Motivating and inspiring…

by Lynne Allbutt

In 2014, writer, speaker, gardener and presenter Lynne Allbutt ran across Wales barefoot. We wrote to Lynne asking about her relationship with running now, and she very kindly sent us this beautiful, personal meditation on running.

Lynne Allbutt running barefoot across Wales

Photograph by Steve Thomas

In 2014, I became the first (and still the only) person to run the width of Wales – barefoot.

Prior to that I had run several marathons but still didn’t consider myself to be a runner. Weirdly, I still don’t. I’m someone who runs, not a runner. Seven years on and I don’t spend as much time barefoot, although I do still enjoy running barefoot when and where I can – usually to de-stress and when no one is watching. I love the connection my bare feet make with the ground. It’s exhilarating.

I have always held nature in high regard and it has generously provided me with a career, (as a gardener), with my recreation, and my solace. It has witnessed my happiest times and also got me through some pretty dark times. Whilst I spend every day in nature, I run less these days. The hardest part of any run for me is getting out the door. Going for a run can feel like an extravagance, especially when I feel short of time or energy – the very time it would benefit me the most.

One of my biggest hurdles now is that my beloved Westie can’t run with me. To go running with your ‘best friend’ is just the best – especially when they’ve got four legs. I’m currently exploring different ways of being able to take her with me, including a dog stroller and a sling to carry her in. It’s not ideal (although she makes a great ‘weighted vest’) but the important thing is to be able to adapt. I can’t control what happens but I can control how I respond and react to it. I don’t want it to stop me running.

I actually started running when a friend committed suicide when we were just 18 years old. We had both planned to run the London Marathon in the future and with her future being extinguished, I felt passionate about honouring our plan.

It took me 15 years to start training.

I hated running. I even hated the thought of it.

As I wrote in my autobiography ‘Barefoot and Before’:

“For the next 15 years I convinced myself I wasn’t a runner. Then eventually my obligation to Sally finally outweighed my excuses. I started to run. Just from one canal bridge to another … how hard could it be? ‘Bloody hard’, was the answer as I doubled over unable to even reach the second bridge without turning puce and my chest actually hurting. But I was committed. I kept going and the rest, as they say, is history.

I think it is common to see runners and think they ‘were born to run’, they make it look effortless – and enjoyable. But they started somewhere too. Maybe doubled up under a canal bridge…

As we get older we all worry more about injuries and the ‘what if’s…’ It’s a fact. We simply have more experience of what can go wrong and tend to focus on that. It’s why we stop doing things. It’s a shame. I KNOW running improves my mood, my health and my day and yet it’s just easier to swallow a few more vitamins and hope they do the same.

I adore watching animals ‘run’ just because they can - because their energy is overflowing. Kids too – they don’t worry about kit or form or energy gels. They just run – fast.

Regardless of age, we I think we should all feel free enough, energetic enough, healthy enough and happy enough to want to run. It’s a good goal.

Can you imagine what a different place that would be?

Lynne Allbutt runs with her West Highland Terrier

Lynne and her Westie.

Our thanks to Lynne for sharing these words.
Photographs by Steve Thomas.

Lynne's inspirational story, including the journey of her achievement in 2014 is detailed in her book 'Barefoot and Before' – available here.

Lynne's Facebook page