Mariska van Sprundel
I effortlessly pick out the newbies. Two boys, in their early twenties, run by in tight shirts that accentuate their torso. Their torso motionless. A proud attitude, they would say in the gym, because it is clear where these men normally hang out. A girl of about eighteen approaches me. She wears a sports skirt, with thick ankle-high socks above her shoes. Right off the hockey field.
Then you also have ‘the joggers’. They come by with long strides in worn-out shoes and baggy sweatpants. Painful look on the face. With this type of runner, I imagine he doesn’t really like sweating and panting, but hey, gaming all day is nothing.
Lockdown runners. You don’t need official numbers to see a running wave kicked in by the corona crisis. The parks are overflowing with people who wander around. Running stores sold record sales of shoes in 2020. Physical therapists saw their waiting rooms fill up with soccer and hockey players who switched too enthusiastically to running and now have knee pain. “Well done, ma’am!” a group of students in the park calls out to me as I run past.
We believe that those who are doing sports are doing well. Because exercise is healthy. That is exactly why I started running fourteen years ago, in the middle of my college days. To get fitter. Never thought that impulse would turn into a lifestyle.
Lifestyle… perhaps the magic word in this crisis. Corona has become such a big problem because we all do not live a healthy life, said professor of consumption and healthy lifestyle Emely de Vet in De Gelderlander. “The ICs are mainly full of corona patients with underlying conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes 2, often the result of an unhealthy lifestyle.” But that’s not new at all, she added. That was also the case for corona! Is the realization that junk food and idle time make us vulnerable to disease? Soon everyone who wants to will be vaccinated. Corona crisis solved. But medication is not the solution for all health problems. As De Vet said: “Without attention to lifestyle, the care is actually mopping up with the tap open.”
As a society, we really have to do something about that unhealthy life. But by running as a lifestyle I mean something else. As the Australian philosopher Damon Young puts it: sport is not just a way to keep your body healthy, or to look good. There is so much more meaning to it. He mentions pain, humility, beauty and pride.
During running, nothing matters, except for the movement of your own body.
The value is not only in a smaller risk of cardiovascular disease or a tighter body. The physical profit is a nice bonus, but it only pays off in the longer term. To your mind, walking is a direct reward, making it an end in itself. Working all day, a head full of to-dos, and then off to the outside to let everything slip away. After fifteen minutes I get into the rhythm. One inhale every four steps, followed by four steps in the exhale. My tense desk shoulders sway loosely. In my head the daily fuss is slowly being replaced by rippling thoughts about everything. Hey, ducklings! Nothing matters in this parallel universe, except the movement of my own body. One leg in front of the other, over and over. And no, completely immersing yourself in your own steps is not boring. That flow makes running so nice …
Once home it is as if a new day has arrived. Problems have been put into perspective and turned out not to be real problems afterwards. Meditate? Not for me, I always say. In reality, I meditate for an hour five times a week, sometimes two, while running through the green estates of Amelisweerd and Rhijnauwen.
Will the lockdown runners continue to run when society reopens? My hope is that the newbies have become infected with the running virus. You want to catch this virus, because it enriches your life instead of ruining it. It is a virus that can make countless victims. The only virus I never want to get vaccinated against.
Source: Kennislink by www.nemokennislink.nl.
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