I’m Part of the Running Community
At the moment I could run up a mountain. Or do a few quick laps of the local park, at least. The fact that out of the window I see it has just started snowing, this only makes me want to get out there the running community.
The harsh reality is that I’m sitting here in bed with an ankle brace on my left foot, chipping away at the stubborn obstacle that is plantar fasciitis. I have calf issues with my other leg – a result, no doubt, of over-compensating. But I’ll stop right there. This isn’t going to be a blog post about injuries. Although if you do suffer from niggles, hang around, it’s a constant battle for me, so I’m sure to mention it again sooner rather than later.
Why Do I Feel So Energised?
But for now, let’s go back to the title. Why do I feel so energised, if I’m in this semi-prone state? Why do I feel this morning like I could conquer the world? It’s thanks to you, the running community.
I was at the National Running Show in Birmingham this weekend and was, as always, blown away by the atmosphere of comradeship. As runners, we are all competitive people at some level, but whenever I go somewhere where we’re all together, parkrun, a 10k, a trail marathon, there is always the feeling that I’m somehow part of the ‘club’, like there is a common bond between everyone there and as much as we all want to run our personal bests, we also want the man in the baggy shorts and the lady with the ponytail to run their personal bests. I’ve played many other sports in my time, and this inclusive, positive team spirit doesn’t seem to exist anywhere else but in the running community, or it does, but in much smaller groups, and there is always an enemy.
Why Is Running so Different?
Why is running so different? Perhaps because it’s a part sport, part spirit. Yes, the whole act of lacing up, limbering up, and then putting one foot in front of the other as fast as possible or for as long as possible is a physical act. But for me, and many others I believe, it’s how those motions change and ultimately improve my mood and mindset that sets it apart from other sports.
On longer runs especially you have all that time to think, all that time to doubt and challenge yourself. It can be repetitive, It can be mind-numbing (which we believe is a bad thing but in this tech-driven age is a good thing) and It can seem endless. But then it’s over, and the pain is replaced by pride because each run is a small personal victory; no one made us do it, but we did it anyway. It would have been comfortable to sit on the sofa, but we made the more complicated, more favourable choice.
The next night that decision becomes easier to make, and the night after that. Very soon we’re making that choice out of habit, and that practice filters into the rest of our lives. Suddenly we find ourselves happier, more confident, walking around with a deep ball of self-belief that wasn’t there before or wasn’t as big previously.
Perhaps I’m getting carried away, but if you run you’ll know what I’m saying. And all this is apart from the physical benefits, the endorphins (gram for gram, 100 times more potent than heroin, I’m told), and those rare, glorious moments when you’re out in the rain and suddenly realise that right there, at that moment, you’re as happy as it’s possible to be.
I’ve been running for just over six years and can count these inexplicable waves of bliss on my fingers. I don’t try to understand them, but I remember them. The next one might be just around the corner.
I’m looking at this silly brace on my foot again. I’m frustrated. But it won’t be too long. It had better not be because I’m meant to be training for the Race to the Stones in July, and I’m already behind schedule. Which brings me to what was expected to be the whole point of this blog post. The contrast between running for fun and feel as opposed to our tendency to measure each mile and minute religiously. I’ll save that for another time! If you’ve got this far, I’ve already used up too much of yours!
Thanks for reading,
Oh, and before I go, plantar fasciitis, I heard a great tip at the Running Show from Jamie Ramsay (whose business card describes him as ‘Global Adventurer.’ Is that not the dream?!). He suggested rolling a ball on the lower calf, just above the Achilles Tendon. Fix the problem, not the symptom, tried it last night, and ouch. And ouch again. But I’d not heard that advice from anyone, and it makes perfect sense to me. I’ll keep you posted.