Friend’s often ask me, what makes me run, what makes me drag my tired body out of the door for a run at 6am on a cold and wet winter’s morning?
When things are going well and I’m in good shape the answer is simple, to run PB’s, to win races, to help my team win races and to work towards my dream of competing at the Commonwealth Games. I think about how each run is a step towards getting to where I want to be within the sport.
Following the World 50K Championships I found myself feeling fatigued. It took me longer to recover than I had expected and meant that I didn’t compete half as well as I had hoped over the Christmas period. It is true though that you have to have the tough times to appreciate the good and this period provided the perfect opportunity to reflect on the deep rooted reasons behind why I really run. I was still dragging myself out of bed, I was still putting myself on the line. A large part of it was because I knew that the only way to get back into shape was to keep training, keep racing and keep pushing on, but there’s more to it than that…
My goals and reasons for running have changed as the years have gone by. From the age of 12, when I started out and all I wanted to do was beat my dad, to the aims I mentioned before. The fundamental reasons for running always remain the same though. A visit back to West Wales (home) over Christmas and a run on the costal paths reminded me of this and what they are.
I run for that feeling of satisfaction. Knowing that I’ve gotten out and put in some miles whilst everyone else is asleep first thing in the morning. I love that mental battle when the alarm rings and you feel tired and sluggish but know that you need to get out that door. The first mile is always tough, but once the legs wake up there’s nothing nicer than running around the streets or in the hills when all is quiet and the sun is rising.
I run to challenge myself. It’s not always possible to be in personal best shape, but regardless of my fitness, it’s always a challenge. A hill is a hill, and if you’re working up it at your near maximum effort, it’s always going to hurt. I love that feeling when the legs are screaming at you, your lungs are burning and your head is telling you that surely this isn’t good for you and you should stop. I love the mental battle that takes place when this happens, and that feeling of satisfaction when you overcome it.
I run to compete. As I’ve said it’s not always possible to run at your best and run personal bests, but there are always challenges present that you can focus your attention on. Whether it’s to complete a distance, run a season’s best or finish in a certain position.
I run for escape. As it stands now, I’m a road runner, but my love for running started on the mountains. There’s no better feeling that running on the hills away from any traffic, from the madness of a city and finding complete peace and quiet. I find it’s my place of solitude, a place where I can go and guarantee I’ll feel good no matter what else is going on in my life.
Finally, I run for my friends, for comradeship. It’s funny that everyone speaks of running as an individual sport, but you soon learn that it’s very much a team effort. The support I get from Saucony, my coach (James Thie) Team Thie and the RAF is what drives me on and helps me work towards my goals. I’ve met some of my closest friends and my fiancé through running. The sport brings a whole range of friendly people together, and there’s no better feeling than standing on a start-line alongside friends.
There are numerous reasons for anyone to run, that’s what makes the sport so special. Enjoy it!