Have you ever considered yourself as lonely? It is fast becoming a national disease in the UK. When I became a runner it was perceived as a lonely pastime but for me the hook was solitude. Time for me to silently mindfart concepts and plan. Over the years that has transposed into a place to minddump. I now simply enjoy each run with an empty head taking in the surroundings it’s amazing what you can just run past without a second thought. Just this week on a regular run route I discovered a house and secret public garden donated by a Royal Navy Lieutenant who fought in the Napoleonic wars. Next time you are out consider picking a theme and look out for every one on your route. That could be; road signs, oak trees, blue plaques, unusual architecture but please don’t choose cracks in the pavement and keep your head up high for good running posture.
Solo runner or in a group, we’re all different and fortunately free to enjoy running our way. In those early days I had a very noisy mind and busy schedule so running was late evening and often cross country. During one of these dark-o’clock runs long before mobile phones were small enough to carry I was ponderunning through a woodland trail when crack. I had tripped over a tree root, hyperextended right ankle and broke it. Choices; a mile uphill to Rangers cottage who may not be in or 2-miles downhill to nearest civilisation. The situation was compounded by my new running partner, a Boxer puppy who thought the stick I was using for support was a game. She tugged at it every painful step of the downhill J
Once I found my running fitness like most I was enthusiastic and regularly entered races enjoying medal collecting. These early event experiences shaped an impression about running clubs being elitist. The “Club shirts” would always appear to huddle together in groups and did not feel approachable. Therefore I stayed content as a solitary runner for around 25-years until hired to coach a Run England group (Now Run Together). Chafford Hundred Running Group transformed my opinion and soon I became a Run Leader and Mental Health Champion for them enjoying a new experience of #runandtalk.
Since I separated from my wife and moved to Norfolk I’m often asked if I’m lonely. The easy answer is no, I have Teddy my dog, actively involved in community and very busy work schedule. Recently after being asked I experimented to see if I could disappear in a large crowd and not speak with anyone. I signed up to be film extra for Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis in a crowd scene on Gorleston Beach. I ran to the location and mingled with 6000 people and was able to stay completely isolated; not one person spoke to me nor I to them. That made me sad contemplating that people around me could be suffering in silence. Days later I went back to the seafront with an alternate aim to engage with every person. This was much harder than avoidance but proved to me that anyone with a low mood can easily hide even in large crowds. I now make sure that my solitary runs include a few human connections and at a minimum plenty of smiles.
Next time sadness. Until then I leave you with quote by Mother Teresa “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty”.
Trevor Rawson is a self-employed Health Coach enjoying life in Norfolk. He has lots of bits of paper, awards and accolades. More importantly he uses his broad range of experience to support people towards improving their mental and physical health by activity and nutrition. Having used his own methodology to overcome General Anxiety Disorder and Depression he is pleased to share his unique story.