For every journey there is a start point and an end destination. Both these locations might be the same place, but that doesn’t matter. Journeys are more interesting than simply just getting somewhere; they can turn into stories or, if one is very lucky, become adventures. I find my bank of ‘running stories’ invaluable and use them for a multitude of reasons. It’s like a mental library stored in my brain, and by opening the pages I know I can find a way of overcoming any running issues that may arise.
Using this technique I can always find the motivation to go out and run – even when I really don’t feel like it. On a dark, wet winter night, when I could easily come up with a multitude of genuine excuses to avoid going outside, I think back to past times when I’ve braved the elements and the deep feeling of satisfaction on my return. I think back to the moments I would have missed had I stayed at home. Before long I’m out of the door and running again.
Using stories from past races to run stronger over all terrain
And then there are those times, often when a big race is approaching, that I lose some of the joy of running. The additional pressure of an upcoming race can change my mindset – for the worse. I push, fight and pressurise myself to go faster. I know from experience that when I lose enjoyment I also slow down and begin to worry about aches, pains and the possible onset of an injury. The only way to dig myself out of this pre-race hole is to surf through my ‘running stories.’ Within these stories I can find times when running was at its enjoyable best. I can recall what it feels like to float over all terrain, up and down hillsides and along winding trails. Thanks to these stories I go into a race in a positive frame of mind.
On race day itself, when things inevitably start to hurt, or I feel like I’m hitting the wall, I flick through my catalogue of stories to focus on a race where I felt strong and fast. These thoughts reignite my confidence and slay the fear demons. They empower me to run to my potential.
From the dust roads of Africa to the mountains of New Zealand
The joy of regularly memory-flicking means that I have wonderful clarity on so many past moments. Running can be sharing a moment; one that helps form a bond and cement friendships. Or it can be a moment of solitude; one that takes you to places you’d have otherwise have missed out on. I love looking back at some of the more bizarre places my running shoes have taken me. Through the wonderful New Forest where I live, into slums in India, up eerily deserted dust roads in Africa, along beaches in Indonesia and across mountains in New Zealand. Such running journeys have landed me in trouble as well as getting me out of trouble.
The simplicity of the sport leaves the memories of special moments out on the trail imprinted in my mind forever. The sights, smells and sounds that otherwise would have been missed make wonderful running partners. They leave me open to bask in the sheer power of the natural world around us and to be thankful for the times I’ve had.
These stories mean that when I think about going for a run I still get the most amazing feeling of excitement and anticipation for the adventures ahead. And, of course, every run is another opportunity to further expand the library.