Rowan Coleman: The Writer Who Did Not Run

Rowan Coleman: The Writer Who Did Not Run

During the writing of this book I had a crazy idea that I was going to run 10K for Refuge, a charity I have raised funds for, ever since my novel ‘Runaway Wife’ was published. I felt that if I was going to write a runner, like Stella, then I had to be a runner. Before I started training for that run, the most I’d ever done was maybe a couple of kilometres on a treadmill, and I would complain loudly to anyone who would listen, including the dog, for the whole time. As a writer I am mostly a sitter, I am a thinker, a day-dreamer and a meanderer, an eater of cake. The idea of going anywhere for any distance at more than just a stroll, truly appalled me. But Stella ran, she ran hard and fast and as far away from her troubles as she could, even though she could never truly out run them. I wanted to know how she felt as she ran, and afterwards, I wanted to know what she knew. As I began my training for the 10K, which seemed like an impossible feat to me, Stella and the world that she inhabited, the people she knew and cared for, began to develop and grow with every step.

By the time I managed to run 3K I knew Stella was married to an Afghanistan War Veteran who had returned from war seriously injured. As I began to achieve 4K and didn’t need to stop every five minutes to catch my breath, I knew that Stella was a night nurse who worked in a hospice. When 5K came into view I worked out that Stella wrote letters for her patients, their final words and thoughts, to be given to their loved ones after their death. Until one day she wrote a letter that she knew she had to deliver right away, to offer her patient one last chance at redemption. After that as Stella’s pink trainers grew increasing grey and worn out, so did mine, and with every new kilometre that I managed to cover, the book grew too. Step by Step, word by word, spiralling outwards from Stella. Both book and training were a long and challenging journey.

Eventually, in April 2015, I did actually complete my 10K and raised almost £2000 for Refuge. Since then I have had to retire the pink trainers, they fell apart, but I continue to run, because quite unexpectedly I found that like Stella, it helps me sort out my thoughts and feelings, and best of all think about the day of writing ahead. Will I ever run a marathon, no. But will I always be a runner? I think so, and that is mostly thanks to Stella Carey.