Sunday, 24 November 2013

High five to my younger self

The apocalyptic Brussels canal. Photo by saigneurdeguerre.
Running is not a new activity for me. From a young age each year I would join my father in a 5 mile race – called the Greggs run.

Now the Greggs run is sponsored by Greggs the baker, and is therefore probably the only race in existence that includes a cheese and onion pasty in the running bag when you finish. Sort of the North Eastern equivalent of McDonald’s sponsoring the Olympics.

When I was younger I began to have a confusing relationship with exercise, as my teenage years rolled on, I lost any desire to train for things and when this annual  running event came round I would look to the fit looking people in tight lycra and think how do they not feel like their insides are being ripped slowly apart? Why do they not want to walk?

I wish that I could run for 5 miles and not feel like death.

Well teenage self – its time to high five, because that’s what happened today. I ran 6 miles and only stopped twice, to look at a map and because a man tried to speak to me in French, which confused me no end (I think he was just cheering me along). BUT not once did I walk.

And best of all I felt fine, no sucking in air in pain, no horrific recovery time. I mean sure, it took me 1 hour and 10 minutes, so its not exactly like I was speeding along, but I didn’t feel the pain. It just felt… well, easy.

Now, I think I always knew that doing exercise meant that you would get better at exercise. I mean we all know that. But the first time it happens, it’s a revelation! My body is doing something I never thought it could do. It got better and now I can run for 6 miles, and most of the time I don’t even notice that I am doing it.

This is incredible. I should tell people about this.

It’s like suddenly discovering a new haircut that really suits you, or trying a burrito for the first time. "How did I not know about this before?!" you want to yell, "It's so obvious!"

But it’s better than those things, because there is a smug sense of achievement getting to that point. Running can be work, painful, gruelling, cold, wet, thirsty work.

Now, however as I conquer the 6 miles mark – the real work starts here. The 10 milers, the early mornings, the half marathon and of course the full 26.2 miles.

But just knowing I can run a 10k without stopping, makes me think that no matter how hard the slog, it will probably be worth it. If I feel this impressed with myself after 6 miles, god knows how I’ll feel after 26.2.

My route today

I found a brilliant website that listed the top 10 running routes in Brussels. I decided to try out the canal, as it is just down the road from me. It was kind of beautiful in the same way the world might be beautiful post the apocalypse.

Large industrial towers watched over the sky, while a thin mist streamed over the canal. At points, it was just me running alone along the river, adding to the sense that we all trying to survive in a post nuclear world - sort of like Fallout with less mutants and guns.

AND it is a perfect 10k route.

Highlight: Running 6 miles without walking.

Lowpoint: Scary dog barking aggressively at me, making me jump dramatically to the side while also running.


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