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“As you run, the layers of responsibility and identity in your life melt away”


I still recall the day I first started running. It wasn’t too long ago, a group known as Cairo Runners was prepping for a mini marathon, and my 16 year old brat of a sister would not stop nagging: “Come with me! Come with me!”

The only form of running I ever knew was running away. Running away from life, running away to denial. And here I was standing among a large mass of people, at 7am, warming up, getting ready to hit the road and own the streets of Cairo.

First goal: 5 Kilometers

And before you know it, here I am, running everyday since.

It’s tough, it hurts. I had days where I could barely walk and I absolutely love it!

But why running? The answer that sounds logic is weight loss or fitness.

And I could go on and on listing a multitude of benefits from the simplest, cheapest form of exercise; from boosting your immune system, lowering risks of blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, and breast cancer for women.

That would be enough to send us all sprinting. Yet, why not hit the gym? Go for a boot camp? Play a sport? Swim?

The real reason to it was more intangible than any health or fitness outcome. I thought I was running to get fit, But then I realized I was getting fit to run. Its like running had its own raison d’être. I would get out of bed for the sheer pleasure of clearing my head and my system and going for that run.

Run off the weekend

Count the kilometers

Grab a friend

Make it count

As you run, the layers of responsibility and identity in your life melt away. Jogging along a track, running through the busy streets of the city, splashing in puddles, dodging bumps, feeling the hot sun of this dusty city, or even running to the beat of your steps on the treadmill, you start feeling that inner childish joy. Something stirs inside you; you weren’t born to sit behind a desk or a screen and sip coffee. Everything starts fading away, your parents, friends, the doorman, the boyfriend, the job, the labels, all fall away, leaving you with the human being underneath. It’s a confronting unique feeling. At some given moments you will stop, amazed by how your heart is pumping and your mind is racing, struggling to leave it all behind.

I love watching small children when they are excited, at play, and mostly the way they can’t stop running. Back and forth, up and down, in pointless little circles.

When you run, at a regular point both your feet are off the ground. It’s incredible, you can fly!

Go on, run harder, deeper into loneliness, further away from this world and the walls of your structured life. You get this feeling of being detached yet at the same time connected, connected to yourself with nothing but your two legs moving.

There’s this bug about running that you catch. It could be the beat of your feet on the ground that stirs the pleasure centers in your brain, or it could simply be the satisfaction of having done something good for yourself. Whatever that is, running is a delightful positive addiction.

So drop that coffee, get out of bed, skip the morning cigarette and have a good run.


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