Monday, 10 October 2011

A Running Story

A brief background,
recommended reading,
a bit of stolen running-based philosophy,
a sponsorship link
and my new trainers. 

It was a long ago, mid-week afternoon at work when my boss suggested running the Cardiff Half Marathon. Being a spontaneous sort of person, I went with the flow and signed up on the spot. The race seemed a distant prospect which wouldn’t really happen, sort of like your thirtieth birthday when you’re aged twelve or Christmas Day on the First of January.

The summer swiftly passed in a blur of rain, holidays and multiple gigs. Autumn arrived, and along with a crunchy leaf carpet so did thoughts of October 16th. I started to consider running more regularly, and began to actually run more regularly. The physical was accompanied by the philosophical, as I read What I Talk About When I TalkAbout Running by Haruki Murakami and re-read Inner Running by Donald Porter. 

I relate to much of the content in both books, particularly these quotes from Murakami:

“…writing novels and running full marathons are very much alike. Basically a writer has a quiet, inner motivation, and doesn’t seek validation in the outwardly visible….For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put the effort in day after day; to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.” (Page 15)


“I’m the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I’m the  type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone. I find spending an hour or two every day running alone, not speaking to anyone….neither difficult nor boring…the hour or so I spend running, maintaining my silent, private time, is important to help me keep my mental wellbeing. When I’m running I don’t have to listen to anybody. All I need to do is gaze at scenery passing by. This is a part of my day I can’t do without.”(Pages 15-16)

I feel as though Murakami has plucked thoughts from my head here, so won't elaborate and spoil his eloquence!

I’ve recently given away my copy of Inner Running, so I can’t share any quotes from this (until I buy another), but the reading was revelatory and I'd recommend to any runner, particularly new. Porter writes all about running as a means of 'feeding the soul' in addition to being a fitness builder; a way of clearing detritus of daily life from the mind. He advocates starting small, running however far you feel like, as long as it’s regular – even walking is allowed in between running bursts – a massive pressure reliever to the perfectionist and self-pusher! The key to Inner Running is having fun and enjoying the process. If you don’t like time and distance based goals, then ditch them – if you take to running often, then you’ll naturally become faster and run further, over a time period which suits you and both the physical and mental benefits will become evident.

This past weekend I tried out two ten mile runs. The first was along the Taff Trail, South bound. I ran from Sophia Gardens car park, just outside Cardiff Castle, to the back of Gelynis Fruit Farm in Morganstown. The first half felt great and very comfortable, but I slowed half way though, the return sometimes feeling heavy and difficult – I think largely due to a very poor breakfast and not enough water the day before, plus I wasn't used to that distance. It was such a good lesson to learn. The next day, Sunday October 9th, I ran several laps around the Roath area, between Waterloo Gardens and Cardiff High, continuing for two hours, with only brief stops for zebra crossings and a clumsy iPod drop onto the ground! Luckily, I have a ‘me-proof’ rubber cover. I'd drunk heaps more water, and eaten lots more carbs in preparation this time, and could feel the energy difference. A great excuse for chocolate spread on toast if ever I’ve heard one, as favoured by the lovely fellow blogger and colleague I’ve recently met for the first time!

So. There’s now less than a week to go until the run. I’ll be giving it a go in my style,  relaxing and (I hope) enjoying it, without time or speed pressure, and finding a comfortable rhythm of my own, with lots of music to keep me going. This will include The Shame, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Biffy Clyro, and thanks to suggestions from Sarah and Mark respectively, a bit of Fall Out Boy and Future Funk Squad. Yes, there’ll be a private indie/cheesey disco going on in my ears.

I’ll be running the race for my friend Hywel Jones, and his favoured charity Tenovus, who carry out fantastic work supporting cancer patients and their families. You can read Hywel’s blog about his experiences as a cancer patient, and a bit about his life in general here, and if you’d like to sponsor me in aid of Tenvous, my JustGiving Page is here. I’d be really grateful for any help you can spare. Thanks lots to the wonderful people who already have.

This has possibly been the most rambling of my blog posts yet, so I’ll stop writing, and leave you with a picture of my lovely new trainers, purchased from Moti, where I was assessed for the perfectly fitting pair through the method of being filmed running on a treadmill, in a dress.*
My shiny new 'Mizuno Wave Nirvana 7s'

*The dress wasn't a requirement, I just happened to call in after work wearing not very suitable running attire!

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