Keeping the black dog at bay

Why I choose to run.


There’s a time of the year when the Wanderer (Monarch) Butterfly proliferates. The weather is warming and the smells of the bush strong. It’s a glorious time of the year to be outside.

I start my run slowly, from home, jogging slowly for the 2kms to the start of the trailhead. Warming my body in the sun’s rays and my joints and soft tissues through the gentle movement. Allowing my mind to wander, inspired simply by what I see.

It’s meditative right from the get-go, as any thoughts of work or home life, are quickly and consciously pushed from my mind. This isn’t their time, it’s mine.

Running for me isn’t a fast-paced pursuit. It’s slow, keeping my heart rate low and my breathing steady.

My rule of thumb is to never run faster or harder than I can breathing through my nose – in and out.

This is aerobic running and the only way to use fat as fuel instead of glucose (sugars). It also means I can longer.

I hit the trailhead and hope my friends will come out to play again. I needn’t worry this time of year as they’re like clockwork, consistent and timely.

Hello, my friends!

As I float along the trail these beautiful creatures stream out of the undergrowth to greet me as if wanting to play. Fluttering about me as I move through their territory. It’s kind of ethereal. Dappled sunlight through the trees and masses of butterflies surrounding me.

I’m being kissed by butterflies! I think to myself.

I feel very important in the scheme of things for these precious minutes. My day to day life disappears as I’m transported off into a neverland of nature.

And I’m only gone for an hour. Although it always feels much longer. And that’s a very good sign as it means the time has lost it’s meaning, just for a little while each day. There’s no pressure, no man-made noises, nobody seeking my attention.

Just me, the bush and my butterflies.

I run because I can. And because I need to.

I have a body with 2 legs that function and that means physically I can run. It doesn’t cost anything to run. Not even time. Because I choose to run. It is part of my day, just like brushing my teeth or telling my family I love them. It’s vital to me and to others in my life.

Spectacular views like this waterfall, shot on a recent run are another bonus when I’m trail running.

And I’m the first to admit I can suffer from bouts of depression. The black dog bites from time to time.

So that’s why I need to run. I need the endorphin release running gives me. I need to be in and with nature. I’m a better person for it and able to contribute more completely to my family, my business and my community.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m a fit and healthy 57-year-old, I’m simply honest about how I feel. I have to be because it doesn’t serve me or those around me if I’m not.

And sometimes it’s hard to get out there. The weather is rubbish or I’m feeling just ok mentally or physically. I make myself do it. Even if I have to run/hike for some or all of the trail, I know I’ll be better for it.

As I sit writing this, I can hear the rain lashing the window of my room, knowing I’ll be out running in it shortly. And I can’t wait.

And I’ll choose my butterflies over the black dog every time.

How do you keep the dog at bay?

Training for the Yurrebilla Ultra – 56Km. What goes up … !