Our cover star Adrienne shares what running means to her, and how she finds motivation when life gets busy in an excerpt from her new book, Power Hour
My morning drug of choice is running. We were born to run. When I take my son to school, I stand at the edge of the playground and watch the kids chase each other. Most of their games involve running, because for a child, it’s a completely natural movement.
There is no real finish line in running, or any other physical exercise (and I don’t mean a race). You can never complete or conquer running. As we move towards a frictionless life – endless entertainment at the push of a button; food that comes pre-washed, pre-sliced and pre-cooked; homes and offices regulated by heating in winter and air conditioning in the summer – giving ourselves physical challenges is more important than ever. It reminds us of what the human body is capable of, in a world that is designed to make everything as easy as possible.
I believe that when you’re running through a park, or across a city bridge, or along a towpath, your body’s forward motion is declaring to your brain: I am free. I have a purpose and I’m moving towards it. I am taking action. I don’t know how to choose the words to describe what running is to me, or how to do justice to my experience of it and the impact it as had on my life. Often, I lace up before a run feeling tired and stressed, but that forward movement, together with the repetition of my breath and the almost meditative beat of my feet striking the ground, brings a feeling of invincibility. My worries don’t seem so big any more. I’m awake and I can think clearly. I have more energy and anything seems possible.
When I run early in the morning, the streets are quiet and undisturbed. If I time it right, I start my run in the dark, and then gradually the sky begins to change as the sun starts rising. I run the last mile back to my house against the backdrop of a multi-coloured sky. Often, it only lasts for a few minutes, but this transience reinforces the importance of time and intensifies my desire to live with a sense of urgency. The sunrise doesn’t wait for you – if you’re late, you will miss it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Yes, there is always another chance tomorrow, but tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
When life gets busy, if I’m feeling overwhelmed with work commitments and pending deadlines, the temptation is to prioritise other things. Do I really have time to run today? Whenever I find myself asking this question, the answer is almost always ‘yes’. If it’s important to you, then you will make time, even if that means getting up 30 minutes earlier. I hope that I’m still healthy enough to be able to run races when I’m 80, but it’s stillimportant to remind myself that: ‘One day I will not be able to run 10K, but today is not that day.’
This is an edited extract from Power Hour by Adrienne Herbert, out now (Hutchinson £14.99).
You can buy it here.