Unexpected change is in the air. You’d think that as a card-carrying pseudo hippie Buddhist wannabe, I’d have seen that coming, but then again perhaps not. For many years, until very recently, I passed up no opportunity to run. It was almost an article of faith for me. If I could run, I did. That was that. It was what I did. The thinking was that to do anything else would be to sell myself short. I acted out the part of what Mr. Forman in ‘That 70’s Show’ used to call, a ‘dumbass’. There’s a certain solidity or satisfactoriness about being a dumbass. You don’t have to agonise over whether you should or shouldn’t run on any given day – you just do – it’s what’s expected and you deliver. Neither do you have to debate the relative merits of running more or less – more is always better, it’s a given. ‘Dumbassedness’ can also be worn as a badge of pride. There’s endless fun to be had in telling your mates about the time you almost died doing those extra miles, in the snow, up a hill, in the dark, with an injury, just to make sure you had the ‘ton’ up for the week. What a guy!
Alas, it’s all bollox and even the dumbest of dumbasses knows that in their heart from the outset. It’s merely a case of arriving at a point where you can admit that to yourself and to the world. If I haven’t arrived at that point myself, I can certainly see it on the sat-nav. As much as one might enjoy the tough-guy pose, there comes a time when you realize that it’s really not worth the effort necessary to maintain the image. From that point on, you can still play the role, but only with your tongue planted in your cheek. I think I arrived at my personal moment of truth this summer. It’s become ok for me to miss a day’s training because I’m exhausted. Occasionally being satisfied with less miles per week than was physically possible happens now. In short, I don’t have to be a full-time dumbass anymore.
So why the change? I’m not really sure, but I have some clues. The obvious one is age. Thankfully I seem to be getting less compulsive with encroaching age – although I suspect some of my running companions may disagree. A few months ago someone asked me why I ran so much and I replied that I ran to keep myself sane. They just shuddered at the thought of what I might be like if I didn’t have the opportunitiy to burn off some of my demons by running around in circles. Another reason that my perspective seems to be changing is a greater appreciation of the role running can play in a life. Perversely, I’ve found that when you value each individual opportunity to run, it becomes easier to justify not availing of each and every one of those opportunities. I’m not sure why this is, it just is.
Of course this doesn’t mean I’ve gone completely soft.
Roll on the Connemara 100…