Question from well meaning friend:
"But why? Why would you want to run when you can drive?"
Me: "I like running, besides, I hate driving."
Friend: "Yes, but why do you have to run so far?"
Me: "Because I can run so far. Why stop at 10 miles if I can run 30 miles?"
Friend: "But how do you have the time, don't you have time off?"
Me: "That is what I do in my time off. I could run a short distance, but I use my time off to run a long distance. Think of it in your world as not just watching one episode of 'Friends', but watching the entire box set in one go"
Friend: "Oh yeah, I do that... but don't you get bored?"
Me: "Don't you get bored of watching repeats of "Friends?"
And so on.
Running makes me happy also because no one makes me do it. I feel free and I feel alive. Everyone runs for different reasons. Some enjoy the competitive side, some like the way their body gets in shape, some do it for health reasons. I run to explore and I fulfil my childlike curiousity to follow a path that leads to who knows where and with the confidence that I have the energy to run back if I get lost.
But most importantly, running is a healer for me. It takes my mind off my back pain. Yes, I still get back pain since breaking my back and I have suffered with some form of nerve pain every single day since 23rd December 2008.
Some days, I wake up and I have a pain which feels like my right shin bone is being repeatedly snapped in half. Over and over and over. The pain is so strong and so real. I have a mantra that I recite to myself, over and over;
"It is only nerve pain, it isn't real ....it is only nerve pain, it isn't real".
And that way I deal with it, and the pain dims. It is more of annoyance, because it makes me late for work, I have to get up early to walk off all my different pains and sorry to be crude, the bowel problems that are associated with my nerve damage.
It makes me so slow in the mornings, everything is a real effort and very tiring. You would think the last thing I would want to do is go for a run. But I look forward to it. I am so lucky.
I know my senses will be excited by different sights of the early morning sunrise as the stars disappear and the smell of morning dew evaporating. I will have fun bounding over stony paths and dancing over gnarly tree roots hidden beneath the leaves. I will laugh at myself trying to be clever and leaping over muddy puddles almost slipping or satisfied as I run balancing on cambered surfaces whilst still maintaining a nice gliding speed. I will love the trickling feeling the sweat makes as it drips down my back as I conquer a hill without stopping.
I will be happy, immersed in my own world concentrating on my breathing so that it remains calm despite my feet quickening. I will know I am truly alive feeling my heart pounding and my legs screaming in defiance when I don't give up. All these things I look forward to. All these things I can do.
I am so lucky. I can run. I am so lucky.
I have no excuse not to do it. I know how good it makes me feel after, how much stronger I feel. I won't ever let it get taken away from me.
Which is why I was delighted when 'Wings for Life Spinal Research Foundation' invited me to run in the Wings For Life World Run on May 4th. The run is unique and will start at the same time in 35 locations all over the world.
In the UK it takes place in Silverstone and you will run for as long as you can until a catcher car that is accelerating at a fixed rate, overtakes you, then you are out.
The entire entry fee goes to Wings For Life, which is a non profit spinal cord research foundation seeking a cure for spinal cord injuries. Their motto is ‘Running for those who can’t’. I was nearly one of those who couldn’t run. I am so lucky.
I am looking for other people to enter and join me. Not only will you be running for an amazing cause, but you will get a goody bag and an invitation to the after party at the F1 Paddock at Silverstone. The final male and female runners in the World will be crowned the Global Champions. Their award will be a once in a lifetime, round-the-world trip, to the next Wings For Life Run. Entries must be by 27th April. You can join me as part of the team 'The Wanderers' or enter as an individual.
Are you lucky enough to ‘run for those who can’t?