for those who love the outdoors

10 June, 2024


Travelling, trails and tales: Reflections of a running nomad

In January 2024 I left my home in Manchester to travel around South East Asia. Running has played a huge part in my experience of each and almost every place I’ve passed through. But this type of behaviour hasn’t always been typical of me. No, in fact a couple of years ago, I’d have thought it bizarre to even think of running whilst on the trip of a lifetime, let alone actually follow through with it and worse still, enjoy it!

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I was absolutely adamant that running was the antithesis of something that could be enjoyable. Its not surprising that I’d internalised this narrative when the only experiences I’d had of running had been negative; Either in the form of unwilling involvement in sports day and cross-country in school, or begrudgingly in pursuit of a ‘new me’ at the start of every new year since I was about 16.

It was only when I signed up for a half marathon on a whim around two years ago that my mindset began shifting. In the build up to my first race, I looked at running through this new, exciting lens of personal growth and reward instead of just a form of gruelling punishment. I stuck at it long enough (which really wasn’t that long at all) to start reaping the benefits of running both physically and mentally and it quickly became a pivotal part of my standard week, sticking around long after the completion of my half marathon.

By the time January of this year rolled around, the question of running whilst I was away travelling was suddenly a no-brainer for me. So I packed my trainers with the intention of getting out when I could in the hope that it would bring the same joy and purpose across the other side of the world as it did back home. I never anticipated that it would not only do just this but it would also unlock other sides to running and go on to teach me more about life and the purpose running holds in it in the process.

From early on in my trip, it became clear that my running now had a more pragmatic element to it than ever before as I began using it as a tool to explore the new places I visited. With the nature of a transient lifestyle being exactly what it says on the tin - temporary and fleeting - it means that long, in-depth visits to said places are off the cards. Thus, in order to make the most of the little time you have, a quick recce of the local area is pivotal. 

That’s where running comes in handy! Running affords you the ability to make discoveries in person and in less time than is required to walk or even drive, as is the case in most destinations I’ve visited. I’ve found it’s so often the case that the places I’ve spotted whilst on a run - whether that be a cool cafe on the waterfront of Lake Tay in Hanoi or just a pretty viewpoint - have been some of the best when I’ve later gone back to visit.

Albeit the likes of Google and TikTok have their perks when it comes to sussing somewhere out, they’re rendered futile when the oversaturation of information and recommendations leaves you feeling more lost than when you started! Not to mention the unparalleled satisfaction you get from knowing that a successful run isn’t defined by how quick it was completed in or how far it was, but by the enjoyment of reporting your findings back and later paying them a visit.

Along my travels, I also started to appreciate the boundless nature of running, something that wasn’t as obvious back home where I wasn’t living out of a bag! I found that without the need for gym memberships, transportation, additional equipment or even much of a plan, running encompassed an accessible form of movement at my disposal pretty much regardless of where I was.

Of course trainers are somewhat an essential piece of kit but aside from that, the prerequisites to getting outside on a run were relatively few and far between in my case. And not only this, but I’ve also found that the benefits of doing so remain consistent wherever I am. The quietening of anxious thoughts and the rush of endorphins I get from running didn’t diminish even as my pace and distance frequently did in the humidity of Malaysia or the tropical rain of Singapore!

Since the act of running remains largely the same as it does back home, it’s no surprise then that running itself encompasses a little slice of comfort for me, even when my comfort zone was out of sight! In the same way that little trinkets or gifts from loved ones might evoke feelings of nostalgia and reminders of home, running held this space for me. 

Despite all that is different around me, when I get out to run I’m transported back to what I know - the trails I’ve ran countless times before and the people I’ve ran beside. To training with my sister along the River Mersey, Saturday Park Run with friends, after work sessions with RunMCR, the list goes on.

While I can’t claim that running is a quick fix to the feelings of homesickness, which inevitably come in waves. I can testify that it has become a reliable constant among the chaos, tethering me to home and a sense of normality.

As my time in South East Asia nears the end and I begin a new chapter of my life in Australia, it’s these musings and reflections that have further cemented the place of running in my life and the purpose it holds.

Most notably, running seems to represent a drop of familiarity and continuity in a sea of unknowns and change. And although I’ve reached this destination via a train of thought in relation to travelling, I think the insight is applicable to a bigger picture. I have a feeling that running will always have the ability to occupy this space for me, no matter where I end up or what stage of life I’m in.

Faye Currie

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Running is now a huge part of my life but if you’d told me that a couple of years ago, I never would’ve believed you!

Until recently, my interest in sport had been mostly theory-based, exploring the institution of it while studying Sociology at university. But after signing up to my first half marathon, I developed a love for running. It’s since added to my life in more ways than just physical performance. It continues to open doors & gives me a renewed sense of purpose as an avid over-thinker in the throes of a quarter-life crisis!

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