Find what drives your passion
Former track runner and #Run1000Miles ambassador Julia Bleasdale discovered the refreshing power a trail run can provide
Travel through any major airport and you will eventually find a moving walkway and be tempted to hop on for the ride. After all, it promises rapidity with a certainty of direction while you are conveyed along, quite often to a destination that is somewhat out of sight as you commit to taking the journey. Of course, there is then no turning back.
This was my life as an elite athlete, with known boundaries, always moving forwards with the procession of training cycles, competitions and training camps featuring as regularly as the clever advertising adorning the walls of airport thoroughfares with the next intriguing promise or installment always just ahead. My fellow travellers were my friends, family and running rivals. The purpose was clear and focused, the destination distant.
Then, softly at first, comes the polite but repetitive voice, bringing news that your brief and enjoyable journey is coming towards its conclusion and to be prepared for a return to a more normal human experience. Ignore the advice and you can stumble but striding off with intent you can find a natural rhythm once more.
So stepping off the elite stage I knew I must find what running now meant to me, what it was that drove the passion, ambition and training, to be able to cope with the ups and downs. I had to rediscover running and purpose.
When you are young it is not just speed that exhilarates, it is not time nor position that is highly coveted. It is the freedom and adventure that provide the attraction to run.
There is a story in every running endeavour. Trails and natural landscapes amplify this narrative through terrain, weather and pure diversity of motion. A move to the mountains and trails now encapsulates running for me as ultimately we are not yet designed for either track or tarmac, and trails provide a refresh to our complex mental states and a physical variety to enliven the body.
So the winding trail and feeling of adventure with exploration is running, as ultimately we all come to seek those experiences that enrich our souls and enable us to be closer to our natural environment. It is this connection that gives me purpose – always imagining what is around the next corner or seeing what the dotted line on a map really feels like underfoot.
I am happy to have landed safely, avoiding stumbles and negotiating the arrivals hall of my elite career with my luggage, moving on to fresh pastures and trails within the stunning arena of the Engadin Valley in Switzerland.
Having found my feet, the motivation is to see that more people discover this lesser-known, magical trail running destination tucked away in the high Alps. Do join me for a run one day!