The thing about running is that you don’t have to be terribly co-ordinated to do it. You just need to be able to put one foot in front of the other for a while and lo and behold, you are a runner. Actually, it is quite ambitious calling myself a runner. I am more a plodder, a struggler, an occasional walker, a strider, a panter, a huffer, a puffer. But I will settle for runner. As it suddenly catapults poor old knock-kneed me into the same haloed category as Paula Radcliffe and Mo Farah. And I don’t have to do anything too demanding other than move my feet over some distance.
I have run (plod, struggle etc) a marathon, a few halves and the odd 10k race. There was a time when I was averaging 25 miles per week before injury struck a couple of years ago. Actually, it was tedium that struck first. All of a sudden, I did not see the point of it. People were walking such distances in parts of the world to escape wars, to get water and to reach hospitals. In the absence of such exacting circumstances, I sensed a certain vanity in my pursuit and gradually stopped running (plodding etc). I switched to others forms of exercise (Insanity, chiefly) and discovered how spectacularly bad I was at tennis.
Still, I would miss running and would lace up occasionally and go for a little spin around my old circuit. A few weeks ago on impulse, I signed up to a 7-mile race last Sunday. It’s a challenging course and I had done little by way of training. The previous night, I called my old friend Tom who’s a veteran of nearly a hundred marathons and asked him if I could hitch a ride with him to the race. He was delighted to drive me there. Tom and I had run a half marathon along the same course a few years ago and although he was twice my age at that point, he still beat me by a minute or so. A few years on, he was running twice as long as me and was going to beat me again.
I was surprisingly calm on race day as I soaked in the atmosphere and chatted to those around me. The interminable hilly stretches didn’t pose that much of a problem as I knew I was only doing a shorter distance and enjoyed the foggy view it offered. At the risk of sounding obnoxious, I will even admit to enjoying the race, singing along when one of my favourite running songs came blaring out of a parked car on the route. I finished the course at just over 10-minute mile pace which I am very pleased with.
I am not about to give up my other exercises for running but it would be fair to say that I will be lacing up for a wander around the area more regularly.