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It’s actually never been about running (or “5 Reasons Why I Run”)

 

90% of the time that I am running, I hate running. Ok, “hate” is a strong word but I really don’t enjoy it… perhaps an odd thing to open with given that this is meant to be a blog about the benefits of running. But let’s face it, what’s to enjoy? My lungs burn, my knee twinges, my feet are shredded after long distances, and occasionally I catch sight of my reflection in a shop window: a horrifying sweaty mess, shuffling along with lycra clinging in all the unforgiving places. So when my girlfriend’s first sleepy words are “enjoy your run, babe” as I lump out of bed in the morning and she rolls back over, my usual response is “unlikely, but I’ll try”.

And yet I truly believe that running helped (and continues to help) save me from the lingering dark cloud of depression.

  1. Running is a goal

I am an over-achiever, I will pretty much do anything for a certificate and I definitely don’t google what the finisher’s medal for a run I have signed-up to looks like (except I do). The trouble with being goal-oriented is that, without a goal, things can seem frustratingly pointless. Running gives me a goal, whether that’s a distance to cover or a PB to smash, and sometimes that’s the light in the dark.

  1. Running is a lesson in humility (and being kind to myself!)

 Bad runs happen… except no one wants to post a bad run on social media (#trippedoverthecurb) so we can be forgiven for thinking we’re alone on those days. It’s so much easier for everyone else, isn’t it? They’re so much faster. They’re not in pain. They didn’t make a bad underwear choice and keep stopping to remove a wedgie. But running taught me to accept that the bad runs happen, they’re not a sign of failure, and so I should be kind to myself when they do… and think ahead on underwear.

  1. Running is my relationship with my body

So much of my depression stems from not liking my body. I wasn’t proud of it, I didn’t trust it, and I couldn’t see why anyone else would want to be close to it. Running helps me build a better relationship with my body; I take care of it and love it a little more than I did. My legs hurt after 8 miles but they will carry me on if I tell them, my feet will heal and my 32-year-old body can run 13.1 miles faster than my 28-year-old body could. We’re getting there.

  1. Running is exploration

My running shoes are the first thing packed in my bag when I go on holiday. Running in new places has shown me some of the most beautiful things: my favourite beach in the world, city streets before the rest of the world has woken, hidden artworks, perfect little cafes.

  1. Running is freedom

I don’t mean this in an abstract, metaphysical way. Right now, they world is in lockdown. We are necessarily curtailing our own liberties to try and save lives during a pandemic. It’s the right thing to do, of course it is, but I am climbing the walls! There is only so much Netflix a girl can watch and every day is a battle to stay out of the fridge. But my morning run has taken out a whole new meaning. Now it’s not just to keep fit or train for the next run; it’s a chance to be outside and be immersed in the world for a little while before locking down again.


So, no, I don’t love running. I don’t adore the act of putting one foot in front of the other at speed. But I do love what running does for me and those are more than enough reasons to keep running.

 

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