Thud, thud, thud. I can feel the mud underfoot, the gentle mist on my face, the welcome sunlight on my skin. I can feel the ache in my legs and the blood pounding in my ears. Running is when I am most connected to, and most in awe of, my body.
The link between running and mental wellbeing has gone from hokey to hard fact. Research now shows physical activity 100% improves our mood. It certainly improves my relationship with myself. On, and after, a run I am charged with possibility. I can write the novel, set up the business, deal with that deadline! Self-doubt is quashed, anxiety contained.
If I don’t run I’m generally cross with myself. I start berating myself for being lumpen and lazy. I feel less attractive. When I look in the mirror I am disappointed. It’s taken me a decade to realise that skipping one run doesn’t have any real effect on my appearance, but that self-dissatisfaction clouds how I view my reflection. It would take longer than we have here to untangle all my self-esteem issues, but when the feel-good exercise hormones are circulating in my body, there’s little room left for any self-loathing. Put simply, if I run I like myself better. End of.
Running is the only time I really think deeply, where there’s enough space and silence for thoughts to fully form and evolve. I don’t run with music, I don’t want another person’s viewpoint to cloud my thoughts. Even when I think there is no time for a run, if I go, the world somehow keeps turning and I feel a million times brighter at the end of it.
Truth is, I’ve never regretted a run. And how many things can you say that about?
Now, if you’ll excuse me…