Young Writers Project: Better Than Running At Night

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"When I was in my sophomore year, I went on a writing kick. That same year I started night running and it helped deal with a bunch of my problems. Writing is another outlet for me so the two naturally came together."

Better Than Running at Night
By Bianca Caputo
Grade 12, Hazen Union High School

Pounding. My heart is pounding through my chest. If it keeps up at this rate, it will flop bloodily onto the frozen road. Beating grotesquely and melting the white fluffy snow around it into a mushy scarlet mess.
I challenge you to find something better than running at night. I challenge you to find something that will make you feel so hopeful.

Recently I’ve been throwing on the layers. I put on my headphones and step out into a world frozen with all kinds of mind blowing possibilities. I decide, first, what I want to listen to. It really does not matter which artist I select. Either way, my run will be unmatched by anything else, step by step, for sheer brilliance.

I tend to think fluently and yet my actions seem to me to be jolting (the exception to the rule? Journaling. Words flow out of me as easily as water). But when I’m running my mind is one with my body, the music, and the scenery rushing past, whatever it may be.

My feet pound that one stretch of Vermont Ave that I favor and all the way down the long hill to Main Street. My head kind of…shuts off. Finally. Any anger, sorrow, depression that I have is purged through running, while the joys, the pride, the elation, is all emphasized. The only thoughts that have the audacity to enter my mind are those of a rather stunned pride. I am so strong, look how far I have gone…see what I can do, now!
The energy surging through me with every smooth stride forward is anything but vague, though – I never used to run at night … I really never used to run. I have changed. And what a great, rewarding feeling. How wonderful it is to drop into bed, so tired because you have actually exerted energy, and what a treat to wake up sore (though that rarely happens now).

Running came about because I was sick of walking. Walking began because I was bored with an unexciting sedentary life. I babysat – every day – for hours, no pay, no choice. He was an absolute hellion. The heat, the bore, the oppressiveness of summer was doing its best to smother me. Trying to pull me under. My mother would relieve me of my duties and I would take off, pounding the streets with my dog, who just kind of went with the flow, and music going through my head.

This winter I continued walking (usually winters were synonymous with laziness and warmth) but the cold was a problem – Ginger was getting old and would not go out at night anymore. After making it up the looming Slapp Hill alone, I looked over Vermont Ave and noted a curve to the road. Still a bit shivery, I thought, that looks lovely, and sort of delectable … maybe I should run and not walk.

And I did. It was hard, that first run. My face burned and my heart thumped loudly. Protesting. All the clothes weighed me down, made it unnecessarily awkward. This is ridiculous. I am so young – this shouldn’t even be an issue. Old people are in better shape than this.

Not one to resist a challenge, I was back the next night, and the night after that and the next night after this and so on. I’ve missed one night in the past two weeks. My body no longer protests – in fact, it rejoices. I no longer require layers of clothes – if you start out running you warm up soon enough. Especially when you are climbing such mountains as Slapp Hill.

Instead of my body going Ohh more running, oh this is going to be awful, groaning, creaking, there’s this powerful feeling that pushes through me and leaves me wanting more. Not feeling inadequate, or angry, or subversive. Strong enough, now, to realize my own power.

More running. More more more. My regular route has gotten exponentially longer and I can run so far, so hard, compared to my meager beginnings.

I challenge you to find something so liberating, so rewarding, as running at night. Feeling the cool air rush past you and observing the houses, the cars going by. Feeling the raw unrestricted energy flowing through you. The best form of therapy there is – and it’s free! I dare you to find something better than running at night.

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