The Why and Wherefor

I started running about four years ago, but for the last few months I’ve felt an intense desire to write about my experience running.  If nothing else, this page will give my friends and co-workers some relief from having to hear me drone on about why I like to do crazy things like run 15 miles home after work.

I recently read Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and decided to start recording some of my thoughts.  Not that anything I write could even come close to touching the poetic and philosophical genius of his prose, but the book was an inspiration none-the-less.  In fact, I don’t really care if anyone reads this page or not — there are other, better running blogs out there, some of which I will undoubtedly reference — but I wanted somewhere to store my ideas and experiences.  For me, running is a nexus point where physicality, reflection, meditation, introspection, external focus, prayer, poetry, challenge, geography, solitude, community, and transportation all overlap.  It’s centrality to my life has snuck up on me, and it was almost by surprise one day that I realized how much running meant to me, how I thought of it every day and longed for it nearly from the moment I awoke.

My goal for this year is to take the plunge into ultra-running with a 50K, and it seemed a shame ot not record my thoughts and experiences of such an undertaking.  Not that a 50K is really that much more than a marathon — most of my friends, runners and non-runners seem to think I have lost my mind entirely, though in the ultrarunning community, a 50K scarcely qualifies for the prefix “ultra.”  None-the-less, turning 32 a few weeks ago and taking on the goal of a 50K both seemed like auspicious enough events to warrant some writing.

I can’t say what exactly my goal here is, or how consistent I will be. Some reflections on training, on goals set and accomplished; the thoughts before and after long training runs, on early-morning jogs and ending a 15 mile commute home in the dark with ankle-lights and reflective garb.  The experience of hours on my feet pushing my son in his jogging stroller,  toying with food and nutrition, pushing myself to and past previous points of impossibility, and my (currently futile) search for a minimalist running shoe that comes in a 4E width.  Why I love running on the side-walks of New York City, why I love the bridges that span the East River, and how I hope to search out some more trails, mix in some rural runs, and my fantasies about doing all 45 miles of the Old Croaton Trail and the 40 mile greenway that connects Brooklyn and Queens.  The joys of running in a 5 degree wind-chill, and those first days of spring when the tights come-off, and the air is brisk and refreshing.  Anything, everything, nothing at all.  Just running.

If you do come accross this, I hope it is interesting or engaging or something, but if not, that is okay too, since it is, essentially, for myself; after all, what I talk about when I talk about running, is, in many ways, an internal monologue.

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About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
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2 Responses to The Why and Wherefor

  1. It feels like this entry breathes you. I never really understood running- or, better yet, I never really understood running marathons or any kind of race… and I am still not quite sure I grasp it, but reading this entry leaves me a little less in the dark. Thanks for letting us peek in to your internal monologue.

    • Chris Van Dyke says:

      Thanks! I never understood running at all, either, to be honest. There’s a great park in Murikami’s book, the one I named by blog after, that talks about how he never tries to talk anyone else into running, and I agree. I now love running, but nothing you could have told me before would have ever convinced me to run — I had to find it myself. I’m glad you’re enjoying the peek into my internal monologues; I occasionally question the purpose of a blog, since its really for myself, but if you enjoy it, I guess that’s why I put it out there, rather than just save it on my computer. How’s STL treating you so far? The one time I was there was for a baseball road-trip with Mulzer, so besides NOT going up the arch, we watched the Cardinals, then tracked down some fantastic barbeque way out in a neighborhood most tourists wouldn’t find their way to.

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