After three months of injury, the first run without any knee pain afterwards felt amazing.
Whilst unwelcomed, the injury itself had forced me to think about what running meant to me and why I started running in the first place.
During one of these short, “getting back into it,” runs I decided to try running without any music.
Changing from the rock and heavy metal blaring in my headphones to a calming sound of nature was strange and bewildering at first.
But running through a field of wet grass as the morning fog was leaving reminded me of a simple truth; I feel more connected with myself when I connect with nature.
It reminded me that my favourite run of all time wasn’t the half marathon or any of the obstacle races but the morning run in Madrid where I ran up the hills of Casa de Campo to watch the sunrise, followed by running down the same hill, arms flailing like a child.
I know, I know, Carlos just discovered that nature is great. Only took him 30 or so years.
Without music, the only artificial sound I heard was the interval updates of MapMyRun, “Total distance, 5 kilometres, total time 24 minutes and 25 seconds, split pace, 4 minutes and 52 seconds.”
Inspired by a run my coworker Francesco had, I decided to run without interval updates as well.
With only one update at 10 kilometres and nothing else, my mind was finally free of distractions.
And my love for running was rekindled.
I have no one to blame but myself for losing it in the first place though.
I got caught, as I’m sure many other runners do, in the excitement and grandeur of the big events. In the crowds cheering. And the medals and goodie-bags that follows.
The injury made me think about returning to a simpler running, one where it’s just me and the earth beneath my feet.
So in deciding whether or not to run the London Marathon next year I went out for a Saturday long run, instead of my usual Sunday one.
I had felt a bit unbalanced since waking up and with 9m/s winds it didn’t look like it was ever going to be the best run. But even the worst of runs always clears my head.
The first few kilometres were unremarkable.
By the 4th kilometre, I was beginning to feel more tired than usual and with a slight stomach cramp.
“It’s just the wind,” I thought.
But then around the 6th kilometre as I was crossing the M11 bridge it hit me.
I thought it was just a fart.
In slowing down to let it out, I quickly realised that it hadn’t just been air in need of freedom.
“Fuck, what do I do?”
I panicked, thinking, “I’m 30 minutes from home whichever way I go.”
A few hundred meters ahead I saw a fenced-off forest area.
Under the fence, I jogged to the nearest tree which took me far enough from the road that passing-by cars wouldn’t be able to spot the crouching man who hastily pulled his compression shorts down.
And then had a massive shit.
Wiping myself with some nearby moss I then ran the remaining 6 kilometres home and had a shower.
As strange as it may sound, the run was invigorating.
I felt elated afterwards like a weight had been lift—oh right, that makes sense.
Laughing all the way back I was now certain what running meant to me and why I needed to shift my approach.
Which is why I’ve decided to not run the London Marathon next year.
Or to fundraise for EAAA.
Because despite the word in there, there is no fun in fundraising.
Training for a marathon is hard enough. Spending more time fundraising than training for one is harder still. And not how I want to spend the majority of my time.
Fundraising can be great and it’s a vital source of income for many charities, but it isn’t something I can do every time I run an event.
To everyone who already donated, a sincere thank you on behalf of EAAA.
Running means different things for different people. For me, it’s a form of meditation and self-healing. It’s a way to reconnect with myself and nature.
I still want to complete a marathon someday, but it doesn’t have to be the London Marathon.
As I continue to recover from my injury, rekindling the reason I run in the first place I’m sure I’ll figure something out.
I’m open to ideas.
In the meantime, I’ll make sure to have a shit before all of my runs from now on.