I run because running in that short interval, in a hectic world full of responsibilities and worries, shuts off my thinking brain and allows it to roam and swim freely in the moment. When I run alone, I prefer to run the same route as I mostly do (or I did, and hope to repeat), because that way I’m familiar with every random tree root, metal grate, and trail segment prone to mud or puddles. , so I don’t need to think about being careful. At what speed? I have no idea and it doesn’t matter.
In this state of mind, I absorb the world I often forget – the smaller things like the beauty of the Capitol and the splendor of the Hudson River or the tinkling of the sticky carousel in front of the Smithsonian. And the problems are seemingly suddenly resolved. It’s the perfect sentence to start an article I’m struggling with. A birthday present for a friend who has everything. How to resolve sibling conflict? When I’ve finished the three to four miles, I feel physically tired but emotionally energized – now excited about the plans waiting to be activated.
What motivated me during months of grueling physical therapy and rehabilitation was the need to recapture that emotional nourishment that running provides.
Physical rehabilitation from a head injury is the opposite of the mental freedom of running. Every time you step on to walk, you need to think and consciously plan how to avoid a small root or rock on the pavement. Turn your head to watch the view and it will throw you off balance.
You concentrate on each muscle group so that it learns to move properly again. It contains tens of thousands of repetitions There are hundreds of muscles that need to relearn their proper roles to teach your brain a simple movement. Even walking on the beach isn’t liberating – it takes hard work and concentration: heel strike first, then toe rolling. Pay attention to the glutes and adjust to stabilize for the slope of the sand and the small push of an incoming ripple.
The good news is that the brain is miraculously resilient, often able to reconnect its damaged circuits through intense training – an ability called “neuroplasticity.” The bad news is that it learns slowly, nerves grow 1 millimeter a day, and it takes time for the brain to look for workarounds to irreparably damaged circuits. So recovery can take years. My progress is slow but tangible, and I don’t know when or if it will stop.
Today I can cautiously (albeit a little clumsily) walk at a normal pace. I can swim, drive and cook dinner. I can walk up stairs without holding the railing. Most patients my age can be satisfied. Not me. Being able to run again is my Mount Everest. (And to all the doctors who stopped me from running: Studies in last decade They showed that running can actually be beneficial for the knees, perhaps even preventing degenerative arthritis.)