So the time of Corona is moving on, as time does, in its own inexorable way and with it has come some strange new norms, not least of which for me, is the fact that I have taken up jogging.
Except that it isn’t really called ‘jogging’ any more. No, that is a word evoking a whole 1980s vibe of conscious exercise, in a disco world where the old fashioned precept of actual running (a race or for a bus), gave way to the concept of conscious, conspicuous running in order to get fit. And towelling sweatbands, of course.
But in the here and now, the act of ‘running’ has recurred; so on my sometimes slow and fast paced journey, it’s time to continue with my running commentary on the subject…
With the Spring sunshine beckoning me outside, I’ve formed a pattern of alternating running days with walking ones, choosing to take full advantage of any temperate time my tranche of UK territory will confer on me. And whilst the British have been accused of constantly talking about the weather – in our defence that’s because it can vary so much, since we can actually experience all four seasons in one day – whatever the time of year.
Fundamentally, we do have four delineated seasons, all with their own seasonal characteristics. But that being said, it’s sometimes hard to reconcile the fact that our part of the world can be stopped by a snow drift or be melting in tropical heat. That of course, is if it doesn’t happen to be raining. Now don’t be misled – it doesn’t rain all the time and how much of the wet stuff falls on your head depends on which part of the British Isles you happen to inhabit. But then again, we can experience a misty drizzle or a full blown downpour of biblical strength and diabolical effect…
But I digress – this blog isn’t about the weather. No – it’s actually about the far more lofty and interesting topic of me and my physical prowess. Or lack thereof. Or maybe both…
So I’m still running. Sort of… I’m following the Couch to 5K App, which takes you through 3 runs a week, where you alternate brisk walking with running, building up the number of minutes that you run, in a 30 minute session, as the weeks progress.
It all started with a brisk 5 minute walk, then 90 second rotations of running vs walking. During the first week I quickly noticed that my left knee was hurting. It does that from time to time if I shock it with too much upright activity. I guess it’s old age slowly starting to creep up on me. However, if I take the right supplements (Glucosamine & Chondroitin) and keep it mobile, then on the whole, it tends to be fine. I now also wear a knee support when I run and the pain has disappeared.
Being a habitual walker rather than a runner, my knees – previously pretty much neglected and unused to vigorous activity, started to ache ever so slightly; so I quickly ordered a pair of sporty running shoes to ensure that they and my feet are getting the right support.
So that’s it – time to plug phone into ear phones and go. Seems easy enough – I found an old pair of headphones with ear clips, the cord of which gets constantly tangled up, even when it’s doing nothing. I swear to you that I coil it carefully and neatly around the headband, only to find that by the next day that it has transmuted into a mass of evil, wiry knots. How is this even possible?! Having run through all the possible options, I am now forced to conclude that Gremlins are the only logical explanation. Yes, clearly the little buggers creep around when I’ve gone to bed, wreaking havoc on my carefully ordered existence, in all sorts of devious ways… But that’s the subject for another blog (I’ll add it to the list)…
Anyway, so I’m now on week four of my running odyssey. And I’d love to tell you that as a result I’ve transformed into a svelte, athletic goddess – gaining strength and stamina with every single step. But if I actually said all that, I’d be a big, fat fibber…
Instead I’m a plodding, panting pariah, pounding the pavements of the village where I live. I quickly learnt not to run on fields or uneven surfaces of any sort – it’s just harder going. Not only that, but having done several circuits of the local park last week, I realised to my cost, that it had just been mowed, and that most of the grass cuttings were stuck to the soles of my fancy running shoes, like iron filings drawn to a magnet. That is of course until I got home, whereupon they suddenly reversed polarity and flew from my shoes, scattering across every inch of carpet and floor tile in the whole, damn place. Well, either that or the gremlins have been gathering in a ghastly green harvest and dancing round my house throwing out hairy armfuls of the stuff…
And as for being gorgeously glowing with health, instead I sweat profusely and turn bright red. So red in fact, that after a run I look more like an animated tomato, than an athletic Amazonian.
By week four of using the app you build up to running in five minute blocks, tutored by a verbal ‘coach’ who keeps time and generally encourages you to keep going. So, you’d think that after running for 3 whole weeks, that I’d see running for five minutes as a natural graduation… But no… when I first saw that innocuous number displayed on the screen of my phone, I actually cursed. But at least there was the brisk walk first, then a mere three minute run and then… when the coach announced it was time to do five minutes, my eyes misted over with poignant self pity. “Don’t want to,” my inner toddler fumed, shaking her angry little head and about to burst into a torrent of tears. But run for five minutes I did.
In truth I can’t tell you that they, or the subsequent runs of five minutes thereafter, were fine. They were at differing times – OK.., good.., awful.., heavy.., or hard and sometimes I forgot that I was even running at all…
There is a script which (pardon the literary pun) runs through my head at various times during a run… Firstly it reminds me that I’m asthmatic and shifts my focus to my lungs – innocuous organs which I ignore most of the time, since they are just quietly going about the business of breathing. However now they suddenly feel constricted, wheezy and not up to the heavy physical task I’m demanding of them.
Next it’s pointed out that I currently have Rhinitis – an allergic reaction to the Rapeseed crop that is blooming in fields all around where I live. This means that my nose and eyes are puffy and sore, my body aches all over, I get headaches, have a sore throat and not least have huge, heavy bouts of sheer exhaustion, which no amount of resting or any other kind of prescription, will cure, (except for paracetamol when it feels particularly unbearable). ‘What the hell are you doing? says the Script. ‘You’d be so much better off at home right now, all comfy on your favourite couch…’
Fundamentally, when I’m hit with a long bout of Rhinitis, I’m knocked out. My energy dissipates and my body is weighted down with an invisible body suit made of lead. I have lived with this now for over 9 years and had to learn to live with its characteristics. So running feels counter intuitive, but then again as a result of this condition I’ve also realised that I simply cannot stop the world while I go through it, for the world simply won’t wait. And one of the major discoveries I’ve uncovered it and me, is that whilst resting is necessary to regain and conserve energy – in this case it doesn’t heal. So the Script gets told to bugger off – I have to balance my desire to disappear with being as healthy as I can in order to be in the best physical position I can, and not let it subsume me.
I’m told by my GP that it’s a mystery condition and nothing can be done. Instead I’ve just had to educate myself and actually have managed to manage down many of the more chronic symptoms really well.
So if that wasn’t enough, then the Script will tell me that my legs are stiff, my knees are seizing up and my feet weigh a literal ton. It goes on to tell me that running is bad for my body. It it wasn’t, it reasons, then why, after nearly a month, is this still such hard work? It then continues to tell me that I shouldn’t be doing this at my age – it will probably cripple me and I shall be riddled with arthritis as a result. And one of its favourite things to state, in no uncertain terms, is that I won’t be able to do another 10 seconds, let alone 25 minutes…
But guess what? I’m still standing and more importantly still running. And whilst running is undoubtbly a physical activity – above all I’m learning that the secret to my success is that it’s also very much a mental one, too.
Ok, so you might think that being a (LifeWork) coach myself, I’d know that… Well I do of course, but now I have to put it into hot footed practice. So, I use a few strategies I’ve learnt – one of the most successful of which is to smile as I go. Smiling is a simple feat of physiology – that by giving my body the physical signals of happiness and mirth, all will mentally be, well… happiness and mirth. Fortunately I don’t yet possess the ability to laugh whilst I’m running (and let’s face it, that would be weird for any passers-by), so I smile (thereby creeping out said passers-by), instead.
I also find that if I think about anything but running, then I forget I’m actually doing it. My favourite thing on the trot is to work out plots, blogs and anything to do with my writing. At other times, I treat it like a meditation and focus my attention outside of my body… gazing at the scenery and drinking the scenery in. I hone in on things I see – like a flower in bloom, and focus on them, committing them to memory.
I know from experience that so often, when my brain is clogged up or bogged down that a swim or a walk will unblock the flow and allow me space to work things out from a different perspective.
But back on a run, my Script kicks in and intrudes, telling me that I’m going uphill or I just damn well can’t do this… So I start chanting a mantra… Sometimes a yogic ‘om shanti om’ – “I am peace” or at other times things like ‘I bloody love running’, ‘I own this,’ or ‘look the fuck at me, I’m running like a fucking ace.’ And I apologise for my potty mouthed musings, but somehow, swearing really seems to spur me on…
So all these things are circling through my brain and body as I go. And like the British weather they are constantly changeable, and I get to experience all of them in the space of 30 minutes, (rather than a day).
And then there are the days I wake up and want to go for a run; or when I think, ‘it’s only for 30 of your waking minutes’ woman, let’s do this.’
So though the Script tries to get me to hate running when the going gets tough, more often than not I’ll choose to love myself for what I’ve achieved in the past month, and praise myself instead.
I have to say though that there are some strange side effects to this running in the time of Corona – not least that I’ve gained a profound interest in mesh wear, wireless headphones and gel soles…
And despite the Script I’m still running… In fact I’ve covered a whole lot of kilometres since I started and I have to say, that above all else, I’m proud of what I’ve done on the run.
And that’s me today – Blonde, Blogger and Runner.
To experience more of my take on life, buy the book of blog, where my ‘Love Letters to Life’ explore and celebrate the tiny and titanic aspects of life: ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ is published in both paperback & kindle. And for a special offer of a signed author copy – click here to go to my website now and buy the paperback for just £7.99…: