I never did sports when I was a kid. However, I did run around the fields, climb in trees and jump in muddy puddles and ditches all day long. To shock a little all the non-Finnish readers: I also never went to kindergarten and started school only at the age of seven. By high school I had obviously stopped playing catch outside till midnight and tried to start jogging – that’s how it was called back in the day – to have a little bit of counter balance with spending time indoors and reading. Running felt terrible and I always barely made it to my grandparents’ house, which was two kilometres away from my home. My grandmother offered me an extensive meal and my granddad drove me back home in his car. During the visits my grandparents would point out several times what a tough girl I was to run such a long distance (I think in their eyes I was still two years old) and they also always praised me for all my small achievements in life so far. As a result, I never felt really bad after these failed attempts of trying to become a runner.
Then I entered the university. I was reading more and more and gaining weight at the same time. Finally my boyfriend gave me a gym membership as a birthday present and against all my prejudices, I went to the gym for the first time of my life. It turned out that I loved it and after a while I also started running on a treadmill. I think I started from six minutes at a time, but the day came when I could run on the treadmill for half an hour and it felt good. I started running outside and longer and longer distances. This was probably in 2003. For years I ran almost every day. I never checked on my pulse, I never knew exactly how long or far I had run. People were always very surprised to hear that running was my hobby and most of the times the discussion went around the reasons why they don’t run: “I have bad knees” or the other legendary “I get this terrible ache in my chest if I run”.
For years my hobby continued the same way: a solitary exercise that nobody wanted to talk about. Then something strange happened. Other people started running too and completely new topics to talk about arouse around running. Now the first thing people asked was: which race are you training for? I had never run to prepare for a race. I have participated in some, especially now that there is such a big selection of running events: you can rock and run, nightrun, mudrun, run in the forest, highways or mountains not to even mention all the marathon races. This is of course absolutely fantastic! Let all people run and be healthy! However, it made me think my running had become somehow inferior and still I had nothing to talk about my running with the other runners, because I was not interested in measuring my performances or going to a lot of crowded running events and eating the gels that make your stomach go upside-down.
Now I have had a long, long break in active running, so I can just tell everyone I run when I can and that’s it. It’s difficult not to add that I was actually the first original running hipster and now that running has become so mainstream, I stopped. What a blessing that I can write it here that you all know! The break and decreased quantity of running, however, made me realise what my running is all about. I run to feel my body is alive and not to go crazy inside my head. It is meditation: an exercise of letting go of all the troubles I happen to have in my life. If I add there any elements of competition or performance – gel or Vaseline – the meditative part is gone. It is not about how fast or far, but about going. I like my running!