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Unlike Life, Running is Simple


“The thoughts that occur to me while I’m running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky always. The clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky.” 

― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Disclosure: The link to the book above is an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 


Today, I got back to the simplicity of running. I didn’t worry about pace, whether my form was correct or what my goal for today was. I just ran. I recommend all runners do this as often as possible. Sometimes it’s good to leave the watch at home and enjoy what running is about. For me, that’s connecting with nature and myself, and appreciating how simple it can be. 

Life can be complex much of the time. There are so many decisions we have to make to get through the day sometimes. And our past decisions and failures can come back to haunt us occasionally. Life is full of questions, most of which we can’t answer. But we try to answer them anyway in the hope it will help us figure out what we are doing. 

We also make everything harder than it has to be. We overthink to the point of causing ourselves anxiety and become frozen with decision fatigue. There are so many choices for everything that we end up not choosing–and that is also a choice. 

Life is complicated.

But unlike life, running is simple, and that is why I enjoy it so much. 

running is simple
Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

We can make running complex if we try, but there is no reason to. We can try to perfect form, figure out the best gear while running, practice fartleks, tempo runs, and a myriad of other things or we can go run.

We make running more difficult because we have to figure everything out. It’s in our nature. But there is no ambiguity in running. You don’t have to figure anything out, you just continue to put one foot in front of the other. You keep moving forward, no matter the pace. 

The rules of running are simple, and simplicity is underrated. We like to complicate things I believe. It’s how we’ve been taught to live. However, much of the time, simplicity can be the best teacher. That’s what running reminds of every day. It reminds me to keep my life as simple as possible, and to enjoy the simple things around me which I sometimes take for granted. The rules are simple because there are none.  

Whether you run 1 mile or a 55k ultramarathon, the goal is to get to the end however fast you want. But it’s really irrelevant of time, and once you reach that goal, you’re done. Reaching that goal doesn’t require perfection or the best form, and, in reality, it doesn’t require you finish. It requires nothing except that you run. And you can always make a new goal for the next run. 

But even if you don’t finish, it’s not a loss. It doesn’t make you any less of a person because you didn’t reach that particular goal. Because tomorrow is another day for redemption. And getting out and running, no matter the distance or pace, is far better than what many people are doing for their health. Running, even for 5 or 10 minutes per day can extend your life by several years. And each run can teach us a lesson about ourselves. It can help us work out the complexity of life. For me, it is a form of therapy

running is simple
Photo by Todd Diemer on Unsplash

Running doesn’t require anything from you other than getting out and doing it. It doesn’t care about your past or worry about your future. It doesn’t need you to be anything but yourself. You can flawed and imperfect, and it doesn’t judge you for being either. Running doesn’t want you to be someone who you are not. It just requires you run.

Running doesn’t worry about your ethnicity, your social status, your body composition, your gender, or any other label we want to place on others. Even those with physical limitations can take part in certain forms of running. It is all about equality, and it doesn’t require an application. It’s free and freeing

Even if you have a bad run, you can always try again tomorrow. A bad run is never a failure, it is a learning process. Every run adds to your fitness, and it helps your mental health. It keeps us humble and grounded. It gives us pleasure and pain. But running itself is simple. 

You just run. You run until you don’t feel like it anymore. You run until the race is over or until your mileage is done. You run until the time you set for yourself has been completed. You run to the end of the street or you run because you want to. You run. Simply. Beautifully. And without thought of why or how. 

Because unlike life, running is simple. I like simple. I like running. 

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