On Sunday morning, I ran 11.3 miles in 89 minutes. It was a fairly hilly course (including six loops of Finsbury Park) and I managed to shave ten minutes off my previous time. My pace per mile was 7:53 and my total calorie expenditure 1,162. My pre-run snack was cake and my post-run snack Peroni. My feet afterwards were blistered; my nipples looked like they’d been attacked with a wire wool metal sander.
Are you still reading? Are you hell.
You see, while these facts and figures and bodily minutiae are desperately fascinating to me – I’m the sort of person who would happily plot my belly button fluff on a graph – I’m aware they’re a conversational turn-off. I want to trumpet my new PB to all who’ll listen. My poor beleaguered listeners would rather bathe in acid. It’s a tough one to reconcile.
The reason for my self-congratulation is simple: I only started running in earnest earlier this year. I’d chug along, sure, on a treadmill; crank out a few miles here and there while watching paint dry on the adjacent wall. But then I signed up for the Great North Run, determined that if I achieved nothing else in 2013, I would at least push my physical bounds. So far, that’s exactly what’s come to pass. Five months in, and I’ve barely moved on in the life stakes. I have, however, upped the ante when it comes to hurtling round parks.
I think that’s at the nub of it really: it’s good to have a simulation of progress that lies within your own control. While your career path depends on the jobs market, your financial situation depends on your overdraft charges and your relationship status depends on someone being daft enough to go out with you, getting fitter and stronger and faster is pretty much up to you. There’s a refreshingly direct connection between input and output. That’s why, if you spend your mornings honking on a crack pipe, you tend not to have very well-developed quads.
Running can do great things for a person. Your mind becomes calmer, your body more limber. Your gluteus maximus will probably minimise. You may or may not experience the mythical ‘runner’s high’, which is supposedly comparable to drugs. On the downside, you will definitely morph into a smug, boring little shit.
I should probably find a running buddy – not so much to run with, as to talk about running with. And if they decide to regale me with a precise breakdown of their split times to the nearest microsecond, followed by a lengthy description of their preventative techniques for lessening Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness? That, my friend, is karmic retribution.
British freelance journalist living in the Netherlands