For the second guest post, another former PE teacher was keen to share his thoughts on why he runs. Here are some wise words from the indefatigable Andy West…
It’s spiritual, self fulfilling, fun and gives me purpose. I could stop there (I’m not a lover of writing) but I often think about this and so the opportunity to ‘spitball’ and free write might give me the chance to clarify even my own thinking.
Why do we do anything? We have a purpose for most things in life – providing for our family, making money, having fun, being self indulgent…but why run? I started running seriously in my mid 20’s (30 years ago) and have pretty much kept going since. I’ve lost track of the number of 10k, 10 mile and cross country races I ran back in the day at a time when being my best self and being competitive were the key motivating factors. Purpose has morphed right now and I have re-discovered the joy that running can bring. Give me a trail run over the road/streets any day. I even stop and take in the views on a trail run….. it can be uplifting and gives you a chance to appreciate the beauty that still exists in this world. Being on the edge of comfort/discomfort during a run brings about a sense of resilience and determination … it impacts mindset and self belief … it makes you think anything is possible both on the trail and in your own life. If that isn’t enough then nothing is. I still feel competitive but not in the same way as when I was younger, it is more about being as healthy as I can be, knowing that I am investing in my well-being and being able to share the joy of training with my friends and co-runners.
I moved on from running to competing in obstacle course races around 4-5 years ago…my sense of purpose had again morphed and I wanted to combine running with a more diverse fitness regime that worked on both my cardiovascular and muscular endurance systems. It was really about personal challenge and self fulfillment. Spartan races cover anything from 3 -13 miles with a diverse range of obstacles that challenge you both mentally and physically. Although not for the faint hearted, they are indeed suitable for anyone who wants to challenge themselves and feel an incredible amount of satisfaction and achievement. A tag line from the event organizers is “When you cross the finish line, you’ll know”. I think it means to serve as you’ll know what’s inside your mind and it unlocks that level of commitment and determination that was hidden for so long.
I forgot to write about freedom. The hardest thing about running is putting on the running shoes and opening the door. But, once outside there is a sense of freedom from daily life, chores, the homestead, politics etc. It is liberating to be at one with your own thoughts and even to have the time to think things through without numerous other factors competing for your attention.
I love running. That’s it, I love running.Andy West, February 2021