I have been running regularly since July of last year, and for the life of me I don’t know why.
For one thing I have never been good at it – I peaked at somewhere between below average and ‘are-you-injured?’, and my times started going backwards after I passed 13 years of age. A 14-minute cross-country run at school had become 14 and a half minutes by the time I was 16. Before football games I used to avoid warming up because doing that properly meant I never had enough energy to function properly during the game.
Secondly, it’s tedious. Everything passes so slowly, which makes it’s tedium second only to swimming. Good runs were always those of 30 metres or less that ended with a collision between me and an opponent during a football match.
Thirdly, it hurts. Any distance covered on foot tends to disagree with me physically. Either my back, knees, ankles, hamstrings, hip…something usually suggests strongly that I shouldn’t be doing this. Sometimes that suggestion is a polite one, sometimes the suggestion is more akin to telling a hedgehog to give up the whole swimming thing.
Fourthly, I have no co-ordination. I didn’t even think running needed co-ordination until I tried to do it. Unfortunately the motion of running requires various parts of the body to act in harmony with eachother to prevent falling over, becoming exhausted after 50 yards, wobbling or running around in circles. My body is prone to all of those things, and even after I’d become used to running, it’s often a couple of miles before I feel like my body has worked out what it’s supposed to be doing. Legs, arms, back, abs, core, knees, ankles, feet, hands, head, shoulders…and I thought it was all about the legs…
Fifthly, I’m not skinny, slight, slender, wiry, sneakily muscular, smooth of style, deceptively fast, actually fast, or anything else that might suggest running would be a good thing. I resemble a white Mo Farah like my laptop resembles a chair. Neither are liquid, neither (typically) fall off the floor when placed on it. And that’s it.
So why run? I think it started June last year when I was invited along to a couple of locally-organised 5K’s. I was reasonably fit through a lot of work with weights over the previous 18 months and thought why not. Running in those nearly killed me – I could barely breathe by the end…but they gave me a sniff of competition, my catnip. Even if I’m basically useless, so long as there is A PERSON I can potentially beat, then I can get interested in it.
Last September I ran in a 3-race series of 2-milers, and a “friend” (some friend) said “you should do the [Cayman] half-marathon”.
“HA! I don’t think so.”
“Why not? You could do that?”
“No I couldn’t.”
Two days later I started training for the Cayman Half-Marathon.
Not because distance running had somehow ceased to be stupid. Or because I thought I was any good. But because it sounded like a challenge, and I figured I could beat at least one person…