THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER
I have just finished week one of my training routine for the Fleet Half Marathon on 20th March. I have joined Team Jilly Jean, organised by my brother-in-law and his wife, who are running in memory of both their mums to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Macmillan. Four of their friends have also joined the team and a target of £2,500 has been set. It would be fantastic if you could support us – every little helps as they say – so if you are willing and able to do so you can find the details at Team Jilly Jean at Just Giving
For me, running a half marathon – well actually any kind of running – is a bit of a challenge. I could happily jump on a bike and pedal off into the distance but running really is not my thing. I’ll do it, but it’s not my fitness regime of choice. It’s not surprising then, that after 4 runs in 6 days and a total distance completed of 34 kms, I have a few observations that I thought might be worth sharing.
- After weeks, if not months, of weather so mild you could run in a T-shirt and underpants (if you were so inclined), it’s now turned b*ll@ck-freezing. Why? Just answer me that, why?
- This means it is doubly hard to force myself out of the door to go for the run I know I have to do. The effort is further compounded by the fact I am running on my own (I am the Somerset outpost of a team based in Hampshire), which in itself is not a problem once I’ve got going, but first I have to get going. And, once I have got going, do I see anyone else out there stupid enough to brave the sleet and cold? Like f*ck I do.
- Consequently I am thinking I should have started my 10-week programme 2 weeks ago, as I am already panicking that my commitment might waiver and I won’t be ready for the run itself.
- This is largely because, despite being reasonably fit, at various points during the runs I have done this last week, I felt like my head was about to explode.
- This may have something to do with the fact that, so far, I am terrible at pacing. Initially I could not get the GPS signal to work on my app so had to rely on “feel”, which only revealed that I have no feel at all! Either I was going too slow or way too fast.
- In the latter scenario, not only did I think my head was going to explode, I was also convinced that a major cavity would open up in my chest as my heart burst through and splattered blood and guts all over my face due to the wind “blow back” caused by the fact I was running too fast.
- My heart rate monitor has run out of battery, but if it had been working it probably would have told me that, just as my heart was bursting through my chest, my heart rate was running at maximum plus enough to kill me instantly (although this is incidental, given that my heart had already left my body and my head had exploded).
- Whilst this sequence of events unfurled it was a blessed relief that I still had enough cognitive skills to register that there really is a lot of horse shit on the roads. This needs negotiating and probably adds a good 100 metres on to any run.
- Despite experiencing near, if not actual, death, I have been able to register the fact that tractors are f*cking big and do not bother to slow down for runners, especially on single-track lanes.
- The consequence of this is that I have now developed a reasonably intimate relationship with the wild life that lives inside hedgerows.
Having said all of the above, on Sunday I did what is called a LSD. This means Long Slow Distance, in my case 13.25km/8m, although LSD sounds more like hallucinatory drugs to me, which I think would have been far more useful under the circumstances and probably would have got me round my route far quicker. Anyway, my app was working, so pacing was no problem and not only did I complete the run with no major incidents, it actually felt pretty good, in a masochistic sort of way.
Let’s see what unfolds over the next nine weeks…