2010 has been a very eventful year indeed. Life changing decisions have been made with a lot of tears, balanced by an even greater quantity of laughter. Fresh starts, renewed hope, faith, and a hell of a lot of running. I have so much to be grateful for this year.
It has been a year of firsts for me. Some of the milestones: my first 100km, first 100 miler and the first time I tried oysters instead of just deciding I didn’t like them. As it turns out, I like all of the above!
All year, the common question that I kept being asked was “What are you running from?”. The distances I was covering each week averaged 80-100 miles and a lot of non-runners I met couldn’t relate to that. It was a question I had time to ponder during all the time I spent pounding the trails and pavements. What was I running from?
As I said, it’s been a very eventful year. Running was initially an escape, a stolen hour or two where tangled thoughts could be teased out and yes, I was trying to run away from my troubles. I found some answers during my runs, but mostly I concentrated on taking control of the pain and fatigue. Short runs became long ones, and the challenge of 10k and 10 mile races became half-marathons and longer. Each long run challenges me and forces me to be honest with myself. I might be able to fake it through a 10k or even a marathon, but over 100km and 100 miles, there’s no place to hide. I realise this is what drives me. The need to be in control, to be constantly challenged, and to have lofty goals to aspire to. Time to get back in the driver’s seat.
Running the distances I did was cathartic. Almost every run culminated in a little more clarity, and a little more understanding. Not just for the deep, dark swirly pool of thoughts, but for the simpler things too. A long overdue return to faith, private conversations with God I thought I’d forgotten how to have. Feeling uplifted because I’d seen a tiny dormouse scurry across the trail. Appreciating the small details.
In training for the GNW 100 miler, I learnt a lot about myself. I don’t run with music, and this forces me to concentrate on what I’m doing and where I’m going. Also because I’m a complete klutz and would a) fall over, b) get lost, c)get run over, d) all of the above, quite easily without any extra help. No scars, no proof! The absence of music as a distraction lets running emerge in it’s simplest form. It strips away all the layers that are put on for the benefit of everyone else and forces me to confront myself, warts and all. The further I run, the closer I get to this. It’s not always pretty, but it usually ends up feeling pretty good.
So in response to the many who have asked: What am I running from?
It turns out .. nothing. I’m running for the sheer joy it gives me (yes, that grimace you see is actually one of unbridled happiness), and because it keeps me honest. That, and I love food so much that I really will be Fat Bird if I didn’t run. 🙂
So as we teeter on the brink of a new year, have a think about it. What are you running from?