To be honest, I don't run for fun. If I could, I would probably avoid it. I can think of better things to do with my time, like lying on the couch, or writing blogs. I run because I have to, because of an annoying condition which means, strangely, that the more exercise I do, the less tired I feel. I run because I don't want to pass out at my desk, or fall asleep on a nightclub couch. I could probably avoid the bother if I were to eat more healthily; four miles' walking each day would probably be enough. But, like the cat, I like to haz an occasional cheeseburger. So, I run.
The necessity for the runs, as I have mentioned, comes from, essentially, bad diet, and also from a period in my life where this was combined with an almost aggressive indolence. My sedentary existence was justified to myself as a way to focus more upon the pursuits of the mind, which, whilst I was at university, was a fair enough thought. But beyond this the thought process was flawed: it doesn't take a deep examination to figure out how action begets consequence, and how self-delusion has played a part in the entire process.
The thing about running is it does afford precious time to think. In fact, it necessitates it. If I am to get through a half hour jog, I cannot be thinking about the fact that I am jogging for half an hour. I think about anything and everything to avoid thinking about that fact, especially on the uphill sections. I think about Star Trek (yeah I'm a nerd; deal with it), I do times tables in my head, I think about dinner, I think about the notes for this blog I am trying to store in my head, I think about the two books I want to write and how they should plot, and the two books I have written but which need proofing. I think about anything but how sweet it will feel to stop, anything but the run itself.
On a good day, my thoughts will carry me through one, two minutes of run time before my mind wanders back to the task at hand. As you may know, a minute can be a long time when running. Today I found myself thinking that, though I ran a lot as a child, it was different. It was a game or a race. Now, it is because I have to. I found myself thinking also that long-distance runners must have some temperament which suits them to long hours of introspection. That perhaps they had grown into it. Or perhaps they had a way to switch off completely and run mechanically.
Children are often fans of that sickly-sweet, mass-produced, Sunday morning countdown music, the kind of crap usually excused with the line 'it's catchy'. Before you know it, you have wasted years on something which has brought a pleasure of kinds, but no real value. Then, as people grow, tastes change. For myself, I have more of a taste for thoughtful, well-executed songs, which may take a little time to build, but which have a reward to them which is all part of the journey itself. It is not too much of a stretch, I hope, to relate this to how I believe a long run plays out in the mind of the runner. It's something eased into and enjoyed for what it is. Ironically, or perhaps not, the less time you have left, the more time you take to enjoy those things you have.