Thursday, June 04, 2009

Epiphanies of New York

1: Running in Central Park

At school I was averse to any form of exercise, and it was not until my early thirties that a friend asked me to do a "fun run" and I realised that actually I liked running. Ever since, I've run two or three times a week, injuries aside.

Last year when we went to New York I regretted not taking my running shoes when I saw all the runners gambolling in Central Park. This year I didn't make the same mistake. In my week there I managed to squeeze in three five-mile runs - quite a hefty mileage for me.

The first run in the Park was an astounding experience. At 7am the roads were thronged with runners--as many as if there was an organised event taking place. Running is essentially a solitary activity (the Zen aspect of it is part of the appeal) but it takes on an added dimension when there are others around. For someone who loves running, a sunny morning surrounded by trees and grass, with scores of other runners alongside you, is just about as good as it gets. And, like all days when running is perfect, you even forget that you're tired.

To have such a serene, almost transcendental, experience in the middle of one of the world's busiest cities is something I never expected. The view from the central running track itself, ringed by trees with skyscrapers behind them reaching up into the early-morning mist, is one I'll never forget.
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Alis said...

I envy you Tim - I used to run three or four times a week - only two or three miles but I really enjoyed it. My ongoing back problems and incipient arthritis in my knee now make it uncomfortable to run and I have to confine myself to fast walking. This does however have its own consolations - I find I think very creatively when I walk whereas I always used to listen to podcasts when I ran.
Central Park sounds like runners' heaven!

Tim Stretton said...

I find walking very good for writing - the rhythm is just right for dialogue and it's an important part of my writing process.

Running, on the other hand, is much more visceral. It doesn't lend itself to structured thought at all.

Cycling, which I also enjoy, is even less use because all your mental energy is focused on not crashing into things/being crashed into...

David Isaak said...

Joyce Carol Oates is famous for running like a demon whilst writing in her head, and hammering out stories as soon as she gets back to her desk. But, then, she's hyperactive (and probably hyperthyroid, too--take a look at a photo of her) so running for her is probably about like walking for the rest of us.

I like walking and hiking, but I've never cared for running. All I can think of when I run is how much I want to stop.