Saturday, 31 May 2014

Bring Back The Pleasure Run

Like watching a movie or reading a book, I’m a firm believer that the type of run you choose to do, has to match the mood you are in.

Since the marathon, I’ve struggled to get back into the habit of running regularly.
The intentions have been there, as has the will, but when it comes to lacing up and heading out, there’s usually something that needs doing urgently.

In the evenings, it’s the unfinished piece of work that keeps me from leaving the office on time, at weekends it’s that coffee date with a friend who I haven’t seen for months, or the appeal of simply spending time lounging around the neighbourhood with my significant other.

Running has crept down my list of priorities and I’m struggling to find a way of hauling it back up.
The crux of the problem – at least I think - is that I’ve lost focus.

I don’t have a particular aim at the moment, and while I am someone who gets a high after pretty much every workout, there’s very little reason why I can’t delay that long run until tomorrow, that speed session until next week, that interval session until the week after that.

After all, there’s no deadline and nothing to which I am committed. I don’t need to lose weight, I don’t need to enhance my cardio capacity, and I’m not striving to score a 10k PB in two weeks time.

Today, while trotting around Hyde Park – my first proper run in six days -  I realised what the problem might be:  In the lead up to my 26 (and a bit) mile feat, every run I did was for a specific reason and with each training element I got that little bit fitter, that little bit more ready for the big day.

If we classified runs by genre, every run I did during that time was a functional run. Of course I mostly enjoyed the runs and mostly found them hugely satisfying, but none were pure enjoyment runs;  none were just-for-fun-runs.

If you’re a creature of habit, like me, then you will know how easy it is to become used to something and how hard it is to break routine. But my aim over the next few weeks is to rediscover the fun of running and to appreciate it for what it is.

At the risk of digressing into an overly spiritual psychobabble monologue, running really is a true gift. The ability to exercise outdoors, safely, independently and freely, should be cherished.  And what’s more, we are free to run as slowly or as swiftly as we like, in circles, squares or spirals, on grass, trails or roads, along rivers, over bridges and through trees.

Running is beautiful. It helps our body to pump oxygen into our lungs and to invigorate every cell in our body. It helps us clean out blood and clean our minds, replenish energy and become one with our bodies.

Of course we may choose to train for a major event, run a marathon, complete an Iron Man, climb Mount Everest – and I’m sure my own next challenge is on the not-too-distant horizons -  but for the time being let us not forget that very important genre of running, the one that brought us all here in the first place: The simple, gracious and oh so satisfying Pleasure Run. 

(Image courtesy: