Petestack Blog

12 December 2016

The Amazing Grace of Running

Filed under: Running — admin @ 11:50 pm

Make of the title what you will — an elegance I’ve admired in others but never had, a quasi-religious reference to the ‘soul-saving’ properties of a physical activity, a nonsensical attempt to compare said activity to a tune in triple time — but here are some thoughts about intangible things set down in something approaching tangible form…

Having just spent a weekend with runners (for the FBU London Pirate’s 50th) and talked at breakfast yesterday of the essential simplicity of running (meaning both its essential simplicity and indispensability), I was driving back up the road from Strathaven listing to a discussion about Amazing Grace on Sunday Morning with Ricky Ross on Radio Scotland. Now here’s a song (and this was discussed) with resonance beyond its more obvious religious overtones… loved, admired and inspiring people the world over for its ‘universality’, memorable sincerity and (despite its association with the tune New Britain we now call Amazing Grace coming 28 years after its author’s death) perfect marriage of powerfully economical words and music. Ask me what other songs I can think of with these qualities and I might say A Man’s a Man for a’ That, Auld Lang Syne (to its original, rather than most popular, tune), Over the Rainbow (yes, to me truly a perfect song!) and… I’m sure there are more but I’d really have to start thinking!

So I was driving back up the road thinking about the ‘running’ conversation… how running is one of the simplest of all activities (requiring less kit and therefore being more spontaneous than, for example, sailing, climbing or even cycling), how I can just grab my shoes and run, how running can be just running while I’m out no matter what kind of mess my house/work/life has been left behind in, how it provides the clearest thinking time because (I suppose) you’re both benefitting from the exercise/environment and free of these other normally unavoidable things… and then it came to me… ‘the Amazing Grace of Running’. It’s been ‘saving’ me for years and will doubtless continue to do so; I’ve said before that ‘running is the solution, not the problem’, so let’s just tweak that a little to suggest that, in running, ‘I once was lost, but now am found’, and in thinking while running, ‘was blind but now I see.’ But then you might also wonder what I’m playing at by entering another big race having said (in the same blog!) ‘while running is still the solution, racing is part of the problem’ and that’s ‘why you’ll *never* see me grace the starting line of that race again’? To which I can only plead that life changes, water flows under bridges and, in wanting to join the only race that could still do this to me once more, I’m ‘racing to run’ rather than ‘running to race’ so absolutely not returning to racing per se. It’s all going to be kept low-key and you’re not going to hear me talking about my goals because I don’t yet know what they are and don’t want to make rods for my own back by broadcasting them even if/when I do.

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