Running solo

Thank you to everyone who read my last post and has signed up to follow my blog to help me get more views than my flatmate Matt. He’s sitting opposite me writing his latest post as we speak so the moment of truth is only a few minutes away. . .

Matt starting an outrageously successful blog was an unusual enough happening last week, but over the past few weeks something even more unusual has happened. Running seems to have got suddenly popular amongst all my friends. This started with Lauren, who, until recently, we all thought was an anti-exercise stalwart. Anti-exercise at cab-home-from-the-station-instead-of-walking levels.

But her cousin has been diagnosed with cancer, and she’s signed up to one of Cancer Research’s Race for Life events on 14th July in support. Then, more of us joined her. We’re now up to a team of five ladies, possibly six, depending on whether the pledge made last night in a bar holds firm. We have one (possibly two) total newbies to running and exercise, one “lapsed” runner who has always done some kind of sport on a regular basis but hasn’t run for a few years, two who run distances around the 10k mark fairly regularly, and me.

Due to our very different standards, the “team” part of the training will probably be in the post-training brunches. This couldn’t have worked out better. A team effort provides the motivation to get up, and go out, and actually do the training, with the enormous carrot of getting to spend time with people that you know and love and always want to see afterwards.

But you still get to run alone.

And here I confess to being a very antisocial runner… I cannot really understand why you’d want to run in company when you could run on your own. If it’s a very short run and running is really the secondary purpose after chatting, then fine. But for a long run, and on a regular basis?

Today I went on a 15 miler, mainly along the south bank of the Thames, joining it at Putney and following it round to Chiswick Bridge and back. It’s great to have such an unbroken stretch – you can fix your eyes ahead of you and not have to worry about stopping to cross roads or dodging gormless Sunday shoppers. I switch my brain off entirely or let it wander, occasionally brought back to reality by some external stimulus, like a rowing boat passing, which in turn sparks a new wave of reminiscences and thoughts around rowing days at university, and I’m back off again, retreated inside my own head.

You can’t do that in company. You have to converse.

At some point everyone who runs gets asked (and starts to ask themselves), “why do you do it?” It’s a hard question to answer; there are so many reasons, and sometimes none at all. They change with the day, season, your frame of mind. I think solitude is one of my constants though – I run to be alone.


Mileage update: 399 in total (252 cycling and 147 running, swimming, cross training etc)

Followers update: thank you to the 13 people who signed up to follow already! If you haven’t yet, please click “follow” on this page and enter your email address before the end of March and I’ll donate £1 to Save the Children and the Motor Neurone Disease Association on your behalf.

Fundraising update: £1,037 – thank you so much everyone for your generosity!

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