What I think about when I think about running

To get in the zone for Global Running Day, I have compiled my personal list of reasons to get my bum out of bed on those cold winter mornings and go for a glorious run.


  1. Running is my identity

When I read Atomic Habits by James Clear the chapter where he talked about behaviours reflecting your current identity was a massive light-bulb moment for me. The idea being that in order to build new habits you have to believe them first, and to build lasting habits you have to create a new identity first. Rather than think of a run as something I had to get done, if my identity is I am a runner then it’s as simple as “well I just run because I am a runner” like I have an accent because I was born in Britain or I read lots of book because I am a bibliophile. I am a runner, that will always be part of my identity and realising that simple truth made me enjoy running on a deeper and more cellular level.


  1. Running into the void

Murakami said in his great book What I think about when I think about running that “When I'm running, I don't have to talk to anybody and don't have to listen to anybody. This is a part of my day I can't do without.” This is something that just speaks to me. More than any other reason I love to run to express this simplicity. Running sharpens my inner voice, declutters my mind and allows it a valuable reset from the push, pull and prodding of daily responsibility. In this regard running is something I completely cherish. Other forms of exercise don’t get me into that same space. I usually have too much else to think about like technique. Those moments of solitude are a gift.


  1. On the bad days I still have something to smile about

I try hard to remember on those days when the running didn’t feel as good, I didn’t manage the pace or couldn’t complete the distance, that I still did it. Doing things when they are hard is how we build resilience. I like to think of these sessions as foundational building blocks that are creating the safe structure to progress with my goals. Its not going to be pretty and it certainy won’t be perfect all the time but at least on those days when its tough and ugly I can smile knowing my brain got me through it. I have another big reason to believe in myself and I have proven I can rely on myself when it’s hard. It will get hard again but I can draw on those experiences and smile knowing I’ll be ok.


  1. Katherine Switzer and the pioneers

I first read about (I told you I was a bibliophile!) Katherine Switzer from Bryony Gordon’s book on running. She included a whole chapter on Katherine and the female pioneers in the sport who first showed the world how ridiculous it was to think women couldn’t run long distance. I remember reading in complete disbelief that medical professionals at the time believed a woman’s uterus would just fall out of her vagina if she attempted to run as far as 26.2 miles. When I have days of feeling less motivated I think of these stories and these women. Thinking about them and the bullshit they had to overcome just to run is all the motivation I need to get out my front door.


  1. My dogs

My favourite pacing partners are my two dogs: Willow and Douglas. You will have seen them on my socials from time to time. Willow is the black springador and the better runner out of the two, Douglas is our darling ridgeback cross who is a bit reactive to run off leash, but I will often take him for a 40-minute plod while Willow scouts off ahead. They are both Parkun veterans and what gives me such joy is to see how much they love just being outside and running about. It’s so simple for dogs, isn’t it? Just run and have fun. I try to follow their example and will often repeat the mantra Just run and have fun in my head. It works. I was born under the Chinese zodiac of the Dog and when I am feeling especially whimsical, I think this gives me the intuition to read my dog’s mind, be more dog I see them tell me in their eyes. We should all be more like dogs and live that simple life.


  1. Exploring cool stuff

The first thing you do when you arrive at your Air Bnb in a new place for a break away is get your trainers on and explore. It is one of the first things I do, sometimes it’s crack a beer or have a coffee depending on how stressful/long the journey, but seeing a new place for the first time on your own two feet is a really awesome feeling. Being curious about our environment, noticing landscape and terrain, saying a friendly hello or how do’ to a local. Being curious is part of my nature. Flying back home to the UK in August, the first thing Shaun and I did – couldn’t convince Josh – was go for a 40-minute run to shake the legs out. Sometimes getting lost is all part of the fun. You can draw some pretty crazy-looking shapes on Strava!


  1. Food Glorious Food!

I am food motivated. Sometimes when my mind drifts on a training run I will be imagining the dinner I’ll be rewarding myself with once I’m done. Roasts are my usual go-to after the Sunday long run. Pork and crackling, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, veggies and lashings of deeply flavoured gravy – that’s all the motivation I need to polish off those final few kilometres so I can get home, shower and start brining that meat! I love thinking about dinners I will eat before a race to nurture and sustain myself through the next day, I love thinking about food as my reward for tough efforts or runs where I don’t give up even though it’s hard. I love eating knowing I am also responsibly exercising and expending my calories. I love how emotive food can be. I love how it brings people together. Planning a meal for my family or going out to dinner with my girlfriends or my husband. Food is central to my life but I get to enjoy it to the extent that I do, I believe because I also push myself to exercise, keep fit and be healthy.


  1. Calming my brain

Bella Mackie wrote about how taking up running one day as a reaction to her crippling anxiety sent her on the most incredible journey with her mental health, It has given me a new identity, one which no longer sees danger and fear first. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I ran myself out of misery. It has transformed my life. I am most passionate about this. The salve running provides my brain has transformed my life. I set-up Mangata with this message in my mind, that running has made me feel less alone in the world. Running has a power to heal and it heals me. I’m not saying that because I run I no longer have bad days, but the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other has proven to me that I can keep going, I can keep running, I can do it.

Thanks for reading,

LH x




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