Running for Peace of Mind

By Laura Cummings

For a lot of people, running is a form of escape from the everyday business that fills our lives. While others may meditate, read a book or go shopping, some take to the pavements and trails to feel freedom and peace of mind.

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I have often found that it can be easy to forget the reasons why I love running and end up concentrating too seriously on the style and technique of my running; why am I too slow, why am I struggling up hills and why are other people better at running than I am? However, when I think like this I tend to change my running habits. For instance, I recently tried running with a new running group as I have moved away from my previous one, and joined them for a couple of speed sessions. This involved sprints of various lengths with intervals of cool downs. Although I find it quite fun to try and run for speed (as I never do this apart from at 5K events) I immediately injured myself by overdoing it and trying to do too much too soon, and more than my body is comfortable with. Not only this, I was the slowest in the group and immediately compared myself to the performance of others.

When running causes that level of injury whereby I have been limping around the Contours office for weeks, it becomes clear to me that this is not “fun”. There is no enjoyment in punishing myself because I think I have to be able to run at a certain level.

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When I take part in long distance events, even at my steady comfortable pace, I feel strong, relaxed, and proud of myself and at peace. This, I recently realised, is far more important and is the reason I love running. To switch off for a couple of hours and run somewhere scenic on a trail surrounded by trees, nature, a reservoir, and be lost in my own thoughts.

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There is definitely something to be said for running at your own pace and setting your own realistic goals, and not trying to achieve somebody else’s. When the need to compare ourselves diminishes, we realise how great we are already doing and how good we already are at something.

Trail running is especially good for finding peace on the run. The UK has so many beautiful trails to offer where you can soak up the environment you are in, spot wildlife, pass fellow runners or walkers and can be enjoyed in all weathers. With autumn just around the corner, I am very excited for the views I am yet to take in whilst running – and of course the cooler weather!

When my injury finally subsides, I will be hitting the gravel at my local reservoir and enjoying the freedom of long distance running, ready for my next long distance event, the Tissington Trail Half Marathon in September. I am looking forward to rediscovering my love for stress free, injury free and peaceful running.

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