off the clock

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July 26, 2013 by scratchtype1

The hardest thing about the running I did, around a half-mile, was stopping. I’ve been nibbling away at the start of running barefoot, trying to make sure I don’t bite off more than I can chew, but even with these brief glimpses into where my mind might go while running barefoot, the taste is tempting. It’s almost like knowing there’s a whole bowl of m&m candy, and only dipping in for one at a time.

But that brief taste — light feet, light legs, no thud of shoes against pavement, just the soft patter of the soles of the feet kissing against the rough texture of chip-seal. There almost doesn’t seem to be a passage of time, it’s just a comfortable rhythm, standing tall while my legs spin under me, and gliding. There is no time there. What was it like for our prehistoric ancestors who didn’t have watches to count off seconds, minutes and hours? They understood time in a different way than we do today. It was the passage of the sun in the sky, the changes in shadows, the track of the moon. They didn’t race against or with or for or maybe even in time. They ran, if Dr. Lieberman is correct, to chase down food and survival. It wasn’t a matter of how many hours it took until that antelope collapsed. It was a matter of running and tracking until it did or it somehow escaped. There were no medals handed out. There were no race results. Running was perhaps simpler that way.

I’ve now tasted that simplicity for short distances, and like its taste. So much so I’ve decided that I will not take a watch with me on the runs. I’ll just try to cover the distances by the landmarks I’m familiar with and keep track that I’m slowly building up the miles I can run and wait for a time measurement until that 5K I intend to run the last weekend of October.

I suppose I won’t exactly be able to escape some sense of knowing how long the runs took by knowing about when I started and when I got done, but I don’t have to watch it with the vigilance that I did in the past.

And free from the worry about how fast or slow I might be going, I can instead just focus on the way the body feels and how the world comes alive around me while I run, while the bare soles tap over the road.


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