‘’All I know is that you’ve got to run, running without knowing why, through fields and woods. And the winning post’s no end, even though the barmy crowds might be cheering themselves daft. That’s what the loneliness of a long distance runner feels like.” Colin Smith, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”
What makes us run through fields and woods, across towns and cities? Why have I decided to run across countries and eventually across the world?
By stripping everything back to its simplest form: running, fuelling, sleeping, you see life much more clearly. With all the daily distractions and choices removed, your mind finds a calmness that’s often hard to reach. There is a purity in all of this simplicity, much like the purity in minimalism I suppose. Running helps me to find freedom, real freedom. I’m venturing further, running over multiple days, carrying everything I need to survive, because it gives me freedom from the trappings of consumerism I’ve spent most of my life building. Until recently, I’ve built my world with far too much focus on what I own instead of on who I am. I’ve worked hard and played hard, that’s the way it works.
There is another way, and part of that for me is running. It’s not about winning, or medals, my most enjoyable runs have been ones where I’ve been alone. Running allows me to simplify my life, to focus on each foot landing as softly as possible on the ground; my shoulders relaxed, facing forwards; my core strong as I lean, letting gravity help me move forwards.
As I run, purposefully, from Leeds, through the Netherlands and Germany to Essen, I will be completely alone, but I won’t be lonely.
Running 300 kilometres, carrying my food, clothes and essentials, will allow me to leave behind the excesses, in favour of focusing on what’s important – so I can find happiness, fulfilment and freedom. The self sufficiency and minimalism of the whole experience is hugely attractive. There will be heavenly and hellish emotional and physical extremes of course, but the constant will be run, eat, sleep. Perfect.
I know that whatever happens, when I arrive in Essen at the end of the run, I will have a clarity of mind than I don’t have today – simplifying life brings huge rewards. I cant wait!