OK, here comes another distance running cliche for you. It’s a lonely old business, isn’t it? Just you, your thoughts and the plod-plod-plod-plod of your feet hitting the ground.
Clearly there’s good and bad in that. It’s a great opportunity to lose yourself for a while (as a friend eloquently puts it: ‘when I run I disappear’), empty your head and pound away the stresses of the day. Brilliant. I prefer not to run in total silence (mainly because I find the sound of my own breathing very distracting!) and am glued to my trusty iPod, but even with background music I still manage to drift away to other places.
The bad side of it is the fact that you are the only person that can motivate yourself. You get yourself out of bed (you’re not letting a team down if you don’t show up), you choose your route, you damn well get on with it. And, as distances increase, you’re often getting on with it while friends and family and loved ones are doing exciting things that you’d otherwise be a part of too. It’s a bit alienating, not to mention socially disruptive. I have considered finding a running partner to ensure that I stick to my routine, but the absolute truth is that I don’t think I could bear to have to make breathless chit-chat for mile after mile.
So, given that I’m stuck between loving the solitude and yet needing external encouragement, I’m taking some steps to motivate myself over the next six months (oh my god that makes it sound so close!). Firstly, I’m off to New York to watch the marathon this Sunday. I think there will be nothing more inspiring than installing myself in Central Park to watch those brilliant people racing towards the finish line. Then, back in London and reality, I’m going to seek out some running events to complement my training schedule. There’s a tendency to think ‘oh, I’m doing the Big One in April, so there’s no need’, but the sense of solidarity and enthusiasm that comes from other runners is damn motivating. It’s a bit like when you’re running along an empty road and suddenly another runner passes you … it really lifts your spirits and makes you feel part of ‘the club’.
Weight-wise, I’m edging in the wrong direction again. I did anticipate this, as I’ve had an October full of wining, dining and important social events. This means that I’m going to behave myself in November, otherwise it’s just a lardy, boozy slide into Christmas, which would be disastrous. I’m seriously contemplating steering clear of the demon drink for a month … well, I’m going to have to cut it out next year anyway, so I should probably get some practice in!
All that remains is to wish the best of British luck to anyone running in New York on Sunday. I’ll be there to cheer you on, you crazy fools! 🙂