Not Just Running: Coping with and Managing Everyday Life through Road-Running
From the external form, running looks like running. Yet this alikeness masks a hugely divergent practice consisting of different movements, meanings and experiences. In this paper I wish to shed light upon some of these different ‘ways of running’ and in turn identify a range of the sometimes surprising, sometimes significant and sometimes banal benefits that road-running can gift its practitioners beyond simply exercise and physical fitness. Drawing on an innovative mapping and ethnographic project, I firstly wish to draw attention to the ways that road-running can offers a means of coping with everyday life through experiencing it as a form of escape; a retreat and reprieve from the complexities and confusions of everyday life. In doing so, I will discuss three types of escape: to somewhere, from somewhere and inside oneself, exploring how the motions, spaces and time of running provides such opportunities. The time that running requires it not always a gift however, and I hope to, secondly, highlight the need to synchronise running with the rest of life’s rhythms and demands. This will be done by exploring running as a commute; runners that utilise pre-existing travel time to run and this ‘way of running’ subsequently opens up space to begin to consider running as a form of transport as well as exercise.