the rise of the running man

some of my birthday gifts were quite revealing this year. a few new shirts that didn’t need to be 3, 4 or 5XL helped reinforce the fact that 44 year old me is a fair bit slimmer than the 40 year old version. but more than this, the inclusion of the following items was particularly interesting:

  • 1 pair compression shorts
  • a book called “Running With the Kenyans” by Adharanand Finn (see his blog on the Guardian website)
  • 2 running shirts
  • a new armband phone holder (my current one is worn out)

in other words, a heap of running-related paraphenalia

very thoughtful, appropriate gifts

that’s the crazy thing – there is no way on earth I’d have wanted any of that a couple of years ago. but now?

I was thinking about it as I plodded through a 10km run this morning (wearing one of the new shirts and the new phone holder). In less than 2 days I have devoured almost half the book and am enjoying it thoroughly.

it (the book) has also triggered a few lightbulb moments that (I think) help explain why I had this crazy idea of running a marathon.

reminders of boyhood memories

there are sections of the book where references are made to top-level athletes from the author’s formative years. being of a not dissimilar age (and from the same part of the world) these names and events are familiar to me too.

as I read, I remembered seeing things in the “Grandstand” annual, watching the olympics on TV, even seeing the movie “Chariots of Fire”. names like Brendan Foster, Steve Ovett, Sebastian Coe, Steve Cram, Said Aouita…

I remembered that I used to love watching them. used to get excited about watching the Olympics (still do).

and that’s when it hit me. I’ve always admired and envied these people.

a tale of unrequited dreams?

even if I had trained from the age of 3, I wouldn’t have been anywhere near the same league as the runners mentioned above.

I showed no natural athletic ability at school, and no amount of training would have seen me being a competitive runner at any level.

so I never had any “dreams” as such. but I think that along the way, “not being very good” got confused with “cannot do this at all”.

because I was never going to “win” anything, or achieve anything of significance with sport, I allowed sport to become something I was “completely shit at” and “completely unable to do”.

and that’s (maybe) been sat there inside, burning and gnawing and eating away, all these years.

a new-found “love”

I wouldn’t necessarily use the word “passion” in relation to running at the moment, but I can certainly see potential signs of it becoming an obsession (obsessing is one thing that I do very well).

with the wisdom and experience of the years, I can now approach running as something other than “competitive sport”. for me now it is simply an option in a healthy lifestyle, a chance to slide through the streets before dark, alone with my music and my thoughts.

it’s something I can do wth minimal equipment, at minimal cost, but which rewards me with:

  • a continuous sense of achievement
  • an appreciation for the power of sticking at things
  • “me” time – very rare when you’re married, with a kid, working full time and nurturing a small business
  • improved health & fitness
  • enjoyment (most of the time)

it also gives me something to obsess and blog about 🙂


image courtesy of stuart anthony via Compfight

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