I’m at home, not away.
It’s wet and windy. Sometimes black clouds of rain are whisked away to be replaced by more, permitting only the slimmest slivers of sunlight to bravely brighten the landscape for a brief moment. Icy shards of rain sting my face, and the wind gusts against me, slowing my stride. I’m running as if against the tide, but it almost feels good.
Other days, a cold crisp morning coaxes me out, and lifts me as I face another hill. My reward is a pumping heart and a sky that’s always new. I capture the silhouetted trees and icy puddles in my mind’s eye, but suddenly the scene is so picture perfect that I must pause to steal a photo before running on.
Autumn brought seasonal treats with its glorious blaze of colour. I stopped a great deal in those early weeks of running.
Each day is its own. The routes that I repeat are rarely replays, shows that I’d rather not see again. I run solo, revelling in the headspace. Or I hook up with friends and my running group, and we share the day’s rain, hail or sunshine as we talk or run in companionable silence.
These airings complement my wanderlust. Post-holiday blues are calmed by the diversity and interest I see in my home patch. Yearnings to explore are more gently felt, albeit no less real. And when my itchy feet take me with my family elsewhere, running adds a new dimension.
The generously wide, straight paths stretching alongside the River Guadalquivir in Sevilla were not walked by the rest of my family at Christmas. They didn’t see the women rowers lining up on the water to race. Nor did they take a wrong turn and lose themselves in the narrow lanes and busy thoroughfares of an area of Seville not usually frequented by tourists.
Nerja, Andalucía with its deserted December beaches, empty steps to climb, and gardens growing by the sea. Time and space and beautiful sunshine on water. The release of running in winter’s warmth.
And if we hadn’t set ourselves the challenge to race down to the spectacular Balcón de Europa one evening, No. 1 and I would have missed the panorama of reds, oranges, pinks and yellows shown off by this Spanish sunset.
Pretty pictures, and precious minutes of quality time – vital in tempering the dullness of inescapable family frustrations that are felt anytime and anywhere in the world.
Running’s benefits are not unique – they give me the balance that walking or dancing, swimming or acting might give others. And some days an appetite for cooking roasted garlic meets the need.
But when time is short, a swift sprint against the wild whip of wind helps to put problems into perspective. And while my itchy feet see that the grass is actually quite green where they run, they never forget that wanderlust is a wonderful thing.
Tomorrow’s Time To Talk Day is led by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. They are campaigning to raise awareness about mental health, and England Athletics is supporting by asking people to grab a friend, get out there and run and talk. Mental health issues don’t just affect Britons (of course), and the stigma felt by sufferers is not exclusive to the UK (ditto). If I was away I would #runandtalk too. But I’m not. I’m at home. So whatever the weather I plan to find a friend or my running group and #runandtalk.
How about you?
A couple of other links
Shona Campbell, my lovely running coach, also heads Up and Running, a group for women who struggle with anxiety or depression. Click on the link for more info.
Fit as a Fruitcake inspired me to start running with Shona last September. Her blog is devoted to health, fitness and nutrition and the art of staying sane.