Messy-ness · Why I run

My year of messy running: motion, not mileage

2017, dear friends, has not been my best year of running!

(My regrettable anti-sweat teenager / post-Glandular Fever, chronic fatigue-dominated years aside.)

The tone was set with a re-sprained ankle in January, which kept me off-road until pfft … April? There’ve been the seasonal bugs along the way, and inevitable wearings-out of my person, which scuppered any hopeful running streaks. This winter for one has been pitiful on that front, with just a general sense of rundown-ness clinging on for what’s felt like weeks and weeks, which has kept me cocooned and doing the Sensible “staying put” Thing.

But today, four days before Christmas, I set out for my second run in forever*, logging four miles without stopping. Not so bad for no exertions in 6-7 weeks (*I lost count). And all the while possessed of a peculiar sensation that me dragging my body around Bristol was very much like forcibly steering a rogue and hefty supermarket trolley round an assault course. Regardless, I was just happy to be wearing my kit and moving again, even though it was laborious, though I don’t know what my body is going to say about it tomorrow. Hopefully not gruffly reprimand me, but we shall see.

I do worry. I worry about my energy levels whenever I start feeling a bit bleugh, a bit floppy, like my engine has dropped out. A bit too ‘chronic fatigue-y’ for comfort. That general sense of aforementioned rundown-ness.

I think that feeling is something I will always have to manage to ensure I don’t tip over the threshold of healthy uprightness, as I have a few times before. I’m still learning how my particular physiology functions, but even then I feel the goalposts moving a bit with age. I am thirty now, you know. AFTER ALL.

Last year, I would have been a bloody nightmare about all this stop-start. Just ask Harry. Downright blue about having to sit still, about being flat. Bursting into tears with frustration at points. But this hasn’t really happened in 2017, (and I have been sober for most of it) (LOLZ).

Why is that? Could it be the wisdom of age? Ha. Wisdom. Wisdom! I don’t even have wisdom teeth.

I feel like this year has been a more energy-zapped year in general; more challenging on that particular front. I’ve only logged one 10 mile run the whole year, whereas last year I was nailing them every week for weeks at a time.

But then, I and we have done so much in 2017! We can be very busy bees H and I. I got to run around Central Park! Around Jackie Onassis’ dramatically-lit reservoir, after a storm! Plus, I hear it’s normal to get bugs. It’s normal to get really, really tired. It’s normal not to be an ultramarathon runner.

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Except, I once thought that at least a single marathon would be on my list of achievements, someday. But I’m really not so sure it will now. I just don’t know if realistically I will ever physiologically be able to get to that point of training, without literally running myself down. I don’t know yet how I feel about that. I still like the idea of trying, of continuing to hack away in that direction. Because it’s the movement that’s important, more so than the mileage. Right?

The Messy Runner bristol with beesAnd in all this stop-start of 2017, I’ve found some new, parallel obsessions. I’ve been writing more again, so sharing a bit more of my indulgent nonsensical word-smudgery, with a bit more headspace. I have fallen for the delights of kefir and really enjoyed cultivating my own. Then there’s my experimenting with sourdough, and all that tomfoolery. There’s been epic live music, some hair experimentation, a few top-notch trips. Not forgetting the arrival of Bees, our furry pixie. What a year!

So I’m not where I hoped I might be in my running when I started out four years ago. Even then it was an experiment, because I hadn’t moved faster than walking pace since my school days. After being really quite ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after university, I was, and still am, so grateful to have the support of my family and loved ones for helping my recovery. And running is part of that. Really important. I think now, the experience has become just as important as the endgame. And that’s a good place to be.

Wishing you happy holidays, festive tidings and good health in 2018,

The Messy Runner x

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