I’m not a hobbit! Ok so blog opening sentence malfunction, yes I don’t live in a hole in the ground, I mean how many people actually do? I’m not that short and though my feet may be hairy I tend to wear shoes (do trainers count as shoes?). All of this I hope is blindingly obvious, so what the hell am I talking about? On top of the things I just mentioned Hobbits are known generally for being homebodies who hate to travel. Yes I know they appear to have long journey’s in Tolkeins works but those characters we read of were definitely the exception. In the world that he created Hobbits as a rule of thumb never left The Shire. So far this paragraph has raised two very important questions, what has any of this nonsense got to do with running and, can I stop being such a nerd?
Right, Hobbits will not get mentioned again. The reason I bought them up was to try and show you that Hobbits wouldn’t make good runners, and I am a nerd, and to be fair who doesn’t like a hobbit?
I have always maintained that I like running. Not everybody who runs does. Some do it for weight, some for the social aspect, some for the personal challenge, there are many reasons. I have to say that I actually love to run. What I have never fully understood is why but, I am beginning to see at least part of the reason. For me I love to run because unlike hobbits (oops I bought them up again) I love a journey! The very process of travelling is something that I seek out. I’m the kind of person who will give somebody a lift home to Leeds… from Surrey just for the satisfaction of travelling there and back again. I mean I will not even stop the night, straight up, a cup of tea, then turn round and drive back. I plan holidays around where I can travel to, and am more excited about how I get there than the place I am staying at. I once knew a chap who travelled around the UK for a year by bicycle, all the way from Devon to the Scottish Islands on his own, not even a direct route and no sponsors. While others viewed this with some kind of horror I could see where he was coming from. He saw things most others just flash by or never get to see. He met wonderful helpful people and had all kinds of adventures that you don’t have staying at home.
When you travel you exist in a peculiar kind of bubble, you cannot be contacted easily and even if you are, there is very little you can do till you have got to a destination. Journeys, don’t belong to anyone but the person travelling. You are opened up to a little bit of chaos and random chance. Things can happen on a journey that can’t when you stay at home. OK sometimes that can be dangerous or uncomfortable but without taking that chance you cannot get the benefits of it either. Yes I like a journey, I like to travel and, running is all about travelling in every way.
For a start there is the actual running. Even on my relatively short local runs things can happen that bring a smile to my face, a high 5 here, a glimpse of a deer or bird of prey there, it all adds to the experience. Then there are the races in far flung places, double bubble there. Not only do you get to travel to somewhere distant and have the joy of the journey, when you arrive you can come across all kinds of strange things in their own right. On my first marathon for example we ran past what looked to me like a dragon burial site from Skyrim (it’s a game I have played perhaps a little too much), and then there was another trail marathon where after running down country trails for about 13 miles I saw a sign for a pub. That had to be the most remote hostelry ever. No passing trade there. Yes there are many exciting and interesting journeys to be taken while running but that is not all there is to it. The whole process of learning to run is a journey in it’s own right. You start from a position where just completing a short run is difficult, and end up at a point where things are much easier. In fact learning to run is the best kind of journey. There is no end it just keeps going.
OK so now I think we can answer the two questions raised in the opening paragraph. What have Hobbits got to do with running? Almost nothing, they only served as a tenuous way to get you to think about running in terms of making a journey. To be fair when you travel from one place to another, or even in a big circle you are making a journey, even if your mode of transport is your own feet. And the other question, can I stop being such a nerd? Well I only included Tolkien and an expansive open world computer game in this post so it could have been a lot worse, only time will tell.