Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Run like you stole something

There's a moment about five minutes into a race when I think to myself: "Why the hell am I doing this?!".

And after a few years of 10km races, half marathons and a marathon, I still have no answer.

All I know is that running, despite the sweat, soreness and pain, keeps me coming back for more.

Sometimes running the straight and flat roads can feel like this 

This weekend, my "2013 Running Season" (naming it this makes it seem much more formal and grand) begins with the Twilight Half Marathon in Brisbane.

It's called Twilight because, unlike most other races, it starts in the evening and by the time you finish it is well and truly dark (which can create issues in itself).  I've noticed that organisers like to give races fun names, such as "Running Festival", "Budgie Bolt" and "Mousdash", rather than more truthful titles, such as "Ouch", "This will hurt" and "You are going to feel this tomorrow".

The Twilight run will be a shake-up to my normal Sunday routine as I'm usually reaching for the bourbon bottle at this time, not roadside cups of water and hydration gels.  

Growing up I was never what you would call "sporty", though I was pretty good at swimming (it helped that most of the kids at high school were from the bush and couldn't swim).   Sadly I couldn't, and still can't, catch a ball to save my life so this pretty much ruled out any of the usual team sports.
When I was in my 20s I used to think going to the gym for 30 minutes four times a week and moving a few things around meant I was as fit as an Olympian, despite the fact that I could barely run 100 metres and inhaled two pizzas on a Friday night.

Sometimes when running I fantasise about stopping and sitting down
After I turned 30 I thought it was now or never with this whole fitness thing.   I had always thought I would be fit "one day", and now it was time to get serious.  No more messing around.

So I started watching what I ate, began to run a little bit and lost about 10kgs in the process.

At first I did just little runs, a couple of kilometres, never thinking I would be able to ever run more than 10km.  Over time though, the runs became longer.   I also discovered that achieving these little physical goals was quite rewarding.

Eventually I worked my way up to the first half marathon, thinking that would be the peak of my running life.   But after I had a few half marathons under my belt, I started eyeing off the big one, actually running the 42km of a marathon, something I had scoffed at just a year or two earlier.

Sometimes when running you hit the wall
Throughout all of this, I've learnt a few things about running (most of which every other runner already knows):
Running is the best workout I know
  • Running is sometimes hard and sometimes easy (and often my attitude is the reason behind this)
  • Running is about setting goals for yourself
  • Running is about finding motivation to achieve those goals
  • Running is about putting in the training rather than just "turning up on the night"
  • Running is about getting your pace and breathing right
  • Running is about forgetting how long you've been running and how far you have yet to go
  • Running is about forgetting that you told yourself you couldn't possibly do that
  • Running is about becoming comfortable with discomfort
  • Running is about strengthening the mind 
  • Running is about not making excuses
  • Running is about feeling euphoric (but only after you have achieved a goal or run across the finish line)

After a race or run, you feel like this (but with clothes on)

And most of all:
  • Running is addictive.

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