I just wanted to pop onto the blog and share something with you.
Now, don’t get too excited, but here’s the thing…
I think I might have just discovered the secret of running.
Actually, that sounds a bit grandiose. I’ll rephrase…
I think I might have just discovered the secret of running for people who struggle a bit with running and who may or may not have stumpy little legs and a bit of a tummy.
There, that’s better.
So, this grand secret I’ve discovered is… talking to myself. And not just the usual talking to myself, like when I mutter under my breath about how people who indicate too early on roundabouts deserve to have their toes cut off with pruning shears1. No, this type of talking to myself involves talking to different parts of myself, one piece at a time.
Where are you going? Come back! It’s not like I’m weird or anything.
I should explain. Recently (well, for months really) I’ve been struggling with my runs, particularly over longer distances. Where I used to happily do 12-15 miles at a slowish pace, now anything over six feels like a massive slog. In the past, I’d switch off my brain and a couple of hours later I’d be done, free to revel in the satisfying emptiness of my legs. But over the last year or so, my brain has steadily become a militant little bastard and started to refuse to sit quietly in the back. Instead, it pipes up almost immediately, whispering about how hard the coming miles are going to be, and just how hellishly far I still have to go. “You’re already finding this tough aren’t you? And you’ve only done three miles. If this were a marathon, you’d still have another 23 to go. Imagine that. Imagine how hard that’d be. You should probably walk for a bit now, or just turn around and head for home. That’s where the biscuits are”.
I hope it’s not just me whose brain is a complete prick.
But then something changed. A lightbulb fizzed into life in the dusty understair cupboard of my mind. I don’t quite remember how or why it happened, but I found myself talking to different parts of my body in turn. More importantly, I found myself listening. As I ran, and the damp, grey feelings of fatigue started to creep in, it occurred to me that maybe I should dig a little deeper and examine just where those messages were coming from. I started up top and worked my way randomly around my body, doing an imaginary roll-call of all the squishy bits that make running happen.
“Yeah I’m okay boss. I know there are a few miles ahead, but it’s nothing we’ve never done before. You just carry on, and I’ll amuse myself by looking at these cows and imagining them wearing a variety of hats”.
“No issues here. Yes, we’re a bit huffy-puffy, but you know as well as we do that the first couple of miles are always a bit huffy-puffy, and then things settle down into a lovely little groove. Just carry on and don’t worry about us unless we start making noises like a haunted Dyson”.
“Raargh! Heart strong! Heart happy when heart pump strong! Exercise good! Heart tell you if heart start thumpy-thumpy too quick”. (don’t ask me why, but I like to imagine my heart talking like a caveman)
“Well, at first we sort of assumed we were tired, because, y’know… running. But now that you mention it, we’re fine. In fact, keep feeding us and we could just chuff along all day”.
This went on for a bit. Any of you readers who are familiar with British comics of the 1980’s may have noticed that my philosophy is entirely based on the Numbskulls.
By going through this top-to-toe checklist, I found that my runs became much easier. Nagging feelings of doubt were quickly banished as soon as I realised that there was no actual basis to them. Don’t take my word for it, try for yourself next time things get a bit urgh. Isolate the culprit. Discount all the body parts that actually matter, and you’ll invariably left with a whiny disembodied voice of self-sabotage that you can, with great wisdom and authority, tell to fuck right off.
Happy running x
1 I have lots of ultra-marathon friends who will happily show you photographs of feet that look like they’ve been gone at with pruning shears, but that’s another story.
BIT AT THE END
Hello nice blog-reading person. That’s an ace jumper you’re wearing. Really brings out the colour of your ears. Anyway, cards on the table, there are actually only two people who read this blog: You, and a chap called Reg who works as Sir Ian Mckellan’s chief spoon-polisher. It’d be great if you could spread the word and share some links to your favourite posts on the Facebookses or the twitters. Or maybe you could scrawl “born to plod = ace” on a bedsheet and tie it to a busy roundabout. The Internet has promised me a basket of kittens for every million hits I get, and I’m hoping to get enough to start a farm. Ta.