In the middle

This is the inaugural post of my blog about running, health and good food. I hope it will beĀ about the things I love, things I find interesting, the positive directions I am attempting to follow in life, and how these are perhaps connected.

Early one morning in June last year, I signed up to run a 1/2 marathon. Not a wholly random act, I had been toying with the idea for a while. But it wasn’t particularly high on my agenda and I wasn’t a regular runner then. I was living in Singapore and the ‘race’ I had opted for was the Standard Chartered Singapore 1/2 Marathon.

This triggered a new obsession, one that might well be some kind of midlife crisis. Not the classic cringeworthy kind; no new sports car, no hair dye, no mutton dressed as lamb. Just lots of pairs of running shoes, running magazines and brightly coloured ‘technical fabric’. My own midlife crisis seems to be manifesting as a need to feel fit and healthy.

So I trained for that 1/2 marathon in Singapore, and I completed it. I ran alongside 12,000 other people, most of them seemed to have only put on running shoes for the first time that morning, but that’s another story. I finished 1,565th, hardly amongst the elite hardcore at the front but neither along side the stragglers at the back of the pack.

My latest craze has taken hold, over the last 6 months or so I’ve trained for and taken part in three 10km races and 2 half marathons. And now I have a compelling urge to run further, to run long distance, long distance through woods, across fields, over hills, along riverbanks, maybe up and down mountains one day.

This is not simply about vanity; getting fit to lose weight, look slimmer or younger (ok maybe a little!), this is about how I feel. I’m tired of feeling tired, of feeling sluggish, stressed, anxious, addled and a little bit beaten. If I am lucky I might be at ( or just over) the half way point, if I am very lucky I might know my children into their middle age. But, slightly morose reflections aside, more than anything I am no longer content with just being alive – I want to feel alive, to feel alive! I want to feel fit, healthy, alert, clear and energised.

I’ve had an on-off affair with running for most of my life; school cross country teams hacking across the dales and valleys of the Lancashire countryside, Hash Harrier runs over desert wadis of the UAE in my twenties, and most recently dripping along jungle trails in Asia. Running always felt like a kind of freedom, now it is that and much more; it is meditation, it is achievement, it is connecting with the ground beneath my feet and the world around me. I have never won a single race, that’s fine, for me it’s more about enjoying the trip than simply getting there first.

Food is the stuff of life; eating out, cooking in, reading about food, growing food and most of all sharing a meal. Breaking bread with friends plays a central role in our family life. All of my childhood memories involve good food, my mother was a foodie long before the term was ever invented, she instilled that passion in me. I am lucky to have traveled and lived abroad, I’ve tasted local food across Europe, the US, Asia and West Africa. One of the joys of travel and my favorite way to experience different cultures.

Recently I have started to think more about food as fuel, and about the effects the stuff I put into my body has on it. I am increasingly intrigued by how the food I eat affects the way I feel generally. I know if I want to run further I must have the right nutrition to support training and provide energy to go the distance. But I also believe that aside from providing nutrition, food must nourish; it should always feed the soul and raise the spirit.

Eat right and run free might not be the whole answer to unwavering vitality, but maybe it’s a good place to start. Let’s see where it leads….