Fear not, I've not had the runs this week (though poor Drake has - Lufthansa's wonderful in-flight catering apparently). This post is about the wholesome athletic pursuit that is running. Or, in my case, leisurely jogging.
Running isn't for everyone - for a long time I didn't think it was for me. I come from a family that treats exercise with a strong degree of suspicion, and seems to reject the general consensus that it is "good for you". Running is considered particularly suspect (all that deep inhalation of particulates, facial flushing and ankle/knee wear), so it didn't really occur to me to take it up as a regular pastime until I got engaged, and needed to lose some weight before the wedding.
Without wanting to sound like a motivational magazine article ("Ten reasons you should take up running!"), here are the ten reasons I took up running:
- It's free. No eye wateringly expensive and totally wasted gym membership for me! I leave that to Drake (Drake, if you're reading this, will you either cancel your subscription or actually go sometime please? We could fly to Australia and back with the amount we spend on it.)
- You can just go. It doesn't involve masses of prep or faffing about with equipment. I just need my running kit, key, headphones and phone (which incorporates music and distance tracker app) and I'm away. OK, so some days even that is too much to organise ("Duckling! Have you eaten the earbud off Mummy's headphones again?!") but mostly I can get it together and make it out the door.
- It's not weather dependent. I go even in the rain - I quite like the cooling / sweat masking effect. Less so raindrop inhalation. I tend to avoid the snow though. I'm not that sure footed / dedicated / nuts.
- You can run with a buggy. You look like an absolute tool, particularly if you don't have one of those whizzy three wheeler things (which I don't), but if you put your pride aside, it sort of works. Until you hit a pothole or the child in the buggy gets bored and/or hungry and you have to stop to pick up discarded toys / stuff cheesy puffs into them.
- Escape. Without the buggy, it's the perfect excuse to grab somewhere between 10 mins and an hour of restorative, endorphin-producing 'you' time. With Drake away all week, I get very little down time from being a Mum. Running is therefore a bit of a sanctuary, and because it's doing me good (physically and mentally), it's very hard for him to object to having sole custody of Duckling while I head out (plus father and son bonding time - v. important). To be honest, I have considered just going and sitting in Costa for 45 mins to eat pastries and dick about on my phone, but the lack of scarlet face and gratuitous wheezing on my return would quickly give the game away.
- Music! I am a big music fan, but get far fewer opportunities to just sit and listen to it these days. So I run and listen instead. The faster the beat, the faster I run - for about 30 secs anyway. Though when Madonna pops up singing "time goes by so slowly," I almost always have to stop for a short breather, because she's right, when your lungs are about to burst, time does seem to go by veeeery slowly.
- Exploration. This one should probably be nearer the top. I love to explore (I was an nightmare of curiosity as a child) and I take a weird amount of pleasure in telling Drake "ooh, ooh, I took a new route today and discovered you can see The Shard from the top of Hilly Hill!" and "ooh, did you know that No. 25 Streety Street keep a horse in their front garden?! A horse!!!" when I get back. He generally humours me, mainly I think because he gets to benefit from my London cabbie-esque knowledge of the local area when trying to avoid roadworks or locate a postbox.
- Cool kit. This one is stretching it a bit, as I mostly run in old leggings and a t-shirt, but I do possess some nice(ly expensive) Sweaty Betty stuff for 'special occasions' - which mostly consists of said items being clean. Also, I love my nerdy Endomondo running ap and its little graphs and "you have completed 1 kilometre in 2 hours and 14 minutes" announcements. When my crappy phone deigns to let it work properly.
- It's a skill people can sponsor you for. Difficult to include this one without sounding flippant, but I think I should anyway. When one of my best friends lost her baby last year, I was desperate to do something, anything, to make things better. In truth, there's little you can do except be a friend, but running a sponsored 10k for Sands felt like a small positive act in a sea of despair, if nothing else. I was joined by her husband and another good friend, and we raised a fantastic amount of money. Not sure what I would have done if I wasn't into running. Maybe a sponsored cake eat?
- Talking of: it lets you eat more cake. Weight control and fitness are probably the main reasons I run, but they're the least interesting so they come last. I'd say weight "loss", but I can never control the urge to eat half a loaf of Soreen the day after a good run. I may therefore actually be better not running at all. But then I couldn't eat as much Soreen, and that would make me sad :-(.
Well that's all very positive. I may have to follow this up with some of the less fun things about running tomorrow, in the name of balance and all that. Now, where's that Soreen?