I mentioned this before that every so often I have a dream that I’m running; I’m not running away from anything, and I don’t seem to be running towards something, I’m just running.
In real life I’m no good at running, even when I was young and sporty i was not a runner. I was a swimmer and as part of our training we would lift weights, do circuits, and go for runs… I was always last back. I cycled for miles to school and four miles back each day, as well as cycling to the swimming pool and back, and all the other little trips I’d make on my bike… but run anywhere? As fit as I was I was hopeless at running. We played plenty of sports at school, but I was only any good at the short running sports such as netball and rounders. As an adult I went on to play squash, tiny amounts of running with squash, and rowing which involved no running whatsoever.
My running dreams were always in pleasant surroundings, across a summer meadow or upland pasture, with bright grass and pretty flowers; in these dreams I would often be running up hill. If ever I was running downhill it would be through a different landscape, often rocky and dry and sandy, with the sun beaming down on me. Sometimes I would be running through woodland, among deciduous trees either in autumn or spring, with sunshine twinkling through the branches, the ground soft and covered with leaf-mould as I loped through glades and dells and traversed the sloping hillside. These running dreams were wonderful; I would wake refreshed and alert and with a feeling of contentment, as if the mental ‘exercise’ had done me as much good as a physical work-out.
I haven’t dreamed a running dream like this for ages but recently I’ve had different running dreams; in these dreams I’m running through streets and again I’m not running away from anything or trying to escape anything, I’m running or the pleasure of running. In these street dreams I’m pounding along, running hard, but it’s easy and I’m flying through the town or city… which is unidentified. I’m running with a steady rhythm, a thump-thump-thump of my feet on the pavement, my legs stretching out with each stride, my arms moving like pistons, my hands loose and comfortable. I’m not too hot, I’m not too cold, I’m not anxious or frightened, I’m relaxed and mentally alert even as I’m doing something so physical… but it is all just a dream.
I wonder if it means anything? I shouldn’t think so. In The Stalking of Rosa Czekov, Tyche goes running, for exercise, but also to train for any eventuality… as she is trying to find a murderer this is something she needs to do.
“She had run farther than usual, pushing herself even harder, building up her stamina, increasing her speed. She had run along the coast path beyond Dark Fort across the bridge over the River Hope and along to Opal Harbour. She hadn’t stopped even though the little café was open and people were sitting on the seawall with drinks and ices. She had run on, forcing herself up the narrow lane to the main road. Now she stood outside her door, taking her pulse as usual and when it steadied she went in.”
… and then one night, she runs naked along a beach
“It was wonderful, to be so unbelievably free, to run naked beneath the night sky. She seemed to be running better and faster than ever before, her legs stretching out, feet hardly touching the sand, her breathing deep and easy, her arms moving smoothly. Even the bag bouncing on her back seemed to have found rhythm. Tyche didn’t look back, didn’t look to see if he was following her, she didn’t care. She was near the Point where the ancient rock fall had tipped the cliff into the sea. She followed the path between the dunes, pushing hard now, the sand ankle-deep. There were numerous ways between the grass and the scrubby bushes and soon she had to slow to climb; she had to back track a couple of times. The moon was hidden by the rise of the Point and it was difficult to see which way to go.”