It started way back when I was six years old.
Do you want to race me?
This was the challenge I would offer my older brother and his friends. There was not a lot of take up. Instead I charged about the cul-de-sac, alone until Mum banged on the window declaring it was time to go in.
My teens were full of school athletics that turned into team sports in my twenties.
The running bug recaptured me when I hit thirty. I committed to running the London Marathon in memory of Mum, who we had lost over a decade earlier. It felt right. Run – raise money – run – get fit – run – ease the grief – repeat. Life fell into a rhythm, a pleasant one that I understood, even needed.
Another decade passed, filled with training and a raft of endurance events It was then that I began to notice it. Slowly at first, I heard the whispered question in my head of ‘What now?’.
The whisper got louder and more constant . I had to admit it, my running was losing its effect. I was no longer thriving (physically or emotionally) on the routine I had set up for myself.
My running ‘fallow’ years came next. Don’t get me wrong, I kept relatively fit with swimming, circuits and the odd run. I ticked over, no pressure, no plan. The drastic regime change was a mix of enjoyment, freedom whilst also unsettling.
So this was how I found myself aged 42. The second half of my life unfolding and the running itch returning. I had to scratch it.
There were several, OK numerous, false starts in getting my groove back. You know the training traps, I fell into all of them:
- Too much too soon.
- Not enough rest.
- Rigid training plans.
- Ignoring niggles.
- Running through illness.
Would I ever learn?
A turning point was moving to the Surrey Hills. Hill training became integral to my runs, I could not avoid them where I live! Joy was rekindled by running off-road and exploring stunning new trails wherever I found myself.
Trails though have tree roots. Early this year while out running, I was blinded by the winter sun. Crump, I was poleaxed on a frozen woodland floor. A broken rib and whiplash for my troubles. Ouch!
Recovery constituted gentle walks, hot baths and reading a running book to keep scratching my newly reacquired itch. It was ‘Run Faster’ by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald. A definite read for any runner, it has had a big impact on me.
Brad Hudson speaks convincingly about how to become your own best coach. This quote sums it up:
‘The primary obstacle to running faster is a lack of self-knowledge and self observation’.
You could say this short period of enforced recovery was serendipitous. Reading the book came at the right time, it was just what I needed. It particularly resonated on:
- Listen to your body.
- Respect your personal make up, emotions and all.
- Adapt training each day as required.
- Be flexible.
- Aim for consistency.
- Lay a good foundation to build upon.
I have taken these initial thoughts to heart, and so far so good.
So at 47 and a quarter, through fate, fortune and desire I am on the road for the second half of my life. The next 40 years of running – bring it on.
Has there ever been a pivotal point in a your life? I would love to hear about it.