There is a danger, that every now and again, this blog will descend into the sort of territory occupied by those gawd-awful American self help books, the ones with titles like “Everything I know of life I learnt from cooking chicken soup with my grandmother”. Because, as regular readers* will know, I have a fairly intense obsession with running, and I think there’s a pretty good link between stuff you know and stuff you learn when you’re running.
So before you know it, there’ll be a gawd-awful book called “Everything I learnt from life I learnt from going running on Sunday with the Flying Postman”. Then I’ll file my next blog entry from the Cayman Islands, before the inevitable protracted battle with TFP, who will claim that he deserves 50% of all pre-tax profits. Our friendship will be at an end, he’ll make his fortune from a vitriolic response called “Running with the f***wit” or “We need to stop talking about Kevin because he’s an ill-informed git”, and our collective contribution to mankind will be add up to nothing.
And here are two interesting stories from the last couple of weeks that prove, if nothing else, that there’s still a long way to go before those books get an airing.
I’m running along on Sunday with TFP, talking about this and that, musing over the economy of the world and life’s rich tapestry, while trying to ignore the fact that this used to be an easy run at a minute a mile faster than today and now feels bloody awful, when we take what a poet might call ‘the path less travelled’. We both really like going off road, so this was great, and it not being too wet we were boinging about on the path like two young terriers. Well, two young terriers with advanced arthritis, but you get my drift. And, just as we were almost enjoying ourselves, I felt the sort of pain in my head that you only really get when you run head first into a tree. Which was largely because I’d just run head first into a tree. Well, a branch at least, and one that seemed very much used to getting its own way. The collision itself must have made quite a noise, as TFP turned round before I had a chance to make a blood-curdling yelp, which I did, with a certain amount of gusto. “Blimey”, he said, “that must have hurt, from the sound of it. What sort of tree was it?” I politely pointed out that if I’d had a chance to identify the tree I might have also taken some steps to avoid it.
The funny thing was, I’d had a lingering headache for about three weeks. Being a bloke, I thought it best to ignore it and see if it went away, and I was surprised to find that, after I’d literally seen stars** for a few minutes, the headache was gone. Really completely gone. It’d been replaced by a bit of a lump, but it was like having a weight completely lifted from just on top of my brain, and, honestly, I’ve been headache free ever since.
And what do we learn from this? Well, simply that if you have a headache, one that’s a real lingering dull pain that just doesn’t seem to go away, just give it a bloody good slap and all will be well. Be sure to remember this next time you get canvassed by UKIP.
And on to lesson number two. I’m running for a couple of miles a few days later, and decide to have a bit of a blast around the local lake. It’s about a mile in total, and although my time wasn’t anything to write home about, I was, as we say around these parts, ‘well shagged’ by the time I finished the effort. I stopped, and just about managed to stay upright by putting my hands on my knees. A woman, who I reckoned to be about 5-10 years older than me, ran past me and stopped.
She: “Are you ok? I saw you go past when I came over the bridge and you were going really well”
Me: “Yes, fine, just a bit knackered. I’m sure I used to be able to do that much faster, and a bit further”
She: “I know, I can remember running 6:50 miles, now it’s all I can do to do 8:50’s”
And so we talked a bit back and forth about running, about getting old, about injuries (I have loads, she has none), about racing and clubs, and so on. I must have asked her how old she was, as I don’t think she told me out of the blue.
She “I’m 73, so I’m slowing down a bit now. I only really race cross country now”
I was pretty lost for words. She told me that the thing she really liked about running was being able to run with her grandchildren, and that she couldn’t really understand other grandparents who wouldn’t want to do that as well. If she had a secret, it was that she just kept running, wherever and whenever she could.
After a while, we both agreed that we needed to continue our runs. I said I was going to run along the river.
She: “You go on. I won’t be able to keep up with you.”
I wasn’t so sure, and I had a fairly lively spring in my step for the rest of my run, just in case.
So that’s lesson number two. I’m quite keen to be running when I’m 73, and I’m pretty sure the secret will be, well, just to keep running. And that’s the new motto: Keep Going. Keep Going. Keep Going.
So, until next time. Carry a large stick at all times to knock away irritation. And Keep Going.
* Hello, Mrs E
** Really, I mean like proper bright stars spinning around in front of your eyes. If it hadn’t been so humungously painful, I might have quite enjoyed it, in a spacey kind of style.