I started too late. I took up running at 39 and ran my first marathon at 42. Six years later and, after a couple of months out with injury and sickness, I have had plenty of time to assess how far I’ve come (about 5 and a half thousand kilometres), where I currently am (drinking tea in my jimjams), and where I am going with my running (a whole can of worm-like creatures, opened and unceremoniously dumped over my head).
My running has always gone hand in hand with the SM (social media) aspects of it. I started running in 2012 and created this blog over on blogspot. I created a Twitter account that year. I became involved with UKRUNCHAT. I joined instagram a few years later. Hell, I am even writing my thoughts on a blog that I may, or may not, publish, and may, or may not, then put out there on Twitter. I have spoken to a lot of runners recently who have dropped SM entirely. They do not like it. The levels of toxicity are consuming. They have either taken timeouts, for want of an Americanism, or walked away altogether. And that is quite attractive, if it were not for the genuinely great people I have met on my running journey. But I too have fallen out of love with SM and running. I am old, Frodo, I know I might not look it, but I am. I feel thin. Like butter spread over too much bread.
The nastiness is abundant on Twitter. The deceit in Instagram is staggering. Whatever happened to truth? I just did not want to see the lies and excuses anymore. Not when so many gullible fools swallow them hook, line, and whatever the new Asics shoe is. Blocking seems the way forward on Twitter and Instagram. These people have no understanding, no care, no emotional intelligence so why entertain them? They only throw your own mind off kilter and, being off balance, you make bad decisions. And I am finding that I am blocking more people than I am adding anew. Is that the state of SM? You are hunting through a basket of bad apples for the one that isn’t rotten? Anyway, I digress.
I never have seen beyond Fire and Ice since I deferred to 2019. 6 days and 250KM across Iceland seems a suitable swansong, as I said. I will still entertain revenge on Ultraks and Comrades, my only 2 DNFs (other than a since defunct Shakespeare Marathon). I would like, if at all possible, to close out my running life by drawing a line under all the races I DNSd or DNFd. It isn’t all that long a list, to be honest, as I have ticked them off over the years. If I do run into 2020 then it will be to close out my race calendar, drawing a thick felt pen line through all those “nearly ran”s, or “couldn’t be bothered”s.
The 100 Marathon Club (I am stuck on 27) is a pipe dream. I do have the opportunity to be nearer to 50 by the time I pick up my medal at the end of Fire and Ice, and nearly 50 in 7 years is good going. It is nearly enough. “Nearly” being the operative word. I will still list a marathon or ultra as number X or Y towards the 100MC as I tick them off. But I now have little hope of actually getting there. And I am square with that.
I never thought I would get this far. When I laced up my first pair of ill-fitting trainers (not even running shoes) and ran that first time on a treadmill at the Virgin Active in the Barbican in March 2012 I had no idea. I was out of my depth. I had signed up for my first race, the Amsterdam Half Marathon to be run that October. I can still remember the machine I got on too. I can see where it was in the gym when I close my eyes. 150 races in 14 countries. A quarter of the way to the 100 Marathon Club. 100K. Completed the Race to The… Threshold Series. If you had told me then what I have somehow achieved I would have probably tripped and fallen from the treadmill laughing.
But I am not a particularly good runner anyway. And I am not writing that for the “oh, you are, you are amazing” tongue in cheek retorts. I am not a particularly confident runner. I suffer from maranoia. I suffer from impostor syndrome. I hate the first 5 miles of any run as am in my brain, hyper-focusing on every niggle, every pain, my breathing, the people around me, tiredness, my pulse, anything and everything negative. Running is a struggle. So why, if I don’t really like it, am sick of the social media aspects of it, and am not all that good at it, should I keep going beyond my already planned race calendar? In short, there is no reason. And I guess that is why I am considering putting a stop to it all in a year’s time. It is not that my running mojo is gone. I never had one in the first place. I just find it so, and no pun intended, tiring.
Now, things may change. I do have a lot of races to come. My calendar reads along these lines:
|CHASE THE SUN WIMBLEDON|
|MERRELL NIGHT RACE|
|LOCH NESS MARATHON|
|GREEN MAN ULTRA|
|ROYAL PARKS HALF|
|SNOWDON TRAIL MARATHON|
|PORTLAND COASTAL MARATHON|
|THE BIG HALF|
|FIRE AND ICE|
I am still in the London ballot too. So we shall see what happens there. I will never complete the majors. I have no interest in going to Trumperica for the time being. Tokyo is just too far and too much money for what it is. F+I is my MDS so I will hopefully never feel the need to learn how to remove scorpion stings and empty sand out of my crack daily. I may fall in love with Parkrun and go for the coveted 100 t-shirt. You never know. And there is a chance I will keep going, to a lesser extent, and just have half a dozen A-races for the whole year. There are certainly some I would consider, or take on those I hadn’t planned if the right people are running them. But, circling back to the start, as it is, I have come a long way and I am proud of that, my tea has been drunk, and I shall make some more, but as for the future? It is not the job of the stars to hold our destiny. So we shall see.
4 Comments Add yours
Darren – you have been there throughout my rediscovering of my love of running and I’d like to thank you for that. You’ve brought a lot of people together who may not otherwise have found each other. You’ve been generous with your time and encouragement and kit. There’s a lot of races out there I would not have considered if you hadn’t written about them.
I entirely blame you for Race to the Tower 🙂
I totally agree with you as to the way SM as turned recently, I think it’s the very nature of a thing that was a niche but then gets popular in that someone will always try an monetise it and certain elements won’t just allow others to be bang average. Perhaps it will swing around again. If there was another way to keep in touch with the friends I’ve made there I would do it. Perhaps we need a WhatsApp group of like minded people.
I wish I could transfer some of the real joy I get from running to you so you would continue. But I am also a great advocate that you shouldn’t do something if it stops being fun.
You have been a really positive influence to those of us who just go out an do these crazy things not because we want to, or can, win but just for the sheer hell of it. I always enjoy your blogs and I hope you go on writing them in whatever arena next takes your fancy should you be finished with running.
Whichever way it goes, I hope we still meet for the occasional beer.
When the mojo has fled, it may be time to take a break, maybe take that SM break – I will miss seeing you on twitter – and find somewhere where that brings the love back. When we face burn out in the work situation, we take a holiday (or drink more!) but the same should be allowed here. I find the competitive stuff seriously kills my mojo, so sometimes just a couple of slower runs by myself, without a big goal in mind,works to restore it.
Maybe cross training would help motivation such as resistance training and something similar to running, riding a Me-Mover, basically using running muscles without the constant foot impact that in many cases injures joints and tendons. I’ve found it increases strength and endurance besides being fun to propel.