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Run Like Forrest Gump

Throughout my youth I spent a lot of time outdoors. As the youngest of 5 children brought up in a suburb of Glasgow, Scotland, my parents encouraged us to get outdoors and entertain ourselves. There was no lying around at home getting under their feet playing computer games or Googling ‘stuff ’ on the internet. The streets where we lived became our playground and our imagination was the key to unlocking the boredom!

 

Rugged countryside was not on my doorstep but I didn’t let that stop me, as I was growing up I spent a lot of time on my bike or my roller skates (oh how I loved my roller skates!) I swam weekly and often went hillwalking at the weekends. I loved the outdoors. I loved having the opportunity to get into the countryside, enjoying the landscape and the freedom it brought to me. I learned to embrace, even at a young age, the unpredictable weather conditions that you experience in Scotland. I loved nature and the great outdoors and my experiences in my youth have stayed with me throughout my life. Ultimately influencing not only my choice of where I live and what I spend my down time doing, but also what I do for a living.

 

 

It wasn’t until my 40’s that my passion for running emerged, for nearly 3 decades I have been active and enjoyed keeping fit but at no point did running really feature. Mountain biking has been my sport of choice for the last 7 years or so, a sport that I love and get so much from.

 

So why in my 40’s did I decide to run? Well, it strangely coincided with my choice to start my own business and launch my brand FINDRA, both of which take a huge amount of work and energy. There are so many highs and lows especially in the first few years with all the responsibility for decision making and driving the business forward resting with me. The early stages of starting a business are an exciting time, but one full of pressure and uncertainty. It wasn’t long therefore before I found myself waking at 4 am pretty much 7 nights a week with a very busy mind!

 

 

I would think over all sorts of things in my mind, working through issues and problems, reading my phone checking social media. My head was so full of stuff, it felt like it could burst. As this pattern of behaviour emerged I felt a need to work through my newfound insomnia in a more productive and constructive way. Along with this change in sleep pattern, I also noticed another change, an overwhelming desire and feeling that I needed my physical being to match my mental state.

 

 

Over the weeks and months, this feeling developed and an urge and desire to start running became stronger and stronger, a ‘Forrest Gump’ like urge to run and run and run!

 

And so began my love affair with running,

 

This all came as a bit of a surprise to me as I just didn’t see myself as a runner, for years I associated running with being competitive and a desire to win. I remember as a young girl I would dread our school sports day, always feeling a pressure from my teachers that as the tall gangly girl with long stick thin legs I could and should win due to my physical attributes. Sadly this had the opposite effect on me making me want to retreat and withdraw. Putting me on the back foot from the starting line. I never won any of those races, and I believe subconsciously I decided then that running was not for me.

 

Much as I loved sport and being active I never at any point joined or was part of any organised ‘sports club’ Possibly due to a subconscious feeling that unless I was in it to win it, I wouldn’t really be any good.

 

Throughout my life, I have been very aware that although I am not a competitive person, I am very driven and focused.

 

For me personally, the thing I enjoy about sport is the taking part, which sounds very clichéd, but even at a young age that’s what it was all about for me.

 

My love and passion for outdoor pursuits has always been my way of keeping fit not only physically but also mentally and emotionally.  Riding my bike, walking and now running has always been about my desire to enjoy nature to take the time to step back from the pressures of life and take stock. Never has my need or desire for this mind space been more pertinent than now as I focus and drive my business forward, making tough decisions working through problem and issues many of which I have resolved in my mind as I have run through the woods around my hometown of Innerleithen.

 

 

I have been amazed at just how much I absolutely love to run, the truth is I’m not actually very good at it, I’m not the fastest or most consistent runner but I am very passionate about it. Putting my running gear on lacing up my trainers, plugging in my earphones, all of this fills me with so much happiness! As I take those first steps and gather some speed I look ahead taking in my surroundings, my head is often filled with thoughts, problems or things to work through and I love that I can think about all of these as I move. I love that my physical being is in tune with my mental being. I love that my music takes me forward, inspires me to move and fills me with positivity, songs that make me feel alive and upbeat (my favourite this week is UTAH SAINTS –  ‘I just know that something good is going to happen’ ).

 

 

This feeling is apparently known as ‘Flow’. In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterised by complete absorption in what one does and loses the sense of space and time.

 

I discovered this recently when having a good blether over several cups of tea with the awesome Adele Mitchell at the Eroica Britania festival.

 

So it would appear I have found my flow, and really enjoy going with it!

 

Running means so much to me and bring so much to me, its not always easy and some days takes great focus and determination to get started but when I’m done I feel alive revived and positive. Being the best or the fastest or the winner is irrelevant. Being someone who takes part and uses sport and activity to feel better on all levels is the most important thing to me and that means I can’t possibly ever lose!

 

Alex x

 

If you would like to read more about FINDRA and how it all began, read our blog: From Small Acorns