Sunday, 2 October 2011

Doing Big and Scary

With apologies to Andy Mouncey

So I was caught in the office extolling to some of my team, the reasons why I run and probably sounding like a bit of a tosser, but hey I am ten year’s older than my audience which I think gives me the right to sound like a pompous git.

Anyway, I run 1) because I can. Because I’m alive and I have a body that’s functional. It’s not athletic, or gifted or strong. But it’s a tool that you can learn to use and I don’t think many of us do enough with what we have other thsn hunch over a screen, a tv or a dinner table. 2) I like to use this body to create pain because actually it’s not that big a deal. I mean yes the training is hard and feels like a sacrifice and there are times when you cry, or hurt or puke. But you know it’s not cancer, or death or losing a loved one or anything major like that you can’t have control of. Or as the incredibly inspiring Andy Mouncey says: “it’s the challenge you choose as opposed to the challenge that chooses you”. Good eh?!

This makes sense to me because I started trying to wear lycra with authority after annus horiibilis when I had been to too many funerals, when I had failed to say goodbye, when I had wrestled with my conscience over my ability to watch someone slowly deteriorate, when I had accepted that death leaves us only with our own guilt and unease because the dead are dead and don’t care or feel.

I plodded through 5km for cancer, for heart disease, and I ran with my friend’s suicide, depression and long slow deaths at my heels. When I felt bonked at 35km in Berlin I cursed the dead for the guilt they leave behind. When I finished a 5km with my friend’s name on my back, it was all I could do not to cry at the finish line, and then enter another race when I saw my memorial run had been photographed for the next event’s leaflet. I run for my friends who have nursed and buried friends and family and who live in the shadow of cancer.

So today when my calf was burning with injury, I massaged it and swallowed some ibuprofen and told myself it wasn’t heart disease or brain cancer. And I dismissed my nausea as nowt compared to chemo. And my pain was temporary, you can insert whether you’d like death or glory to be forever. And then as I psyched myself up to keep going, I realised I was crying because actually it’s a bit bloody grim having these reasons to run, like keeping your ghosts fresh. So if you’d like a more positive take on that, then do check out Andy Mouncey who expresses everything far better than I.

But the point of this is: 1) Every can run, every can do it. Even big fat people or people built really unaerodynamically. I mean look at the bumblebee. Science says it’s not the right shape to fly. 2) it’s never the distance alone that will kill you (thanks again Andy). If you think about it, you can put one foot in front of the other indefinitely, it’s all the other things that make if challenging. 3) it’s really not that hard when you think about all the things in life that is really hard.

So I know that even though my health has been shit, my training hasn’t been as much as I had liked, I will be ok in Istanbul and go forward for four months of proper training for London Ultra.

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