Week 50: I will run for the climate.
Updated: Apr 30
One of my superpowers is that I can run, pretty much anytime. I can get to the end of a working day, or a particular task or other, pull on a pair of trainers and whatever other kit is lying around, and decide to go running.
Maybe for a half-hour, maybe for an hour. Always warming up, always warming down, but aside from that I don’t have to think about it at all. I settle into a meditative rhythm, my mind drifts.
I know it’s a superpower, is because not everyone can do that. I’m not saying I’m the only one who can – because I know there are also lots of people I know who also have this superpower, and I sometimes see others doing the same. Flying around the countryside, the parks or the streets, superheroes all. We often give each other a nod, or a wave.
In fact, the world is full of people with superpowers like me. We don’t all have the same powers – some don’t like running at all. Some of the people I know with superpowers can make stuff, play instruments, draw, tell stories, cycle, walk, make me laugh, make me cry, dance. There are millions of superpowers out there, and it’s likely that if you’re reading this, you have one as well and you might not realise it.
The reason we don’t realise it, is because we’re always being told that we don’t have superpowers.
Or maybe worse, we are told that we don’t have any powers of note, that we’re not special at all.
We are in a world of winners and losers. Of unfavourable comparisons. A world where often the attention to the cloud obscures the silver lining.
Most adults reading this will probably think I’m being ridiculous, and actually I feel a tiny bit ridiculous writing it, but I’m working through that feeling. I also don’t think the 4-year old that lives in our house thinks the same. He believes in my superpowers.
He also believes in the sheer unadulterated joy of running for no particular reason at all, other than the breeze in your hair or the unexplainable feeling of freedom that comes from running towards a big sky that you know you’ll never quite be able to touch.
Does he think that because he is only four, and so he doesn’t know any better?
Or is it because he is four, and so he knows best?
The cool thing also about realising you have superpowers, is knowing that you can use them for good. And the realisation that even if you are not able to conquer great mountains in a leap, or swim great oceans, you have a super power that can be used for good, is a wonderful thing.
The more of us that realise this, the more good our superpowers can do.
How do we activate our superpowers? How do we uncover what has been there all the time? Do we wait for a spider bite, or seek out mysterious buckets of unknown glowing radiation to dive into?
Like all things, this first bit is the hardest. It takes belief. And belief, real belief, is something that is in short supply right now. Knowing we have a place in the world. Knowing what we can do is useful. And then knowing we can do it. All these emotions need to come before action. Our world drains our beliefs. It paralyses us and stops us taking action. We need help.
It would be easy if we were our superheroes from the stories. We can just turn to our superpower mage or guru, because everyone knows that all superheroes have one of those. Batman has Alfred, the Avengers have each other. Someone who has your back, supports you, cheers you on.
Someone who holds you accountable to what you have promised yourself, and pokes you in the places you don’t want to be poked, at exactly the moment you need it. But how can we do it ourselves? How can we just start?
But in real life, starting in lots of ways is down to ourselves. We have to start. But not doing it alone - finding groups - or making sure we pick the right moment, will make this more likely.
A way to activate a community of helpers, and to give you the accountability - is to make a commitment to something. Sign up. Pick something you can do with your superpower, and seek those who have organised themselves to help you.
This is my choice, not to start running but to start using it for good. I’m not great at asking for help. And I believe that no matter what your superpower, there are organisations who are waiting to help you realise it in your own way. That do not demand that you are the greatest, or demand that you perform a self-sacrificing feat of human endeavour. That support and do not judge, and understand that most of us need to start somewhere.
Organisations that understand that we need to reintroduce a great wisdom. The wisdom that many of us have to think we suck at something, and do it, before we realise that actually we are pretty good, and that by doing it we can also get better.
This week, I am running for the climate. And my own guru to help me do this is the One Running Movement.
On top of being a superpower, I believe that running for me helps my mental health. Your own superpower might also have this positive impact for you. For a long time, I didn’t know what to call this benefit. I’d sometimes call it ‘blowing away the cobwebs’, or perhaps a ‘change of scene’. But over time I have begun to realise the meditative quality of some things we do and that we do for ourselves, can play a big part of our own self-care. The act of running, the feeling of space, the sense of freedom, can open a door in my mind to positivity and resilience.
This makes One Running Movement a really good match for me. In their words, One Running Movement was created to help to create more active communities for all ages, inspire creativity, provide social intergenerational connectivity, support inclusivity and the creation of healthy habits by working together. You can read about them here.
What I also love about One Running Movement is that it is an organisation that is making a change for good, but has made participation extremely accessible. They have made it easy to sign up, and to start.
One Running Movement run a series of movement events, that encourage people of all ages to move. They also have a series of virtual events that you can participate in and raise money for charities, and one of these is the Run for Climate Change. The events require you to commit to move, but the choice of distances you have to commit to, begins at 5km.
This means you don’t have to turn up at a venue, at a pre-arranged time. You don’t have to buy fresh kit. You can make a commitment to move, in your own safe space and at a moment that works for you. Participation is also voluntary, and so you don't need to have a running app or be anxious about sharing what you do publically.
As part of the Run for Climate Change, you will receive a wooden medal that is sustainably and ethically sourced that helps local communities. Donations will be made to Samaritans, and to Surfers Against Sewage. These two charities, that are helping people and our oceans, are also two things that I can relate to.
On top of this, for every entry to participate in a Run for Climate, One Running Movement will plant a tree on our behalf with Planet-U Energy in my home county of Yorkshire. There will be a biodegradable plaque on each tree that you can be in your own name, or dedicated to a loved one or someone in your life that you would like to remember. I believe in planting trees to help our climate, and I believe the best way to do this is through a partner who knows how, where, and what type of trees to plant, in order to make the best impact.
This means this weekend I have participated in the Run for Climate Change, and have run my normal route from our house, as I do most weekends when the feeling takes me. It proves that we can all individually make a difference, as part of our regular routines and using what makes us all unique and wonderful. We all have superpowers, and if running is one of yours, and you'd like to participate at some point in the coming months - you can register here as an individual, but also you can explore and enter as business or a family too.
You have up to March 2021 to complete it, and the organisers are trying to accumulate enough individual miles in the community to run the circumference of the earth (40,075km) by the end of 2022. A community, making a change.
The cool thing also, is that there are no rules against participating more than once. I’m planning on making this a habit, so that what is good for me, can also be good for others too. This means that every few weeks, I can participate to the community, contribute to charity, and plant another tree.
To make it a bit more fun, this weekend I channelled the energy of the mass participation event. Those things we used to do all the time, that we can’t do right now.
Losing our ability in 2020 to participate in mass running events, means that we also lost the endearing sight of a pantomime horse finishing the London Marathon, or a hot dog or SpongeBob panting over the finishing line other marathons around the world. I would like to take this spirit of fun, and practice it on my own, in the hope that anyone reading this, and thinking about participating themselves may do the same.
So this weekend, I participated in the Run for Climate Change dressed as Santa. Full Santa, beard and all. My very own Santa Run, on my own, cheered on by the family and virtually by friends.
It was a pretty fun experience. I've never been beeped, cheered, or waved to as much as I did participating just through the regular roads and countryside on our doorstep. As an extra bonus, we made up a few scraps of paper with the One Running Movement details on, and I handed them from my sweaty hand to anyone who asked what-on-earth-was-I-doing, or would take one.
It made people smile. And if this is making you smile, and if you are feeling motivated, please do it now. If nothing else, it’ll make me feel less silly.
Maybe also we can start a trend. We are not together in our events and with our superpowers right now, but if your superpower is running and you are considering participating, please consider doing it in fancy dress. We can create a festive movement of random running Santas, and marching elves on behalf of the climate. We can dedicated our foggy Boxing Day run to the climate, and give our Santa hats one last run-out before they go back into the attic for another year.
Then in 2021, when we go on our regular runs, can we think to do it occasionally dressed up? I would love to see Batman running the length of Hadrian's Wall, or a banana running down Oxford street. And know whenever we witness this spectacle, that a tree is being planted, and we are witnessing a superpower being used for good.
I think it is also a good advert for superpowers. Once we realise that we all have superpowers, we can help each other believe. That is the other amazing thing about knowing you have superpowers - belief helps belief. Seeing others like you, doing what you love and what you know, deep down, you can do. If we realise that you are special too, then we stop comparing ourselves unfavourably to others.
We begin to understand that everyone’s superpowers are different and respect rather than resent that everyone finds some things possible, and other things less possible or even impossible.
Knowing this means that we know how we can help each other in the world, in big ways and small.
On top of this, if we all realise that we have superpowers and realise that we are connected through these superpowers, then together we can make new and big differences in the world. We can each contribute in our own ways, and make a habit of using our superpowers for good. We can all make our own unique contribution, when we can, and these millions of connections can make a collective, positive impact.