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I will never make it as an #Insta-Runner.

I’ve just got back from an early morning 5k. I went even earlier than usual as I didn’t want to be seen by anyone. I had to try and film myself running, and I really didn’t want to be seen doing that. We’re attempting to get some funding for Earth Runs, and one of the entry requirements is a video. So I snuck off for a run in the light of dawn. Imagining it would look good with the trees’ outline behind me as I ran effortlessly past the camera.

We’ve all seen the posts on Instagram or Facebook – beautiful smiley shots of perfect runners. Movie music playing in the background…

This was not what I saw.

My gazelle-like strides seem to translate on video as a slow sort of lurch. Weirdly upright, tiny head, short-wearing thighs highlighted against the dark of the dawn, butt sticking out. It must be the running belt I was wearing. I removed it. Nope. The high viz jacket? Took that off. The head torch? Nope… nothing. Whatever I attempted didn’t help to make me look like a natural-born runner. Nothing made me look on camera how I felt inside.

Now I really don’t hold too much truck for how I look; I’ve battled for too many years with the voice in my head that tells me that I’m not good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, feminine enough, strong enough, weak enough, quiet enough, to ever take too much notice of that voice. It took until my 40s until I realised that for some people, I will always be just ‘too’ something for them, and I can’t please them.

That’s when I started to grow more as a person, not encased in a straight-jacket of other people’s opinions any more. I was no longer trying to please people who don’t hold the same values as me, and it’s felt good to be my own individual self. Accepting the good, trying to improve the not-so-good. It helped quieten the voice a little.

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not still there. Seeing myself in the eyes of others will always bring out the fragile ego. Because that’s what it is, isn’t it? Our ego. Watching the birds, or the rabbits, or any other wildlife, when they’re simply doing their thing, I notice they aren’t worrying at all about what others think about them. They don’t care if their bum looks big; if they look strong or fit, all they care about is what they need to do. They focus on the job at hand. They live in that moment. We humans are a lot more fragile than that.

When I’m running, I often lose myself in the wonder of human bodies and how different they all are. In my last race before Covid, I was overtaken by people three times my size, and I overtook youngsters half my age, but all of our bodies were responding the best way they could to what they were being asked to do. I remember smiling to myself as I followed a guy who ran like he was part of the Rat Pack, his arm beautifully swinging outward, keeping rhythm to an imaginary snare drum. The three elderly, slightly larger, ladies who sprinted past me, chatting the ears off each other about a bit of a hoo-hah with a guy called Nigel (I couldn’t keep up to find out what happened). There are the incredible folks who seem to shuffle, barely lifting their feet, and those that bounce all the way around.

What I realise is that we’re all beautifully individual in our running. That’s what makes running so special. It’s yours. However you do it; no rules, no boundaries. It’s your run. I see runners of all shapes and sizes, running all sorts of speeds, but whatever they look like, however they run, I’m simply cheering them on in my head. They’re doing it.

No two trees are the same, yet they all reach for the sky; and we’re all moving forward, styling it out in our own unique way.

I won’t ever make Instagram fame. I’m not sure I’ll ever win the funding if it’s going to be decided by a video. But I will always do what I can to be an encourager. To celebrate individuality. Running isn’t how you look, what you wear, how far you go. It’s always about how you feel. And running makes me feel like a better person than I was yesterday. And I’ll celebrate that.

Next week is Easter, and we’ll be sending out your individual Impact Reports, so watch out for those in your inbox. it’s a great way to see what you’ve achieved with your miles and the change you’ve created. You are all utterly incredible. Whatever you look like.

Have a great week.
Thanks for keeping me going.

All the best,

Founder / Individualist / Sometimes-too-Tash


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