• Photo gallery

    Here are some of my favourite photos from ANTI-Fest and Edinburgh. ANTI-Fest photos were taken by Pekka Makinen and Edinburgh photos by JammyBilly and Edd Hobbs.

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  • What Can I Say?

    It seems odd and contradictory to write about a performance that was about being in a place beyond language, and it's taken me a while to find the words, to be able to put my response to the performance into language.

    At the start of September I travelled to Kuopio in Finland to take part in the 2015 ANTI Festival. Before I went I was very nervous, but as ever these nerves, although understandable, weren't necessary. Everyone was welcoming and friendly, supportive and kind. Finland was magnificently beautiful and left a deep and lasting impression on me.

    My performance was called Running Beyond Language: a 26.2 hour silent run up and down a 250 metre pedestrian street. It was about the times in life when events happen that are beyond language: beyond sense, reason and order. It was about the human person being as fluid and changeable and beautiful as the changing seasons. It was about the absence of time, the strength of the body, the resilience of the mind. It was about support, participation and ownership.

    It was incredibly difficult.

    In terms of running it was the toughest run I've ever done, by a long way. The street that I ran on was urban, enclosed by buildings that seemed to grow taller and closer to me the longer I ran for. Each end of the street opened out onto a view that both awakened me and tormented me. At one end I could see a beautiful and vast lake. At the other end I could see a clock on a church tower, a park and my hotel - I could even see the window of my room!

    I learned that the one of the things I have loved about running is not just being outside, but being outside in nature. The longer runs I have done (12 and 24 hours) have allowed me to run through forests, fields, and past rivers and lakes. I've been part of the natural world, luxuriating in the space and harmony that comes with it. Even running around my home town of Halstead has allowed me to access 'space'. Although I'm running past houses and shops I'm never far from a field or even from a well tended garden! I'm lucky that Halstead has a thriving and successful 'in bloom' team, which means that there are beautiful flowers all around the town, people make an effort to keep their gardens tidy and the town itself is pretty.

    Kuopio is also pretty but the street I was running along didn't have any gardens on it. Well, it did have gardens, but they were just off the street, tantalisingly close but nevertheless out of reach, behind walls or fences, unattainable. The lake at the end of the street was mesmerisingly beautiful, but also beyond my reach, not in my world. The park at the top was a welcome relief for my eyes each time I reached it, but I had to keep turning my back on it.

    Being able to see the time was particularly challenging. The hands seemed to move incredibly slowly so that minutes often felt like years, not a problem when you're feeling strong and bouyant, but when you're struggling to remain determined and focused it becomes painful. The darkness that came with the night was a blessing as I was finally free from the clock, able to move beyond time. At the marathon expo the day before I had spoken about how you cope with the difficult times when you're running: how it is important to acknowledge them in order for them to pass. I was spitting with frustration when I was running because it felt as if some of those difficult moments took a whole year to pass!

    Eating turned out to be a challenge again! I had filled 26 bags with 40g of carbs each, one for each hour. I tried to vary flavours and textures so that I wouldn't get bored and for the first 6 or 7 hours I did really well - but then I started to get picky about what I wanted to eat, and rather than eat a whole bag per hour I started having something out of one bag, something out of another bag. Before I knew it I had lost track of what I was eating and had no way of knowing if I was eating enough or not. And at about 8am it felt like I lost the ability to swallow. I had taken a bite of a cherry bakewell and it lodged itself in my throat. I tried to swallow but it wasn't budging, and I remember thinking quite calmly to myself that I was going to die with a cherry bakewell stuck in my throat! In the end I managed to shift it by having a drink of water - so I obviously could swallow! After that I had to swallow all my food down with a glug of water, which meant I had to stop more frequently as I was taking such a small bite of food at a time.

    A couple of hours before the end I also pulled a muscle in my leg. I decided to walk for a while to see if it would ease off and it did - until I tried to run again. So I felt forced to finish the performance by walking. I was able to keep a good pace though but that didn't mean I wasn't diasppointed because I was walking, not running. In terms of the performance I think walking really helped: lots of people joined in with the walking, sometimes walking with me, sometimes walking on their own, sometimes joining up with other people. It was incredible to see so many people all walking up and down that street on a Sunday. I don't know if so many people would have joined in if I was still running. I can only know what did happen and it was a truly beautiful and remarkable sight as people took ownership of the street, the performance and the movement.

    Lots of people have asked me how it was to run in silence - some (myself included) weren't even sure I would be able to stay silent for 26.2 hours. A couple of times I found that my body instinctively wanted to reply to someone as they said hi in passing or as they hugged me goodbye. I hadn't had time to think about the words but before I knew it my body was making an attempt to speak: a reflex reaction to a social situation. At times I found the silence to be awkward or unsettling: if a passer by asked what the performance was about I either had to direct them to information about it, or sometimes if there was someone with me, they would answer for me. Both felt unsatisfactory, the first as I felt as I was being rude, the second reminded me of when my Grandad had had a stroke, unable to speak well for himself anymore he spent years having to rely on other people talking for him, guessing what he meant or wanted. But at other times the silence was refreshing and liberating, there was no pressure to make conversation. Some people ran in silence with me. We communicated by sharing a physical space, a common goal. We looked into each other's eyes in a way that I think we wouldn't have done if we were talking. Other people chatted to me as we ran, sharing things with me. Not expecting a response, just being in the moment, in that space, just being together. Taking away language took away some of my coping mechanisms - when I ran 26 marathons in 26 days I talked an awful lot, which helped me to process the journey as I was experiencing it. In Finland, I was locked in, unable to express how I was feeling, unable to process my thoughts and my feelings. Without language it was difficult to get perspective - if I was happy I was euphoric, when I missed home and the people who I love I was desolate and bereft.

    And this has continued to be difficult since I've returned home. I can sense that I haven't fully understood what I did, how I felt, or how it affected me and now I have moments of feeling a bit lost at sea, unsure of how to find my way back. And of course there won't be a way back. I will be a different person now because of the experiences I had in Finland, just as the experiences I have today will shape who I am tomorrow.

    I also haven't run since Finland and this is unsettling! I'm missing being outside, having space in my head and feeling my body move. I'm being very patient - I still have some pain my hip and I'm having physio and waiting for it to settle before I run again. But it's very difficult to be patient! Knowing that I want to run again is helping though, as I don't want to jeopardise my future plans because I can't listen to advice now :)

    Running Beyond Language was incredibly hard. Harder than any running I've done before - including 26 marathons! But it also was everything I wanted it to be and more. I'm extremely grateful to everyone at ANTI festival for inviting me over and looking after me so well. I was overwhelmed to be programmed with some artists who I really admire and respect and I loved being in Finland, experiencing the culture and the landscape, but especially meeting the people there. I find it so important to be able to connect with people, to recognise ourselves in others, to see that we are all just trying our best and although we might have different opinions about things we are all trying to get by, to live another day, see another sunrise.

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  • Advice to runners - including myself

    Tomorrow I'm going to start running at 11am Finnish time (9am UK time) and I'll keep running until 1.20pm (11.20am UK time). 26.2 hours along a street that's 250 metre long. There's even a hill on the street (I can't seem to avoid a hill).

    I'll be running in silence because this is a performance art piece and it's called Running Beyond Language. Language encourages order and sense and reason, but sometimes in life there is no order, there is no sense and there is no reason. For me, running is a reflection of that: when you run far enough there is no sense: definitions slip away, boundaries fade. You become part of the world just as it is; just as you are. There is no sense to it, there is only the experience of it.

    And those of you who run will have that experience.

    Tomorrow, I will have that experience.

    When you commit to a run you have to balance home life, work life and spare time commitments with training for a run. Sometimes the event will arrive and you will feel prepared, you will be pleased with what you've done and happy that you've done as much as you think you need to have done. But sometimes the event will arrive and you'll feel as if you haven't done enough training, maybe you didn't go on enough long runs, or your long runs weren't far enough. Perhaps you had a last minute injury or unexpected commitments that meant you couldn't do as much as you planned. Or maybe you just struggled to motivate yourself to get out the door and train.

    Everyone has a different reason for entering a race, a different reason to run.

    For those who enter a marathon, the event starts with the decision to enter. The marathon itself stands as a pinnacle: for some a distance too great to even contmeplate covering by foot, they don't want to do it, EVER! For others it's a distant dream: one day, they say, I'll run a marathon. For others still, it's a goal. They might not know if they can do it, but they try, they'll give everything they've got to find out. For some people, it's a memory, they did it! They actually did it! And they are NEVER doing it again! For yet others, it's an addiction. A calling. They hear their name and they come running, again and again and again. Some people run for the first time, some people run for the last time, some people run to raise money for charity, some will be chasing a Personal Best. But everyone who runs is relentlessly moving forward.

    In 2013 I ran 26 marathons in 26 days. This was another performance about running: I ran during the Edinburgh Festival on The Royal Mile. It's incredibly busy along the Royal Mile in August so the performance had to negotiate and navigate it's way through the crowds. The Royal Mile is a one mile stretch of road, and it's a hill, running up and down each day was equivalent to climbing Ben Nevis each day. I was interested in the idea of motivation: how do we keep getting up and trying to something if we have no idea if we are going to do it?

    And I had no idea how I was going to do it. How would I, then a mother of two sons in her very late thirties run 26 marathons in 26 days? Previous to that performance I wasn't a runner: I had even spent part of my life as a sitter. In my early twenties a series of unfortunate events, the last of which was a motorbike accident led me down the path to a breakdown whcih manifested itself physically. My legs stopped working and my body gave up. The road to recovery was slow and very sleepy. So I wanted to find out how do we get out of that chair? How do we motivate ourselves? How do we face fear? How do we ask for and accept help?

    I asked people to run with me and I spoke to them about these things too. And I found that the reasons we have to motivate ourselves are as rich and diverse and beautiful as we are. And when you run, it is important to remember what motivates you because there will come a time when you'll need to draw on that reason to give you strength.

    A long run isn't easy. There will be times when you'll feel on top of the world, like a super hero, as if you can conquer anything. But there will also be times when you feel as if you can't possibly take another step, when the distance seems beyond reach, unattainable, unachievable. That is the time to be kind to yourself. To remember that all moments pass. The only certainty we have is the moment we are in. We know that moment will pass and we hope another will come.

    My low point is inevitable. I'll be tired, I'll be sad, I'll be angry, I'll struggle to take another step. If I fight the low point it becomes stronger, more insistent: it wants to be recognised. But if I acknowledge it, it passes. Sometimes I can move a feeling on by taking a physical action: if I feel I can't take another step I surprise myself by taking another step, and then another and then another. I find out I was wrong and it's ok to be wrong. I can keep going. In a beautiful contrast though, the acknowledgement of a happy feeling doesn't always cause it to pass, sometimes it can intensify it. And when it does move on the memory of that feeling remains and I can use that to power me through the next low moment. Each step is an opportunity; a chance to do it again. Each time I turn around at the end of my 250 metre running track, I have the chance, the opportunity to repeat myself, to re-invent myself. A chance to do it again, to do it better, to do it worse, but a chance nevertheless.

    In training for my performance I've been lucky enough to work with sports scientists from The Human Performance Unit at Essex University. They give me advice on what to eat, how to train, how to think. They helped me to identify that a low moment can often be triggered by a physical need: I might not have eaten enough, I might need to drink more, I might be too hot or too cold or I might be tired. And the way to deal with those needs is to address them: to eat something, to have a drink, to adjust what I'm wearing, and sometimes (Oh, the horror!), to stop and walk - or if I'm doing a 12 hour or a 24 hour or a 26 hour run to stop, lay down and take the weight off my feet. Because sometimes, stopping allows me to reset my head to go. Think of the end goal - if I want to run for 26.2 hours I need to run slowly. My ego would like me to run faster, but if I run faster then I won't be able to run for that length of time.

    So when you're running, think about what you need: do you need to run with someone and chat to them so you don't notice the miles? Do you need to run on your own to get into the zone? Do you need to walk the hills? Do you need to eat something? Do what's right for you in that moment, even if it's different to what everyone else is doing. You need to be brave to run. But you've already been brave in choosing to run. So go out and carry on being brave, find your strength and find your determination .

    I used to worry that I wasn't good enough, but Dave Parry, one of the sports scientists, said to me, it isn't about being good enough, it's just about getting out there and doing it.

    Running allows us to enter the world as it is: we can drop our labels and drop our masks. I'm an artist, a 40 year separated mother of two teenage sons, a daughter, a sister, a theatre practitioner, a clown doctor and they are all things I love being, but when I run: I just run.

    I'm as fluid and as changeable as the seasons. When I run I step fully into the world in all it's beauty. When you run, you can do the same. You can choose to be brave. You can choose to trust yourself.

    When I arrived in Finland my mum emailed me and said this:

    "Remember you can do anything you want to in life so long as you put in the effort and have the desire to achieve it"

    So go out and do it.

    And tomorrow I'm going to go out, put some effort into it and run for 26.2 hours in silence.

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  • Getting my head straight

    I have just one day left in England before I fly out to Finland to perform at this year's ANTI festival. One day to make sure I have everything I need, finish all my preparations, both domestically and artistically and get my head in the right place for the trip.

    Am I excited? Not yet. Right now, I'm feeling very scared. Right now, my head is not in the right place. Right now, I feel overwhelmed by what I need to do, not just before I leave for Finland, but when I get there too.

    The biggest most scary feeling is the thought of leaving loved ones behind. It was something I struggled with before I did 26 marathons in 26 days, and it's something I'm struggling wih now. The fear is twofold: will they be ok? And of course I know they will be. Will I be ok? And of course I know I will be. But that doesn't stop me worrying, doesn't stop me crying about it. But it also won't stop me performing. My practice is about the power of the ordinary; it's about daily domestic endurance: dealing with things that you just don't know if you can deal with, but somehow you find a way to deal with them anyway. I'm a mother and I'm a woman and I'm an artist. My roles are all interlinked, intertwined and ensared within one another. The draw, the link, the connection, the bond I have to my children takes my breath away: they continually surprise, delight and confuse me. I can't be without them. They came from my body and I relish the opportunity I have to nurture and support and confuse them. Leaving them behind feels like I'm leaving a part of myself behind. I know they are getting older now, I know that soon they will be old enough to leave home, I know that life will carry on regardless for them while I'm in Finland, I know they'll be ok and that in all likelihood a week without their mother around to fuss and nag and get in the way will probably be an important part of their development. But that doesn't mean I won't feel guilty about leaving them. Just like the society that I'm a product of, I'm torn between the seemingly opposite roles of being a mother who stays at home with her children and the desire to be a mother who goes to work and is an independent woman. Both roles can be positive role models, both roles can be supportive and nurturing. But doing one role can make you feel as if someone is missing out on something, doing both roles can make you feel like you don't have the time or the energy to do anything well, or make you feel like you just can't keep anyone happy.

    Although I don't intentionally make feminist art I am a female that makes work about the power of endurance; the beauty of resilience; the art of keeping on keeping on. I balance being a mother and a woman with being an artist. It is inherently feminine. This work stems from the breakdown of my marriage: it started as a repsonse to the lack of words I, or anyone else, had to fully understand the situation with language. It was too big for words; too traumatic; too explosive and too powerful to restrict with language. I couldn't make sense of it, for there was no sense, there was no order and there was no control. I went to a place beyond reason. And then, just as I thought I was beginning to find some structure to my life again, I've been thrown another curve ball: I've been sent to a place without reason again, a place where I can't put my feelings into words, I can't explain what's going on because it's just too big. I can't comprehend it but I know that I like it. Running Beyond Language started because of the breakdown of a relationship and has now become a piece about the start of a relationship: a connection between two people that is strong and resilient and powerful and has no sense to it; it is beyond reason: it just is. Except now it means there is someone else I don't want to leave behind, someone else who I don't want to go without. I know I'll meet new people in Finland and I have no doubt that most, if not, all of them will be lovely, generous, kind, open and friendly. I know this because I've exchanged emails and had phone conversations. But I'll be going on my own, not knowing exactly where I'm going and who I'll be meeting. I'll be running in silence, in a space beyond reason, without sense, without barriers. I hope I'll still make connections with the people who come to watch, come to run, come to wonder; I hope we'll find ways to communicate beyond language. I hope that I manage to convey my thoughts well at the talks I'm giving, that people will find them interesting and engaging. I hope that I have fun. I hope that Finland is beautiful. I hope my journey goes well. I have a lot of hope because there is a lot of doubt.

    So how do I get my head straight? To be honest I'm starting by letting it be incredibly wonky. I'm not feeling great but that's ok. I'm scared of being silent. I'm scared of being on my own. I'm scared of leaving people behind. But it's ok to be scared. I'm human, and I'm learning that acknowledging and allowing all of my emotions helps them to pass on. So I'm acknowledging that I'm feeling scared, feeling overwhelmed, feeling anxious and apprehensive. And then I'm going to get practical. I'm writing down how I'm feeling as a way of releasing those emotions. I'm planning to go to bed and rest, whether or not I sleep, I will rest. Over the next few days I will eat well and drink lots of water. I've written a list of what I need to do and tomorrow I will get up early and do everything on my list. I will say goodbye to my family, to Zach and Noah and Jamie and I will probably cry, I will probably cover them in snot. And then I'll blow my nose and get on the plane and do the job I'm going to do. I'll get to Finland, I'll meet new people, make new friends. I'll give my talks and do the best job I can. I'll run for 26.2 hours and I'll do it in silence. I'll feel rubbish sometimes and at other times I'll feel elated. If I need to take the weight off my feet I will. If I need to sleep for 5 minutes I will. And then I'll come home, I'll pick up my domestic threads and I'll keep on keeping on.

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  • #igotscrambled

    On Saturday 15th August 2015 I headed to Hornchurch Country Park. I was about to take part in my first 24 hour run.

    The seed (for running 24 hours) had been planted by @greedyrunner in 2013 when he joined me for part of 26 marathons in 26 days. He had taken part in 24 hour runs and thought I'd probably enjoy it too. I laughed, saying I couldn't imagine doing anything like that. I couldn't imagine how anyone could run for 24 hours, or do any one thing for 24 hours, come to think of it.

    I thought I had completely dismissed the idea, but apparently not. The idea grew (festered?) until I couldn't ignore it anymore. Knowing that people chose to run for 24 hours obviously affected my decision to create a running performance that will be 26.2 hours long (Running Beyond Language, to be performed at ANTI Festival in Finland on 5th/6th September 2015). It can be done: not many people want to do it, but with the right mindset and the right preparation it can be done.

    One of the things that interests me about the relationship between sport and art are the similarities in performance, and I'm becoming more and more aware of how the performance art aspect of running affects my running performance.

    To prepare for Running Beyond Language, I binge entered three ultra runs: the 12 hour London Enduro, the 12 hour Ashmei Ultra and the 24 hour Spitfire Scramble. Each one a month apart, and just three weeks between the Spitfire Scramble and Running Beyond Language. After I had paid my entry fees I started to sweat. But I needed to have the opportunity to practice pace and fuelling (otherwise known as remembering to go slow enough to last 26.2 hours and eating and drinking) before Finland. My Finland run will be done in silence, so I need to know that I have everything in place: I need to know I can rely on myelf. And these three events would help me practice just that.

    At my first 12 hour run I was excited. I met someone new at the start line, her name is Janka (she was running 50k that night), and we ran and chatted together for her 50k. It was really powerful to run with another girl through a wood at night, something that neither of us would have done on our own. We were outside, we were meeting and connecting with someone new, we were alive and we were energetic. That 50k flew by. And Janka finished the 50k as the first female! We were over the moon! Except I had another 7 hours to run, and in my excitement and the rawness and the aliveness I hadn't eaten or drunk anywhere near enough! Not long after Janka left I was sick and I struggled to eat much for the remaining 7 hours. Yet somehow I still managed to run for 52 miles and finish as the 3rd place female. I was very surprised by this! And very pleased. I thought that if I managed to do well, even getting pace and fuel wrong (two of the most important aspects of an ultra run), what would I be able to achieve if I got it right???!!

    So I was determined to do better at the next event, and I very nearly did! I managed to eat and drink better until about 2am (the 12 hour runs started at 7pm and finished at 7am), then I started to feel a bit sick and struggled to eat, so I began fuelling with hot sweet tea. It's quite a good pick-me-up but doesn't do all that much in terms of actually giving you energy to run. I improved on my distance though, this time covering 60 miles and finishing as the 2nd female. So I was learning and I was improving.

    Onto the 24 hour run. I had a huge panic before this one: how do you make the transition from running 12 hours to running 24 hours? That's a big difference. I'm not very good at maths but even I could work out that it was twice as much. I was exhausted after running for 12 hours, so how on earth would I run for another 12?!

    I met with Dr Murray Griffin from Essex University again and we talked things through, which helped a lot. Murray has worked with lots of ultra runners, including Marshall Ulrich, who ran across America, so he knows his stuff.

    I thought about the things I did and didn't like eating at the 12 hour runs - Kelly from The Human Performance Unit helped me figure out how many grams of carbs I needed an hour to keep myself going and Chris helped me think of different ways of getting those carbs. I took enough food and drink with me to fuel about 10 runners.

    I planned my strategy and I gave myself three goals:

    1. to keep going

    2. to stay awake

    3. to stay happy.

    In the end I didn't do any of those.

    I thought I had managed to eat and drink just about the right amount each other to keep going - but when I counted it all up after the event I had only eaten about half the amount I needed to. My mistake was in fueling per lap and not per hour. I just didn't take out enough with me for each lap. My favourite thing to eat was a Mcvities breakfast bar. Not too dry, not too sweet, quite a lot of carbs in a small amount of food and tasty too. Rice cakes were too dry and left me feeling like I was spitting feathers. A curly wurly was a lovely treat in the middle of the night.

    The Spitfire Scramble is a lapped course - each lap is 5.9 miles and covers fields, bridges, gravel paths, hills, tarmac and loose stone paths. It's interesting to run without being overly technical.

    I kept going and stayed happy until lap 7. By this point I'd run just over 35 miles. But suddenly I felt angry and sad and not good enough all at once. I was a confused and shouty runner and I didn't like it. I'd been so determined to stay happy that I really tried to fight off the negative emotions, I didn't want to feel like this. I had been thinking about my failed marriage, and struggling with all the conflicting emotions that that whirls up in a storm around you. And the harder I tried to fight those feelings away the stronger they felt. In the end the only was to deal with them was to accept them, to acknowledge how I was feeling. To say, actually, yes it is horrendous to go through the breakdown of a relationship, it is hard to understand how someone can go from loving you to apparently hating you. But accepting that it was horrendous gave my head some space to think, ah yes, but look how things have turned out: things have happened that I would never have dared to believe or dream or even hope might happen. I thought about how blessed I am to have so many lovely people in my life: people who are strong and inspiring and powerful and determined and loving and passionate. Even that day I had met some new people including Andi, who ran with me and made me laugh and helped me to remember it's ok to be angry; Neil and Dennis at the water station who were always ready with a cup of their finest water, friendly chat and warm smiles - even in the dead of night when they were cold and tired too; Chris Spriggens and his delightful son Caleb. Chris has written a beautiful and moving book called The Reason I Run. In it he tells the story of how how he and his Uncle completed marathons together after his Uncle was diagnosed with MND. It's a funny and moving story. I also met Paul, who went on to win the whole event, running 118 miles, he told me about how redheads deal with pain differently to other people - apparently the gene that makes you a redhead also alters your perception of pain. I met Kate, a strong and determined young woman who ran 108 miles - the furthest of all the women there (and she ran 100 miles last weekend too!). I even met some new people from my home town (funny that I had to go so far to meet people that live so close to me!) The Halstead Road Runners had entered two teams, and although I did know some of them I also met some new faces too. I was impressed by how friendly and supportive they were - not just of each other and of me but also towards the other teams. One of the beautiful things about a lot of the runners I've met is that they can celebrate their own success and the success of others. Everyone starts from a different place, everyone has to put in a lot of effort and even if someone else is doing better than you, it is still possible to celebrate their achievement as well as your own. I ran with Nathan from the Halstead Road Runners for a lap too. He joined me in the small hours of the morning and we chatted about all sorts of things. Nathan helped me to put things into perspective - not an easy thing to do when it's cold and dark and you're very tired! I particularly enjoyed hearing Nathan talk about his wife and daughter - it was obvious how much he loves them and how much they mean to him, not just from what he was saying, but from the way he was saying it. They filled him with energy and lit him him up with love. One of my favourite memories from 26 marathons was listening to the men talk about their partners - they were obviously very much in love and very proud of their partners :)

    After my wobbly lap I decided I needed to take the weight off my feet, so when I returned to the start area I laid down: I stopped going. I laid on the damp ground for 5 minutes and just let my body relax into the earth. When the 5 minutes were up, I got up and carried on my way. I needed to do this another two times during the event. I laid down for no more than 5 minutes each time, but each time it was enough to give my resolve and my resilience time to recharge.

    My third goal was to stay awake, but just after 4am I found myself almost falling asleep as I was running. My eyelids kept trying to shut, I started weaving across the path and then I began to feel a bit light-headed. I never aim to injure or kill myself during these long runs so I stopped at the nearest park bench, laid myself down and promtly fell asleep for a 10 minute power nap. Some of the other runners stopped to check I was ok (thank you), but other than that I slept. And it was lovely. After 10 minutes I got up and carried on my way and managed to stay awake until after the run had finished.

    So I failed to achieve any of my goals, but I'm feeling really pleased about that. I learnt so much from it - namely to be careful what goals I set myself! But I learnt that sometimes I do have to listen to my body, I need to accept when it doesn't feel happy, when it needs to rest, when it needs to sleep. Running Beyond Language is about the experience of life: that place where life doesn't make sense and language isn't necessary. It's about tapping into the power of yourself, but to do that you need to listen to yourself and do something about it. There are no medals for staying awake; there are no trophies for being eternally happy. There is a far greater reward for being true to yourself, for being able to challenge yourself, make mistakes and pick yourself up. It's a reward without fanfare or pomp and circumstance. It's a reward that you can't see but it's tangible: it changes the essence of who you are, who you see yourself to be, it's experiential, enriching the fabric of your life in a way that you might not even have imagined possible.

    You don't even need to run for hours on end to achieve this reward. All running is, is putting one foot in front of the other and repeating. It's simple, ordinary and domestic. And how many things do we each do every day that are simple, ordinary and domestic? We are each our very own reward. So go and celebrate!

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