Your run.

by Faye Johnson

'Time is almost irrelevant when we are just going for a run…'

Friend of Dryad and multi-discipline runner Faye has written her first post for us—a motivating read for the start of a new year…

Leading a run group

I’ve not long got back from my morning run. What an absolute stunner. There are so many things that made it brilliant. Forest, trails, hidden deer, squirrels scurrying, just enough mud and it took me up above the clouds for a beautiful view of the cloud inversion. I would have to say my favourite run of the season so far!

Running, why do you do it?

To compete? To challenge yourself? To lose weight? Meet new people and spend time with friends? Maybe to go on an adventure? Or get some headspace and time to yourself?

It’s different for each of us, and that's why running is brilliant. My relationship with running changes and never more so than the last few years. Although running remains a constant in my life, my motivations have changed and continue to change. Love it, hate it, avoid it, escapism, a challenge, I could go on.

Let me rewind to 2015, February to be precise, pretty sure it was valentine's day!? The day I got a GPS watch and joined the world of Strava. I began to be more aware of “the numbers” and of other runners, how far they ran and how fast they were going. Before this a stopwatch or just my watch had served me well and I used to record my runs (if I remembered) in a notebook.

This step into tech was good in some ways, but not so great in others. This was probably what started my slightly obsessive approach to running and training in general. Always having one eye on others running accomplishments and weekly training mileage. Am I doing enough? I need to be doing more!

It was a bit of a battle and one that even now catches me and I find myself thinking, “I need to get more miles in this week, I should be running quicker than that by now”.

When you’re progressing, you’re motivated and perhaps aiming for a race, this can be good and helpful, but when it becomes a hindrance it’s sometimes hard to see or know how to manage it.

Have you ever felt like this? The pressure of that watch around your wrist or an expectation, from others or just yourself.

I’ve encountered several friends and fellow runners since coming out of the restrictions of the covid pandemic that have found themselves questioning their running. Whether that be their motivation, not feeling they are good enough or not wanting to race and be out with others as much as before. I am sure many of us in those early days of covid wanted to be able to do everything that we were not allowed to do any more. Might have been races, runs with friends, parkrun, many things that were a part of the weekly routine had gone. That old saying “You don’t know what you’ve got until it is gone!” Being human though, we do eventually adapt, and that adaption caught some of us of guard and changed things when we came out the other side.

I was lucky enough to have a great year of running, in 2019. All things were aligned, and I rarely felt unmotivated, even when tired I found the energy to carry on and I was progressing. Managing my training loads, and just loving the experiences that it brought, achieving PB’s and being selected to run for Wales was beyond what I could have ever imagined.

Like many, when the covid lockdown hit, this was the start of some change, in many aspects of life. I valued my time outdoors and running more than ever before. I loved the outdoors and hitting quiet forest and trails before, but in this time of uncertainty it made me really value this awesome part of life. Peace, space, adventure and running on my terms.

November 2020 saw me come down with my worst bout of covid, one that took me out for a good month and far beyond it would turn out. Not able to physically run because of the fatigue and struggling to get my breathing and resting heart rates back to my pre covid self I went weeks without running. Walking the dog became the best and most valuable thing for me at that time and kept me moving and outside. Moving through the following year I found myself stuck with ongoing fatigue, muscle soreness and breathing problems. Running was hard and no longer was I going out with a spring in my step. I was frustrated, sad, disappointed, and felt so far from the runner I was the year before.

Sitting here now I can say there is a glimpse of that runner I was before covid, and although long covid is still having an impact, I am working with it, not against it to try and get the best out of myself.

Time is almost irrelevant when we are just going for a run. Yes, it’s useful, helping us to track progress and our own training or perhaps to see how we ran compared to the last time we did a particular route. For me though more importantly is how did it make you feel? Comfortable, tough, springy, fun, challenging…? Maybe all those things!

Running is my place to play, explore and challenge myself. It’s as much about the mental benefits as it is the physical, one is not without the other

If I am not feeling like pushing it too hard because I am tired, I still try to get out on my favourite routes, but I don’t look at the clock and I don’t worry how it will look to others. I might walk sections, stop, and take photos and if the dog comes, I am usually having to check she isn’t getting into mischief or chasing a squirrel.

Remembering and carrying those moments as to why you run is important, and they are always yours and no one else's.

Faye Johnson Dryad

About Faye

Runner of anything trail, fell or mountain. I enjoy running where there are opportunities to explore and views to be seen. I have run over multiple disciplines and distances, including cross country, mountain half’s and marathons as well as multi day events. This has included representing Wales in mountain running and East Wales in cross country. I also enjoy coaching and introducing people to fell and trail running, helping them gain skills and confidence outdoors in the hills and mountains.

Thank you Faye! Follow her here @fleetfootfaye

And read her blog here.