mundane adventures in running
I’m not competitive. I’m not that competitive. I’m not cross because I’m losing, I’m cross because I’ve put in so much effort, and I’m not reaping the rewards that seem to come easily to others. I’m jealous; I hate runners.
I’ve been running since I was 20. I’m 38 now. That should count for something, even though in that time I have taken it more and less seriously; I’ve taken long breaks to cycle more, smoke more weed, drink more booze.
It’s the last two or three years that I’ve started taking it more seriously. Since my children were born, running has become my only real pastime. I don’t really go out anymore, I don’t collect stamps, I don’t watch football. I eat healthily, meditate and don’t do drugs. I enjoy cycling and swimming, but it’s running that’s my real love.
I’ve thrown myself into it. I run miles most weeks, and cross train almost every day. I track everything I do, mix my training, put in the tedious sessions of hill reps. I don’t think I’m overdoing it. I make sure I eat properly and get rest days.
The problem is, I still plod along at the same rate. I reckon i could do a 5k in 22 minutes. After all this time, I’m sure i could do a flat marathon in just over 3.30, but it would almost kill me. I generally do a 5.250 minutes per km pace on longer runs. That’s where I’ve been for the last year or so. Granted I’ve had a long break for injury, but I still feel I should have progressed further, quicker.
Then last weekend I was talking to my neighbour, Ian. Ian threw himself into running just under a year ago. He’s lost loads of weight, and can already run a half marathon in 1.30. I asked him why he wasn’t signed up for a marathon and he replied that he was waiting until he was sure he could run it sub 3. Fuck. I don’t think I’ll ever run even a sub 3.30 marathon. He wasn’t even gloating, he’s a nice guy and said this with sincere humility. While I am super happy for him (I really am, I love that he’s getting so much out of it, and is so clearly good at it), I am also really quite jealous of him, or disappointed in myself, or something.
Then there’s Josh, the father of a schoolmate of my son. I heard the story recently that he went from not running at all to ultras in the course of a few of months. It’s my goal to run 100km, and by the time I manage it, I think it will (probably, if I’m lucky) have taken me 3 years. Josh managed it in six months. Again, I’m really happy for him and don’t begrudge him his ability and success, but I want to be honest and to admit that it makes me feel disappointed in myself, and in my own limitations.
So, what’s wrong? I have the motivation, I have the willing. My heart is slow and steady, my legs are strong and reasonably supple, I’m not too fat, I don’t have any injuries. I’m not sure what it is I need to do to supercharge my training and to hit the next level. I’ve started experimenting. First thing is to run less, next is to strength train more. Third, I need to stop drinking so much wine: no drinking during the week, take it easy. Fourth, make a good diet into an incredible diet: more whole grains, less red meat. Fifth… what’s fifth? come on, help me out here. What’s fifth….? Give up coffee? Start a new training regime? Pray more? Lower the expectations I put on myself? I need answers damn it!