husband doesn’t run and most of my friends think I’m mad, so maybe someone out there will understand the obsession and enjoy my musings on the subject.
I plan on blogging about running in general, running while traveling, my training and how all of this informs my life and me as a person. If I buy a new pair of trainers or find a new gadget, read a running book I can’t put down or discover some interesting running trivia, I will probably dedicate a post or two to my experiences with them. I’ve also started taking pictures of my running routes, and I’ll try to incorporate sites such as mapmyrun.com so that you can plan your own running adventures or follow try a suggested route.
I look forward to any feedback, be it praise or constructive criticism. If you have a favorite run I should try in the UK or Europe, let me know. I may not get to it (or may have to work up to it), but then again, it could become my new favorite route. I’m just starting out on this adventure, and I’m open to suggestions. Leave your own running obsessions, routes, thoughts, quotes, gadgets, etc., in the comments. Feel free to email, too.