Four years ago, I got up from the couch where I had lazily dozed all day, put on a pair of old trainers and declared that I was going for a run. I stepped out of my front door and jogged ever so slowly for approximately half a kilometre down the road, before running out of breath and cramping up.
I limped back home, beaten yet invigorated.
I remember that run so very clearly. It is firmly etched in my mind amongst other life-changing events – the kind that roll in like a huge barrel wave, knocking you sideways, sucking you into their terrifying vastness, and then spitting you out the other side, spluttering and bewildered, yet enlightened.
Back home, standing in my kitchen, clutching the work-surface as I stretched my screaming calves, I felt something change within me – an almost inexplicable shift in how I identified with myself, like a magnetically organic pull.
A tiny seed had been planted.
A tiny running seed that would quietly cultivate a flourishing new me.
Technically, I’m not a very good runner. I probably look quite stupid whilst I’m out there pounding the pavements; I run with a general awkwardness and I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to do with my arms. At times, my hips lock and I kind of shuffle forwards like a penguin, my mouth fixed in a staunch grimace, my eyes staring at my feet, willing them to work. I am not a particularly fast runner either, nor am I competitive, I procrastinate a lot and am forever finding an excuse to slow down to tie my shoelace or fiddle with my iPod.
Do you know what though? In spite of all this, I am still a runner.
When I run, nothing matters. It’s just me and the sky and the ground beneath my feet. My day can be the shittiest-shitter of a day, my shoulders stooped and burdened with the cumbersome bags of emotion I regularly heave upon them, and yet when I run, I shake myself free, my heart races and the furnace in my body burns with a fiery intensity. Running is so much more to me than just exercise. Running provides me with a mental and spiritual strength that I just cannot channel from any other source. Running brings me home and helps me to deepen my relationship with myself. A 20 mile training run can kick-up a multitude of physical challenges; blisters, cramping, chafing, swollen feet and aching, and yet the mental hurdles are often the worst to contend with, specifically the all-encompassing desire to just STOP.
But I never do.
I keep on running. I keep on digging deep. Running unleashes my inner-badass and I stride purposefully, powered by a strength that resonates and rumbles loudly from within. Running challenges everything I think I am. I’ve never been one to stick at anything, I half-heartedly practice playing the guitar, I don’t write nearly enough as much as I intend to, I make plans and then break them, but I rarely miss a run. I am consistent and disciplined and I. Stick. At. It.
Running is where I find my peace; my thoughts flow clearly, and I feel capable, content and passionate about my life.
Most of all, I run because I can.
Why do you run?