Occasionally we all get the feeling we’ve taken on more than we can handle. So it was when I started half marathon training back in late 2016. “Anyone can do a half marathon” they said, “it’s totally achievable” I read. The additional fact that my mother goaded me by saying if I did a half marathon, she would run it too spurred me on. It was too good an opportunity to miss – my mum in shorts, that is. Once I told my friend, Anna, we were three.
The official thirteen mile run is fast approaching in late May and
I’ve got a long way to go, but I have to remind myself I have also come a long way. Profound, right?
In October 2016 I thought I wouldn’t like running. I hate running. If I ever have to sprint for a train or rush off to a meeting, I feel like part of my body died. I like retired people things like swimming, walking (sometimes quickly) or 8 year-old kid things like trampolines and bouncy castles (for less than ten minutes), a gentle game of rounders in the summer, that sort of thing. Running seemed snooty to me, sort of smug. Running always felt like it was better than me, better than I can do. Well, I have news, and it’s mostly good.
I like running. Not fast and not always, but in general, I actually kind of like it. I work sitting down in my studio 85% of the daytime so leaving the house is not a daily given unless I’m shopping, delivering, meeting, visiting. Running gives me an out. I make excuses not to go and the first five minutes are the worst. That’s when I think
“I could just turn back and watch Netflix. No one would ever know”.
But I know. And the guilt of being more sedentary than a limpet is worse than the five minutes of leg-and-lungburn at the start of a run. That’s the bit I still have to push past. However, in the late autumn when there were some real golden afternoons, I would run along the Kelvin river and hit almost euphoric pockets of vim and sunlight unexpectedly.
I started by doing walking and running in sequence, taking breaks and then powering forward, but I’ve realised over the weeks that playing the long game is where I like to be. If I stop, there be dragons. That’s when I play mind games with myself, “I’ll start running at that tree… nah, a bit further at the bollard… well, I may as well just wait until I get to the road…”
It’s a slippery slope away from pushing myself. Now I’m more inclined to go the other way and see I’ve hit 6.8km and push through to round up to 7km before I stop. The down sides are the Glaswegian rain, the silly synthetic gear*, where you’re supposed to put water or keys if you don’t fancy the bumbag option (the nineteen eighties called…), the lack of public toilets and all that. I had a disastrous run over Christmas when I had food poisoning that only manifested at the furthest point of a run and I had to walk, crippled, white and sweating to a point where my sister could pick me up and drive my clammy body home to perform emergency ablutions. Now I scan the canal edge for good foliage as I run out of fear it might happen again.
A massive benefit (sort of) was having a painful knee and hip in the new year and discovering that was because of how I sit at my desk. Cross legged at a dining chair. Yes, I know. Now I have a footrest (it’s heated!) and a proper desk chair and everything. I’m so business and
now I am one of those vaguely smug looking jogging types.
*Which I have just discovered turns into microplastics, goes into the sea, fish eat it -which is horrible - and then we eat our own microplastic bits when we eat fish. Gack.