“Why I Run: On Thoreau and the Pleasures of Not Quite Knowing Where You’re Going”

Beautiful long read, summarized below. Love it!

“Running turns off my mind in most ways, and it’s a relief: I am outside, breathing, working, enjoying this beautiful place I live in right now.”


Richardson’s intimate reflection dives into her transformation from a schoolgirl who loathed running to an avid runner inextricably tied to her urban environment. Drawing inspiration from Thoreau’s romantic notions of nature, she ponders upon his limited perception of women’s role in nature exploration, contrasting it with her personal experiences running amidst cityscapes.

Her runs unveil the many faces of her city – the beautiful and the blighted, the organic and the artificial. Facing her fears, she ventures into areas deemed unsafe, braving potential confrontations with unpredictable creatures, both animal and human. Despite these challenges, the joy she derives from running – the thrill of surmounting steep inclines, the serenity of pre-dawn sprints, and the solidarity amongst fellow runners – outweighs any anxiety.

Running provides her a tranquil escape, mitigating her fears and strengthening her sense of community. Carson concludes by questioning Thoreau’s belief in the preservation of “wildness”, positing that while urban development might erode this “wildness”, the primal connection she feels with nature through her runs reinstates her place within it.