Letters of Life

How Running Can Make Things Better

23:27 You gotta press play on this one. It’s one of those videos from another time, a golden era of new music. China Crisis was one of those one-hit wonder Brit bands, but this video unerringly captures the shades of a distant past.

Ever have one of those days when things are going swimmingly, but somehow you aren’t? And no amount of positive interaction at work, on WhatsApp, with friends and family can diminish that feeling? Hell, it doesn’t even have to be a Monday for me to feel that way sometimes. My less-indulgent friends would say “Snap out of it!” while others can only commiserate. But the feeling doesn’t go away.

This is when I tell myself, hit the road, Jacque! If you are able to run, fabulous. If you can’t, a brisk walk, a cycle to nowhere, or an aqua jog, will do just as well. So I change into my running gear, slip on my light-as-air Saucony shoes, and head out the door.

There’s a route I’ve been running these last eight months. Together with running pals, we trace one border of the Botanic Gardens, cut across the college stadium track, enter the park annexe which leads into the heart of the Gardens, around the lake and up the hill, out of the Gardens onto the back road and back to where I live. It’s a fairly demanding 6.6 kilometres, with inclines steep and gradual.

Sometimes I chat breathlessly with my friend running alongside. Most times, I’m trying to ignore my heavy breathing, the pounding of my shoes on the unforgiving asphalt, the sweat running down my neck and chest. My ponytail, tied high on my head, is hanging limp with moisture.

You get back to where you started an hour later, heart pumping, sweating, endorphins exploding in your brain. You’re on a high. Your face is flushed from the exertion. Water never tasted so sweet. Food is on everybody’s minds, and we know we’ve earned the luxury of the afterburn.

We pile happily into the car and drive to somewhere wonderful. Like a nearby hawkers’ centre.

My body feels especially good after the punishing hour. It will feel even better after a shower and my tresses cleaned and conditioned. That sinking feeling? It’s a thousand miles away.

Do intense workouts like running, biking, swimming, soccer or tennis make you feel better also? Why do you think so? Or do you feel like throwing up instead? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

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