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Archive for December, 2012

A path stretching ahead of me makes my feet itch to run.

A path stretching ahead of me makes my feet itch to run.

The grass verge keeps me off the unforgiving metalled road, which is good.

The grass verge keeps me off the unforgiving metalled road, which is good.

An old railway line – miles of it, all to myself.

An old railway line – miles of it, all to myself.

I AM lucky to live within an easy trot of several lovely running routes, so I never need to resort to taking the car to reach somewhere suitable.

Closest to me are the well-trodden pavements of my little market town, useful for when I’ve left it late for a run and need my way to be illuminated with a gentle sodium glow, but I always prefer a rural run.

Within a quarter-of-a-mile of my front door I have these to choose from, depending on how energised I feel: riverside paths through water meadows, woodland paths, a two-mile driveway with grass verges leading deep into the countryside, a nature reserve with a mile-long tarmac circuit, and, joy of joys, two long sections – one going east, one west – of an old railway line now restored and resurfaced for recreational use.

I know it’s a huge privilege to have such running riches on my doorstep and I never cease to be thankful for that and for the fact I don’t have to cross major roads or even encounter traffic on more than a minor scale.

So, depending on time available, the weather, my mood and if I feel like tackling hills or wimping out and going for a flatter option, I dress up like a real runner in my Thoosa kit and head off out of the door, turning to the left (for the tough-guy stuff) or the right (the wimp’s choice). Anything up to two hours later I’m back, sky-high on the adrenalin of achievement and smug satisfaction, the endorphins clamouring like drunken fans in a mosh pit, instantly making me feel I want to go back out for more.

The high lasts way beyond shower-time so I bring myself down to earth with a serious belt of strong Italian coffee and a look at the day’s diary to see what has to be achieved. Not that there’s much of greater importance, in my opinion, than the joy of a run. And I guess you’d agree.

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The tortoise and the hare

T and H

I’ve lost four stone so I can run faster than
my grandchildren and live longer than Methuselah. I live mostly in the
south-west of England and partly in east central Italy

Since I started running in March this year, I have found that I operate at two speeds.

There’s my running speed, which is when I cover real miles, wearing real running kit and with that wonderful runner’s zeal filling my heart, and there’s the nipping-about speed, for everyday stuff, when walking just won’t do.

I am one of those irritating people who can’t walk sensibly along a crowded pavement. Instead, I do a speeded-up zippy version of jaywalking by sprinting along the gutter to overtake the human traffic jam.

I have to be here, there, everywhere in the shortest possible time. There are places to go, people to see, goodness-knows-what to be achieved, all quickly, now, yesterday.

I run to my Pilates class, run to the riding stables where I help with the Riding for Disabled, run to the Post Office, run to the doctors’ surgery – not so clever when I am due to have my blood pressure taken – and run up every flight of stairs that presents itself. Show me an out-of-order escalator and my spirits rise. Off I go, race you to the top.

Except there isn’t anyone to race. My husband, a determinedly one-paced walker who hasn’t even broken into a trot since he was in the under-11s football team, is determined not to be drawn into anything so demeaning. “It’s inelegant,” he says, stating the blindingly obvious, when I burst back into the house, eyes wild and hair on end. “But I’ve got the milk!” I announce, catching my breath and checking my watch to see if I’ve broken my own land-speed record to the shop and back.

And come the evening, when I finally slow down enough to park myself beside Captain Sensible on the sofa, light and shade flicker through my eyelids as the 10 o’clock news plays out its dramas. I wake up for the local weather forecast, eager to know if tomorrow’s run will be wet or dry.

“Not much news tonight, was there?” I remark to Captain S, who is smug and full of knowledge that will never be mine.

Yes, he is the very definition of Aesop’s tortoise – which I’m afraid makes me the hapless hare.

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