Running a marathon for Streetiwse - eight weeks to go

Hazel Gould is a writer and director who has collaborated with Streetwise Opera on Dialogues des Carmelites at the Royal Opera House, and To the Silkwood Tree in Nottingham. On 17 April, she will run her first marathon - raising money for Streetwise Opera - in her home town of Brighton. Her 40th Birthday is on 8 May 2016. She describes her training so far:

I have just under eight weeks to go until I run the marathon, and 12 weeks of training under my belt. The benefits are huge and I feel fit, strong and motivated. This weekend I bought a dress to wear to a friend’s birthday, saw myself in a changing room mirror and thought “Yes, I recognise that person – she looks like me,” which was refreshing and positive. I also had my asthma review last month and for the first time in my adult life I told the truth about my booze intake and the level of exercise I’m doing, practically leaping out of my chair to announce “I’m running 20 miles a week!”.

The biggest surprise, though, is that I’m enjoying it, and not simply the physical benefits, but the time I’m spending alone, with nothing but my thoughts for company.

A while ago, I stopped running with my phone. I had become addicted to my running app and its regular updates on my pace and distance. I felt that I couldn’t get through a run without music to keep me going. I am a heavy user of social media and obsessively check my emails, so even during the time I was out running (although I drew the line at stopping to read messages or answer the phone), I was aware of the business of my life being strapped to my arm and buzzing away. So inspired by various running blogs and mindful training advice, I ditched the electronics and unplugged*. Far from finding running without the stimulation of music boring and arduous, I found that I was lost in thought, and full of connection to my body, my capabilities, and the world around me.

If I’m beginning to sound like an insufferable hippy, it’s because I am one, but as I run longer and longer distances (so far 18 miles is the furthest), I’m really enjoying exploring the peripheries of the city - the birdlife and plants existing alongside the heavy industrial work of the edgelands. I run along towpaths and disused railway lines, parks and sometimes busy pavements, always able to see what is existing outside the city’s speed and drive.

I’m desperately trying to avoid drawing a clumsy comparison between my training and the work of Streetwise, but this is where I’ve found myself. The work that Streetwise does acknowledges the value of human lives which are often easier to ignore than engage with. By lifting our eyes we begin to see the places we live in, in a full panorama. There’s a stretch of towpath that I know, populated by tents and mattresses, a makeshift town hidden from the hustle and bustle. There are people living there, and it is our duty to see them.

Please sponsor me here!


*Note: for safety on longer runs,  I take my phone in a little water-carrying backpack I have, in case I get injured and need to call for help, or in the unlikely event that I just can’t hack it and want to get myself an uber.