I undertook to run a half-marathon because it had grown to be one of a number of goals I wanted to achieve during this all too short span of life allocated to me. To be truthful, I had undertaken it last year, and had made good temporary progress towards distance running but for two things; a) injury and b) I hated every moment of it. Part of my preparation and celebration of running the Cardiff Half was the drumming up of sponsorship for the British Heart Foundation. This took the form of informative, jocular but cajoling emails, most of which had a good response. One friend, however, sent an email very eloquently and kindly explaining that he wouldn't be donating as he felt people should run as an activity in itself, and that it shouldn't be linked to other activities, such as fund-raising, etc.
Raising money for the BHF had always ever been an add-on to me, and I fully understood and respect the views expressed. For some people it is all about the run, or the act of running and M is very much a pure runner.
I trained this year in a slightly haphazard way, and grew to enjoy the running. On my first disastrous run with E she quite bluntly informed me that my attitude and the way I was thinking about running was all wrong, and she was right. It was one of the many but key things she gave to me, and possibly has had the biggest impact to date. I was 'enjoying' it but not loving it, not feeling it. And that was wrong.
I love running, now. I think I have always loved running, the feeling of being in full flow, of ambling along at a slow jog, of the fleeting texture of the ground as it passes beneath, of the effort and the simple joy of moving. And yet somehow, over the years, I had forgotten that feeling. The goal was to run a half-marathon, and that had blinded me to the fact that, actually, I just needed to run, and to enjoy it. The distance was irrelevant, at most a marker.
M and E were, and are, right. The act itself has an integral pleasure, an innate joy, no matter the standard or quality of it, and that should be remembered and felt and be immersed in. I love climbing, and walking, and photography, and writing, and numerous other things. And rather than worry about how I am doing or whether I am 'progressing' or whatever, I just need to feel that exultation and the pleasure of the act. Everything else is a bonus.
Sometimes it is enough to just do, and be, without worrying about why and what for.
Sometimes there is nothing but the run.