Think Kit Prompt – December 9th
What did you do this year when things got hectic? How did you unwind?
I could tell you I sit in coffee shops and read books, drink coffee and write blog posts. I could tell you I watch Modern Family and The Office. I could tell you I bake cookies. But to be totally honest, and not just because I’m trying to keep on topic with this blog, I unwind by running.
It’s not something I ever considered would “unwind” me when I first started doing it, but day after day of running I realized it was imperative to a stable emotional state and mental clarity. I now NEED running to relax, to unwind….which is quite amusing since the act of running involves a lot of tension.
In that tension, however, is where the value of unwinding lies, because after specific workouts, long miles of continuously “tightening the screws” and building the tension, the feelings of relief and relaxation that flood the body when the defined finish is reached are unparalleled. They are a state of relaxation that can not be met in any other way in my life. No other mental exercise, nor physical exercise, can create the way I feel when I finish a brutal workout and slow to a halt, letting the accomplishment and physical relaxation consume my body.
It is, no exaggeration, better than sex. Yeah…I said it.
Some runs, also, are unwinding in themselves. They are slow and deliberate efforts where one simply has to relax, let their minds go and just cover the distance, no more, no less. These runs are not about increasing muscular tension or any other physical strain, which gives me the opportunity to just get lost in the run. I don’t have to think about the effort and I don’t have to think about…well…anything else either. No personal issues, no work issues, no nothing. I can simply move through the distance as if there is no other possible thing to be doing in the moment. It is a simplistic, obligation free act that temporarily creates a world free of any struggle. It is unwinding in physical form.
And then there is the opposite, those brutally difficult runs where your legs and lungs flail wildly, and the tension is as powerful as it can get, building and surpassing any stress created elsewhere in the day, pushing you to the edge of mental and physical collapse before mercifully stopping at the very point you do. And that feeling of release and relaxation, juxtaposed against the previous torture device, the threshold of all your physical abilities, can not be described. It is an unwinding that leaves you sprawled on the ground, a wry smile that slowly fills the space where a painful grimace once sat, and a sense of calm that outdoes any nightcap, crossword puzzle, mental goosefraba exercise or any other pacification we trick ourselves into.
Running is, deceptively, the ultimate and most necessary form of unwinding in my daily routine.