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True Story, Issue #21

"On Running" by Megan Baxter

True Story, Issue #21

True Story is a new home for longform nonfiction narratives. Published monthly by the editors of Creative Nonfiction, each pocket-size issue of True Story showcases one exceptional essay by one exceptional writer. From issue to issue, this new mini-magazine features the widest possible variety of voices and styles and subjects.

Offering vivid, immersive reports from real life, every issue of True Story is a small celebration of the larger-than-life stories and experiences that make us think differently about what it means to be human.

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ABOUT ISSUE #21: Equally a meditation on the pursuit of running, a reflection on Lewis and Clark’s endeavor to map the continent, and an exploration of the body’s limitations, True Story #21 asks: Is it possible to outrun yourself?

From "On Running" by Megan Baxter

I want to say up front that I am not a good runner. I am neither very fast nor very graceful. I don’t run competitively, although I have completed a few races. But nor am I a jogger. Some people would tell you that although in both gaits there is a moment when both feet are off the ground, what distinguishes running from jogging is speed. Some people would tell you that runners strike the earth with the forefoot while joggers strike with their heels, but in fact many competitive long-distance runners are heel strikers. For me, the difference between the two comes down to intent. Jogging is something like a shuffle, a lack of commitment to intensity. But running . . .  Running is a pursuit or an escape. To run, the body goes all in; every ligament and muscle fiber strikes, pulls, and returns to the earth; the runner tips forward like the front edge of a wheel, rolling into space.

I remember the first time I ran. I felt like a queen, divine on the earth. I was thirteen and had never run before. I remember the night clearly because of its novelty and because running is a little like taking flight. I often dream that if I run fast enough I will begin to fly, as if speed on the runway is all the jet plane requires.

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BONUS! Listen to the author's running soundtrack on Spotify! Or, browse our other True Story playlists.