The amazing Jude, Host Coordinator and Bereavement Book Club facilitator for Let’s Talk About Loss, is running a half-marathon to raise funds for us! Hear she explains a bit more about why she is doing it.
I put my trainers on and my headphones in, ready for my run. It’s a short one, getting myself into the mindset for regular training. A half-marathon at the end of April means I’ll need it to build to where I’d like to be. This will be my fourth half, and like all the others, I approach it with a mixture of determination and trepidation.
Running through grief
The first two half-marathons were in the midst of grief, one while my mum was sick but still living, the second a couple of months after she had died. During those years I didn’t know what else to do to channel confused emotions and mental states. Running was just for me, not linked to shared loves or memories. It was something I could do even when I had lost all I understood and knew about myself. I could run in (almost) any weather and trust that it would do some amount of good in the end.
Running doesn’t come easy. In fact, I find it hard. Despite the various physical activities I do, or have done, running feels the least natural. I’ve found it hard to commit to it regularly over the years, and, perhaps as a result of that, it takes time for my body to adapt when I restart.
I find this relationship with running not dissimilar to the life of grief
It is soothing and frustrating in equal parts. I struggle to find the best foot strike, to keep up my pace, to time re-fuelling. I prefer running on my own but often need the encouragement of others. I can easily talk myself out of going for a run, so I dig deep to commit. It is a mental battle each time I go out.
The healing that comes on the run
But for all that is challenging there is something incredibly healing, too. The way my feet touch the pavement, track or path is grounding; the sound and feel of my breath is a reminder that I exist; the air, the breeze, the rain against my skin fills me with relief and release.
Pushing through tiring muscles and mind is reassurance that I am resilient and have deep wells of strength. The simultaneous exhaustion and exhilaration, physically and mentally, is enough to draw me back again, no matter how long the breaks in between.
I choose to do long-distance runs to raise awareness of issues I feel connected to
I find this relationship with running not dissimilar to the life of grief – the ups and downs, ins and outs, how quickly feelings change, the determination to push through, the ease of withdrawing, and all the in-betweens.
It is for these reasons – the blend of enjoyment, healing and digging deep – that I choose to do long-distance runs to raise awareness of issues I feel connected to – in this case, the grief and loss of 18-35-year-olds.
The importance of connection
This brings me to a place of connection, that even in my often solo training runs, I feel a web form around me linking to all those who might be supported by raising awareness and funds, and to those who have been and gone, my parents, whose absence and presence is still so deeply felt.
They are with me in every stride I make, in the elements around me and within my physical being. This connection helps me to find the determination needed to keep going.