Why I Run to Work and The Myth of Sisyphus

Written by Tuan Giang on June 6, 2018


I was never the athletic type of person growing up. The first sport that I ever tried out was basketball and I did not even make the team in high school. Not making the team in my junior made me opt for cross country in my senior year.

I have a love-hate relationship with running. I like that it keeps me in shape and it's where I met one of bestest bud. But, I don't like it because... It's running... While I did well in the 1500 meters, I did terribly in the three miles races. I envy those that could run so fast for so long.

Over the years, I tried to keep myself in shape through running. Taking it seriously for a bit during my freshman year in college but the interest never did last. Only recently I had the opportunity to take running a little outside of the box by run commuting.

Running to work has been an interesting experience. I did it for a bit while I was a sophomore in college. By far this year has been the longest that I have run commute to work.

Each run typically last about 1.5-2 miles one-way. I will write another article regarding the gears and preparation that comes in hand but I mainly wanted to talk about the mentality and philosophy that I have found behind the runs.

To me, running is almost kind of like mediation. It takes a level of relaxation concentration, which is contradictive when it's being said like that. Speaking from my experience, I believe that you have to relax because you can get tense. The tension can kind of disrupt your state of mind and you'll be more sensitive towards your muscle pain and also your breathing rhythm can out of pace. I usually try to concentrate on my state of my mind to make sure that I am focusing on breathing at a good pace and that I am thinking about the run and not anything else.

On a more chill run, I can go at a pace that let me comfortably reflect on things. One of the thing that I like to reflect on is the Myth of Sisyphus. It's actually an philosophical piece written by the Algerian philosopher Albert Camus. I highly recommend to read it if anyone is interested in philosophy.

To give you a short summary of the piece. Sisyphus was a Greek god that was cursed to roll a piece of boulder up a hill only to have it roll down and repeating the task all over again for eternity. From the perspective of the outside, you'd think that kind of life is unhappy. However, Albert Camus linken that you'd have to imagine that Sisyphus is happy doing the same thing over and over again for eternity. Camus is recognized as the father of a branch of Existentialism called Absurdism. The understanding that I have about Absurdism is that life is essential absurd - doing the same thing over and over again but you have to smile and be happy doing it.

When I am running I think about why am I doing this as I am huffing and puffing on my way to work. I have goals like running a sub-4 mile, actually keep an eye out for this as I am integrating my running data shortly. I'd like to get a six pack and buying less six packs. And I don't wanna say that I will achieve them all because I might not. But the least that I can do is try my best and do it with a smile.