39 Minutes

It’s been a long time since I went for a run. I’ve attempted to make a habit out of it on a number of occasions, but to little avail. Recently, I’ve been feeling myself sliding back towards some negative and anxious thought patterns. Exercise is always something that gives me strength to pull myself out of these, so this morning I decided to give it another shot.

This time, however, I decided to do things a little differently. At 9.59, I set out without my phone or headphones. I’ve always used an app to help motivate me to run. One of those ‘run for one minute, rest for one minute’ ones that intermittently reminds you that you doing a ‘great job!’ and that the torture will be over soon. But today I decided I wanted to be free from time constraints and pressures and just do what felt good for me, so I went without.

I headed out towards Priory Meadows, which leads into a small wood filled with bluebells and bird song. I jogged through the trees, hopping and skipping as best I could to avoid the large patches of mud that hadn’t yet dried up from the heavy rain fall a few days back. The sun shone down through the branches, causing the shadows to dance as the cool breeze swayed them to and fro. The air rushing past my face cooled me, though I couldn’t tell if it was a breeze or simply the force of my body pressing forwards. Either way, it caused a whooshing sound in my ears and chilled the beads of sweat on my forehead.

It felt good to be free. To pause and sprint and jog as I pleased and have no idea how long I was running for. At the bottom of a hill, I stopped to gaze over the expanse of farmlands gated off ahead of me. Horses whinnied and tossed their heads, the sunlight golden on their rich, chestnut coats. Cows plodded and munched on grass, not a care in the world. I’d run this path so many times before, and yet this was the first time I felt I was really taking it all in. The first time I was appreciating the beauty of all this nature I’d previously taken for granted.

I no longer needed the angsty tones of All American Rejects or Good Charlotte to spur me on. I was in tune with the nuances of sound that my pounding feet created on the ground; the crunch of leaves, the rustle of grass, even the squelching of mud on the occasional careless step. The wind made the trees sound like the rush of the waves on the shore, the percussion to my new running soundtrack. The birds held the melody. All this time I’d believed that my headphones had been helping, but instead, they were only cutting me off from the inspiration of the natural world all around.

When I finally got home, sweaty, muddy and ready for a sit down, I looked at the clock. 10.38. I’d been out for a grand total of 39 minutes. That’s the longest I’ve ever been out running for.

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