Rediscovering running happiness

My running story started on the farm.  Initially it was running on the spot with my Wii Fit and participating in the Global Corporate Challenge, next came some tentative little runs when I was out and about doing jobs on the farm – in my gumboots (or wellingtons) no less.  I slowly graduated to running our driveway, little bit by little bit the distance increased until I could run the whole 1.2kms.  I found myself swept up and carried away by the joy of running and my gumboot running attired morphed into the latest running shoes, compression pants, GPS watch and all the fangled things runners can get these days.  I look back and honestly don’t regret any part of this amazing trip that running is taking me on.

Running has introduced me to many beautiful running people.  I met a lady last weekend, a fellow volunteer at Launceston parkrun.  As we walked together out to our marshal positions and then back again after everyone had run by, we talked.  This lady has an inspirational running story to tell. She started off running at night because she was so embarrassed about her weight and according to her, a bad running style, that she didn’t want anyone to see her run.  She has slimmed down and if she had a weight problem there is no evidence of it now.  She looks fit and toned and well, she glows!  She loves her running, will run in the daylight, at parkrun in a fun run, she doesn’t mind others seeing her run anymore at all.  But her preferred time to run is at night, the place where her running story started, where she rediscovered the joy of running.

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This picture is of one of my most favourite stretches of road to run on, it’s just around the corner from our farm driveway and runs between our farm and our neighbour’s.  I have enough fingers with some left over to count the amount of vehicles I’ve seen on this road in nearly three years of running.  It’s very quiet.  I simply love rounding the corner and seeing that lovely stretch.  It makes me smile with happiness and anticipation.  What is it about running that it creates so much joy?  As a child I remember the recess bell going.  Looking at the clock, anticipating the sound, anticipating the teacher dismissing the class for our break.  Walk.  Don’t run.  The journey out the classroom door and then down the long wooden hallway seemed to take forever AND THEN!  The playground.  Running.   No walking! Running, skipping, jumping, moving around without the constraints of desks, chairs and teachers.  Slowly as I grew older the joy of running was lost.  I don’t know when this happened and it wasn’t until I took it up again in my late 40s that I realised that it had been lost and forgotten for so long.

Like an archaeologist carefully excavating and painstakingly removing the earth to reveal precious treasures that time has forgotten and buried, my running training is revealing something equally as precious.  The joy of running, the joy of movement.  The joy of having the ability after years of nothing to feel the air in my lungs and the quick thud of my heart.  The pump of my legs and feet as they thud and crunch the gravel road.  The opening of my mind to the unrestricted time to think and be free as I clock up the distances.

If you happen to drive down this lonely farm road under the Great Western Tiers at 41°South in Tasmania you might see cows moving between paddocks.  If you look to the right or the left and strain your eyes, in the far distance you might notice a farmer on a quad bike inspecting their cows or on a tractor feeding out hay and silage.  But on the road itself you might see the Unsporty Woman who has rediscovered the pure childish joy of running, she’s the one in the hi-vis gear plodding along with the really silly smile that can’t be wiped from her face.

If you aren’t a runner I invite you to rediscover this joy for yourself, it will take time and persistence, but it is there freely for the taking.  If you are a runner and have got bogged down in improving your time or stressing about your next event I invite you to go back to the very beginning of your running story (perhaps even back to childhood).  Rediscover your joy and smile, be happy and breathe in the child-like pleasure of just running for the love of it.

Happy running 🙂

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