A change came into our house late last year. My husband starting running. He’s never run before — not in any committed way. But a big birthday, a need to be fit, a sudden preoccupation with health, something pushed him into becoming a runner. Four times a week without fail.
And, of course, he has lost weight. Quite a bit really. The law of conservation of mass — mass is never created or destroyed, it’s just rearranged. His lost kilos have found me. Stealthily crept over to my side of the bed. And so, I too, have attempted the magic of running to rearrange molecules.
I am not a runner. Nor am I very fit. But I do like to get up early. So that at least gave me a window. My husband runs at night. It niggles me. That he can do that without a care. I’d probably run very fast at night, constantly fearful with terror nipping at my ankles. I doubt my husband even thinks about the danger.
At the edge of day, I pull on my ancient running shoes and set out. There is sometimes a misty fog, an eerie world before the sun breaks through. It’s very quiet. The houses I pass are sleeping or just waking. Or there is a light on and I imagine a new mother, cradling her sleeping baby and craving just a few hours sleep before the cycle all starts again. Sometimes I’ll pass someone unlocking their gate, setting out on a walk or run. We will smile and chat for a moment, comment on the beauty of the breaking morning.
Then I’ll huff and puff my way down to the bike path. I’ve discovered the steady jog. A pace not much faster than walking but one that elevates my heart rate and allows me to cover a little distance. As I said, I’m not fit, so this snail’s pace leaves me breathing harder than it should. A little embarrassed as other pass by with an easy smile and wave.
I encounter all sorts of people on that morning jog. The friendly folk walking their dogs. Older couples, walking hand in hand and enjoying each other’s company. The focused and committed runners, with a fitbit strapped to their wrist, their phone strapped to their bicep, their shoes new and impressive and their breath determined and even. Cyclists pass, sometimes with a late ring of the bell as they sail by. Sometimes there will be another person travelling at my slow place and I will fall in step with them. Trailing behind but not being left in the dust. Finding some comfort in our synchronised foot falls.
As I end my jog, I pass a group of ladies. Ostensibly they are training, with their yoga mats and resistance bands. They are always full of joy and laughter. I never see them exercising but they are always having a good time. It’s a nice way to finish the jog, to start the day.
I don’t jog in the company of music. I prefer to listen to the sounds of the morning. The bubble of the creek I pass over, the gradual waking of my neighbourhood. The cacophony of birds in the canopy of trees above me. It feels like being part of the early morning, that other-worldly hour or so, before the bustle begins.
Before I head back into my house, I pause at the gate. Look up and smile at the sunrise.
Are you a runner? Do you like the early morning? Does any weight lost by your partner find you?