Archive for July, 2015

Why it’s not just about the fun

It’s a strange concept, taking time off work (very unusual for me) and spending money and effort for something that, ultimately, I wouldn’t say was ‘fun.’

My Wellington Run has taken a while to digest but I’ve finally arrived with a solid understanding that it was a very¬†very¬†good thing to have done. Although a part of my brain knew this when I finished, I couldn’t really embrace it because of how much I wanted to sit down and eat cake. Some days it wasn’t really fun, day 2 for example. Day 2 was rough. I just had this overwhelming need to stop. The miles yawned out in front and I couldn’t seem to cover much ground. I ate a huge portion of my supplies and wondered about quitting. That day alone was not fun.

The next day was different. I smiled at horses in fields. There was much less stopping and my end point for the day was a beautiful farmhouse in the countryside. But again, that wasn’t really ‘fun’. Fun is the wrong word. I was doing well and I felt good. It’s different to fun, which is weird because I’ve identified with ‘fun’ for so long now. I don’t have children, I don’t have any big expenses like a house or a car that have forced me to do office jobs I don’t like in order to have money to pay for expensive things. I live a surprisingly selfish life. I only really do things I want to. And the things I choose to do tend to be things that I find ‘fun.’ Hence, ‘fun’ is my first check when I’m doing something.

‘Is this fun?’ If the answer is no, I generally stop.

Running has kind of broken the rules here though. When you first run, ‘fun’ probably isn’t how you’d describe it. It’s achievement, rather than fun.

When I think about my Wellington Run, it’s easier for me to view it as a whole now, as a thing I thought about then did. A thing that nobody else has ever done. No-one has chosen those roads and paths or started and finished in those locations or sat in that field and cried, trying to complete the mission. I invented the mission. And then I completed it.

It’s bigger than fun. It’s also more important than fun. It’s the knowledge of yourself. It’s knowing that you can power yourself to the coast of England, with no help, just your own little legs. I think we all know that any of us could do what I did. I’m not particularly special in my abilities, only in that I was brave/stupid enough to test those abilities in the way I did.

As a journey that I undertook from start to finish, I now view it as one hazy green forward motion. The fact that day 2 was really hard is meaningless in the overarching whole that was the 90 mile run to Walmer Castle. That’s why I got a bit overexcited the other day and signed myself up to a few (yes, a FEW!) marathons. I imagine it’s like the memory loss about childbirth that people get when they decide to have a second child, even though having the first was crazy painful.

My lasting impressions are of having spent four and a half days immersed in greens and blues, of seeing step by step the best that England has to offer. To run is to be part of your environment in the best way possible. It is to really love, really really love, the outdoors, with a craving that lingers down in your bones. It is as far from the associations I have with the word ‘exercise’ as you can get. It’s more primal, I think. It just kicks in and once you understand it, there is a basic need to run in order to repeat it, again and again.

So the next twelve months are about marathons (crazy, I know!) and during that time, I think I will plan another solo adventure. (I’m open to suggestions, by the way.) Here’s to more non-fun! Try it.