Musing

Running Together

Running Together

I ran the 5K, starting behind the lads in their football shirts. As the flag lowered, off they raced up the hill, looking across to check that they were ahead of their mates. Then in turn, each boy heard the light footfalls of someone approaching from behind. They glanced back, concerned that a friend was about to overtake. Panic! Not a mate, it was an old lady.

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Two Tribes Go To The Gym

Three months into my gym membership and I still haven’t plucked up the courage to go to the weights arena. It’s just on the left, in a little off-shoot from the main concourse. There’s no major grunting or clanging from its bubble. It’s never crowded. The gentle waft of stale sweat and rubber isn’t too strong. However, it’s the territory of another tribe. A tribe that moves with composed power and rigidity of spine. A tribe for whom every movement, even an exhalation, is a focused explosion. 

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Am I Really a Runner?

Early autumn saw me a tad jaded. I'd done a couple too many 'fast and flat' city road races, hurt my back and caught a cold that didn't want to shift. I vowed to stick with what I enjoy - mud, hills & trails surrounded with green earthy smells. Then I bought a turbo trainer. This feels like having an affair.

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Sod The Golden One

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Fake tan, coiffed hair and cleavage on display he stands above challenging us to dare trying a run, stretch or jump. We try, are told that 80% are doing it wrong but, no, he won't tell us which 80% or what we can do to improve. He moves on to the next activity and the process is repeated. One by one we grow demoralised - how could we dare to think that we could do anything other than timidly shuffle our bodies? Our shoulders slump, our backs weaken as we yield to the imposed belief that exercise & running are not for the likes of us - only for the likes of him. So ends the lesson from the PE god. Have you met one? Male or female they probably hit puberty early and got used to being the fastest or strongest. They saw a glittering sports career ahead until late bloomers caught up and over took them. Vanity and desire for physical domination persist, but they can't directly deliver sporting success so they do the next best thing - they instruct. 

These guys are rare. In 20 years of teaching and evaluating would-be communicators I never met a teacher or student who conformed to this description. As a club athlete (of many years) I've only met one such aberration. 

Don't let them inform your opinion of your ability, physique or goals. With hard work you can achieve whatever you aspire to. It doesn't matter if your dynamic warm-up looks like a toddler on a sugar-rush. It doesn't matter if you can't feel tension when you do a hamstring stretch - it could be that the muscle isn't tight. If you are getting faster, or running further, or training for longer without injury, then you are being successful. If you are managing to train despite work and other commitments, then you are being successful. If they, that golden one, has made you waver, trodden upon your self-esteem and demeaned your goals, then they are unsuccessful. Sod them.

Disclaimer. This Golden One as described is a fictional character.

One Resolution - Live Life

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Is it now OK to stop wishing everyone  "Happy New Year"? Life seems to have returned to its pre-holidays rhythm; the larder is exhausted of its festive stocks of chocolate, cheese and alcohol; and New Year's resolutions are ... well how are they going? Our local running clubs all have over-subscribed Couch-to-5K groups and we anticipate great success for them. 2015 will see many more people taking up running - seizing a bit of control over their health in the cheapest, most attainable yet powerful way. The usual winter maladies will get in the way, but if motivation is sufficiently strong and non-judgemental support is available, then progress is there to be made, whether for beginner or seasoned runner. The main stumbling block might be your own little internal judgemental elf, full of derision for missing a training session or for giving in to the call of the cookie. We can be too hard on ourselves. Perfection is unattainable, and probably rather boring. Let's just ask ourselves to enjoy what we have, truly, properly enjoy it. Enjoy the fact that we can move our bodies and take pleasure in moving them just a wee bit faster, higher or over new terrain. Enjoy each lungful of reviving air. Enjoy rain on our face, snow crunching under each footfall, pushing against a strong wind, the sight of a rainbow, the changing light. Afterwards enjoy the cosiness of a clean fleece top and dry shoes. Chuck out the clothes you don't like much but keep wearing as you're saving your favourites for "best". Savour meals off your best crockery. Either enjoy your vices or give them up. We're not aiming for a saintly life - just one truly lived.