The Identity Crisis - A guest blog
A friend of mine recently decide to strap up his laces and try running. He wrote this after he finished his first 5K run recently, I wanted to share it as a guest blog piece to help all runners; new and seasoned and remind us where it all started. I also found it a great read and a few good laughs thinking about my first runs - I hope you do to.
It'll be fun, they said. You'll feel great. Yeah yeah. You'll be able to do it in sub-25!
So last night, I was out for a friend of mine's birthday. We play hockey together (field, not ice) and we were talking about next season over a few beers, as you do with your team mates. Now fitness has been a particular weak-point of mine ever since I left university 5 years ago. Now, I am 28 years old, 1.78cm and an above average 89kg, playing sports casually and competitively 2-3 times a week. And I'm still unfit.
No, this is not my failing tinder profile, but where I've ended up having cruised through life without too much thought thus far.
I'm a person who gets excited when people talk about sport. I really want to go and play when I hear people talking about football or hockey; especially when it's on the tele. Now, the same is not usually true for running, but after a few beers, it sounded like just the thing.
Next day, it's a beautiful Spring morning. I'm at John Lewis first thing, and I've already just bought myself a Fitbit Alta HR and a handsome pair of Asics. I've also been instructed to download Strava as apparently a run doesn't count unless it's recorded. I've signed up to these new apps, paired my fitbit (which is surprisingly difficult to do up - a bad omen), done up my shoelaces on my new shoes; I'm ready.
I step out in to the sun. I can do this. I've got spotify on, playing "Favourite Poems by John G Sutton" on shuffle play. The first few strides feel great. This was all worth it, I remember thinking.
I've pre-planned a route; straight down to this pub in Chesterton is 2.5k. There and back completes the 5k. I stride past lowly pedestrians who enviously glance over their shoulders as I gallop past them. I cross a road or two on my way, dodging cars like a stuntman sensible person who looks left and right. I feel like this 5k is going to be a breeze. What was all the fuss about?
As I continue to run, naturally, I feel as if the energy levels are dropping, sweat drips down the side of my face (which I constantly wipe away with my arms, as if I'm doing the front crawl), and my legs start to ache allover; a lesson on anatomy where the muscles are located. Apart from my resilient calves; yet I fear the night cramps will come to get me in my sleep. My heart is working really hard, and I feel the slightest hints of chest pains. This is normal, I tell myself, it's all part of running. I double tap my shiny new fitbit - and it says I've travelled 1km. I'm almost halfway to the pub.
OK, man up, this is normal, just keep going. You've hit the wall. This is all mind over body. I tell myself all of these positive things, and at that very moment, The Race by John G Sutton himself comes on, and I feel enabled again, and I carry on.
I see the pub, refuse to cross the road to touch it, due to the heavy traffic on the road before me, so I about face and head back. I've made it halfway.
Now this is something that you may not notice, but, the way back is definitely up-hill. Ever so slightly, but oh boy, you can tell. It's strange, as I didn't recall it being down-hill on the way there. If ever there was a metaphor for life. But I carry on. I check my fitbit, and it says I've gone 3k! At a staggering 24mins. This is not staggering in the good sense, but more so in the bad and literal sense. I was literally staggering after 24mins. And to top it off, my heart rate was at a whopping 175bpm.
The chest pains are slight, but I fear the worst if I carry on, so I tactically reach the next road I have to cross and wait until it's really really safe to cross. That bought me a solid minute of recovery. My heart rate is now 145. Much better. But as I try to carry on the jog, my legs are really heavy. As if they weren't my legs anymore. So I walk a little... and a little more. And I decided to enjoy the sun on the walk home. Leisurely walking in the sun is something I could do more often. More than anything, it was extremely pensive.
A middle aged lady casually overtook me, wearing "high heels", but they weren't that high, I don't know why she bothered. It's not a race, lady! I tried to catch up, but she was really steady, and I lost interest. By this point, it had already gone 30mins, so I thought I'd actually enjoy the rest of the walk home, which I honestly did.
42mins for my first 5k in as many years. What's that you say? You can do it in sub 20? Well, I can play real time tetris in my head, and I prefer team sports anyway. The bright side is, I think I'll have recovered by this time next week, so I'll give it another go then. I feel as if I've left a lot of room for improvement. I think I'll buy a poster of Mo Farah, or even better, Paula Radcliffe as my phone's screen saver, to keep me motivated. The race is won by not quitting!
The Race by John G Sutton
The race does not go to the swift, too easy for them is the lead.
The race is not won by the strong who know they can win, but they're wrong
The race is far more complicated, there are hurdles and furlongs, hard miles
and every life has to run it, over hills, through the tears and the smiles,
over years when the going is heavy and each step becomes an ordeal.
Only then can you pick the winner, their nerves like tempered steel.
The race never goes to the favourite, the chosen one, odds on by far.
It's the one that carries their colours, it's the one that follows their star.
The race, it is won by the willing, the one that dares to do,
the race is won by not quitting.
The race is won by you.