I’ve started running again. Not long runs. Not like the ones I used to do not too very long ago. But I’m running. Again.
When I was working – way back when, it seems so, so long ago now – I used to run a lot. Many days, not every day, not even most days, but many days, I would run six miles from my front door to my chosen stop on the DLR, which would take the last few miles into Canary Wharf and all the wonders therein. Many weekends, not quite every weekend, but definitely most weekends, I would dedicate the early hours of Saturday or Sunday to ten or twelve or fourteen miles of London’s roadways.
People thought I was mad. They were probably right. I think lots of people thought I did it to stay fit. And there’s some truth to that. I was a fat child. I’ve been a fat adult. Once you’re not fat after having been fat, you work really hard to stay that way. It’s always in your head, and people who knew you when you were fat will always think of you as fat, so, yes, you’ll run and run and run to get away from that. But that’s not the only reason I ran and ran and ran.
I ran – I run – because it helps keep me sane.
At some point, after I finished working, while the man and I were travelling, I fell out of love with running. Lost my passion for road running, anyway. I still spent plenty of time on the treadmill. I still worked very hard to stay fit, well, in truth, to not be fat. I did, in fact, continue to run half-marathons and even a couple of marathons. But I could not find ways to push myself out the door. To love the road again.
So, when we moved here, to the wilds of Wales, I wasn’t really expecting to hit the road. Not really. I mean the fire was gone, and, well, I don’t know if you’ve seen Snowdonia, but, well, those aren’t just hills, those are fricking mountains. I had my little ‘gym’, my glorified shed that housed my treadmill and my rowing machine and my DVD player.
Then, my treadmill died. It was a slow, ugly, painful death. But, eventually, I had to accept it was gone.
That was a couple of months ago. Months during which we have seen very little of the sun. Months in which we have been extremely grateful to be at the top of a mountain and not at the bottom. Months in which we’ve been quite pleased to have not been washed away.
And then, one day, the rain stopped, and the man said, ‘Why don’t you go for a run?’.
And I did.
It was a baby run. Three miles, aimed downhill not up. But it was a run. And dammit if it didn’t make me feel good. So I did it the next day, and the next, and, you know what, I’m not just getting the fire back, I’m getting me back.
I’m reminded of those days right after the man and I moved to Tottenham, when I decided to hit the roads of our new neighbourhood. That was more than a decade ago, and, well, truthfully, there weren’t too many joggers in Tottenham just then. I used to joke that people turned around to see if I was being chased. Not a fact, but there was an element of truth in it. Let’s just say I didn’t quite blend. . . . But then, people started smiling and waving and saying hello or just doing what Londoners do best, ignoring me, and I had all that time and all that space to love where I lived and to let my mind go.
Now, my surrounds are without question more beautiful. My ‘hurdles’ are not dead rats, but mud puddles and sheep poo. But still, I don’t blend. People stare. Sometimes they wave. One or two say hello. But I know that I’m getting time back to love where I live and to let my mind go.
I’m running again.
I’m thinking again.
I might even be me again.