Believe: a reflection on tattoos and fitness

My pal Simon Pateman who heads up Sutton Ink and Cannock Ink had been suggesting an article idea to me for a while now.

‘Nearly all of the people at our crossfit class are massive tattoo enthusiasts, Bex,’ he said. ‘And a load of people that come into our studios are really into sports. There’s a correlation between fitness and tattoos and you should write about it.’

I was blank. I had absolutely no idea what I could write about that could possibly link tattooing and fitness. Was it something about physical image? How many muscly blokes there are with tattoos, and this being linked to our desire to look a certain way? Na, that’s not a very positive or interesting article. I’ll leave it.

Now let’s rewind for a moment. I used to be a runner. I ran for about 7 years, gradually becoming more and more passionate about it, and how it made me feel. I have run 3 marathons, various half marathons and other races along the way, and never really thought about why I put myself through it.

Then, last September, I ran the Loch Ness Marathon. And it broke me.

It was such a difficult course and I hadn’t trained (having recently moved to London and finding it hard to run in busy areas). Anyway, I had a whole variety of aches and pains after completing (if you can even say ‘completing’) the race, and vowed to myself to never run again.

So that was 6 months ago, and in that time I have personally gone through a lot of changes mentally and physically. I’ve had a shed load of tattoos in that time, got a new job, left London, started this blog, moved in with my boyfriend and discovered new hobbies to replace running.

This morning, for whatever reason, I grabbed my Vibrams and ran out of the door – with no drink, no wallet, no watch, no GPS, no plan… and I just ran. I ran over hills. I ran around trees, I ran by the river. Hilariously, I could only last 20 minutes but in that short 20 minutes I understood what Simon Pateman was trying to tell me.

Forcing your body through horrible endurance says something about your personality. There’s a part of your soul that wants to struggle through pain, that wants to try and continue, see how far it can push you and ultimately, wants to feel alive. Being a runner gives you both strength and faith. Strength to push yourself physically, and faith that you can keep on going forever.

It’s the same for getting inked. You do it because you want to feel strong. You want to endure through something exhilaratingly painful and come out of the other end a harder and braver person. With each tattoo I get, there is a constant faith in myself that my decision is the correct one, that my body is invincible and that I will admire this beautiful ink until the end of time.

I will believe in my tattoos forever. And who knows, maybe I have re-found my faith in running too.

‘I don’t even know if believe, So open up my eyes. Tell me I’m alive.’
Believe, by Mumford and Sons (today’s running song)

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  1. Run Forrest Run !!!! Please dont grow a beard darling and run to the end of Blackpool pier and just Stop !!!


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