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by @garyfallsover
Thursday 28th January 2016
Tags  Gary Dalton   |   Headspace   |   Mindfulness

Run247 columnist Gary Dalton wonders how many of us search for something that has been there all along

Headspace. Mindfulness. These were two of the buzzwords I heard time and time again in 2015, bandied about as if mental health was the new Quinoa. The concept that we need to take some time for ourselves in our increasingly busy lives is not a new one but never before have we had a whole commercial business dedicated to it.

Having grown up in the west of Ireland in the Seventies, I have to admit that I wasn’t hugely familiar with the term Headspace. Or mindfulness. Or indeed Yoga, though having seen some of the photos in my mothers Littlewoods catalogue I was very keen to find out more about that.

When my Dad needed to clear his head he did what any normal man of the time did, he clouded it with Guinness. My mum substituted the heat of Bikram yoga for a laundry room, filled with the discards of three teenage boys. And I lost myself in sport, finding my peace in the ebb and flow of a rugby game.

So what brings me to think of mindfulness now? And why am I writing a column here, on a running website dedicated to everything pedestrian? Well because last week I rediscovered my headspace and it was the simplicity of that re discovery which made me wonder how many of us search for something that is quite simply there all along.

You see I quite like to run up mountains. Well at least in my minds eye I run up, in reality it’s more of a trudge interspersed with some swearing, but I’m sure you take my point. And though most of the races I choose are mountain races, most of the training I do is at best on the North Downs, which, lovely as they are, doesn’t really rival the Lake District or the Brecon Beacons for majesty.

But last week I had a rare mid week rest day. And I made an even rarer plan. I decided to drive up to the Brecon’s with my friend Richard and spend a morning around Pen y Fan. Our plan to just  enjoy being out on proper hills, ostensibly testing some kit for an upcoming race but in reality, for me at least, just trying to reset myself after one of the busiest work periods of my life. And so we found ourselves not being able to come up with any good reason we couldn’t get up at five in the morning to drive to Wales, secretly wishing the other would cancel so we could, in all good conscience, just go back to sleep, safe in the knowledge that it wasn’t our fault the plans had collapsed yet again.

In the end neither of us broke and off we went. Motorway miles ticking over until we paid for the pleasure of entering Wales. No fee to leave though, which might explain the amount of valley accents in London these days.

Onto the hill by Storey Arms by nine and head down for the long climb up to Corn Du, the sheep lining the path eyeing me suspiciously. Possibly they recognised a west of Ireland boy and were ready to bolt or maybe they were confused by Richard's continuing guffaws at my wearing tights. Who knows, all I knew was that the effort it was taking me not to reveal the effort it was taking to climb the mountain was confusing the hell out of me. Happily Richard had done a monster speed session the night before and showed no signs of slowing his laughing down enough to drop me.

Onto Corn Du and the first inkling that we were in for a special day. Low lying clouds were rolling off the Fan into the valleys below and the last of the morning's Dragons breath inversion was clearing to reveal a stunning day, bright sunshine reflecting off the remaining snow glazing each finger of the mountain.

It was on that climb that my head cleared. That I found my mindfulness and I remembered the simple joy I felt from just being in the mountains. We cleared Corn Du, then Pen y Fan and several others. No rush, stopping and enjoying the view where we fancied it, chatting to those of a mind to chat and leaving others to their thoughts. Enjoying my time with a friend but loving the simplicity of just being there. No entertainment necessary. No music to distract, the day's events irrelevant, the mortgage, bills and worries left at the bottom of the hill.

Time for us was largely irrelevant. Miles ran, metres climbed all unrecorded. No Strava, no Twitter and Facebook left alone for a few short hours while we giggled at each others falls, told silly jokes and ran according to fancy not purpose. Just for the sake of it.

Up there, for a few hours at least, I found my headspace. I sat on the diving board on Fan y Big and looked back to where we’d come from and onwards to where I planned to go and I couldn’t help but think to myself
‘bloody hell, this rock is cold’

 So that, for a few all too brief hours, was my place to reset. Where’s yours?


About The Author

Gary Dalton

Gary Dalton is a rugby loving, crime fighting, white Irish Muslim ultra runner. Despite all this he's not a complete eejit. 

Gary is originally from the west of Ireland and can't actually remember when he moved to London - he blames a heavy diet of being tackled by prop forwards and potatoes for the memory loss. He hates going out for runs, canals and borderline hypothermia and loves ice cream and going out for runs. 


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