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Running to Keep Up

As I reached mile 10 of the Royal Parks Half Marathon on Sunday, I had to stop for a minute or two and have a quiet word with myself. I’d been running at a fairly steady pace, about 8.5 minute miles to that point and I was starting to really feel it. My legs suddenly felt as if someone had cut the tops off them and poured liquid concrete in. The concrete was starting to set and my hips felt like that of a 90 year old. But what was worse was that sense of hopelessness that I’m familiar with, it sets in a few miles from the end and it’s a bugger to shift.

You look ahead and suddenly all you can see for miles are people running endlessly and you feel like the race will never be the end. Hence I stopped. I quietly and firmly told myself to get a grip. Which I duly did and I’m pleased to say I pushed myself as hard as I could and finished in 1.57.38 (not 57.38 as I posted on Facebook much to the hilarity of my friends). Good effort Mrs Ward (I’ll say it, since I’m rather fond of talking to myself).

It struck me as I got home on Sunday night, and prepared to fly to Brussels on business for a couple of days on Tuesday, that that race is a pretty accurate metaphor for my life. I’m constantly running to keep up, regularly feeling like my legs are full of concrete (strange but true) and yes occasionally I hit by the wall of hopelessness. I generally have a word with myself when I hit that point, but I also have two very good friends who can relied upon to help me get a grip in their own unique ways (thank you Lucy and Jonathan).

But anyway I can’t dwell on this self indulgent metaphor. Because as we all know dwelling on self indulgent metaphors is the first sign of madness, or maybe that’s talking to yourself, either way I’m pretty certain I’m half way there already.

And the point is that even if you stop for a bit and think about life, contemplate what might make it better or maybe just what makes it so good it’ll just keep on going with little regard for people who stand still. So I guess I’ll continue running to keep up and maybe one day I’ll get where I’m going. Although I’m not certain I’ll know when I’ve got there, and even if I am chances are I’ll get bored and move on again. Staying still doesn’t really suit me. I genuinely wish it did.

The odd thing is that I have a very strong memory from when I was about 18 and I was travelling in Asia with a friend. She was restless all the time, back then it seemed mysteriously nomadic and hippyish, but looking back I wonder what it was she was always searching for, anyway she said to me,

I like being friends with you Holly because you’ve taught me to just sit still and enjoy life, rather than always looking for the next thing.”

It seems this need to always be doing something is a feature of age rather than character. Or maybe my 18 year old self was just lazier and frankly if you’d told her that she’d be running half marathons 20 years hence she’d probably have laughed at you, told you you were nuts and lit another cigarette.




  1. This has struck a chord with me today – Ross and I have been talking about how much we want to do with our lives and how little time we have to do it all in! I hope your hips are feeling better now :) Thanks for linking to PoCoLo x

  2. tsk! you are amazing! and you have made me miss smoking and reminded me I hate running x x x x

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