Yesterday I returned from a weekend in St. Andrews, which is my favourite place in the WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD. I completed my master’s degree at the University of St Andrews 4 years ago, and it genuinely was one of the best years of my life.
My initial love for running began to develop in St. Andrews, although I did not realise this at the time. Back in 2013, I lived a 2-minute walk from the beach, and every day, between work and writing my dissertation, I would disappear for a couple of hours to power walk/ jog through the coastal trails.
I didn’t realise that essentially what I was doing was trail running (I didn’t actually know what trail running was at this stage.) Bizarrely, I didn’t even class what I was doing as a form of exercise – I thought I was just exploring a beautiful place, mixing walking with a bit of running here and there. I used these 2 hours as my one time to escape between a particularly busy period – working full time whilst writing a master’s thesis was quite a challenge! Looking back, it was a fantastic form of exercise and on the rare occasion that I am lucky enough to visit St Andrews, I take full advantage of the coastal trails and golden sands.*
Nostalgia is bittersweet; the desire to escape into the ‘perfect’ or idealised world of a previous time can come with dangerous connotations. In a course that I am currently taking, nostalgia is very much discouraged, which I understand to an extent. However, ruminating and positive reminiscing are, in my opinion, at very different ends of the spectrum.**
I find that nostalgia really aids my running. ‘Magical’ running in St. Andrews is an extreme example of this, but there are also less scenic routes that spark nostalgia… the aerodrome where I would take my dog when I first started running and was too self-conscious to run alone. The long, bleak stretch of road in the Scottish Borders where I trained for my first marathon. If I am lacking in motivation, going back to old running routes can have a really positive impact.
Do you have a ‘magical’ running location/route? Perhaps a place that sparks a feeling of nostalgia, or is meaningful to you?
*Last weekend, my Sunday morning run wasn’t 100% magical as I encountered a naked man swimming in a large rock pool. It was very cold and pouring with rain, so the nudity did shock me a little.
**I have read many great books and studies surrounding time perspective – please feel free to get in touch if you are interested in this and I can share these with you!