Sunday, 22 July 2018

skopje story

1st July 2018
Skopje, Macedonia
European Mountain Running Championships

perhaps i should look back
and feel
crushing disappointment
at the way
my senior debut played out

well to an extent
i do
i feel sad knowing
things could have
been different

but then
these downcast emotions
are drowned out
squashed down
by gratitude and honour
pinch me
this reality is real
pulling on the british vest
beside team mates
second family
don't let me forget
i didn't ever expect
to be there

my heart feels so full
by the magic pull
this sport creates

be patient with the passion
it'll all flow

thank you
it means the world
and more

appreciate what was
what took place
live like the mountains
accepting the ups
with the downs
no need to frown

there was much debate
over whether the statues were fake
knowing we participate
in something real
honest and pure
this family we create

tears in our eyes
old junior team mates
claiming their well deserved prize
all over the skin
oh what a tremendous
way to begin

start line adrenaline
bang the gun
athletes released

pounding feet 
steady rhythm
pulsing up the mountainside
one by one

through the dense woodland
a trip
over a root
grabbing limbs
preventing the fall
proceed and endure
a wave of motion
up up up
gaping mouths
gasping lungs
demanding air

unknown foreign insect
plants a sting
on the skin

don't fuss
soon the downhill

fight with flight
down down down
loose rocks
crash-mats around trees
shouts and cheers
you must

lose your fears

sudden bad feeling
legs giving out
seized with cramp

one lap
second lap
feel the pain grow

hold on
grit teeth

battle with the mind
try to not let them catch
from behind

end in sight
finish of your plight

want nothing
but to collapse
dead weight on the floor
alas forbidden
have to move once more

arms tugged
hauled away
push pull
the earth below
a hug of gratifying relief

coolness of water
ebbs like a stream
but what about
the rest of the team
3rd, 12th, 24th

i am overwhelmed
with pain
with pride
with joy
manage to smile

we all fought so relentlessly
for every mile

team bronze

on their behalf
the pen
we all clasp
writing the script
of today

senior men
the italian dominance
their passion
mountain running pride
the olympic dream

and spreading strong
knowing where
this sport belongs

british men
another podium
everyone spent
the depths to which
they all went

delving deep
hanging on
triumph and strength

fresh history
the union jack
medals for all
in our sack

god save
the queen

the inspiration
it's hard to explain

the feelings
behind this sport
something you have to experience

yourself feel
to truly comprehend
understand just how real

this beauty
retained inside
hopping through winter
mountain moments
making healing easier

choosing gratitude
over grievance
with patience
finding strength
in the struggle
the doubts
we all juggle

the pride
pain passion
smiles laughter
tears fears
screams shouts
doubts dreams
energy emotion

all this
on vodno mountain
on that day

the glory
another page
in our mountain running story

to be part
of this community
feeling the unity
the gifts to treasure
dreams beyond measure

the mountains
are moving
and us too
along this journey
and forever

Wednesday, 31 January 2018


Everything has changed and yet I am more myself than I have ever been. 

That's the thing about life, you don't expect certain things to happen and then suddenly you're stuck in a situation which “wouldn't ever happen to me”. You find it hard to see a way out. There was no way you could've planned for this. You don't know how it can ever be the same again.

But then almost as quickly as the darkness comes, you find the light. The black disappears. The sun shines again and you find yourself. Even with the thing that happened which wasn't supposed to. Even with the injury. Even if you can't run. I found myself as soon as I stopped looking. I found myself as soon as I realised I wasn't just a runner. I am a person. I am Heidi and this is just part of my story.

I started taking running pretty seriously when I was just eleven years old, a year seven starting high school. I became enthused with the sport. I had finally found something I felt I was destined to do. I loved the freedom it gave me. If I look back now the longest time I've gone without running since I was just eleven years old is probably just a week or maybe two.

Fast forward from my eleven year old self to August 2017. Nineteen year old Heidi, stepping off the plane back onto British soil with a head full of many more dreams after the most truly amazing experience out in Italy with the mountain running family. Little did she know that in two days time, it was to be her last proper run for just over five months.

Nevertheless those five months are months I'm actually very grateful to have experienced. I was able to find beauty in the struggle.

When I first got the news I was going to have to be on crutches my Dad sent me something which stuck: “Do not fear as you will return stronger. Do not forget all accomplished and a life transformed. Remember  you did not fail.” I read it and burst into tears. All I wanted was to be able to run again.

Gradually, it got better. Slowly I got better, physically and mentally. I came to terms with what I was facing. I came to terms with the fact that I couldn't run. I accepted it. I found other ways to fill my time, other ways to inspire me. Some days I missed running so so much, it felt like part of me wasn't in place like maybe half of me was missing. But if I'm going to be brutally honest, other days I honestly found I didn't miss running at all. I'd grown to love the other ways I was able to be me. I found who I was without running. I think I forgot what running felt like. That's why today, when I ran for the first time in five months, twenty five minutes with pain free steps, I could not take the smile off my face. I was running and I suddenly remembered why I loved it. It was honestly the greatest feeling.

I had missed the way running makes me feel. The feeling of being alive, out in the countryside with just your footsteps, your dreams and imagination for company. That flow, pure-state childlike wonder it gives you. The aliveness and energy. That was what I found I missed. Being able to pour myself into that. I'm so so grateful to have that back.

Not being able to run did cause me to fall apart a little yes, but then it was an opportunity to put myself back together and grow in other ways. An opportunity to be more.

I have rediscovered another love of mine, the piano. I've actually taken this one step further and become a peripatetic piano teacher. This is something I am truly enjoying. I love being able to help others to do and learn something they enjoy. It really is very rewarding and it's extremely heartwarming to be a part of someones' journey. Because that is what I have realised more than ever; everyone is on a journey. Sometimes in life, the path isn't so clear and you need a little helping hand from the people around you. Ultimately, everything is connected. It's through this connectivity to others, that we grow and flourish. People rise by lifting others after all. We are all connected. That's what makes us human. That's what makes life wonderful. I feel so full up right now.

I cannot thank the people around me enough who have helped me through the rocky past few months. You know who you are and your support means the world and more.
Photo courtesy of inov-8... the all new X-TALON

A dream, dancing again like a fairy… Now the reality, a runner again but I am also so much more…

Because I have lived without being able to run, I know I can live without being able to run. I can still be happy. It's all just a matter of perspective. I'm grateful to be alive, living this life with the best people around me. If you feel like you can make a tiny difference to even just one persons' life, then that is enough. We are all here, we all matter. Small differences add up. It all matters.

The dark times do come. They are in fact, inevitable. This is just a reminder to you that the light can be found. You are strong enough and you are brave enough. As you are. You are enough.

Life is huge. We shouldn't try to understand it. Just live it. Make the most of every moment and be insanely grateful.

Those that know me best know how much I love the cringe, but even I think that's enough cringe from me for one day. So for now all that's left to say is… yep you guessed it... keep dreaming…

Heidi x

Looking over towards The Skirrid, near Abergavenny with Dad behind the camera

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Why I won't run around a track...

Hi. My name is Heidi and I run up and down mountains and along trails for fun. At least I did until I got sidelined with an injury. These things happen. Recovery is important. Acceptance is important. I'm taking each day at a time. And no - I won't run around a track...

Some of you may feel a bit lost already about the way this blog post is going, but I urge you to hang in there. I'll try to help you understand. 

To others, you may just know where I'm coming from and what I'm talking about. Maybe like myself - you're an athlete who's been put in this position. Or just maybe, you're part of the reason why... If you know, you know.

I used to dislike running. 

Okay; I didn't hate running. The movement. Putting one front in front of the other, over and over. I loved that. I still do. The excitement of lacing up your trainers, wondering where your feet will take you today. The anticipation. And then suddenly you're out there. Floating on silent strides. Nothing else matters. You're free, you're alive. You're running and there's no greater gift. No greater feeling. I fall in love with this feeling every time. I could never hate it. 

What I came to dislike was what running became to me.  

The pressure. The over-thinking. The stress. The comparison.

This was years ago. Understand I don't feel this way now; I see it all differently.

So you loved running but you also hated it? 

Yeah that's right. Let me explain. It may be strange but let's use shopping as an example. Trust me, just go with it. 

So you go to a shop and you see this really striking piece of clothing; let's say a shirt. You just fall in love with it straight away. You know you want to buy it before you've even tried it on. Your heart is dead set on it. Only then, imagine your disappointment when you try it on and you realise the shirt is all wrong. It doesn't sit on you properly. It's not like how you imagined it to be at all. But it caught your eye so much in the beginning so you buy it anyway; hoping it'll get better with time. After all maybe it just didn't go with the shoes you had on when you tried it.

Running used to be like this for me. Being able to run and the freedom it gave me was this perfect shirt hanging up in the shop; completely and totally right for me. But then running races and competing became just like trying this shirt on and knowing deep down somehow it was all wrong. It was fine if it was on display, hanging on the hanger. Yes that was brilliant, but once I wore it; the perfect illusion was shattered and I just knew something was out of place. Only this wasn't due to the shoes I was wearing. It was my inner self knowing I wasn't totally comfortable with what I was doing. I knew deep down the shirt I was wearing wasn't me. 

Let's rewind to say 2011, 2012. Yes many years ago. I remember finishing races and actually crying afterwards. I loved running, but why couldn't I translate this into enjoyable racing? Something I'm only just learning why now. 

Racing became something I actually feared. I dreaded the pressure and the feel of everyone wanting to be better than everyone else. The way that I thought if I hadn't run a personal best or won the race; then I'd failed myself. What happened to the freedom running gave me? The feeling of being alive? Through racing too much, against the same girls week in week out, around too similar cross country courses or around the track; I lost my freedom. Running became a chore. Something I was expected to do, rather than something I did because I loved it. The perfect shirt hanging up in the shop was becoming more and more imperfect and ill-fitting each race I ran.

It wasn't enjoyable anymore. I hated the monotony. The egos, the too loud speakers, the too loud screaming pushy parents, the too loud chatter of other kids judging each other on times.

I needed a change. I craved peace. I wanted my freedom and my love for running back. The mountains are where I found it. Mountain running brought me home. 

To the people of the mountain running family, I am sure I don't need to explain myself. Mountain running is a sport not so dissimilar to the perfect shirt that first caught your eye in the shop. Only this time, this perfection isn't an illusion and it fits me perfectly. I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be. There are no feelings of discomfort, no seeds of doubt or worry - only wholeness, happiness. 

Mountain running gives me the feelings that running alone with just my breath and patter of feet beneath me gave me in the beginning. It's brought me back to my roots. The feeling of freedom. 

You may argue, how is mountain running different - you still compete, you still race?

Yes we do but I feel the major differences. The environment and atmosphere within the sport is wholly different because you come to understand the race isn't so much against other competitors but against the mountain you are climbing. It's you against you. You against your own boundaries and edges. Not you against some other person who thinks they're better than anyone else. We all wear the same shirt. We're all equals.

It is because of this, that I have found there are greater levels of respect in this sport.

Friendships, smiles and laughter. No more tears; only tears of happiness. We feel the connection with the planet and with the mountains. Through this connection comes a greater understanding of your competitors and why we do this sport. 

Every run, every race becomes an adventure. Something you look forward to rather than dread. 

So why do I run up mountains? I know I'm being true to myself and my own happiness. It's who I am. Thank you mountains for everything you've given me; the adventures, friendships, growth and dreams. 

So... why would I walk into a shop and buy a perfect looking shirt only to find it doesn't fit me properly? The shirt on the other side, or just behind may have taken me a while to find but it's worth waiting for. This is absolutely the shirt I should wear. This shirt is me.      

Who knows maybe one day the other uncomfortable shirt may fit me a little bit better than before. I'll certainly try it on. But I'll be doing that for me; my own journey and understanding. I'll give it another shot; but in my own time, on my own terms. 

Why I won't run around a track... I'll run around a track when I'm ready to and when I want to. I'm in charge of my own happiness and my own dreams this way. The man-made track doesn't know me as a person, only as a runner and that is where the fault lies. Athletes are first and foremost people; we're not just part of a medal tally, a number or a time on a result sheet...

So now, if you'll excuse me; I've got a mountain to climb. (yes, okay maybe I should wait until I'm off crutches first but I can hear them calling me...)

As ever, thank you so much to those who continue to support and believe in me. It truly means the world. 

I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise you it won't be boring. 

Bye for now,
Heidi x       
Picture courtesy of inov-8