Monday, September 14, 2009

The Stuff that Doesn't Happen

"You ought to get a life. You know - the shit that happens while you're waiting for the moments that never come."

You have to love The Wire; it is full of such nice, shiny, nuggets of dialogue. This one makes me think about my running life - the things that never happen and what I do in the meantime.

The major thing that never happens is becoming any good - in the sense of being relatively fast, doing well in races and being able to hold my head up in age-category rankings. I could wait forever but it is not going to happen. It was never a hard objective anyway. When I started running I had vague thoughts that it would be nice if it happened - if I discovered that I had some innate ability, which could be uncovered but I soon realised that was not the case. My object has therefore never been to be a competitive runner.

This leaves the scaled down objective of trying to get better. Now this should be easy to measure by inching down personal bests. But it is not going to happen either. I was faster four years ago and nothing I do seems to change that.

So I now have to play games by making up new categories such as running more easily ,going slightly longer being slightly faster at a lower heart rate, conquering steeper hills, or running over different terrain, whatever. And now I realise that this is the shit that happens - it is my running life.

I spend my time regularly going over the same routes but always introducing subtle variations. Each week I introduce a new challenge - something to focus on. From the outside you might not even notice the difference because it looks so similar to normal, for example it might involve running to different heart rates, adding a further hill before having a breather or putting in little sprints. It might be extending the days I run consecutively or any other little plan. Sometimes it is even to do things more easily - slow down and let the world float by.

For some reason these little changes keep me disproportionately amused. I am wrapped-up in them and pay no attention to those other things, the big moments that never come.

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