Thursday, September 18, 2008
I picked up my race number yesterday and, as soon as got home, pinned it to the top that I've chosen to wear for the marathon. This is not typical behaviour for me. I'm usually pinning my number on just before, or sometimes even just after, the start of a race. No, this is a symptom of taper worms - an infection that can beset runners in the days leading up to a big event, giving rise to an uncomfortable squirming sensation in the bowels and a host of nervous ticks and twitches.
I've been thinking about the words running to help manage depression. I've often told people that that is why I began running last year, but now I wonder if I haven't so much used running to manage depression but rather channelled the search for meaning, the overwhelming obsessiveness and the needs for structure, achievement and catharsis into running rather than into other forms of eccentric behaviour. To put it another way, perhaps running has become my craziness of choice.
I suppose that it's all in the eye of the beholder. Obsessiveness expressed as, for example, really needing the colours of the pegs to match when you hang your clothes out, is viewed as slightly loopy. But obsessiveness expressed as running through the cold, wet, gusty nighttime weather, as per the training program's dictate for the day, is labelled as commitment. It might cause a few heads to shake and a few comments to be muttered, but it won't get you carted away.
I heard a wonderful interview with the novelist and scriptwriter Hanif Kureishi on ABC Radio National. He talks quite a bit about psychoanalysis and his opinion that therapy isn't so much to do with curing people of their craziness but more about helping them to use their symptoms creatively. This rings true with me, though I'm not sure how creative I'm being adjusting the safety pins on my race number for the hundredth time...