Running like a cock

If there is anyone who has read this blog for a while, they will know that one of my favourite running maxims is ‘pride comes before a fall’.

I’ve been on a real high since Abingdon. My workplace has been sapping the joy out of my life for months, and the past few weeks in particular have been poisonous, to say the least. But all, or most, of this could be ignored for those brief hours between me, the clock and the course.

What makes the work situation hurt more than it perhaps should, is that I have a reasonable talent for stringing a sentence together – not always an intelligible sentence – but quite often a funny one. Except when I’m talking about badgers. Or as Listy points out, when the sherberts have left the fountain. So. I want – I have always wanted – to be a writer. A paid writer. But somehow, I just lack the… lack the ‘something’. Confidence. Tenacity. Ambition. Drive. Focus. I don’t know – all of the above.

All of these emotions / feelings I get from running, and running long distances in particular. It’s not really a physical challenge at the end of the day, it’s a mental one. It’s an entirely optional activity. And it’s a solitary one. Sure, you can run with others, and get encouragement from other runners or the side of the road, but ultimately you run with and against you. You have to learn to like yourself a little more if you’re going to run long distances, because you’re going to spend a lot of time in your own company.

Anyhoo. The point. I’ve been on a high. I want to take it to the next level. I’ve looked at a race schedule. I’ve emailed my local club (no reply yet after three days which isn’t encouraging, but never mind). I’ve decided to finally ditch my New Balance loyalty and try something else – it was the pain of the various blisters and other things going on with my feet that slowed me down last week.

I’ve been reading Haruki Murakami’s ‘Things I talk about when I talk about running’. It’s inspiring – he’s inspiring. And a lot of what he says about the relationship between being a runner and being a writer ring true. He sets himself a benchmark of 36 miles a week as a minimum for ‘serious’ training – he’s run umpteen marathons (and lets not forget the 20+ novels translated into 40+ languages). So I should take the man seriously.

Listy also gives me phenomenal support. Fetchland’s reaction to my post about the race was really ‘aw shucks’ cool and as you will see from the gallery in a minute, I have No8 giving me earache after every PB (have a look at the photo of us – he used to be 2 stone heavier than I am there (107kg) – that’s why he’s a legend).

So. Motivated. New goals. Fep work. Excited. So I go out this morning and make the following mistakes:
1. I’m hungover. Using the kind of logic that only drunk people can, I had planend this as my last hungover run. Like I said. Cock.
2. I wore new trainers.
3. I wore new and different socks – Thorlos- as I thought it might be cold. Note that I didn’t wear long sleeved shirt or hat or gloves. It’s the socks that matter apparently. See point 1.
Points 2 and 3 will be relevant in a minute.
4. I ran a new route. New beginnings and all that.
5. I had planned a nice gentle pootle. However, the first time I encountered running traffic I stepped up the gears to show off a little. Like I said, running like a cock.

All these combine at Hammersmith bridge. I run past a swishing ponytail on the bridge, make a big show of arcing for the switchback ramp to get down to the Thames Path, start pounding down it. I’ve only been down this ramp once before. I’m going quite fast – hit some gravel – my left shoe catches, my foot slips in the socks – end result I turn my ankle over at speed and only by sheer force of will I don’t end up diving off the path and into the fortunately high-tide Thames. Hurts like buggery. I limped the two miles home.

I didn’t fall over. I didn’t get shot. Or mugged. Or ended up on a drip or anything. But I won’t be able to run for a few days. And it was all so avoidable.

If I hadn’t been running like a cock.

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