Yesterday I ran for 30 minutes, and my legs felt like they were encased in concrete.
Tomorrow, I have to do a 16-mile run.
Today my legs needed a break.
So, I walked, slowly and alone, on trails near our home.
Not my usual running trails. For those I head uphill towards the Malahat mountain. Between logging roads and side trails, I can choose at least a dozen different routes.
But I walked south. Downhill. Less choice. Infinite beauty.
It wasn’t a perfect day for a walk.
It hailed minutes before I left, and rained on me the moment I left the house. But without the music that usually accompanies me on my runs, I listened to rain pitter pattering on my jacket. Minutes later the sun came out. By then I was in the forest. It was lush and green, and everything shimmered. The shimmering stopped when the hail came again. It pelted me before it turned to rain.
It was not a perfect day for a walk. But if my legs needed the rest, my head needed the space, fresh air, and solitude. It had been a challenging 24 hours as a dad. And when I wasn’t focused on parenting, work usually found a way to slip through the cracks of my mind.
Running can be great in those moments too. But running is different. Running is always about getting from Point A to Point B and back again. Running has a physical purpose: intervals; long and slow; hill repeats. Even when I’m just out for an easy run, there’s a purpose behind that run. It’s part of a larger training program.
A walk is different. There’s no set time. No exact mileage I need to hit. I walk to move and breathe and immerse myself in beauty.
When I run, I barely ever stop. Stopping defeats the purpose of the run.
Walking is different. I stop frequently. At the edge of a cliff, or at the foot of a fallen tree. I pause near a stream and listen to the water flow. I step around a damaged bridge and wonder if it fell victim to ice and flooding, or teenagers and booze.
A few minutes after I’ve left the house, my daughter texts me messages of love and nonsense words. I text back, and when the texts keep coming, I call her, tell her I love her, call her crazy, and say I’ll see her soon. That wouldn’t happen on a run.
Sounds, sights and smells are more intense on a walk. There’s time to absorb them all, instead of running through them. Walking is peaceful. It is gentle on the body and gentle on the mind.
I’m not looking forward to my 16-mile run. The best part of a long run is finishing it.
I am looking forward to my next walk. It might even happen later today. I’ve invited my wife and daughter to come to the bridge with me.
It’s a perfect day for a walk.