For my first tentative steps into writing about running, I thought I’d consider those questions we are always asked by our non-running friends:
1) Don’t you get a bit bored running? 2) What music do you run to? 3) How do you get time to run?
So, I gave these some thought this morning on a glorious 10 mile run above Spittal Beach, through Northumberland’s beautiful farms, fields and country lanes. Yep. No 1 is easy. I never get bored running. Sometimes I run with my club, Epsom Allsorts, and we natter non-stop and maybe to outsiders, inconsequentially; stuff about trainers, races ran, training plans and goals, best race t-shirts… (serious business!) and I love that it’s class/age context free and when I turn up at the tea-hut at the Downs I don’t know if I’ll be running with 20 year old Emily or 70 year old Pat, both ‘best for age’ London Marathon runners. Had a crazy-busy day at work? Someone will run at the back with you. Struggling up that ridiculous hill? Someone will run alongside and encourage you. Feeling on fire? Yehh, give a boost to a rookie runner in need of a lift. We inspire each other. It’s here I met my London and Paris marathon training buddies – and developed quite close bonds with these brilliant women. Couldn’t have done these races without them ✊🏻
But it’s not always about that, of course and sometimes, many of us runners, crave time on our own. I love my life and truly value how fortunate I am – but running allows me to necessarily escape it 😊 in a way which is acceptable, healthy and legal 👍. Escape means a moment’s freedom away from kids (my own and others’ – I’m a passionate English teacher…), work, house, marking, writing blocks, shopping, family, dog, diary, phone calls, emails, bills, yada yada yada. Maybe this is where questions 2) and 3) converge. Running is the ultimate escape for me and I long ago decided I would regard it not as a chore but as a luxury, ergo I must appreciate and treasure every moment of it as MINE. (I protect it quite selfishly and while I do my best to fit it around my life by going out stupidly early/late, (3) I’m very grateful to my family for indulging me. Thanks, fam. My bling is your bling.)
To truly appreciate this zen-like trance in which lots of us find ourselves while running, I’ve found I don’t really need music to get me going – something of a surprise to me. I’m a radio-holic, a proud owner of numerous Roberts Radios, lover of Absolute, Radios 4 and yes, 2 (God, must be getting old). I will always have at least 1 radio on at home and am always singing. And yet, since taking up running I find increasingly, that I don’t need it. It started with an iPod shuffle issue resulting in ‘Santa Baby’ on repeat, in July. I decided I’d try it without. And found that I like it a lot. I can hear birds singing, tree branches dancing; today I heard the waves break on Berwick’s shores, I hear my own breathing. That’s quite special to hear the rhythm of your own life – can’t think of any other circumstances/scenario in life (since childbirth 😖) in which I’d find myself doing this.
We are a strange breed, us runners. It’s like we’ve got this great big secret. We’ve shaken off the shackles of the gym for something… natural, something life affirming, and essential, and to us, worth making time for.