Slipping on my dark blue running gear is like reacquainting myself with old friends. I slip on socks and tightly lace my running shoes feeling the tightness and the tug. It's been too long but somehow my mind and body has ached for this movement, for the pull of the heart and the rhythm of the breath.
After feeling the bolt of the farm gate release behind me I pull down my
well fitting lightweight running hat and open my stride and after a few
moments it's seems that brakes have begun to ease off and a new energy
and looseness flowers through my body from the sway of my arms and the
gentle cantilever of my backbone awake within me
I tell myself that it feels good and so it does, this getting out of my
constantly turning mind and into nature, into my body. There is an
intimacy with the air and earth, the senses sharpen and boundaries
become porous. Running gear feels like running unclad and the lightness
of a run lifts one into a series of temporary flights over the earth, a
slight jump over a mountain beck much attenuated at the end of summer.
I close my mouth to avoid the clouds of midges and experience one in the
eye which I blink away. I weave past a craftsman repairing a stone
wall. As I run along the wall a slow measured retrieval of a jagged lump
of Lakeland slate slotted into place now become woven into a regular
pattern, embracing its neighbour it's very unsymmetrical shape an asset
into binding together this structure to survive winters and summers and
hold animals in their allotted place. Part of me wants to stop and
exchange a few words but I am urged on.
It's like a kind of inner steam engine with the breath the energy that
rings feet and legs into an oppositional harmony of motion and balance
and pulls in more of me as I seek a relaxed run erect enough to provide
an internal spring within.
This is wild and I am in wild, an ecstatic experience of flow in a body
in motion but yet in time a temporary sojourner to these massive
mountains overhead and to these young oak woodlands beginning to
surrender summer leaves. I feel chipped slate underfoot, the softness of
boggy mud, I slow to negotiate rocks since a twisted ankle is not an
ambition and slow to walk down a steep rocky slope as I feel my heart
loosen from a canter to a trot and to a walk.
The sun sparkles from the river running also between rocks it's path as
twisty as mine, birdsong from the woodland, the flash of a magpie with
long blue black tail tangents before my gaze. I'm hot and sticky yet
feeling the surge of wildness even as the body tires. Up an incline and
down the other side, joining a track, crossing the river by an arched
bridge and moving into the next village passing walkers with a brief
greeting. At the end of the day few walkers and they all seems to be
birds flying to their over night roosts with their Ordinance Survey
routes now turned into stories and images for discussion and
recollection during winter evenings.
It's a beautiful sunny warm autumn day and here I am my body being
possessed and possessing this run experience. Through the farm and white
painted buildings and then I turn onto the road. I'm less familiar with
this part of the journey and have to cross and recross the road to be
careful of the traffic. There are more pauses for walking now and less
of running as I begin to think ahead, keen to arrive back at the 17 th
century Borrowdale farmhouse from which I began.
Then nearing my destination a moment of grace as I meet a red squirrel
sunning herself on a branch before my eyes. She waves her tufty tail as
if to rebuke those grey squirrels from America who have exiled the few
of her kind to this narrow valley and runs vertically up the tree as if
to tell me that my horizontal movement is too easy.
My body that began this run, the first for many many months although
there have been fast and hard walks and short sprints, that felt light
and young now seems to be a burden, a bumping bag of body, and I can
trot slowly to the double bridges than span the river and lead me back
to the village of Grange.
The body and mind are stilled in movement, the mind drawn away from its
chatter this endless turning over of the soil in conversation. The
rhythm of the breath and the focus on the journey brings the runner,
since I'm not even conscious of myself as a self into the flow of
moments the only decision to live within the constraints of heart rate
breath and strength. This is a silence that refreshes as much as it
This is 55 minutes of an experience I would not have missed for the
world and about 5 miles and in a boast to myself I fire up the body and
sprint for home pouring out my breath in pants and feeling my heart rate
soar until I slow, warm down, enter the house and begin stretching out
this run. Shedding this light skin of running gear I feel the warm water
of the shower strip away the grime of this journey and later I feel my
aching bones and body with a warm affection. I feel alive right now and