I sometimes dream I’m running… not away from something, or even towards something, but just running. Often I’m running between trees, going downhill in open woodland with the sun streaming between the branches, I’m having to jink sideways, and hop down the bumpy terrain, jumping over fallen branches. The air is warm but pleasant, and I’m loving it, running effortlessly and easily. Sometimes I’m running up a low hill covered in lush very green pasture. I’m running at an oblique angle across the face of the hill, brilliant blue sky above and just a few white clouds in contrast. I can feel my muscles moving strongly, I’m breathing hard but easily, it’s wonderful!
But these are dreams… When I was younger I was very sporty; my sport as a young person was swimming and I was very good and swam competitively. I belonged to agreat club and trained at least four times a week, but would swim everyday, either going to the pool before school, or going in the evenings and meeting friends. I was very fit; I swam about forty miles a week, I cycled everywhere including four miles each way to school, I did weight training and circuit training once a week, and occasionally went on swimming camps at Crystal palace. I also played sport at school, hockey and netball in the winter, rounders and tennis in the summer, and we did dance (oh those awful tunics and pants… but that’s another story)
When I was older I played squash (very badly ) a couple of times a week, did a lot of walking, and when my children were born started taking them swimming too.
However, no matter how fit I was,, I was just hopeless at running; I could run very fast over short distances, in netball, rounders, squash, but even the length of a hockey pitch was a bit much for me so I became the goalie. At the swimming club I was one of the best swimmers, top at circuit training, a great weight lifter, but go on a short run round the streets – I just couldn’t! I’d come in way last, even behind the little kids… I just can’t run! I don’t know if it’s my hips, or my knees, or just my whole legs, but I just can’t run. I can walk as far as you like (as long as it’s not too uphill!) in my prime I could swim further than I could walk – I won the seven mile river race a couple of times, but run? I just can’t run.
The heroines of my books run! Tyche Kane was forever running, she’d set off from her flat in Easthope and easily do an eight or ten mile circuit which is just as well because there were a couple of times when she had to l literally run for her life – if you want to know why read ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’! (The title gives you a bit of a clue as to who she was running away from!) Aislin, in ‘Loving Judah’ also had to run, and run in the dark at night, miles from anywhere across moorland and through a ruined village; unlike Tyche she had not been training but mortal fear gives you wings!
So for me running remains in my dreams, and for my characters… I’ll just walk through woodland in sunshine, and amble across the sunny hillside pasture!