26 Fruits


Running and writing

Guest blog by Michelle Nicol

running-feet-on-road-banner“I am a writer who runs…”

The first line of a personal piece written during my first Dark Angels experience at Toftcombs in 2010. I’ve been writing for far longer than I’ve been running, but during those few days in the company of fellow writers, I realised how well they fit together.

Running and writing. Two very different activities. One exhausting, at times frustrating and personally rewarding. And then there’s running…

So why run?

At first it was simply about exercise. The decision to take better care of my physical self. It began with the challenge to run for 20 minutes non-stop without feeling like my lungs were going to burst from my chest. But it very quickly became more than that.

Running connects me with nature – with the seasons, the weather, the sights, sounds, smells, sensations and space of the outdoors. A vital connection for a writer I think.

I often run early in the day. In the quiet time before the world awakes, I become attuned to the rhythms of the planet. In the summer, the light awakens and lifts my feet. In the winter, I blunder into puddles hidden in the shadows between streetlights.

Through running I reconnect to myself as a writer. Away from my 9-5 life, it provides endless subject matter for blog posts about training and racing. It has connected me to a new community and been the catalyst for forming lasting friendships.

Falling back into the habit and discipline of putting words onto a page gave me confidence as a writer; just as the miles in my legs gave me the confidence to go further, faster, take on new challenges.

When I run, sometimes I’m aware of my environment. A sight or a sound can spur a line, a theme, a pattern of pleasing words.

Running beside the war memorial on Armistice Day inspired a poem. Running through the fog, sight muted to the sound of the waves reaching the shore, another.

But mostly my inner world takes over. I imagine conversations; conjure memories; imagine futures. Thoughts pass through, but rarely linger.

The outside world can drift away. Then running becomes breathing; being in the moment; acutely present. It’s elusive, transitory, but just like the right words in the right order, when I feel the flow of a run, it’s like writing poetry with my body.

If you’d like to contribute to a good cause, Michelle will be running the 13.1 mile Great North Run and raising funds for Cancer Research UK   https://www.justgiving.com/michellenicolGNR15


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