“I’m often asked what I think about as I run. Usually the people who ask this have never run long distances themselves.
“I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I’m running? I don’t have a clue.” Haruki Murakami.
I suppose in a way I don’t have a clue either. I don’t have a clue, because I see my running time as a way to empty my mind, to clear my head of all the busy thoughts I have and let go.
Where once I saw running as a way to get fit and lose a bit of weight, I now see it as a way to claw back a bit of breathing space and thinking time that I so desperately need.
I am loathe to write another post about running because I don’t want to be seen as one of those people who harps on about how fit they are. Far from it – I am a pretty average size 10-12 woman, I wouldn’t say I am naturally sporty, but with running I’ve found something that’s quick, free, and empowering.
The thing is, making time to go out twice a week has improved my mood dramatically. You only have to look at the inspirational blog One Fit Widow to see how exercise is a fantastic head-clearer after loss.
Aside from helping organise my thoughts, it’s helped chill me out by releasing a lot of pent up energy. I’ve always been a do-er, someone who isn’t entirely comfortable spending a day lounging around; I’d rather be on the go, running errands, seeing friends, writing, working, just moving. Too much time sitting still makes me tetchy, I need some fresh air to keep me sane.
Over the past three years I’ve built up a hell of a lot of time sitting. Sitting, waiting and feeling tense. Sitting by my husband’s bedside in hospital, in intensive care, in waiting rooms, and on the wards. Then at the hospice, where it was much more of a pleasant place to sit – we had a patio door which opened onto a garden – but it was a lot of sitting all the same. Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t change that for the world, I see it as a privilege to have been able to be there with Roger to keep him company, offer him love and support and vice-versa. I needed him just as much as he needed me.
And where I still need him, I have a bit of a gap which getting out for a run helps to fill. There are other things, but this is the one that’s currently working, and if it means I can get away with eating that extra piece of cake here and there, well that’s a massive bonus too!
So there we have it – I started to write about what I think about when I run, and I guess I kind of have done right there.
Apart from this inward thinking, I also think about the everyday stuff like what I’m doing for the rest of the day, my kids, what we’ll eat for dinner, all the normal stuff that fills everyone’s brains every day. I used to hate listening to music when I ran, but now I wouldn’t go out without switching on 6 Music on my on my phone first. I’ve taken to screen grabbing songs which keep me going and now have a camera roll full of really good tunes!
I think about things I’ve been through, often going over the same scenes again and again, but somehow feel more connected to Roger as he used to love running.
I think about my grief, my guilt, and whether my thoughts are normal and how they can be healed. I think about my speed, how far I’ve run, and try to push myself to keep going when I feel like giving up.
I’m lucky in that I live on the coast and there are lots of pretty flat and breathtakingly beautiful spots for a jog. When I took these photos the other week I did a 10k run taking in a park, a woodland trail, the seafront and a lap of our local marine lake. I took a few shots as I ran, despite running into the wind it was too pretty not to.
What do you think about when you run?
I’m running the Great Birmingham 10k as part of a team of colleagues from the BBC who all worked with Roger, to raise money for Wirral St John’s Hospice. You can sponsor us here.