A long period of not running is a bit like a prolonged taper, it does weird things to your mind. When the running stops, that running-shaped bit of our lives becomes a void where there be dragons and monsters to work wyrd magick in our heads. When we taper, we have to trust the space of not running and it's often when we get a deeper understanding of running. Not running because of an injury brings a similar void. I'm beginning to realise the importance of finding the value of 'not doing'; not running; whatever the reason for our stillness.
In my last post I found myself questioning the right to call myself a runner. It led to a lovely exchange with Bob, a Twitter chum and remarkable blogger. Bob has a powerful story to tell about being a runner and not always being able to run (I don't want to spoil the story so will say no more!). His tale helped me understand that I am indeed a runner even if I'm not on my feet. If you ever get fed up being injured and fear you're losing hope, read Bob's story and believe. Thanks to Bob I know that at a fundamental level that no matter what I do, I am a runner. #thatisall
As the week went on I got more and more aware of the vacuum created by not running and how clearly I can see how running has become a fundamental part of my life, of who I am and increasingly, my core survival strategy. When things have been tough, running has got me through. Now that I've stood still for a while, I can see I've almost literally been running for my life the last wee while - to burn off stress and clear my mind. Running has given me a massive sense of achievement and self confidence that I can do what I set out to do. It has provided an escape from worries and fear. Running has gifted me friends, a positive attitude, resilience and more confidence than I have ever had about anything: ever. But I only truly understood this when I stopped running.
But over the last 3 years, the balance has shifted and quite often I'm working out how to juggle things round a run. The signs are visible everywhere I look. The alarm set for the crack of dawn to squeeze a run in before work; protein shakes in the cupboards; more trainers than heels and drawers full of lycra.
Nature abhors a vacuum and I have felt a real desire to rush to fill the spaces with noise and ideas and plans and goals, but if I do that I lose the true value of being where I am. So I'm not going to do that. I'm going to stay here for a while and see what emerges. I'll be running soon and I'll lose the perspective that not running gives me, the chance to reflect on my life from a different place. The future lies in the spaces in between and it will emerge in its own good time.
Every time I've taken time out of running I have gone back stronger and better and more fully a runner. The first time brought I discovered a Chi Running teacher and community that have helped me connect my mind and body and focus on form. The second time I learnt how to accommodate my less than perfect biomechanics (i.e. dodgy feet) and to balance my lop-sidedness. Now, I'm reflecting on where running fits into my life and how I want to run over the next stage of my life.
When we runners don't run for whatever reason, a space is created. What we do with that space is up to us. We can turn away from it, ignore it, freak out, pack it full of activity. Or we can lean over the edge, take a peek at what lies within and wait for new things to happen. It really is a case of watch this space!
Whether you're running or reflecting, have a great week.