As I get older I have a growing sense that life loops back on itself over and over again. I suspect that this is because of deeply ingrained habits that mean that no matter how hard we try, we often end up doing the same things over and over again. I also think that if you can recognise this circularity, it is possible to adapt and manage our behaviour – even make a virtue out of the process.
Going back to my running roots
So here I am, almost back to where I was 10 years ago when I first started running: trying to find the love and the habit of running. In fact the circle almost returned on itself completely on Sunday. I went to Bristol to run the half marathon there with my best friend Rob. It was a decade since Rob and I ran our first proper race – the Great North Run. I struggled – and I mean really struggled – to a 1:57 finish, delighted to have dipped under 2 hours. Rob was there all the way and in fact it was he who encouraged me in the last mile or so when I was whimpering and trying to find excuses to stop. He wouldn’t let me give in.
Fast forward 10 years and I had the honour of returning the favour and supporting Rob as he ran a very pleasing 1:44 as preparation for an assault on a sub-4 hour marathon in a few weeks.
To get the reward one needs to do the work
The weekend in Bristol really made me realise how much I love road running. The Bristol course has a 6 mile out-and-back section along the gorge under the Clifton Suspension Bridge. This means that as most runners are heading out at mile 3 or 4, the lead runners are returning on the other side of the road at mile five and six. It is a great opportunity to see fast runners doing what they do so well. I was captivated to see the elite men and women fly past. And even more so I loved seeing friends such as Jamie Smalley from Runderwear and Andrew Levison, hammer past at sub-6 minute/mile pace. I thought:
That is where I want to be
I love running fast and free. I love racing others. I love chasing times.
I also know that in order to get to a point where I can race at the level I want to be, I need to put in the training. I am not getting any younger, but I have a feeling that the last 12 months of relative inactivity might have done me the world of good. My body has rested and my mind has had a chance to focus on other things. The downside is that I have got out of the training habits that I think I need. But I can get back to habitually running. I did it before, 10 years ago, and I was coming from a much lower base then. This time I am older (but not too old), wiser (but still suitably naive) and definitely determined. Plus I still have this blog, which was set up as a way of recording my journey to try to become the best runner I can be.
I guess I haven’t quite answered the question I started with yet: how good can I be? Here’s to continuing to find out.