What is running?

What is running? Other than the obvious physical attributes of putting one foot in front of the other, running it appears is so many things to so many people. For me running was a way to raise money for charity after my mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018. My journey from non-runner to completing a marathon for Bowel Cancer UK opened my eyes to what running is and what it can be. As a self-confessed hater of running, I picked a marathon as my challenge as I felt undertaking something hard and something that I didn’t like would encourage more sponsorship. Initially, this was the driving force for my training, completing my goal will raise money and the training will help me complete that goal.

In the early days of training, each run felt like a chore, more of a hoop I had to go through to get to the next milestone on my road to the marathon. However, as time passed and I got more miles under my belt something shifted, my runs (which I still hated) were giving me a release from the real world. My training runs were giving me time by myself and with 2 young children at home and a part-time job, time to myself does not occur often! If I had a particularly stressful day at work, I found myself looking forward to hitting the pavement and clocking up the miles. When my mum had her big operation to remove her tumour, I went for a run, it helped me to mull through my feelings about a situation I was feeling helpless with. Eventually, I found I still did not enjoy running but I was understanding the benefits both physically and mentally and I was enjoying the feeling of calm and achievement as I was pushing through to the longer distances. Throughout this journey I have learned more about myself than ever, I have learned about what I can and cannot run through, how I need to prepare my body with nutrition for the miles I want to achieve and how to mentally get through long runs and ignore the achy muscles that go with them. Half-way through my marathon training my sister persuaded me to join the Hyde Park Harriers, I was dubious. As someone with hermit tendencies and who loves her ‘me time’ on her runs I didn’t see how I would enjoy running with others. How wrong I was! Joining a running club was the next logical step, I just couldn’t see it at the time. This was an entire community of friendly runners, spurring each other on with no judgement about what level I was at. When I failed my first attempt at the marathon, you amazing group of runners was just what I needed to spur me on and 8 weeks after failing my first attempt I completed a marathon, I was even joined en-route by some HPH’s and cheered over the finish line by more of you. One and a half years after starting to run I can finally say I enjoy it, for the most part, and the drive that makes me continue to run has shifted. It is no longer about raising money for charity and more about continuing to learn about myself, living a less stressful life, staying healthy, beating my own goals and being apart of a bigger community. 2 years ago I hated running, now I cannot wait to proudly wear my HPH vest at my first race (once lockdown is over).

So what is running?

It’s exercise, it’s learning, it’s de-stressing, it’s you and the landscape, it’s a community, it’s hate and love and everything in between and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Emily Tasker

13th April 2020