"I chose to walk because that’s how I remember my mum. She was a walker. The egg factory years were far behind her by the time we came along, but by then striding everywhere with fury and purpose had become muscle memory, and the defining memory I have of my childhood involves run-walking several paces behind her down the main road every week on the way back from the shops. She made no concession for dawdlers. My dad worked abroad at that point, so everything was on her. If she didn’t do things, they didn’t get done. She’d have dozens of carrier bag handles digging into her wrists, but she refused to let them – or us – slow her down. My mum, the 5ft-nothing terminator.
So this is what I do. I wake up early, I pull on my boots and off I set. Out of my house, up a hill, through the woods, over a bridge and on my way. I’ve made friends with public footpaths, with the grinding monotony of stile and field. I’ve misread maps and got lost, snagging my leg on barbed wire fences and rebirthing myself through tightly brambled knots to get back on track. I’ve been pelted with rain and lost all feeling in my fingers. I’ve seen my muttered curses leave my body in clouds of breath. My feet, without question, are an unrecognisable mess. They’re swollen and purple and missing some skin. All baths, to some extent, now feel like they’re made of boiling vinegar. But I keep walking."
- Stuart S.
Read more about Stuart's journey of grief and walking.
"Running helps clear my mind, and it allows me an hour or so to be in my own head—no outside distractions, no people talking in my ear, and no craziness. Just me and my thoughts. I’ve been running since I was 18, and I regularly run 5 or 6 miles. It does become tough to find routes when I’m on tour, but I find it’s the best way to explore a new location—especially when I am in a new city every day!"
"Exercise helps with who I am and I need that release, otherwise I feel like ‘arrrrgh!"
"The thing about running that nobody tells you is that training for a race as long as a half-marathon can be quite boring. I logged the miles because I was "supposed to," and looked forward to race day because it meant I wouldn't have to run anymore. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy running, because it helps me clear my head and gives me a little high. But my approach to running is kind of like that famous quote, "I hate writing, I love having written." In other words, I hate actually slogging through a run, but I love how it feels to finish a run."
"After college, however, I decided to hang up my tutu and pointe shoes, so nowadays I like to run for exercise, because it's cheap and makes me feel good afterwards. During the actual run, it's always a challenge to find songs and podcasts to listen to that will either distract me from the fact that running is boring, or motivate me to run harder. But, last winter, I put on The Nutcracker just for kicks, and it was exactly what I needed.
"I wanted to get my body and my heart in shape, but I joined [Green Ridge Recreation Center in Roanoke County] partly for the mental part. I meet people who become my friends and it is social for me. We have lunch and sometimes travel together. I try to meet two or three people a day.”
"If I'm gonna tell the truth, it’s [exercise is] about looking good. I mean, I'm trying to keep my black from cracking and, you know, Father Time -- he got a funny sense of humor, but we fighting."
“It is for a selfish reason. More than anything else, it makes me feel better. Believe me when I tell you this, if it didn’t make me fell better I would not be here. It always has, and it always will.”