I’ve been rather neglectful of the ol’ blog lately. I would love to say it’s because I’ve been incredibly productive in other areas of my life but that would be misleading. Or possibly an outright lie. Anyhoo, I’m here now, so let’s get going…
First and foremost I would assure regular readers that this is not going to be another blog chronicling my misadventures in Florida a few years ago and the fortnight-long bout of amoebic dysentery I suffered there. Oh dear no.
In reality, my mentioning ‘the runs’ in the title of today’s blog is just my crafty way of drawing in those with a penchant for toilet humour in order that I can blow my own trumpet, if you’ll excuse the pun, from the other end. Today’s blog is about running. Or perhaps jogging, depending on one’s point of view. When it comes to time and distance there seem to be no hard and fast rules, and one man’s jog is another man’s run and vice versa. Or woman’s – let’s not be genderist about it. Garmin GPS trackers, I’ve been informed, delineate ‘jogging’ from ‘running’ at 8mph. By that standard, then, I’m a jogger. Garmin, as far as I’m concerned, can go piss up a rope – I’m a runner. Albeit a slow one.
But I digress… All I’m really blogging for today is to tell you about my exciting (yawn) new hobby: Running. Here’s the story:
Around June or July of last year I realised I was a very out of condition fatknacker. Truth be told, this wasn’t so much a realisation as a confrontation; I had been aware of the pounds sneaking on for a good few years but had lacked the will to do anything about it.
In fairness to myself this wasn’t entirely due to laziness, or greed, or any of the other things that can lead to fatknackerhood; I have chronicled elsewhere on this site the struggle I have had since my early teens with my weight and the cycle of gain and loss that has marked the decades of my adult life. This despite a generally healthy lifestyle (regular exercise, throwing weights around etc) and a diet regime that would leave many people half my size weeping and screaming for more like particularly demanding incarnations of that Twist fella Dicken’s wrote a book about. Simple fact is my metabolism is FUBAR, and has been ever since childhood and a particularly pernicious bout of peritonitis that saw me being drip-fed through the ankles for four months after the veins in my arms dried up.
So fatknacker I was, and fatknacker, this time, I seemed destined to stay.
Fortunately fate was about to intervene, and in the wake of a disastrous, dysfunctional and damaging relationship I found myself unable to stomach food in anything but the tiniest quantities for about five or six months. There’s nothing like a bit of self-loathing and abject misery to rob one of one’s appetite, is there? This, coupled with the low carb diet and regular gym routine I was already following was enough to give my weight-loss programme the kick-up-the-arse-start it needed and I finally started shifting some serious poundage. Yippee!
Over the next few weeks I started to realise that the only thing I really enjoyed doing at the gym was running on the treadmill. They also had a crunch machine I rather liked, but by and large everything else just left me cold, particularly as I have muscles made of memory foam and any effort put into pumping them up is counteracted within hours by their natural ability to spring back into their pre-workout condition. By September I had realised that paying to run on the treadmill was foolish when I had whole parks available to me, and I took my first tentative steps into running ‘proper’.
For the next few months I was perfectly content running on my own around a local park. I had my MP3 player, a pair of cheap trainers, and was as happy as the proverbial pig in poo. Then came the floods. Water drove me back into the gym, and the flooding was so bad that even after the rains had stopped my beloved park was too soggy to get joggy around. The time had come to bite the bullet and start running on roads.
The thought of running on my own where people I knew might see me was horrifying. As you will have gathered my self-esteem isn’t all that robust; despite having an ego the size of a bouncy castle and the arrogance to match it on a good day, the reality is it’s of a rather flimsy construction and it doesn’t take much of a pin to deflate it. With this in mind I found myself a running club where I could conceal myself in the middle of the pack, and I’ve been pounding the pavements with Sarah’s Runners ever since. I think I joined back in February or March and I haven’t looked back. Well apart from at junctions, but let’s not confuse the issue with road safety awareness basics.
Anyhoo, cutting to the quick, the long and the short of it is that last weekend I ran my first half Marathon. That’s thirteen-and-a-bit miles in old money, and I did it non-stop averaging just over ten minutes a mile. Which was bloody annoying, because by the last few miles I knew if I’d started a little less cautiously I could probably have cracked the ten-minute barrier and wallowed in smug, self-satisfied glory. Ho hum.
As I said, this blog is really just an exercise in blowing my own trumpet, but I hope it’s maybe given food for thought to some other fatknackers out there who have been giving jogging / running some thought but haven’t quite got around to it. Just over a year ago I too thought that ‘Fun Run’ was an oxymoron, but it took me no more than a month or so on a treadmill to start remembering just how much I had enjoyed running as a child and young adult. I gave it up when beer, women and music got in the way, and while I regret none of those things (and still enjoy them all tremendously!) I wish I’d remembered running a lot earlier.
The reason I was so keen to get the half marathon under my belt by the end of September was because my ‘proper’ running started precisely then last year, meaning that in twelve months I’ve achieved my first 5k, my first 10k, and my first half. I also ran as part of the Sarah’s Runners team in the South Down’s relay and put in a very creditable time for the first six-mile leg of the course. The friendship, support and encouragement I’ve found in the group has doubled my running pleasure, and on the odd occasion that I do run alone now my trusty MP3 proves a poor substitute for talking the hind legs off one of my fellow runners. So it’s not all about me blowing my own trumpet after all – I’m also puffing away on behalf of running groups generally and Sarah’s Runners specifically. Thanks Sarah et al, I’ve enjoyed every painful minute.