This post takes an uncomfortable but important turn so please stick with me even if you couldn’t care less about my running ?
There has always been a desire in me to run but since I was a kid I was always just a sprinter; anything more than the 100m on sports day would fill me first with dread and then with pain!
At uni I tried again to run for fitness and stress relief but was only met with knee and back ache around the 3km mark. I resigned to not being a runner, accepting I didn’t have the body for it.
But then lock down happened and I was challenged to the ‘donate 5, run 5, tag 5’ and it re-ignited a spark in me. I couldn’t climb due to the restrictions so running (and cycling) became my medicine.
I have developed a very different relationship with running compared to climbing. For me climbing is unique, it’s more of a meditation, I don’t think – it’s all encompassing. Running makes me feel amazing but it allows me time to think. After gently building up from 5k over the last few months, last week I started doing longer distances. Maybe I just needed the time and space to think as my previous 7k longest run suddenly turned into 17km and today I ran my first half marathon. 21km of beautiful scenery across the Moors and just under 2hrs of therapeutic thinking time!
This month has brought up some really challenging subjects for me ponder on.
LGBTQ+ month began with sharing my article about falling in love with Hannah with my Volume 1 community. Then the death of George Floyd hit us all and I had an uncomfortable, embarrassing realisation that my sheltered, white, privileged background has had the same effect on me regarding race as it did same sex relationships and ableism.
It’s hard to see things that we are not exposed to or educated in until it slaps us in the face. Well, at least that is the case for me and how my rather narrow, focused mind works.
I’m not proud but I’m also not scared to speak out as it needs to be said – I have never considered myself or my upbringing racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist… anything ‘ist’ but sheltered and uneducated, yes!
I was bought up in a farming family in the country side, went to small private schools and did a degree where ethnic minorities were not only just under represented but not present! Now I am immersed in the world of climbing which is exactly the same… I was saddened to realise this week that I know just 5 black people in the climbing community. This is something we are passionately addressing at Volume 1 Climbing (www.volume1climbing.co.uk)
I didn’t know I could fall in love with a woman because I didn’t know anyone else in my position who had.
I didn’t know how prominent ableism was because I had never spoken in depth with someone who lives a life that is disabled by societies barriers.
AND I didn’t know I was racist because I wasn’t taught what racism really was and I didn’t spend time with black people to hear their stories.
Discrimination is not something I consciously saw before I started working with the Paraclimbing team and met Hannah. Now people double take every time I walk down the street holding her hand as she wheels her chair … BUT I know NOTHING of the life times of discrimination and growing up in a minority group. I am on the first step of a steep learning curve and I am willing to learn and open my mind to a world of things I don’t know enough about! I should have been taught these subjects along long time ago but I’m so grateful for experiencing it at an age where I can process and understand why people judge and don’t understand. The damage caused at a more vulnerable age can ruin lives and we must be aware of that.
Education is key – in every school and every avenue of life.
Learning to run further has reminded me of my potential for growth. We should not label ourselves or put limitations on our ability to change, adapt and learn! Our minds, bodies and souls are ever adapting and have endless potential for growth. Let it all in and ultimately be kind to everyone, including yourself!
We are all in this together.