I’ve been writing this blog a little over two years now, but it’s only in the last few months that I’ve gotten into the whole blogging community thing. Hazel from hazeljane.co.uk (make sure to check her blog out and maybe read my post while you’re at it) is one of those amazing intenet humans I’ve met through Twitter and blog comments. We decided to hand our blogs over to each other for one post (a blog swap if you will) to take our online meeting a bit further and also introduce our readers to that person on the other side of the internet connection. As I’ve written before I’ve recently gotten into running. Hazel however is a real runner and has been lacing up those trainers for much longer than me so I thought it would be interesting to read why she runs.
Rewind back to almost a year ago now and you’ll find me slumped on my bed scrolling through Ellie Goulding’s Instagram yet again. Looking at her body shape and reading up on her fitness regime on Google, I was met with an enchanting, yet incredibly dangerous and untrue, possibility that if I started running I would lose weight and have the abs and sculpted body I had yearned for for years.
So the start of 2014 started with the tug of laces, laces of an old hand-me-down pair of running trainers, and a head full of inspiration and desperation as I ran for the first time. And it started fairly well. I kept a healthy regime of three runs a week, and found myself pawing at Nike free runs rather than Jimmy Choos whilst shopping in Macy’s during a trip to New York.
Then came the realisation that my body wasn’t changing the way I wanted it to. No one had told the girl, who had spent years wanting the ‘perfect’ body, that it took years of hard work to look like the girls on Pinterest or the fitspo tag on Instagram. Yet there I was, spending my spare time scrolling through the hashtag, looking at sculpted bodies that were near on impossible for me to reach.
Running got replaced with daily trips to the gym at 6am, then a run straight afterwards and Jillian Michael’s wrenching 30 Days of Shred voice pulsing through my ears every lunch time. A body not sculpted, but torn and exhausted, fuelled only by vegetables swimming in gravy and guilty chocolate muffins at 10pm.
University ended and I found myself at home, in my own personal torture that I couldn’t tell anyone about. Family meals with healthy carbs were a minefield for my warped idea that anything not a vegetable would make me bigger. No money to fund regular gym sessions meant that I cried whenever I looked in the mirror, grabbing my small bit of flesh as I antagonised myself in front of Jillian Michael’s yet again.
So I donned my Nike free runs again and started pounding the streets. I entered the marathon thinking that running that far would be sure to make me worthy of a fitspo tag.
But as running got easier and marathon training got underway, something changed. Despite not losing weight, I was getting stronger, I had found a skill that I both enjoyed and was good at. I left the Ipod at home (you can’t listen to music whilst you run a marathon) and was left with only my thoughts for comfort.
I’ve put on weight recently, and a part of me cares so much, I still long for that perfect body. But there’s also a part of me that doesn’t care.
Those two hours of running, no stopping, legs aching and beads of sweat dripping down my face…that’s where I’m in my element. Some of my best blog posts and story ideas have come out of pounding the streets. Any personal tortures that come my way are calmed whilst I think things
through in time to the beat of feet running on the ground.
I run because I am strong. Because I can run 26.2 miles in April next year. Because it calms me.
Because it’s the only time in this fast, spiralling, confusing world that I can really step back and be alone. It’s not something I will ever give up.
If you’re reading this and you’re not a runner, I urge you to start and see if it has the same benefits as it does for me. If you enjoy it, it will free your mind and actually bring you back to yourself no matter how busy your life may be.
But don’t expect to lose weight or be part of the fitspo hashtag. Instead, be prepared to find yourself.