Lapping the Couch: Where the Gazelle Stops #BMFGlasgow
If you take a pile of shingle, put it in a bucket and give it a shoogle, the big bits come to the top and the wee grains of sand go to the bottom.
Likewise, when a pack of runners (that include me) hear the command “Standby, go!” and leg it off to wherever we are legging it off to, the shards of shingle in the bucket shoogle themselves into their natural order which always results in me being at the back.
I am almost always at the back of the pack.
But the pack that I am of the back of is a pack of fit folk.
Our sub-group is for people of “average fitness”. But I have always suspected, it really should be for people of “average fitness for fit folk”.
Most fit folk are faster than me.
Most folk in transition ‘from couch to 10k’ are slower than me.
Most folk are unfit. I am faster than all of them.
Some people who are fit are sometimes fitter and faster than at other times, but from the perspective of unfit folk they are always superfit. It’s all a matter of perspective. And fitness.
So after 40 years of nil to moderate exercise, I discover that I like running on varied terrain. I also discover that I am not built for it and I am slow. I will never win any races, unless I live to be 90 and everyone else in the fit bracket has had something go ping in the interim.
I don’t like running on boring terrain. It’s boring. I think I need the terrain to be varied so that there is something to think about rather than just thinking “struggle, struggle” as I do when road running. I am thinking, “hazardous log to jump, mud, tree branch in face, minor scratch, where’s everybody gone?” etc. It’s funner.
I sometimes wonder why I can’t go faster. It could be to do with the fact that I am 42, but there are fit folk far far older than me. Age is an irrelevance. It could be to do with the hobbit legs and barrel figure. That’s more likely. There’s the fact that I don’t do enough running training – fartleks, hill-sprints and long runs. I think I don’t do that because I hate doing that. That could be it.
I do think, though, that a HUGE factor is psychology. I have found that the most interesting thing since the fitness thing kicked in. The things your brain tells you as you run! The deceit! The lies! The fear! Let’s have a wee listen to the brain:
“You’re going to need the toilet as soon as you set off. You’re going to be sick. You ate too recently. You have probably got undiagnosed asthma. There really is something wrong with your calves – best have a month off. Your lungs are going to burst out of your ribcage and your eyes are going to pop out of your head. You are going to overheat and expire in a heap. You’ll never keep up. You’ll get lost. This is a terrible hobby – just think – you could be in your bed. You are slow. You are last. You are rubbish at this. You should give up. You will never catch up. You have idiopathic slowness syndrome. Your legs are made of sand or lead or something else weighty in an unnatural way that makes you doomed to failure…”
My mind is a completely unhelpful companion which again is why I think that complicated off-road terrain is better. I have less time to get sucked into the negativity swirling around in my thoughts. I am too busy trying to stay upright and on track.
That’s also why it is fun to train with other people. They are far more encouraging than my own thoughts.