This week, I’ve been all about re-finding things.
A few months ago I moved permanently back to the Midlands, after having a few years away journeying by myself. I’m back living with my boyfriend, covering a temporary job for the company I used to work for, and seeing my close friends and family every day. Feeling sentimental about all of that, I blogged about it earlier this week for another website.
Anyway, I hadn’t really stopped to take stock of the fact that I have come full circle and am now picking up where I left off. The three main changes in my life in the last year have been: my acquisition of so many new tattoos, the launching of this blog, and nearly completely losing my love of running and fitness which used to hold such an important place in my life.
Bringing Inkluded into my life has been such a momentous thing for me and in a way has altered me as a person. I’ve got these new circles of friends, a new focus for my brain and not to mention less clear head space. The latter has at times been a positive thing as I’ve been channelling my energy and thoughts into this website and allowing it to take me on an unpredictable journey as each day goes by. That’s what makes a good blog, I think.
I hadn’t fully acknowledged how much less I was running. When I was marathon training, I was covering anything between 30 and 100 miles per month. My infatuation for running had never stemmed from wanting to achieve targets, lose weight, look good or anything measurable like that. For me, it was always about the headspace. There’s something meditative about taking yourself away from your everyday life, sprinting your way off into a forest and seeing what crops up beneath your feet, what pops into your head and what falls in front of your eyes. I’ve made some decisions and formulated some ideas whilst out running that, without them, would have seen my life in a different place today.
My friend Becky has just completed an(other) Ironman race (that’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run). She’s not human. Quizzing her about how it had been, she then shared stories with me about some of her fellow running pals who had tattoo traditions that superseded their races. Indeed, tattoos and endurance racing are quite commonly linked, and previously I had presumed that this was due to the individual’s desire to mark what has been an important triumph in their life. Surviving something as insane as an Ironman race is certainly a notable highlight of your time here on earth and something worth signifying.
After completing a run myself this week, my first long run in nearly a year, I realised that it’s not really about that.
This Wednesday I had a day off work, to catch-up on blogging and emails. The weather was bloody glorious and by 9am I was curled up on the sofa with my laptop, trashy TV shows and a teapot of Yorkshire tea with sharp sunbeams tempting me outside through our flat window. As I was working my way through Inkluded admin and publishing new content to this site, I realised that I hadn’t written a personal blog piece like this in a long time. I’d just been too busy and hadn’t been in the right frame of mind. I suddenly remembered that one of my recent more intimate blog posts (Believe) had been the result of me getting off my ass and out into that fresh world outside.
I shut my laptop, grabbed some snacks and water, and went out.
2 hours flew by. I ran confidently and consistently, without stopping, as if I had never been away from it. Returning to my place of work after 3 years away, means I’ve heard the phrase “it feels like you never left” approximately five times a day. As the warm sun kissed my freshly-tattooed skin and I stumbled over dusty rocks, I heard the murky canal whisper the same thing.
During the time that passes, when you’re out running in the middle of nowhere, you become a particular version of yourself. A type of you that doesn’t surface in other aspects of your life. Spending a prolonged period of time away from technology, people, objects and civilisation (as clichéd as it might sound) forces you to see yourself for what you really are.
Away from everything else, how can you not glance inside yourself with complete truth? I instantly remembered the feeling – it’s a soft, relaxed recognition and acceptance of who you are, where you have been, and where you’re going. As obviously metaphorical as it might sound, we’re all on a journey, and when we filter the noise out of our ears, and carve the time out of our days to calmly move our sweaty bodies down an actual physical track… it helps you remember that.
It was only when I retreated outside on Wednesday afternoon that I actually stopped to evaluate my own path, where it had been in the last few years, and where it might go in the future. This feeling. This is why I wanted to blog in the first place, why I used to motivate myself to go running and why I choose to get tattoos. But actually, not just because of the desire to analyse and evaluate the present, but to look back. Re-find and re-discover.
That’s why the Ironman finishers choose to be inked with symbols to represent their love for running – it’s not so they can remember the specific achievement or accomplishment, but to remind them forever of that former state of self, that hazy, familiar feeling that would otherwise be so easily forgotten. As I sit at home now and look over at my finisher medals, I remember all those times (22 in total) that I felt the need to partake in a formal event. It was never about the event itself, but the sensation of the person they made me remember.
As we move from place to place, as we collect different chunks of personality and experience, it’s an amazing feeling to run into yourself again.
This week’s running song, Let In The Sun (Take That):
“Feel the air and breathe it in, feel the warmth upon your skin, looking out and looking in, every colour in your eyes, in reflection of the light, every minute, every night… open up.”
Words: Beccy Rimmer