I didn’t set out to use running as a way to cope with the death of my father and the struggle of being a stay-at-home-dad, but that is what it has turned into.
I started running in eighth grade when some classmates suggested I try out for the cross-country team. I ran until tenth grade, when the lazy life of a teenager seemed a whole lot better than running for miles on cold fall days. Running never fully left me, though, and I have run sporadically in the years since.
Simply wanting to get into shape was the reason for my beginning to run again in the spring of 2012 when my family moved back to Vermont. The crushed stone paths and dirt roads of Shelburne Farms allowed me to run with our two boys, who embody all of the wild things in two small bodies, without dodging cars and sucking exhaust fumes. I started modestly enough, three miles or so at a slow pace and frequent stops to attend to the kids. Soon, though, three miles was not enough, and I began to add a mile here and there. By the time I reached seven miles by late summer the boys were less interested in sitting in the stroller and I began to run on my own.
It is the simplicity of running that draws me back time and again. All you really need is a pair of shoes. Slipping along a wooded single track, with only the sound of my foot falls and breathing as company, allows me to enter a meditative state. At times I see my father standing beside the trail cheering me on, just as he did so long ago on cold fall days at cross-country meets. Other times I’m lost in the focus of the trail and my own thoughts about life, past and present, while the miles tick by unnoticed.
There is also the mental challenge that goes along with running. There are no mechanical failures that you can blame a poor run on. It is only your own courage that can push you through that next mile when your legs feel like wet saturated logs and all you want to do is curl up in a ball. It is talking yourself into stepping out the door either before the sun rises or long after it has set because that is the only time you can find to run. It is you against yourself and the struggles you have in life.
After running alone for awhile I realized that I had changed. Not just physically but also mentally. I had gone from a runner of modest miles just trying to burn off some steam and get in shape to someone with a list of running goals many would call insane. I know no matter how far or how much I run I’ll never out-run the pain of loosing my father, nor the struggles in my life. Perhaps though I can get ahead of it all for a bit and become lost in the rhythm of my breathing and the sound of my feet moving across the ground.
My name is Jorden Blucher and I run to cope.