Friday, 12 August 2016

Working It: Running And Me

Last week I spotted an old acquaintance as I wandered around Spitalfields Market, in the split second of seeing them the following options flashed through my head (please tell me that you all think the same when this happens):

1) Ignore them! Ignore them! Look at phone like I'm expecting an important call or y'know, catching a Pokémon. Run away! Quick!

2) Do the quick "hi!" and speed off because, y'know, things to do places to see (although that wouldn't have really been true).

3) Actually act like a nearly 29-year-old human and have a quick chat with someone who you do actually know. Oh.

Option 3 was what happened (phew my social skills are still intact) and after a few "oh we must catch-up properly soon!" and general chit-chat about work and life and thankfully no mention of the boyfriend question a conversational curve ball hit me in the form of "how's your running going? I saw that you ran the marathon, amazing!" I then remembered, I used to be a runner.

This year I've been on a run three times. Not this week or this month but in the whole of 2016. Three times. For someone who, yes, did run a marathon I can't help but feel ashamed of this. I loved training for London and carried on running afterwards - I started running in 2011 so I wasn't ever going to be one of those "never running a mile again" types (but fair play to you if you are after a marathon). I ran in good weather, bad weather, I passed on social occasions in order to run, I travelled to Paris to run there and ran through my own city, getting to know it and myself better as I did.

I don't have any real excuses for why I stopped running. I'm not injured, I haven't been any busier than any other year, the weather has actually been ok-ish recently. I just can't remember that feeling of waking up and wanting to lace up my trainers and hit the road, can't remember the joy that running obviously did give me, the mental clarity and the feeling of yes, I can actually do this.

It's not like I've started lying on the sofa chain-smoking and eating donuts, I still workout - yoga classes, spin and a newly formed love-hate relationship with HIIT circuits mean that my gym membership is getting used and I'm a good few pounds lighter than when I did cross that marathon finish line but I can't quite pin down why running has fallen off of my agenda. I think its partly because running is such a solo pursuit, something which I used to love about it but as my social life gets smaller and I no longer work with colleagues who I went to university with the whole "alone time" appeal has somewhat decreased. While running a race does make you feel amazingly connected to others the training itself doesn't - being 10 miles from home on the other side of London can sometimes be slightly terrifying. My weekly yoga classes by contrast do provide that connection to others - in central London it's probably as close to a feeling of community that you're ever going to get but I secretly love how the teacher notices if I'm not on my mat for a couple of weeks in a row and it (usually) makes saying no to a second G&T the night before a class a little easier.

I hope that one day I'll feel the need to run again. However slowly or however hard it is to get back into it. That running will help me figure things out, zap me out of a bad mood and be so much more than a way to just "keep fit". I've never been fast or particularly "good" at running but it's the only thing I've fully enjoyed in spite of that. I'm not sure when my love for running will return but, like so much else in life, I'll sit patiently until it does because there is no joy in forcing yourself to do something you don't want to.

Have any of you felt this way about running? Or about anything else that you "used to" do?

PS. I did enter the London Marathon ballot for London 2017...



  1. Running for me is very much a social thing since I joined a running club. I'm much less inclined to want to lace up my trainers if I'm headed out on a solo run. Perhaps you could look to see if there are any clubs or group runs near where you live to try and revive some of that running love again?

  2. Firstly, I'd have run through those three points EXACTLY like you did with the old aquaintence. I hate stuff like that. Actually I saw a girl I used to go to school with at the petrol station the other day and we didn't really get on at school (well, we didn't really know each other but we did know OF each other, you know?). Anyway we both steadfastly looked away and chose to ignore the other - works for me! Hehe.
    I think you have to do what you enjoy. When you're training for a marathon you obviously have to run a lot and you have that goal shining like a beacon in the horizon constantly reminding you to run. But if you don't necessarilly enjoy it to run on your own for no reason then you shouldn't feel bad for not wanting to. It sounds like the gym scene and yoga is a better bet for you and there's nothing wrong with that! My running is a social thing with things like my club and parkrun (and online) but it's also a thing I love to do on my own and just zone out. I couldn't imagine not running again! It's just part of who I am.


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