Saturday’s run was a very enjoyable 5km Parkrun. It seemed as though there were fewer there than the 500-600 runners who normally attend. I suspect that rain had stopped play for many and once they heard the rain drops pouring down they simply rolled over in bed and had a lie in!
Rain hadn’t stopped me or another runner from the abuse survivors running group that I lead. We hadn’t seen each other for a while and it was lovely to see her. We soon got into a groove, chatting our way round the course sharing news and stories, as rain drops fell off our noses and hung from our eye lashes! We really were quite quickly drenched.
As we spoke, it struck me that stories are one of the things that can unite us all. Our runs in training and at races become the stories we share with others to give them a glimpse into our experiences. Then there are the other stories, the ones about the wider things happening (or previously happened) in our lives. In fact over time our lives become a tapestry of stories weaving together to make different chapters that we can share and look back on and reflect.
When I run with survivors of abuse I always admire their dogged determination to re-write the future chapters in their lives and reclaim their story, in the ways that work for them. This takes considerable strength and courage and I feel privileged that I am a small part in their journey. Running has helped the survivors I know to feel positive about themselves again and to reconnect with their bodies. It has enabled them to achieve goals they didn’t know they could reach and to find a way to nurture their mental and physical well being. Running has been powerful; it has proved grounding and provided moments of healing too. I know running is being used across the country to help people who are homeless, unemployed and/or mentally ill.
When you next go to Parkrun, or another organised event, please take a moment to look around and to consider how many stories are collectively gathered there in that one place. Then marvel at the power of running and how it might be changing each person, giving them the tools to be their own author and to write new stories and chapters in their lives.