running hell yes hell no

Bear with me as I utter three little words that immediately rouse suspicion in the running world.

I don’t race.

I’m not chasing a 5/10/21.1 km PR, I’m not collecting medals, I’m not training FOR anything…but I still run. Frequently, seriously.


Running is a polarising activity.

It seems to be sold as something one SHOULD do – but shouldn’t really enjoy. It’s a cruel joke, surely? Certainly, if you haven’t discovered the magic it’s completely unfathomable that anyone could feel anything running beyond a hot mess – and we’ve all been there. Stumbling around the block (under the cover of darkness, lest anyone see), breathless, hurting. It’s true. That bit sucks.


But what doesn’t suck?

The empty streets at sunrise, when you feel like you own the world. The freedom of mind that comes with focusing the body. The moment when you make yourself just go that little bit further – and realise you can. And the bit immediately after. And the next hour. And the rest of the day.


The cruel joke really is that so many people experience running through a short term lens that they never get to the reasons that make it a uniquely beneficial activity for long term physical and mental health. We’re so quick to jump in to win-or-lose goals – drop 5kg, run couch to 5km, break 5min/km – that we lose sight of the reasons that make running a winning lifestyle choice.


Starting your run journey with a finish line has already given you an end point, and let’s be honest, the motivation of competition only works to a certain extent. I don’t know about you, but numbers on a clock or a little metal disk aren’t enough to lure me out of bed to hit the pavement pre 6am, day after day.


On the other hand, the 6am die hards? We’ve been let in on a secret. It’s not about the race, the number, the end of the line. It’s about everything else it gives you along the way, which gives you a very different perspective. Instead of a ‘have to’, running becomes a ‘want to’.


Forget the finish line. Find a reason that resonates – THEN race (or not) to your heart’s content.


PS. Now those laps around the block are easier, there’s no reason not to join Perth Run Collective and I on Brant Garvey’s NoXcuses team at HBF Run For A Reason on Sunday 28th May, Perth.4km / 12km / Half Marathon


Digital collage by Claire Mueller.

HELL YES by Supermundane / HELL NO by Anya Hindmarch.

Claire Mueller