By Aimée Morrison
There is a series of blue dots running across the bottom right of 241 of the 365 squares on the calendar that hung in my kitchen through 2018. Each blue dot represents one run—from the 5km Resolution Run in Kitchener on January 1, to the 12km long slow run doing 10-1s with my Running Room group on December 30.
The January 1 Resolution Run was the culmination of my get-back-to-running rehab after breaking my foot in September—jokingly, through November and December tentatively on the treadmill, I moved through what I called my “crutch to 5k” program. So the year began with a goal already met. And it’s ending that way too: it’s not that I’ve run in 2 different half marathons (Ottawa and Toronto) or that I trained with my daughter for her first 5km race—the Toronto Zoo Run in September. The real accomplishment of this year, for me, is the simple profusion of blue dots on my calendar, roughly 20 runs every month, about five runs a week, all year.
This year, I made running a habit. I became a runner because I’m someone who runs, regularly, and habitually, and as a matter of course. I run on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. I run when it rains and I run when it snows. I run in the dark and in the dawn and sometimes, like a dumbass, at noon in July. I run with my daughter, or with my husband. I run with my running clinic friends, and with their kids. Memorably, a dear colleague in Hawaii took me running three times during a five-day conference, under threat of hurricane: I don’t know if I’m more impressed that he showed me with sidewalks where he used to cross Haruki Murakami and the primary school that Barrack Obama attended, or that he found a really good 5km route inside a parking garage on campus when the weather really took a turn.
Some of these runs are really short and some are long, and some are easy and some are “hard efforts” and sometimes I feel like I could run forever and sometimes I feel like my arms and legs do not seem to be entirely under my complete control. I have suffered nervousness and social awkwardness and sore legs and bonking, but also finally experienced the runner’s high—and I like it.
If it’s a running day? I’m going to run. It has just become a thing that I do, without any rigamarole of negative self talk or advanced planning strategies or elaborate bargains with myself.
This year, I wore down two and a half pairs of shoes. I did unusually high numbers of surprisingly stinky loads of laundry. I bought a running fanny pack and learned what kinds of gels I like. I take magnesium pills so that I don’t screech and seize up every time I flex my toes. I have a drawer that has nothing but running clothes in it. I love that I’m that person now.
I’ve gotten smarter as a runner, and faster, and I can run a long slow distance pretty much forever as long as I’ve got a gel to gulp every 30 minutes. But that’s not the point, really. The point is those blue dots: run by run, dot by dot, I’ve made running a habit, as inevitable as brushing my teeth, as gratifying as Twitter, as regular as, well, the days of the week.
Aimée Morrison connects the dots as a runner, woman, academic, baker of Christmas cookies. She teaches and researches in social media life writing as an Associate Professor of English at the University of Waterloo. Winter person. ADHD / ASD. She/her. On Twitter @digiwonk