I’ve had plenty of great runs. This wasn’t one of them.

I’ve been having a go at this running lark for around six months now, and so far I’ve been pretty damn lucky. I’ve not had any real injuries to speak of (touchwoodtouchwoodtouchwood) other than the occasional nipple chafe, and I’ve heard that people pay good money for that sort of thing in Holland and certain parts of Leighton Buzzard so it can’t be all bad. Also, the shifts I work mean that I can usually get out for at least a couple of decent runs every week. On the occasions where work doesn’t fit in with running I have an understanding wife who, although slightly bemused by my new hobby, doesn’t seem to mind me disappearing for an hour of an evening and coming back sweaty, exhausted but oddly cheerful.

Hmmm… On reading that last bit back it sounds dodgier than the nipple thing. Moving swiftly on…

So all of the above coupled with the fact that I’ve yet to be chased across a field by an angry donkey means that,as I said at the beginning, I’ve had it lucky so far. Which is a good thing, right?

Well, you’d think so… but me being me, there’s a down side. The glass of milk is half full. But it’s been left on a radiator. And someone’s done a wee in it. The fact that I’ve been running (if you can call it that, but self-deprecation featured heavily in my last post so I’ll give that a rest for now) for six months with no major setbacks just means that when I have a run that doesn’t quite live up to my expectations it becomes a much bigger deal than it has any right to be.

Last night’s run was a case in point. Not “bleurgh”. Certainly not “yippee”. Just a bit “meh”.

A few weeks ago I was exploring my woodland route, and I noticed a break in the foliage to my right. Stopping for a second, because I’m easily distracted, I

Did you know that Madrid is the only European capital not situated on a major waterway?

Sorry, where was I?

Ah, yes… because I’m so easily distracted I stopped for a look, and was intrigued to see a narrow trail winding down into a leafy valley. I should point out that it wasn’t really a valley by any normal person’s standard – more of a dip. A trail ran along the bottom, hemmed in by steep pine-filled banks at either side probably around twenty or thirty feet down. But in my imagination it was a bloody valley, so there. And valleys meant only one thing – lost civilizations chock-full of dinosaurs. They’d probably make me their king and everything. At the time I was simply too knackered to explore further, so just added it to my to-do list* and wearily plodded home.

A couple of weeks and several runs later and it was time to explore my forbidden valley**. Everything was looking good. I’d chomped my way through an energy bar an hour prior to leaving the house, I was properly hydrated, and to top it all it was a nice evening for running – warm but with a cool invigorating breeze. I set off, noticing that my legs felt a little heavy but safe in the knowledge that the energy bar would kick in soon enough and sort that out by boosting my glycogen-thingies. I got to my woodland route about a mile later, feeling okay and relishing the fact that not so long ago in my running career I’d have been ready to drop by this point. But as I plodded along I was aware of the fact that my legs still felt like lead, and my feet were now aching (something that hasn’t happened for a while now). I didn’t feel tired or exhausted, just uncomfortable, as if I was having to consciously pick up my feet and place them thuddingly (real word!) one in front of the other. Oh, I forgot to mention – on my way to the woodland bit I’d also caught sight of my reflection in a bus shelter and noticed that I stick my belly out when I run, as if I’m chasing it down the street. Not the most flattering of looks, so that didn’t help my mood either.

And that uncomfortable, clumsy feeling stayed with me for the rest of the run. My magical valley was okay, but the terrain was a bit rough so that made things even more slow and awkward, forcing me to drop to a walk on several occasions. To be fair, there was a nice tranquil isolated feeling down there as I made my way along the trail, although at some points the trees on either side gave way to steep rocky inclines which made me feel like I was about to be ambushed by sand-people***.  But in general, the run was disappointing. The fact that I’d already had to concede to slowing to a walk a couple of times meant that I found myself walking more and more, when I didn’t really need to. And to top it all, my phone battery went halfway into the run, which meant that I don’t have a record of how far I actually went or how long I was running for. Also, I wouldn’t have been able to phone for help if the aforementioned angry donkey had shown up.

As I approached the end of my run I felt a little disheartened. I’d been looking forward to a great run, and it had turned out to be a bit crap. But then just as I reached my house I became aware of the cooling wind on my face, and the strangely pleasant aching in my legs saying to me “hey – you’ve just been on a run. You could have stayed at home and watched the telly but you got out there and you ran, and it doesn’t matter if it was less than perfect – you ran”.

And then the energy bar kicked in.


About 4.5ish miles (About 7.24ish km). About 50ish minutes.

*Near the top. Between “fix lawnmower” and “meet a real live smurf”.

**Which sounds very much like the title of the sort of “art” film Channel 4 used to screen late at night in the 1980’s.

***I wasn’t. Stop worrying.

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