Walking, to me, and being in the outdoors have always been beneficial. So important in fact, that they are an essential part of my personality, my well-being and seemingly, my subconscious.
Back in 1996 when I took my first steps as a ‘jogger’, I didn’t know that it was the first rung on a ladder that has been going for 25 years and shows no sign of letting up. My outdoor pursuits have grown in those years to more than running. I’m now a walker, trail runner, naturalist (not a naturist, that is something I haven’t dabbled with – yet), cyclist, wild camper, environmentalist – the list goes on. I imagine that anyone reading this will probably be very similar, after all, you probably found this along your own journey and decided to read it. The name of the blog does not suggest that I am reviewing mobile phones, or last night’s TV. You will also possibly, I imagine, be struggling with what to do with yourself now that (in the UK) we are in lockdown 3.0.
There have been times in my life when my back has been against the wall. When I’ve been in strange places and situations, and in my own analogy, feeling like a shaken up lemonade bottle (I always liken stress and bad stuff to fizzy drink in a bottle, and actions to reduce that fizz are the motions needed to slowly open the cap to let some of it out occasionally). Running has always been my way of opening the cap slowly. Not always letting it all out, but alleviating the pressure somewhat. Slowly over the years, walking has done that too. The slower pace, the opportunity for mindfulness, the feeling of being out with your thoughts, and being unhurried I think gives you a chance to take more mental photographs and make little films in your memory that you can watch back when you need them. It’s times like we find ourselves in now that it all comes together and becomes clear why we are the way we are. We can draw on those memories to calm our anxious thoughts down, we can use them to plan future journeys in brighter times ahead, and we can just solely relive them. They can draw us out of dark places, they are food to nourish our well-being. These adventures and experiences, no matter how small are investments in a bank that we can withdraw or count on days when we can’t go out and earn more.
One thing I found interesting about lockdown, especially 1.0 was how it seemed to me that as soon as the outdoors was taken away, people wanted it more. People who probably never considered themselves outdoor people. But once the option of going for a walk in, say, Snowdonia, was taken away, the desire burned more. I am not a psychologist, so I can’t say if that’s because of the need to defy authority or whether it’s that old adage of you-don’t-know-what-you’ve-got-until-it’s-gone kind of thing. All I know is that I am fully at peace knowing that I’ve planned almost every available weekend around an adventure, a walk, a long run, and not taken anything for granted, so I can stay local and relive my mountain films in my head and plan the next ones with even more appreciation.