In the early hours of the morning, the wee small ones in which the sun is just beginning to rise, a walk along the river is bliss.
A walk along the river lets you breathe. In through the nose, out through the mouth. It lets you focus on your breathing, the length, the depth and the sound. The fresh air is cool from the river water and it cleans your lungs. If you run, your breathing may be more frequent, but a pleasant walk keeps it even and steady.
A walk on the river lets you listen. To the sound of feet pounding against cold pavement. To the soft padding of those who run on the grass. To the birds squawking as they begin to wake. To the river lapping at its concrete edge. You hear the sound of bike wheels spinning, the breath of those who walk by, and the soft voices gossiping away. You experience the beauty, yet somehow still the quiet.
A walk along the river gives you time to observe. Each and every person has their own way; their own style. Some jog with a friend, some jog alone. Two young-adult women run side by side and gossip between breaths.
A middle aged man strolls along in a t-shirt and baggy shorts, while another wears proper running gear, passing him by with a puff. A teenage girl walks her two fluffy dogs, an older women walks her staffy, and a man jogs with his border collie. A group of old women with wide hips waddle past in a midst of conversation; each in a polo shirt, black leggings and a cap.
Along the cycle path lives men in lycra on speedy racing bikes, people on mountain bikes riding with leisure, and a man on rollar blades with elbow pads and knee pads galore. A boy rides with no hands, texting on his phone and maneuvering around a corner with such control. A couple sprint together towards public exercise mechanisms, doing burpees the first time, skipping the next. Perhaps they are training for something.
An old jetty is falling to bits, fenced off, derelict and off-bounds. A half-empty coke bottle sits out on the wood, a plastic bag its only company, abandoned by somebody breaking the rules. Back on the path, some people coordinate their outfits. Their singlet matches the laces on their shoes, their cap matches their socks, their shorts match their sports top. Others clearly don’t care, like me in my white t-shirt, black shorts and bright purple shoes complete with fluoro orange laces.
Some have water bottles strapped around their waist, others carry one down by their side. Some have Ipods in plastic cases wrapped around their arms, others clip shuffles to their pants. You notice how everyone’s step is different. Some run in rhythm, other’s change it up. Some exhale when their feet hit the ground, other’s can barely be heard. Perhaps they run with their legs inwards, or with a little hop in their step.
Or perhaps they walk with definition and pace, or dawdle along with no particular intention at all. Whichever way, at least they’re all out here, for whatever reason, giving life a go.
A walk along the river gives you time to reflect. Whether it be on your life as a whole, what you ate yesterday and hence what you will eat today, your career, or your choices, it provides peace.
It let’s you think; perhaps you need to change some things in your life, perhaps a friendship needs some care, or perhaps your relationship is over. Whatever it may be, walking in an environment like this one allows your brain to wander.
You might think about when you were little and used to ride your bike to Point Walter with your dad. You might think about your first pet, how sad you were when they were gone and how somehow, you got through it. You might think about how in primary school we all used to put drawing pins in the bottom of our shoes and pretend we were tap dancers. You might think about what is bad in your life, but you also might think about what is good.
A walk along the river is good exercise. You can decide to run if you like, but you don’t have to. You can decide where your destination will be, checkpoints, how and where you will travel. And when you reach the end of the road; the walk is over and it’s time to go, you will feel refreshed – maybe a little tired, or exhausted if you’re not as fit as you thought – and you will be ready for the day.