I’ve had this on my mind a lot over the last couple of weeks. Ever since I went to see Helen Hall I’ve struggled to run properly. Initially my foot strike felt flat, awkward and rear-foot first. My achilles really hurt – to such an extent I couldn’t run and needed to take time off, strengthen, recover. This then led to ruminations at night over problems during the day. The usual thoughts of times / splits and distances gone from my mind as I wasn’t running. I had lost the sense of release and freedom that running gives me.
All this led me to question what I wanted from running and was it marginal gains that Helen would give me, or was I happy with my style, my awkward gait, but one that allowed me to move relatively fast, well and with a sense of freedom? It became clear that being able to run, pain free, as I had was far, far more important than chasing a few extra seconds / minutes that I thought I may have got from Helen. This realisation was wonderful. I knew that I didn’t need the extra support that she was giving me, what I needed was to be able to run, pain free, at a pace that felt fast. This sense of freedom, running from the day and to something brighter so much more important than getting there slightly quicker. Being able to drop off to sleep at night counting splits (albeit slightly obsessively, better this squeezing aside the darker thoughts about days events.) Why do I run – to feel free and light.
This sense of freedom and its importance became even more pronounced for me today. As I was running I was thinking about my dad and just how unhappy he had been all his life, how lost he was and I realised that was the polar opposite from me. The sadness that overwhelmed me led to tears, slowly forming and dropping down my face. I welcomed them, embraced them, an act of grief through compassion that comforted me. Offset against this I was slightly amused by the idea of people seeing a runner moving past them crying. The more I ran, the more I thought about this and the more I felt certain I run to feel free, to feel unrestrained, to switch off from everything else and be present in that moment you move. For not the first time, I knew I ran for my dad. I run for compassion celebrating the happiness and freedom that running brings me, something that he sorely lacked and something that I value as it is something I have. I run for his spirit. Having this sense of purpose is powerful, personal and valuable.
Everybody runs for different reasons – knowing why makes running something different. I suspect for many people running is so much more than just putting one foot in front of the other, faster than walking. Knowing this makes it unbelievably precious.