I have done very little running recently, due largely to pressure of time: an excuse I don’t like making as I always feel if you really want to do something you’ll fit it in… but sometimes you want to do something, it’s just other things are higher up on the priorities list. And my priorities list is usually pretty long.
However last weekend I ran Kielder 10km with Kerry. It was great. Kerry is really good at keeping a steady pace: and for once in my life I kept with her instead of getting gradually faster. Funny, isn’t it – with running I tend to get faster; with singing I tend to get slower (especially with sad songs).
The Kielder 10k is a lovely course, and it perhaps helped put some of the unhappier memories of Kielder marathon to bed. It also made me consider why I run nowadays. Having been very competitive and having run to keep fit but also to race and to beat my own time (or someone else’s), now I hardly think about my time. We were slow: but we ran, I felt good at the end, it gave me the confidence to think that perhaps I will manage the Glenridding trail race (9 miles) in a few weeks’ time; and I enjoyed it. There was no pressure to ‘perform’.
Out on the Ridge today – just over a week later – for another run, I realised that not only do I run to try to keep a bit fit and healthy but I run to be outdoors, and to give my mind and my soul a bit of a reprieve from the hectic emotions of every day life. There’s something almost meditative for me about running, pausing up on the top of the Ridge to lean against (or hug) a tree and to gaze over into the distance. Each footstep is a physical connection to the earth: briefly I am air-borne to re-establish that connection with earth as I come back down. Earth in the sense of the physical dust from which we came and to which we will return and the Native American and other ancient races’ sense of the ‘Mother’.
And of course the leaves were beginning to turn into their golden autumn colours: yellows and coppers against a background of green at the moment, but in a few weeks’ time there will be a mass of copper, bronze and gold. Having rediscovered the joy of running, and of being outside, next time I go I shall take my (new) camera and get some photos of the glorious autumn colours. I just hope it’s not too long before I manage it.