If you had asked me a couple of years ago to go running, outside, in cold, wet, windy weather, my answer would have been a resounding no. And yet, here I am, just returned from a run along the front, from running in the damp and the mist and the cold. And I loved it. Last week I even went running just as Storm Gareth was hitting our shores, barely able to catch my breath and freezing my ears off. I was even on the precipice of a cold and I still went out, even though I knew it probably wouldn’t do me any good, because I needed to get out and run. One foot in front of the other. Over, and over.
I shouldn’t have gone really, subsequently, the cold hit me with its full force and I am still recovering now, a week later. I shouldn’t have gone out today, as it still hasn’t fully subsided, and physically I do feel worse than before. I took it easy though – my friend and I are doing what is essentially the ‘Couch to 5k’, although we not consciously, we only found out about it after we had already started running together. We run for a minute and then walk for a minute, only last week and today we walked a little more often and ran a little less so that I didn’t run out of breath entirely.
And I know none of the above sounds very fun. When I went out I felt pretty bad, and I returned feeling worse. So what was the point? Why put myself through that, especially when we weren’t even improving on previous runs in terms of length of time running, the ground covered or speed? Especially when I knew I would be nagged by both my mum and step-mum for going while unwell? It’s because, quite simply, running is no longer just about my physical health.
Being outside, by the sea, wind in my hair and even with the rain in my face, feels so incredibly refreshing and calming. If I don’t go out for a couple of weeks then I can feel that my mood is affected. Obviously exercising releases endorphins – it is supposed to make you feel good – but just being in the elements, even just for half an hour, focusing on your feet, is so soothing. It is as if I can breathe in the icy sea air and feel it cleanse my insides. It almost feels spiritual.
Apart from, you know, all the sweating and heavy breathing.