© 2020 Sandy Ernest Allen

  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle
  • Sandy

Why I Run


Illustration by Karl-Joel Larsson

During the two years that I worked with my book editors, one of the things we were constantly trying to figure out was how much of me to put into AKOMP. After all, the book isn't about me, it's about my Uncle Bob. Many interviewers have asked me questions about whether the book is also about me, or they have opined so. One said it right away: the book is about you as much as it is about Bob. I made a pretty big face when he said this. I am always a bit bothered when people refer to the book as a memoir. (Because, folks, I promise, someday I might write a memoir and it won't be 90% about my Uncle Bob.)


AKOMP, I feel, is a prism, and you can see all these people reflected inside it, and I'm one of them. And while I am literally a character in the book, I'd guess I'm the sixth or so most important one. I don't get as much airtime as many others. I often withheld my own perspectives on relevant matters, in part because of the overall need for concision. As I've described before, there's a lot on the cutting room floor here. Often my editors would identify that parts of the book that were too much me focused or me opinion weren't as necessary-seeming as everything else. Sometimes I wondered, though, whether I didn't have some obligation to talk about my own perspectives. That I must disclose, for example, my years of therapy, my own relationship with psychiatric language, my traumas, my voices, the worst nights and stretches of my life and the things that have helped me keep going.


What I've realized since AKOMP published is I get to continue this conversation. That it is only a beginning.


Since, I've begun to write broadly on the topic of how I've gone about taking care of my own head. Especially in the years since I began reading Bob's story, especially since reading that story has caused me to learn all kinds of things about all and everything we say when we say "mental health."


I published this essay on BuzzFeed a few months back about what I guess we could call "self care" and baking pie. This week I've published another piece in this vein, about the role that running has played in my life: "I Run to Silence My Demons".


I am not a good runner. I can’t go very long. I stop when I’m tired. I don’t stretch before or after; I’m sure that’s bad. My form is probably wrong. People have told me how to run the right way before, but I haven’t remembered.
I don’t calculate my distance. I’m guessing I do two or three miles, about 30 minutes. This is one of the many reasons I prefer running outside to running on treadmills: I don’t want to see stats on a display. I’m someone whose head monologues all the time about how I’m terrible. A good strategy, I’ve found, is depriving myself of information like numbers. It’s been a long time since I owned a scale.

Read the entire thing here. My friend Amanda Shapiro edited it and I'm grateful to her shepherding it. (Sheep pun absolutely intended. This essay contains one of my favorite sheep stories.)