Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rewards that Money Can't Buy

When a lot of people set out to lose weight, they think of rewards for meeting various milestones. Haircuts, new clothes, and so on. I've done a bit of that, notably The Jeans (13 months on they still fit), but as time goes by the rewards I seek out are much more uplifting, not to mention cheaper, than material possessions.

Last night we had a bit of a running club awayday and met up a bit further out of town to do a more rural run than normal. Actually, it was partly round one of my own regular long run routes, but it was still a nice change as I've not been out there for a while, what with tapering and recovering. Sitting on a gate looking at a reservoir and the hills behind it while waiting for the slower runners to catch up, watching a red kite hovering over the fields, I realised that these are the rewards that mean the most to me.

Particularly since I got the bike I've started to find that I sometimes get the urge to go out on it not because I feel like the exercise, but because it's a nice day and I want to get out and get some fresh air and clear my head. I don't record it as a workout, even though it undoubtably is, I just go with the flow and see where it takes me. The same with running, I've tried to explain to my incredulous friends that I actually prefer doing long runs to short ones because it gives me more scope to get out of the city and explore.

I guess it comes from growing up, if not quite in the middle of the countryside, on the very edge of town, overlooking fields. We used to make shelters in the fields, go up to the farm and feed apples to the horses, go on bike rides up and down country lanes. I never joined in with the shopping trips into town when I was at school, I was far happier playing on my bike or tramping through fields. For my sister it was a hardship, she wanted to be in the middle of things with her friends, but I grew up loving the space and peace. Although I tolerate noise and bussle from time to time, what I want more than that most of the time is the freedom of wide open spaces, and quiet. Running or cycling down a country lane I feel 10 again. I feel free, and I forget about work and mortgages and bills.

I've missed that for over a decade, and I'm finally starting to realise that even though I live in the city, it doesn't take long at all to get out of it, and to feel that sense of calm. Incidentally, I think this is the same reason that I'm drawn to churches when I'm sightseeing in cities. Not that I'm particularly religious, but because when you step inside it's quiet and calm and time seems to slow down. Time and space and freedom are the most precious things to me sometimes, and making the conscious decision to fit them into my life is a fantastic reward.

It's funny how I see it. I don't sit at home thinking of excuses not to exercise. Sometimes it's quite the opposite - if the weather comes nice I want to get out there and enjoy it because I can. Sometimes I have to work quite hard to persuade myself not to if I need to save my legs for something else. It's still a struggle in bad weather sometimes, but if it's nice outside I don't see the chance to get outside for a run as a chore, it's more like the high spot of my day. I don't need to pay for a treatment at a spa to relax, or spend money in the shops to destress or treat myself, all I need is some running shoes or a bike. Of all the things I could have rewarded myself with, that's the most important thing.

I guess I'm lucky that some of the things I like most about having lost weight are the things that I do to keep it off. I'm just glad that I realised that before it was too late.


Blogger Frank said...

Agreed, 100%. I was running round the same reservoir on Sunday evening, taking advantage of the late sunlight. All the way up from the Emmerdale set to the end of the dam road I was facing the most immaculate and complete rainbow that I can ever recall seeing. It was just like my own personal arch acting as a gateway home. Along with the long shadows, the luminous skies and a bird of prey hovering over the fields[1] it just made for a perfect evening. It's very hard to think of running as a chore on days like that. Even though the price for the rainbow was that I got rained on for the last three or four miles home, that didn't matter. Sometimes being rained on seems to add to the sense of connection with your surroundings; to me at least.

[1] I don't know what it was, I'm rubbish at bird-spotting, but it was too small to be a Red Kite.

12:17 AM  
Blogger beverly said...

YP - I absolutely love this post. You have come such a very long way and your happiness shines through your words. Best post ever.

3:25 AM  
Blogger YP said...

One of the blokes who runs with us is an estate manager at harewood so was far better at bird identification than me!

9:39 PM  
Blogger Haloranch said...

Have you ever thought of walking/ running the Camino de Santiago? It's a 900 km walk across northern Spain, and you stay in hostels. It might be just the thing. You can do it all at once (takes 4 weeks) or do bits at a time, as your schedule permits.

10:13 PM  

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