At the end of last year I was asked whether I would like to take part in a 10k run for charity. I hadn’t run for years, but with about six months or so before the race it seemed like something I’d like to do. After all I’d run a marathon five years ago so surely 10k would be easy.
So in the dark Winter depth of January I wrapped up and started the slow, and I mean slow, progress of moving from walking to walking and occasionally jogging, to slighter longer jogging to finally running for a set period of time. Living in Twickenham means I have the pleasure of running next to the river although my early walks at six thirty in the morning meant I didn’t see it at all.
The days lengthened and the temperature rose and I increased my distance. Eventually I was running the full 10k. During this time I had been monitoring my progress on my Fitbit watch and started to monitor how long it took to do the 10k, what my split times were, where I was faster, how I could improve my pace. I started to focus on the statistics. I would get to particular points on one of the courses I had devised around the area – running to Teddington, across the Lock, back to Richmond, or up to Kew and back.
All the time my focus was on the running and I wasn’t enjoying it.
Then one day I forgot to start my watch which I only noticed when I wanted to check my progress about a kilometre into the run. I was annoyed that I had forgotten it, but it was too late. So I ran. And because I no longer focusing on the watch, on the times, on the destination, I found myself simply running. Not measuring, not worrying, just running. I took in my changing surroundings properly, enjoyed acknowledging all the other people sharing that morning, and when I arrived back home without knowing how long it had taken I realised how much I had been missing out on.
So I stopped worrying. I don’t have any prompts or information every kilometre, I don’t know where I was fastest. I know how long it took and that I ran 10k. That’s it. And I enjoy it all the more now. Every step is another step on my journey.
I’m not saying that knowing the individual elements that make up the journey aren’t important, but not at the expense of the sheer joy of the activity itself.
It’s the next step on the journey that’s important and every step is taking you to your destination. But don’t forget to enjoy the view and take in your surroundings. They are what you’ll remember, no matter where you end up.