I hit the trail as the sun is setting; with the entire wood seemingly to myself, I push my toes aggressively into the dirt as I walk. I do not limp. I pick up pace. I feel the toes of my right foot a little tighter, a little weaker, but they comply. The remaining sunlight shifts dimly through the trees and the gravel crunches underfoot. The last time I was on this trail was fall, with a training partner I haven’t seen in months. He didn’t like running in the dark; I do.
Garmin counts me off and I start to run. I haven’t put a pace window on my workout, but I can just barely make out that I’m doing a 10+ minute mile. This is the pace I’m supposed to be running, but it annoys the shit out of me–I want to run faster. I assess my gait by sound and feel. Everything is fine. I can’t see the stones on the trail to worry about foot placement, so I simply don’t worry–I trust it.
It’s time to walk again, and I do. Walk for a minute, run for a minute. Five times. After the second interval, I can’t see the time anymore. I don’t want artificial light, so I let it go and trust myself to take it slow enough.
I relax while running in a way I’ve not felt in months–it is natural and right. Simple. Easy. I am effortlessly aware of my body in motion; swinging arms, hands relaxed, lips gently parted. My feet beat a steady rhythm. After the fifth interval, I can run for five straight minutes. Five minutes. I want them to last forever. The moon peeks out over the treetops at me and I’m as much at peace as I’ve ever been, hearing the steady hum of crickets and frogs.
Before long, I hear the triumphant chirp of my watch telling me I’ve completed my workout. I walk out of the woods serene; there is no fear, no anger, no trace of anxiety or depression. I think that if I can just run, I might not need anything else at all.