Passion, pavements & prose

Posted on September 1, 2011


This afternoon I sat in the glorious London sunshine with my mum having lunch. We got to talking about various long-distance running events on the Tori-agenda to which she said I should perhaps try to avoid going down the ultra route and stick instead with marathons in order to preserve my knees and just protect, in general, the inevitable breakdown of my body.  My reply?  ‘Well mum … I’m really doing more trail running now and as marathons tend to be on road, it really makes no difference …’

But I’ve been thinking a little more this evening about what made me want to leave the marathon scene behind, despite not having done all that many and move to more long distance stuff instead.

I guess it all started the minute the marathon distance no longer seemed challenging enough for me. Because I’m not interested in time, training and striving to make a new personal record just doesn’t float the Tori boat. I think I just finished my last marathon, admittedly Dubai whose route is dull as dishwater and thought ‘is this it?’ My passion was flagging and I needed something new to invigorate me.

Running for me, I’ve decided, can be likened to what I do for a living … my writing. When crafting a long training run or a distance race, I think about themes, structure and format. I think of the A to B as a brilliant journey of craftsmanship composed of wonderful words that combine to make meaning and melody.  But after a handful of marathons, I felt I needed to expand my vocabulary … I needed to learn new words and develop new perspectives in order to write my story. Ultra running seems to fill this need.

I feel excited and energised about running on trails. I feel revitalised and rejuvenated when running amongst wild flowers, towering trees and villages steeped in history. I find myself almost meditating; physically moving but mentally still, there’s a whole inner world that opens up.

And that’s what it’s all about for me. Running events for me are not just about upping the marathon tally or ticking off the bucket list, they’re about developing and learning, experiencing and transforming … these are the words that form my story.

Fitting then that just like every great trail run, every great story has its ups and downs, its peaks and its troughs, its ebbs and flows and its smooth and rough. Both have little meaning without the other and combined make a read that’s impossible to put down.

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