Why run? Why run alone? Why run together?

Seven Hour Train Journey Forgotten _ walesRunning is amazing to me because it is so easy, so universal. I don’t mean easy in the sense of I can just blast out a marathon. I can barely make it up a hill sometimes…

But it’s easy because there is nothing you need. No special equipment, no specific area, just you and your feet. (Maybe some shoes – take it from me, never try and run barefoot on a treadmill. That stuff burns).

I started running when I was about 18. I can’t remember if it was excessive energy or the looming threat of a second chin that got me going. I’d put on some terrible pop punk and plod around the local estates. It wasn’t inspiring stuff, but it got me started.

And I’ve never really stopped. 9 years later and I still adore it. I take my trainers with me on every trip, regardless of appalling packing limitations. I’m fairly certain I only survived university by being sent out on running by concerned flatmates who knew that a blast around the city at night would do more good than all the caffeine I was pouring down my throat. Runners High my friends; my drug of choice…

(Please note here; the city at night. I lived in Nottingham – perceived as one of the most crime-ridden cities in England. I spent three years jogging around the city centre, albeit the most lit areas, and it is one of my favourite ways to remember the city).

Running ViewRunning is also an amazing way to discover a place.

If you’re confident in your location when you’re travelling then you can just go off on a bit of a bumble. It means that;

  1. You’ll find some places you might never have seen.
  2. You’ll start to learn your way around.
  3. If you get lost, you’ll really up your distance…

I loved running in Australia for this – crazy tiny hidden roads with cute little coffee shops, long stretches of open beach with no-one else for miles and my complete lack of direction meaning that I got a LOT of exploring done.

Since moving back to England, I have spent many a happy evening sprinting down to the beach and catching the sunset across the sea, or (at a slightly slower pace) heading up into the hills and seeing how quiet the world is first thing in the morning. It’s a great way to ease out my body after a day huddled staring at a screen.

Wherever you are, running can get you out and gives you a chance to clear the cobwebs away. It’s one of the most flexible and economically viable (*cough* cheap) activities you can do!

I’ve almost always run solo; the appeal of running for me has often been the joy of hearing nothing but my own feet on the pavement.

Should you run alone?

According to England Athletics, a third of women have received some form of harassment whilst running.

I hate that this has become a thing that I am so often told as I mention that I like to run alone. I hate the thought that anyone might be put off from running because of this. Yes, it does happen. Yes, I have previously chased a van full of men down the road to berate them for being absolute tosspots.

But RUNNING IS ABOUT SO MUCH MORE THAN THE IDIOTS WHO HONK. It’s that HELL YEAH feeling you get when you get that little bit further, that little bit faster. It’s the glorious sunrise you get to watch because you dragged your butt out of bed whilst everyone was asleep. And sometimes it’s just the fact that you can ignore everyone in the world for an hour straight because you, my friend, are ON A RUN.

I wonder if perhaps what England Athletics are trying to say is ‘GROUPS ARE GREAT AND SAFER’. That can be true, particularly as the winter nights draw in. But I wish they’d say that instead of ‘RUNNING ALONE IS SCARY’. If this gets women to start running by joining groups then amazing. I have run with some wonderful people in my time and it can be a wonderful feeling to be a part of a pack. But equally, if you are reading this and thinking ‘oh god, I don’t want to be shouted at’ then please PLEASE don’t let this report stop you from lacing up your shoes. No-one should stop you from getting to the top of that hill; THAT HILL IS YOUR HILL (even if you have to crawl up it on your hands and knees).I like to think that everything that running can bring you kicks any kind of harassment worries back where they belong.

But if you prefer to crawl with others: Run Together.

 

Basically, just run.

RUNFREE

You’ve been travelling, you’ve lived the dream. Then you come home. What now?

There’s plenty of blog posts on how to up sticks and give it all up for the sake of travelling the globe, seeing the sights and living the dream.

But you don’t see as many posts on how to come home. And how to really LIVE there.

After a full year of being back, I wanted to share everything I’ve learned from trying to get back in the game!

So how, after you have spent three years moving from country to country, with sand between your toes and a single bag, do you move back to ‘reality’?  Some travellers will stick with the dream, and make ‘nomad’ their lifestyle. But for others, it just isn’t possible. Finances, family, friends and life can call us back. Then ‘travel-sickness’ hits. You realise everything is different. It’s like being home-sick, only you crave freedom, change, a lack of home almost.

I wish I’d had something like this to read when I came back from travelling and felt like the rug had been pulled out from under my feet and I wasn’t quite sure how to stand back up again. I am DEFINITELY not fully cured. After nearly a year and a half of being firmly ‘home’, I still make my boyfriend switch sides of the bed with me every two weeks! The ‘sameness’ can stop me sleeping. BUT, I have found ways to tie myself back to a solid point and truly embrace the idea of home!

 

1. Do something you love.

9-5 may never be for you, but put your all into whatever you do. Don’t be afraid to start again, but also don’t think that your years of travelling count for nothing. Not taking into account any of the work I did, I travelled solo for two years. That’s two years of making choices, plans, bookings, finding accommodation, flights, buses, trains, budgeting, dealing with emergencies, re-budgeting, first aid and a whole lot of talking to other people. They call it life EXPERIENCE for a reason, my friends, don’t discount it just because you had fun too.

Be ambitious about your wisdom, not apologetic for the time you took out.

I would encourage you to ignore the people who say ‘never settle for anything less than perfection’. You won’t find perfection instantly. Some days, you will want to hit people. Find a place where you feel the youest you (#DrSeuss) and go from there.

If you really struggle to find your niche, email me. I’ve always wanted to take a crack at career guidance.

 

2. Change it up.

Travelling means you meet new people every day. It was one of my favourite parts of the lifestyle. Maybe coming home means you may have lost touch with people, or feel a little lonely. If you’re reading this and you’re British; did that stiff upper lip return as soon as you landed on British shores? Did you stop talking to the stranger next to you as soon as you had your first cup of tea? Mine kicked in later.

I tried to go on a night out, not long after returning from Sydney (pro tip: you won’t be able to go out anymore. It will never be the same) and I turned to talk to the person stood next to me in the courtyard. The shade was real. I had gotten used to the open vibes of tourists and travellers; here, the vibe was more ‘piss off’.

So. Hop on an app. I’m serious. Bumble has a BFF mode. I found it after I said that I wish there was a Tinder to find someone to come to a gig with me. Facebook has loads of groups for finding backpacker pals in a new country. Why not at home?  Voila. Friend app. Everything British in you is screaming no right now but bear with. There are a LOT of other people who have travelled, come back, and want friends with the same spirit. Shout out to my Bumble homies, who have made home more homely. Tip 4 is also a great way to meet more people!

 

3. Take more pictures.

Explore where you are. Don’t spend every second scrolling through Facebook photos. Time hop still occasionally whacks me with a landscape that makes my heart hurt, but I look through all of the stunning pictures I have of the past year (side note: if you get yourself an Instagram boyfriend then this makes this tip easier) and I can see that the grass is green on both sides.

Tie this in with your new pals – go on friend dates (YES I KNOW THIS SOUNDS STUPID BUT IT’S FUN). Do run away. Run away from the same thing; the same pub, the same sandwich shop, the same daily walk. 

Find somewhere new, climb over the fence and see what’s in the next field. Unless it’s like sheep or something because trespassing is a thing.

 

4. Get a hobby.

Get attached to something. One of the downsides of travelling is that you can’t always be a ‘part’ of the local community, at least not long term. When I came back, I found I was more open to being a ‘community creative’.

I live in Folkestone, Kent, where there is a fabulous active community of creative people and investment in what I am going to deem ‘cool stuff’. (Creative Quarter Folkestone, Creative Foundations, The Old High Street). This won’t be for everyone, I know that, but my point here is to find your people. Put yourself out there and get a little uncomfortable.

Seen all those ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ Instagram posts? True, but your tribe will meld your vibe too! Spend your time with people you LIKE doing ‘cool stuff’. I choose to be a writing nerd. I got the chance to be a writer as part of link up between Sick of The Fringe and an art/science collab called ‘Normal? Festival of the Brain’ and met some fabulous artistic people who inspired me to see the amazing parts of the local community.

I also went to a fabulous session with Betty Magazine, making macrame and flower crowns. I was slightly terrified of knowing no-one, but everyone was SO welcoming and friendly! I’ve been to quite a few events now and learnt exactly what I enjoy (and what gives me a mini anxiety attack). But trying different things is definitely the key to success.

5. Find yourself at home.

Don’t wish your time away trying to be somewhere else. You wanted to travel to see the world, don’t miss seeing what’s right on your doorstep! If all else fails… get a dog. They’ll teach you everything you need to know.

 

  • Have you come home from travelling? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear them! Comment below or let me know over on my Instagram @sorunawaywithme