Posts Tagged ‘mind’


the creepiness of waves
the nothingness of sun
became a stain
in a time, a place
decayed my mind
turned it to dust


I had a really good run today. Not fast nor a long distance but good just for the sake of running and getting out into the countryside away from civilisation and this world we live in that seemingly never stops and just goes on and on constantly. And this got me thinking about why I run. The inspiration for this line of thought came from a blog I read from Helen Mort who also wrote about why she runs.

There are many, many reasons why different people run and all of them are valid. Some people run to lose weight and get fit, others to race and be seen as a winner and for some it will be the chance to show they are the fastest in a race, over a distance or if they are on Strava over a particular segment.

But for me and I hope for many others it is the sure pleasure running gives you in getting away from the seemingly endless and constant barrage of images, noises, words and much more that bombard so many people every hour of every day. Running for me provides a means of escapism from a world in which the avenues of escape seem to be reducing all the time.

For myself too living with the condition Asperger’s Syndrome a form of autism, running gives me a chance to clear my mind of all the thoughts and ideas that conspire to overwhelm my mind all the time in addition to everything else the world throws at me. Running enables me to start afresh with a clear mind free from clutter.

Today was a very good example of this. I am lucky to live where I do on the doorstep so to speak of the countryside. The opportunities for me to go on a run and get away from it all are endless. The only limit is my imagination for thinking up routes and my body which is getting on a bit now!

So today I set off with a route in mind and for once followed it. along the main road then left down a long road, one half houses the other half fields. At the bottom of this road I turned right down a short road and then right again past a farmhouse and onto some nice single track trail heading down into the woods.

And it’s going down into the woods that my mind begins to clear, thoughts disappear as I concentrate on where I’m going looking out for loose stones, tree stumps and wet mud picking the best path down the trail, running as natural as can be, running for pleasure and no other reason.

For me it’s a very uplifting feeling running along paths made by nature under a canopy of green leaves and brown branches through which a strong sun tries to shine rays of light. This is where I feel at one with the world and with myself. No computers, no television, no radio and certainly no mobile phone. Nothing to distract me from the pleasure of running.

My mind is clear and free not overwhelmed by thoughts of what I should and should not be doing, who I should talk to and who I should not, who I should have in life and who I should not and so much more that occupies my mind in this every increasingly complex world I sometimes struggle with.

The Japanese have a phrase for this Shinrin-yoku which translates as forest bathing. This is the practice of wandering the trails of the forest, taking in the natural beauty and feeling at one with nature. This has a calming and relaxing effect on your whole wellbeing and this is why I run and why I ran today through the woods. To find peace with the world and myself until the next time I am overwhelmed and go for another calming and relaxing run through the woods.


Yesterday was race day!! Finally the biggest day of my short running experience had arrived. Saturday was a good day. I volunteered at Horton Park, parkrun and was very pleasantly surprised to see some running friends turn up who I hadn’t expected. It’s always a good start to the day when you see friendly, smiling faces. After the parkrun I had a chat with some of them and that ended another cracking parkrun.

The rest of Saturday was spent catching up on housework and assignments and generally trying to keep myself busy and focused on anything other than running! By 8:30pm I was shattered and in bed, everything ready for an early start to Leeds and the Eccup10 mile.

Sunday morning I was up bright and early and feeling very, very good physically and mentally. Bag ready and in the car and off I set to Leeds. As usual I had checked the route and as usual I got it wrong. Not as bad as when I went to Copley for the Bolton Brow Burner but still got slightly lost and parking near race HQ was a bit of a nightmare as some of the roads were closed around the HQ but I found a suitable spot and was soon at the start together with some of my fellow Queensbury runners waiting for the gun to go.

And then we were off!! I was mid pack by accident so I just let people pass me and got on with my own race. Quite soon I was into my rhythm and going along nicely. The course is undulating with some long drags and short, sharp climbs. Although I run for Queensbury which is on top of a hill I’m not the best hill climber, but I was determined to climb them and not stop. The strange thing was there seemed to be more uphill than downhill! It’s always a relief to relax on the downhill after a hard climb but on this course there was little respite.

But I kept going. Even the canal side was uphill which was a strange experience as usually the canal side is flat but not this one. The mile markers went by steadily, 1 mile, 2 mile, 3 mile, 4, 5 and 6 mile. Everything was going well and then my inner thigh on my left leg started to ache. It was a dull ache but enough to put me off my stride and give me something to think about.

Then my left hamstring started to ache too followed by my left outer thigh. My mind was a mass of thoughts. Do I keep up the pace and hope it goes? Do I slow down and look after my thigh and hamstring? Do I walk the reminder of the course and finish? The only thought that never crossed my mind was stopping and pulling out. That was never an option. I was wearing the Queensbury Running Club colours and I have too much pride in them to quit.

However this didn’t help my leg which by now was nicely throbbing away and a constant reminder to me that it was there and the pain was not going away anytime soon. I choose to run the flat and downhill sections which there seemed to be more of at last and walk the uphill parts. When I ran faster on the uphill sections the aching seemed to get better. However I was also aware that this may cause more damage and even tear something which would have been a disaster.

This wasn’t how I wanted my first 10 mile race to be but this was the cards I had been dealt with on the day and I had to cope with them as best as I could. Miles 7 and 8 seemed to be the worse where I lost most time and got passed by other runners. Never a good feeling. By miles 9 and 10 I had somehow picked the pace back up. The fear of finishing last had entered my mind and this spurred me on to do better and push my mind and body beyond what I had ever done before.

And it worked. I was keeping pace with a lass and a lad and although the lass did beat me to the finish line the lad did not. I didn’t finish last nor was I the last male finisher. And I even managed a little sprint finish too! The pain was there but in life we all suffer pain at some time. I remember telling myself that pain is temporary but the feeling and emotion of finishing is there forever.

At the end I mentioned that my leg was aching and for some strange reason was directed to the Red Cross. I think they were bored and just wanted something to do! After having a couple of tests and being told my blood pressure was high, surprise, surprise, I had just run 10 miles! I hobbled back out and found my friend whose son was looking after my car keys.

Then in my socks I began the long walk back to my car. This was the first time I had ever walked in my socks on tarmac in my life, but it was easier to walk in socks than my running shoes. And then I saw a familiar, friendly face. One of the lasses I know from running was coming towards me. I recognised her instantly and it was a very pleasant surprise to see her.

And she stopped and talked to me. Even though I couldn’t string two thoughts together let alone two words we tried to have a conversation. It wasn’t the best of circumstances especially as I was still recovering from putting my body through a lot but I tried to chat. And she was kind enough to offer me some jelly babies which were very warmly received by me. Well when I had enough energy to get some! They gave me enough energy to get back to my car and home. It was a lovely gesture and shows just how friendly the running community is.

On the way home I began to wonder if I had done the right thing slowing down? Could I have done more? Should I have done more? Was the injury as bad as I had led myself to believe? With all these thoughts whirring round my mind I got home feeling quite emotional and upset. I chatted with a friend about it but as they said these are questions to which only I know the answers.

And the answer soon came. I went upstairs to get a shower and my leg was still aching and in one part painful. That was all I needed to know that I had done the right thing in slowing down and looking after my leg. Pushing on could have made it a lot, lot worse than it was.

And what have I learnt from this whole experience? Read the large print and realise what you are entering before you do! In hindsight a 10 mile race was a step too much at this stage in my running. I’ve only done 3, 5k and 2, 10k races before so a race of this length was maybe too much?

However I also learnt that I can push myself further than I ever thought I could. I can dig deep when I need to and I do not quit. And I am capable of far more than I ever thought I was mentally and physically. And there is a lot more to come too. A hell of a lot more. And with my renewed confidence and self-belief in myself I can achieve so much more in all areas of my life.

And what now you may ask? Well I’ve entered another race, the Yorkshireman ½ marathon. This is one of the toughest ½ marathons around. It’s all off road around Haworth, Denholme and Oxenhope, not far from where I live. But it’s 14.8 miles not 13.1. 14.8 miles is a Yorkshire ½ marathon. We do things our way in Yorkshire.

But is this really a step too far? Well I prefer off road and I know a lot of the route already so I’m under no illusions about what I’m undertaking. I also realised after the Eccup 10 I need to change my training and my diet too. I need to lose at least ½ stone if not more. But I believe I can do it and deep down I know I can. It won’t be easy and it will be the toughest race of my life but I have the confidence and self-belief now to know I can achieve my goal of finishing the race. I will keep you updated.


Running through the ruins of my mind

The runes of time slowly drip onto

My wet tongue and slide down my throat

As I run faster striving to catch

A glimpse of you before the memory

Is ruined forever, torn apart

By the sands of time as they flow

Into the earth, disappearing into the channel

Where you ran towards me and

Missed me, running into the distance onto a

Higher place, surrounded by ruins

Of your past, leaving me ruined and

Left to run forever, alone, into the void

Running nowhere, effortlessly, poetically

As I run after your footsteps

Hoping to catch the silent sound of

You running to your destiny

Through tears of rain, ruins of pain

Lingering in a storm in my mind…forever…


I get out and run. At first it’s difficult to go more than a few hundred yards. But I do it. Other runners breeze past like an eagle soaring on the currents of the air. I stand there, struggling to breath, gasping like a dying swan taking its last breath. But I have done it. I have gone out and run. I have accomplished something I thought impossible, something only I can do. Others can encourage me, support me, inspire me, but only I can go out there and do it. Only I can get out there and put one foot in front of the other and move my body, mind and soul.

And it becomes easier. I run for ¼ mile, ½ mile a mile, and more. My body is changing, it feels good. I feel younger, energy curses through my veins feeding the very essence of my existence. I feel at ease with myself, I feel alive, I feel free, I am at one with me. I run further, explore places I’ve only heard people talk about. I breath in air as if it was my first as a new born baby, I begin to see people, the world, life itself differently. Life is good now, life is something to look forward to on a morning, every morning, to wake up to and smell the world around, smell life itself inside me, around me.

Running has given me my life back, made me realise just what I have to offer, what talents I have that I can use to help and inspire others to achieve more in their lives. Running gives me purpose, a reason to get up and get out there, even if there is nothing else I have to do all day I can run till my body says no, but my mind says yes. Just one more step. Let’s see how far I can go today…


standing in a crowded room

surrounded by humanity

I feel dead to the souls

of these around me

 

breathing the same air as me

yet unaware of my existence

unknowing and uncaring

I am a statue of stone

 

to those who move and mingle

around me with laughter and joy

telling jokes and tales

of lives gone and lives lived

 

they look straight through as if

I am a ghost of the past

the present and the future

I do not exist to them

 

as I drown in an ocean

of ignorance trying to reach a

shore that never appears

but grows ever distant

 

a shore that will broaden the

horizons of these that confine

me to a voiceless universe

a poisoned chalice never to be

 

consumed for fear of having their

own perceptions and

preconceptions challenged

and found wanting

 

by those who will judge

others without the

utterance of a single

vowel to them

 

and never look in the mirror

and judge the faceless soul

that stares at them

and ask the question

 

what am I doing to this person

 


As I continue on my journey in this life I am slowly beginning to realise that the best way to express myself is through the written word and the wonderful language we have at our disposal day after day after day. Finally after fearing that I would never be able to fully express myself through any form of communication, the rediscovery of the written word has set me free once again. My poems may not be the best or win any prizes, but to me they are an expression of how I feel in that very instance, that very snap shot of the time I have on this planet. Each and every day I am seeing new sights, hearing new sounds, smelling new odours, everything is now something to be discovered instead of passing it by as if it doesn’t exist. A stone is no longer a stone. A stone has meaning and depth. Where did it come from? Where has it been? Where is it going? What has it seen? It is no longer a stone in the road, but now has life and meaning. My mind is expanding, my vocabulary is expanding, my whole world is expanding. Some might say that it is too late to discover all this but I say that the only time it is too late to discover anything is when we have left this world and gone to the next one.

It is never too late to rediscover life, to give something or someone a new meaning and to rediscover the person within you.

Andrew Smith 20th June 2014