This morning, I reached a fairly significant milestone – I voluntarily (and more or less happily) decided to go for a run. “Why is this a milestone?” I hear you ask, and as you asked so nicely, I will gladly explain…
I hate running and have hated it for as long as I care to remember. It’s a deeply embedded hatred that traces its origins to a very early age. Its foundations are the lack of success in sports of any kind, but it became a true and pure hatred at secondary school, when I became exposed to….. cross-country running (insert bolt of lightning and other “this is bad shit” movie effects here).
I’m not 100% sure what distance the school cross-country course was, but I have a feeling it was something like 2 to 3 miles. I tried figuring it out with Google Maps, but that doesn’t let me plot a route across the fields and lanes that formed part of the course. A quick guesstimate, looking at Google Maps, puts the distance closer to 2 miles, possibly less.
I really don’t know, and to be honest I haven’t really cared much until today.
What I do know is that I NEVER ran the whole distance, and barely managed to finish it walking. By the end of the course I always had severe stitch and would be struggling for breath. It has to be said that in later years it probably didn’t help that me and my mate would spark up a fag or two…
What I also know is that I absolutely hated that frigging cross-country course…
So today I think I’ve most probably exorcised a demon or two. When I thought about what I was going to do for my “backyard session”, I actually WANTED to run. It seemed like a great idea, and was something I was genuinely excited about doing – even if just to see how I went.
Now I must stress that I didn’t run the whole distance, in fact I probably ran for less than half of the total distance, with the whole “run” actually broken into bursts of running for a bit, followed by walking for a bit. Let’s call it “Interval Training” so it sounds better!
The thing is though, I was walking and running the whole way round, I was even putting in little bursts of jogging right until the end. This is a massive contrast to the 12, 13, 14, 15 or 16 year old version of myself, who would be painfully out of breath, and hoping to somehow be magically carried for the last mile or so…
This morning I wasn’t out of puff, I didn’t have stitch and I (kind of) enjoyed it!
The main reason I would not have been able to run the whole way, even if I’d tried, was not even because of general fitness issues. The rowing and other training have pretty much got my cardio-vascular system running well now, so I know that my body can cope with it. The issue now is purely down to what my legs can do/sustain.
By the end of this morning’s “run”, I could actually feel that there was very little left in the leg muscles. This was something of a milestone in itself as I realised that I have started to become aware of what my body is telling me. I’m impressed by the mere fact that I have started to differentiate between having enough “puff” and having sufficient fuel in the main muscles used.
long way to go
Just for a moment I’m going to pause to savour the fact that I successfully jog-walked 8.5km in 1 hour and 12 minutes. I did it because I wanted to, I didn’t mind doing it and I didn’t even care that it was drizzling most of the way.
This tells me that, at the age of 43, I am most definitely physically fitter and mentally tougher than I was in my teens – so in terms of what NMMFG is about, that’s a serious dollop of success.
There is a long long way to go yet – I need to be able to run the whole of that distance and drop the time down significantly. Ultimately, with the goal of running a marathon in mind, I need to be able to run the whole of that distance 5 times over.
The thing is, unlike when I was 15 (or when I was 42 for that matter), I now know it CAN be done.
I have just two words to say to the old me – “jog on”