I’ve been writing this tosh for a few years now, so I thought it was about time I went a bit meta and wrote something about the blog itself.
I really can’t remember the exact moment I decided to start writing a blog, but it was a good few months after I started running. I’m fairly certain that, at the time, I didn’t really know what a blog was, so it’s entirely possible that I just tripped over a bath mat, tumbled head-first into my keyboard and accidentally typed “wordpress.com” with my face. At that time I was just blundering my way clumsily into the world of running (as opposed to now, when I’m blundering my way clumsily through the world of running while wearing an array of technical fabrics) and I think I just wanted to share my joy and happy disbelief with the world. The only time I truly feel like a runner is when I’m actually running; the rest of the time I feel like a bit of a fraud. But by writing about my exploits, I was not only able to recapture some of that joy, but it also gave me a reason to keep going with it. A huge proportion of new runners pack it in after the first few months if they don’t start seeing results, and I’m fairly certain (trapped as I was in 11 min/mile limbo) that I too would have fallen at that hurdle. But while I wasn’t seeing results (or my toes) yet, the excitement of seeing my experiences, thoughts and feelings pour out of my sweaty brain and onto a computer screen was enough to keep me engaged.
Back then I was running a few times a week, at a trudging pace and with the distance averaging 2 or 3 miles at a time. Despite my less-than-epic achievements, I got into the habit of blogging after every single run, always finding something to waffle on about (some of it about running). I’d sit there, tappity-tapping away about how heavy my legs had felt as I’d dragged myself round, and then I’d segue into a tale of smugglers or wildebeest or that sheep I’d seen on my travels who looked a bit like Jeremy Paxman. I’ve pretty much stuck to that formula ever since1.
From there it just sort of snowballed. Through the wonders of social media I discovered that loads of other people were writing blogs about running too, most of them more cogent and on-topic than mine, and with significantly fewer wildebeest. My training started to improve, benefiting from the cornucopia of advice I’d stumbled across, and my self-esteem got a welcome boost when I saw that I wasn’t the only one who felt slow and clumsy. I found myself coming up with more and more stuff to write about, and it was at around this time that I started hanging around in coffee shops; scribbling away in my wanky little notebook and sipping whichever type of coffee seemed the most “writerish”. Seriously, I was only two espressos away from wearing a fucking beret.
I’ve never really come to terms with the fact that quite a few people read this thing (thankfully not too many – I can still refer to myself as a plucky underdog). I’ve always maintained that I’d write it even if nobody else read the thing (although my ego can a bit of a wanker sometimes, and I’ll admit to feeling a buzz whenever I see that my daily hits have gone into three figures).
All was going well until I hit a bit of a mojo roadblock recently. I was a little short on ideas, and made the mistake of reading through some old posts. Now, I have a really crappy memory, and I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll have forgotten most of what I’ve written within a few hours of posting it. I’m by far my own worst critic, and as I read through the old posts I was overcome with feelings of dejection. The older stuff seemed charming and naïve, clearly written for just for myself. In comparison, my newer ideas felt false, overly concerned with what others would think, and trying too hard to fit in with a “brand” that I’d created for myself. My overriding feeling was that my best ideas were behind me, I’d used them up. I pushed away the keyboard.
That was a few weeks ago. I’m still struggling to find my mojo again, but I think it’s ebbing back slowly. I usually try not to post anything that’s too maudlin, but I guess this one has just escaped. I think I just need to post it as a way of getting these feelings out of my system, so that I can get back to writing the stuff that cheerfully pinballs around my head when I’m running.
Fingers crossed 🙂
1 And it attracted its fair share of copycats too. I heard a rumour that, after reading my blog, Paula Radcliffe very nearly changed the title of her autobiography to “Paula: My donkey-riding marathon adventures on the forest moon of Endor. With pirates”.2
2 It’s just occurred to me that there is no film title that can’t be improved by adding “with pirates” to it. Snakes on a plane with pirates. Schindler’s list with pirates. Pirates of the Caribbean with pirates.