The beauty of an evening run
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
"Run, my beautiful intellectuals, run!"
That was the advice given by musician, comedian and all-round genius Tim Minchin to a group of university students during their graduation address. You can see more of it here. He was right too. Running is good for your body and for your mind and general wellness.
Mental health is a very important topic, one which is slowly becoming a more accepted part of everyday conversation. What is vital about the mental health conversation, is seeing others having it. Seeing friends, celebrities, colleagues - people you don't normally associate with the topic - engaging with mental health, for me, almost gave me the permission to reflect on and take care of my own.
Recently, I was very taken by Bella Mackie's Jog On book, which quite literally - as the title attests - details how running saved her life. It is a must read for anyone facing difficulties of their own or who wants a frank memoir about anxiety in the modern world.
I cannot - and wouldn't claim - to be facing anywhere near the challenges which are detailed in Jog On, but the discussion and train of thought it provoked, and Mr Minchin's advice, came back to me yesterday while I was having what Winnie the Pooh might have called a "bothersome" day.
In the midst of looming deadlines, moving house, running a business and generally organising my life, I had a bit of a freakout in the morning and found myself stressed, worried and unable to concentrate and focus. I was a blur of movement and sound, almost purposeless and as I recognised how unlike my normal self I was, I got more stressed. My wonderful other half looked after me and calmed me down, but at the end of the day I still felt a bit off and detached.
We live down in the Surrey countryside and as the sun began to drop I decided, inspired very much by what I have seen from Mackie and her husband Greg James, to head out for a run for the first time in a while.
It was the best decision I had made all day.
Somewhere along the road, as my body started to feel the burn of the run, I felt most of the day's stresses and frustrations begin to pour away. The sun was sinking down over the field around me, the evening was warm and my lungs were starting to gulp for air, but I was calmer and happier than I had been for hours.
The physical benefits of daily exercise and running are obvious. But the mental side of it is almost - for me at least - more potent. There is a wonderful moment where you are forced to listen to your body; you can push on and keep going so far but then you have to stop and breathe and recuperate. And that is a lesson that you can take home with you too.
As I headed home I came round a corner to find a woodland path stretched out before me. What had seemed closed and tough earlier was now exciting and inspiring. I set off down it, clear that I could carry myself to the end and home. Then I realised the turn-off to my house was about 50 yards away on the left.
I'd also forgotten my keys. But it didn't matter. Sat on the doorstep, waiting to be let in, was the calmest and happiest I had been all day.
If I may paraphrase Mr Minchin: Run, my beautiful people, run.