I had expected taking up running to change my body and, perhaps, to give me steely resolve and the ability to tough things out. It was a pleasant surprise to find it relaxed me and was a great de-stressor.
I never thought that it would totally change my personality. I took science A-levels, and then took professional exams to become a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (fine body of men). Logic, analysis, rational decision making and a balanced point of view were the characteristics of my life.
Yes there were some slushy bits, but they were restricted to things like meeting my wife and seeing my children born. But now running is making me go all artistic.
Recently I met, quite by accident, an artist and became fascinated by her work. She says “The colour and smell of the paint, the sounds of the charcoal on board or paper, the feel of clay on my hands, music and silence, all these are triggers and every mark is a decision.” – Rosemary Goodenough. What a complete load of tosh I would have said, but tonight on my run I knew what she meant.
On my run I went barefoot (and I mean bare feet – no expensive contradiction in terms barefoot shoes for me) and could feel the texture of the road under my feet, enjoy the warmth of the tarmac were it had been in the sun and contrast it with the cool where it had been in shade. My feet made a gentle pattering noise and my step was light, I was in tune with my environment. Then suddenly the prick of a small sharp piece of gravel would interrupt my peace and I would be very aware of my feet before eventually reaching a smooth patch of tarmac and returning to peace again.
Rosemary also says “As an artist I am viscerally aware of the absolute straight line connection between me and the artists who made their marks with such verve on the walls of the Chauvet Caves approximately 35,000 years ago. We don’t know their names or motivations but the drive and passion to make marks is a primitive and inescapable human need and this straight line connection between artists across millenia will never be broken. For me, being part of a link in this past and future chain is fundamental to my life as artist.” What a complete load of drivel the old me would have said.
Tonight as I ran barefoot I was connected to my ancestors who ran freely across the plains of Africa.