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  • bernardquinn

Keeping sane and running up that hill....

Updated: Feb 4, 2022

The trail is steep, rough underfoot, broken rock, rutted tracks, good for 4x4’s and mildly eccentric hill runners. The early morning is icy cold and a red sky dissolves into a pale blue hue overhead. At the top, we pause to admire the rugged views across black and gold grouse moors as far as a puffing plodder can see. We head towards the rising globe, warming, full of hope for the day ahead.

We are three.

Gillian, Jock, and me, running in that order. The banter is nonsense, God knows how we end up talking about we talk about. Sometimes struggling for a breath between laughs and exertions.

We dance (hah!) over heather, some ancient barely visible trails guiding us, pushing us to go further, breathe harder, legs pumping, arms flailing as we slip, run, stumble across the moors.

It’s good for my soul this. Interrupting the banter are periods of silence when I retreat into the quiet of my mind.

The exertions push thoughts of work, stress, and daily stuff out. I’m just running, being, you might say and, in the moment, in the zone. Running does this for a soul. I hit that sweet spot; everything has moved to automatic movements. Legs turn, arms swing, heartbeat increased but steady, breathing good.

Some startled squawking grouse rise ahead and catching the wind they race away, turning, rising then swooping low away towards the horizon. Black spots receding, annoyed with the interlopers.

The interlopers switch positions. We take turns alone, run with each other or occasionally all three together. Nothing is determined, no pressure to be at the front or at the back. David isn’t with us today, shame as he is the only one who can keep up with Gillian, so Jock and I take turns to try and push along with the speedy one.

I think, no I know that running has saved me over the years. Whenever life has been tough, there’s always been the succour of a run. Dark memories recede, conflicts imagined and real dissipate, and annoyances are managed through the simple art of pushing one foot in front of the other. For me it’s the panacea for all my ills. As someone once said, ‘you never regret going for a run’ and that’s true for me.

This morning we finish the trot up the final hill, and I struggle to keep close to the others but that’s okay. The air has cleaned my lungs, cleared my head and the views and toil has nourished my soul. I love running. It’s still only 9.30am but I know it’s going to be a grand day ahead....

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