It’s not just exercise, it’s therapy.

The path I am running along is thin and narrow, just big enough for me to pass any on comer I may encounter. My eyes focus on the shades of grey gravel in front of me, it is uneven, and with every step I take, the slight movements alter my trainer’s placement.

The dull colour before me brightens as I become surrounded by a sheet of greenery. The trees beside me stand tall, some broken and old, others have bloomed and are filled with blossom and bright flowers. They sway within the slight breeze, bringing the birds and wildlife out. The vibrant dragonflies hover amongst the tranquil canal, where lily pads float towards the boggy edges. The furry buzzy bees and tiny minibeast are also taking in their surroundings.

To my left, I have the water; it is peaceful and undisturbed; this is how running makes me feel. As I make down the long path, I come across colourful narrowboats. I take in each of their unique names and question how they came to get them. The paintwork is immaculate on most and freshly washed, whereas others look old and well used.

When I catch a view of the freshly cut fields, I know I am only two miles away from home. Reaching the busier footpaths means more people are in sight, single dogwalkers, couples, and families, all of which look carefree. I smile at them and say morning as I pass.

With every step, I can hear the thudding of my foot and my rapid breathing; the huffs and puffs escape me as I fight the urge to stop. I can feel sweat dripping down my brow and the curve within my spine. My top is soaked and tightly hugging my sweaty body. As the sun absorbs the moisture upon my skin, I can smell my pours and taste the salt within my mouth; I am dying for a drink of ice-cold water right now. The fumes of the narrowboats override my scent as they fill my nose; I swear I inhaled something earlier; it made me cough and left an odd smoky flavour in my mouth. As the heavy machines quickly become out of sight, the aroma of freshly cut grass fills the air; it is strong and makes me feel glad I don’t suffer from hay fever. It is a smell I have always loved.

My mind is clear, and my senses are running high. I am calm, relaxed, yet exhausted. My feet are burning, and my legs are tight, but the feeling of being in complete control outweighs the agony. This six-mile route is my favourite, the colours, the stillness, and the animals I often see, from the little wild rabbits to the timid foxes. They often tempt me to take photos, but I also want to live in the moment, without technology. I like to embrace nature the way it should be. Untroubled.

A quieter canal | Canal & River Trust | Canal & River Trust

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