Amidst the pressures and demands of work and family, reminders and “to-do”s and devices and never keeping up, there is an escape….
Set a deadline to Log-Off, put on the trainers, and see which route it turns out to be. If you’re lucky, there will be weather and mud and hills and space… some peace.
And sometimes, by the time you get back, you may find that the pressures and demands of life will have sorted themselves out a little.
For me it is primarily about relaxation: to get away from the demands of everyday life, an escape for myself. I am happy to run just for the sake of running, to be out there. It doesn’t have to be a race; it doesn’t have to be faster than last time; it doesn’t have to be longer.
I started filing my running log under the name TARS – “The Art of Running Slowly” – in 2010. Over an extended period I had come to a deep realisation that as I was getting older I couldn’t keep pushing myself harder all the time: I was getting injured more, injuries were taking longer to heal (and leaving more of a weakness afterwards), and it was clear I could not keep shaving my times for ever. This is hardly rocket-science, but once I had accepted it – properly and honestly with myself – I deliberately changed the way I run.
- I moderated my pace.
- I took stock of how I felt and went longer or shorter according to that, rather than slavishly following a predetermined plan.
- I varied my routes and improvised more.
- I noted my times and miles-totals with interest and curiosity instead of judging myself by them.
- I let my body and spirits decide.
The effect was dramatic, and a revelation to me. I enjoyed my running more; I discovered a real joy in running just for the sake of it.
But at the same time something rather remarkable happened. As well as getting hurt less, my running improved. I could go further. I could run more often without ill-effects. My style and form feels more natural.
And I’m still discovering new things, still feel I’m making positive progress in lots of ways. Instead of running myself into the ground until I reach the inevitable point where I break down.
Running for the simple joy of it; without getting hurt; enjoying it more; so that I can keep running for longer.
That is The Art of Running Slowly.