Percussion of pavement, dull crush of gravel
the sound of one after the other underfoot
again and again, one after the other
one after the other
steady breaths, slowly in and out
not gasping—churning like a storm
one after the other and the other
tingling sensation in the cheeks, wind-burnt lips
the sting of salt at the corner of the eyes
blood pumping loudly in the eardrums
heartbeats rippling through the entire body
one after the one after the other after the other
one stride at a time, one breath at a time
just follow the stripe rolling down the road
the horizon is nothing, is nothing, is nothing.
I’m not a runner, but recently I’ve been getting out and running a little (I’m very bad) and I’m interested in the idea of what it must feel like to actually be a good runner. I have a cousin who is an accomplished marathoner so I think about what his experience of running must be like. A thing that is crazy to me is that when running a marathon there’s got to be a moment where you first start to feel tired and realize that you’ve got, like, 24 miles to go still, but you keep running. It seems like you must have to hunker down into a more rhythmic type of focus, where you aren’t constantly ‘deciding’ to keep going—you just maintain the status quo.
I haven’t read many poems about exercise, which on the one hand makes sense because it’s sort of gross, but on the other hand it’s this very intense human experience that lots of people regularly encounter.