Saturday, July 30, 2005


When I first started running I did it all on the treadmill. I didn't want the embarassment of people seeing me running outside. It helped me, in a way because I got visual evidence of how much better I was getting, seeing the distances ticking over, and seeing the speed increasing week on week.

But as I started running longer distances I started to realise what other people had always said. It is boring after all!

So in the past couple of weeks I've started making a conscious effort to run outside, to get some fresh air and to do something a bit more challenging, with hills and different running surfaces. I'm very lucky to live near one of the nicest parks in Leeds, with a lovely lake to run round. You can look at a satellite photo of my route here. I'm really considering taking a camera out sometime and taking some photos because it's really lovely.

The greenery and the views are all very well, but what really makes running outside worth it for me is the fact that people actually smile at you, and say hello as you run past. Random people, who you've never met before, and may never meet again. Whether they're out running, walking their dogs or just having a stroll, it seems to inspire them to friendliness that you never come across walking round the city streets, shopping or on public transport.

It encourages me. People aren't stopping to point or laugh, they're not worrying about how slowly I'm going. They're saying hello, and it feels almost like they're cheering me on for doing something good for myself.

It's strange, I always run alone, and always thought of exercise (or the exercise I do) as a fairly solitary thing, but it's the smiles of strangers that really keep me going.


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