…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
…this month. \o/
Let me explain…
Running has been a strange thing I’ve kind of incorporated into my life, while at the same time it doesn’t quite feel like it has been assimilated. I’m more used to riding a bike. I still talk about running like I’m new to it except it has been over five years now since I splashed out on pair of running shoes and began dragging myself out for a jog round the block.
That block has varied in circumference from 2.5 miles, to occasionally 5 miles, to 2 miles when I moved house, to more than 6 miles when my brother joined in with me for some months last year, but usually now those 2 miles on my own. The frequency of these runs has also been equally hap-hazard, which is probably why I still feel like running isn’t fully… me; I generally only run on days when I don’t have anywhere I need to ride to (since I cycle everywhere), treating it as a day off from cycling since each sport uses the leg muscles in a different way.
It had taken me a while to get into running because my legs and feet weren’t used to it, and even this year I’d managed to pull or tear my Achilles’ tendon somehow (I think I’d grown impatient with a yoga stretch) and was trying to be careful about not making it worse; it has taken some months to get better and I’m convinced that ensuring there was a little bit of gentle “pain” helped things to heal whereas giving up running until it magically got better probably wouldn’t have helped (I’d tried a couple of exercises specifically for it but I had little sense of them helping so I failed to do them routinely as necessary).
In some ways I regret that running still isn’t part of my daily routine, but then I don’t really have a routine day; except for Tuesdays when I like to make each one a Pancake Day, and Friday which is market day, but whatever else these days involve they usually revolve around work, which is always different. So yeah, running either happens or it doesn’t.
Some days I really just can’t be bothered, which is quite depressing when it’s “only 2 miles” and takes me all of 16 minutes. Yeah, I run an 8 minute mile, baby… (I have little to no motivation to push myself beyond this base level of my ability). Or sometimes there would be a whiff of rain in the air and I wouldn’t step out the door on that day. I do feel satisfied when I’ve been out for my short run on any given day.
After all these years it is only this month that I have surpassed 30 miles in one month, which on the one hand feels somewhat lame, since I take my hat off to marathon runners who do 26 miles in one go, but on the other it’s a personal milestone nonetheless.
Really I’ve been bouncing around the 20-25+ miles in a month for all these years, but even when I was running 6+ miles in a day once a week with my brother it ended up where we never did that enough times in a row for me to pass that magic number… If only I’d had the motivation to run that far on my own when he didn’t have the time, or put in those extra days in between.
But today was a good one. It was day 28 of a 31-day-month (gotta love those) and I was already up to 24.4 miles according to my spreadsheet, so I knew all I had to do was run round the block once each day for 3 out of the next 4 days. Easy. Instead, I went out for my morning run, then a couple of hours later I was somewhat bored and decided to visit my sister who lives a mile away, and then my mum, another mile away from there, before taking the longer route home, thus covering almost 8 miles in the day. I could do this in one go, but on this day I was visiting people, so there were pauses with coffee and chats and sit downs (hopefully meaning I won’t be aching tomorrow).
It’s weird how the thought of running for an hour or more is so off-putting for me, yet when something like this is done in chunks it’s like I hardly did anything in the end really. The same as running 30 miles in a month, or cycling 1,000 miles in a month, or reading 30 books in a year (this year’s target); when these things are spread out they become less gruelling, and yet the same goal is achieved and then the rewarding satisfaction can be enjoyed in a similar fashion.
Coincidentally, I just watched a Youtube video on a Japanese effort called Kaizen which is promoted as a method of overcoming laziness, or “continuous improvement”. By this method you think of the things you want to achieve and then spend one minute doing them each day. By doing this you don’t overdo them and thus get bored or worn out, and instead they are given the chance to become part of your natural daily routine; over time you increase the time you spend on these things, if you so decide you really enjoy them.
I don’t think a set 1-minute is practical for everything; I certainly wouldn’t have gotten far with my running or reading a book if I’d only dipped in for a minute, but certain tasks, like these, do have natural increments to work with; such as running round the block or reading a chapter of a book. The key is to spend time each day doing what we want to be a part of our lives. An argument against this technique is that it goes against the benefits of focussing on one task for a good length of time, because devoting ourselves to one thing is something I find admirable, and in this day with distracting technology and fast-paced-lifestyles is found less and less.
Anyway, here is that Youtube video: