Voices of the Run


By Myrna Hoover

I never run alone. Like Henry David Thoreau, “I am never less lonely than when alone.” This is especially true when I am running. There really is no such thing for me as “the loneliness of a runner.” The mental play, the voices, the conversations, the roles I chose to play joins me on my runs. They accompany, comfort, encourage, distract and enlighten me. They teach me many things, but mostly who I am.

On runs when the goal is to train hard, run fast, push myself to improve by focusing on the task, the coach within my head takes charge. Relax, lower your shoulders, and loosen your arms, breath, breath, push, kick, and move! I listen and try to hear; I ask my body to respond to the commands inside my head. Find the technique to improve, feel the desire to keep trying, to push, to move, to find the rhythm… I follow the voice.

On runs when the day has been long and I have failed at life, the counselor speaks. Things are not as bad as you think. Tomorrow is another day. You are out here running. Your family still loves you. You are a good person. Think of all you have not of what you want. Give thanks for the day, for the simple pleasure you find in this minute, for the opportunity to run. You cannot change the past. Today is a gift – look around, find happiness in this moment. I listen.

On some runs, I run with questions of what to do next, when to take the next step, or how to solve a problem. The run will speak and be my teacher if I listen. Solutions, answers, steps, options seem clearer when I run. Running is often the equation for the quotient. It teaches me to take the time to think, listen, analyze, evaluate, strategize, and observe all the possibilities. Running helps me listen for an answer… if I am patient – I will hear it. Once again, I listen.

On many runs, I speak to myself as a friend. I speak, and I listen. Friends know the worst about us and still believe the best. Running is a friend. Triumph and tragedies, successes and failures, loves gained and lost, who I am and who I want to be is open for my friend to see. Judgement is held. There is no place for ridicule. The truth is spoken with love and genuine concern. The quiet acceptance of a true friend is the loudest voice of all. Accepting oneself is one of the hardest things to do. Running helps me to be my own friend. I quietly thank my friend … and listen.

Whatever voice I hear on the run it serves a purpose. It gives an element to my life that enriches who I am. George Sheehan said ‘”On my solitary run, I am searching for the meaning within my experiences. In that hour devoid of distraction, when the world is on hold, I can focus on the troubles and joys of becoming myself and arrive at a sort of peace. I am the closest I will ever come to who I am, what I believe and what I should do about it.” We all hear the voices…

I’ll meet you at the finish….

Author’s Note: It is hard to believe that it has been a year since Tim Simpkins death. Many people including myself still find it hard to believe that he is gone – many of us still hear his voice. A voice that clearly declared, “running to be good!”
When I started this column I wanted to honor Tim’s memory and his love for running, yet as I finish this journey, I realize that I am the one who benefited from running this race. This journey allowed me to reconnect to my love for running, and for that I am grateful. Thanks for all the “voices” who supported this adventure. Stay strong and healthy, but above all keep running.
I’ll meet you at the finish… Myrna