Rachel’s Booklympics - I hope that there is a category for veteran running writers!
This is how a woman of a certain age got her writing bum off the chair and learnt how to run...
Run, Forrest Run!
Whenever I watched the wonderful Forrest Gump movie I’d think about running. Forrest just puts one foot in front of the other and off he goes. What power, imagine the freedom! I’d stare at the screen and wonder how the hell anyone ever gets to run like that.
Running had never been a part of my life. It was something I steadfastly refused to do. At school I would find every excuse possible not to don the navy knickers and aertex shirt and trot along behind the lean mean fighting machines that most of the girls in my year seemed to epitomise. With a top-heavy chest that physically hurt if I broke into anything more than a jog, I skived off PE with a determined cunning that often failed and landed me in detention.
So how on earth did I take to this sport in the middle years of life? I’d never shown the slightest inclination to slip into a pair of trainers and hoof it out onto the streets and could never understand the passion and thrill that runners bang on about. I am perfectly happy walking, at my own pace, why break out of your comfort zone?
I will never forget the day this clever little app came into my life. I was at an exhibition and overheard a group of girls discussing how they regularly ran 5K. “Thank goodness for Couch25K,” was the main gist of the conversation and when one mentioned that she’d lost 10lbs through using the app, I found myself slinking away to google it. Anything that induced weight loss had to be investigated!
And so it began...
The following morning I was up at dawn, long before the waking world would notice me. With T-shirt, trainers and scaffolding across the chest I put my head phones on followed the commentary on the Couch25K app and set off. For the next nine weeks I stuck rigidly to the programme and was absolutely gob-smacked to find that I was running 5K on a regular basis. When I say ‘running’ you have to understand that in the early days dog walkers would pass me and even now I have a very sedate pace. But oh... the joy of getting out there and the buzz that I get when it’s done! There is nothing quite like it. I find my best ideas come as I plod round the roads and my brain puts all the wrongs of the world right. Fictitious characters seem to talk to me and write themselves into my books – running is wonderful for writing.
Running is a drug...
I’ve never considered it that way but I do know that it releases endocannabinoids which are feel-good hormones and best of all completely free! Running can help with obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers and improves the quality of emotional and mental life, all helping you live longer. Folk say to me, ‘I can’t run with my knees/hips/joints...’ but I have found that my joints get stronger and knee pain etc improves – you can run through the pain if you focus on another area of your body. It is a great mental discipline.
Years ago I trekked on the Great Wall of China. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Off the tourist routes, the Wall is often rubble on terrifyingly high precipices with the steepest climbs you can imagine. The heat was oppressive at almost 40 degrees some days and my body had often had enough. But that’s when your mind takes over and something just clicks in. Running is like that – when you think you can’t, you can. Engage your brain and let it do its work, don’t fight it. If you want to really do something, you will. And age is no deterrent – look at me!
I often wonder if writing is like running, does it get better with practice? Am sure all of you running writers out there have an opinion on this!
Happy reading, writing and running everyone and big thanks to Rachel for hosting me on her lovely blog.
Thank you so much Caroline, for taking part, and also for sharing your thoughts on running. I'm not sure even an app would get me up and about to that extent, but really glad its worked for you.
Read Caroline’s latest novel: Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me