Complacently amateur

Laziness + disregard for diet + “It’s so easy this running thing” = complacent amateur not as healthy and fit as I should be (and almost feel ashamed by it)

It’s not quite up there with some of the more defining equations in the history of the universe, although you will also note my laziness in not searching Google to find a couple of these for examples to illustrate my point*. However, this equation has plagued me as an on/off runner for 25 years or so. Unfortunately it has recently raised its ugly head again, now that I’m a more ‘serious’ ‘athlete’.

In my last post I hinted that I sometimes feel almost professional as I’m cruising along, but than turn very amateur as my legs give-up and I have to hobble home. For most of the last couple of years I’ve moved in the right direction with my running, taking it seriously and doing it regularly. I’ve even sometimes looked at my tag line (the little bit of italics at the top right of this website which says Trials and tribulations of a very amateur runner…) and have occasionally considered changing it to something refelecting how I’ve become more proficient at this mostly enjoyable, probably a little eccentric, sport.

Who am I trying to kid? A little over two and half weeks ago, I set out to try and run 13.1 miles at 8 minute 40 second miling pace. It was a beautiful morning, crisp, sunny, blue skies and sub-zero temperatures. As I left the warmth of the central heating I doubted whether my target was realistic but I perservered and after a slightly apprehensive start, and a slower mile around the half-way mark, I managed to hit my target exactly. Naturally I was pleased and for a few days after I followed my training plan with a bit of faster work and then… well it didn’t matter if I missed a couple of days, skipped a session or two, because I was doing so well. Then a night out, and it surely didn’t matter if I had a few beers, I could miss running the next day (because I was doing so well) and carry on the day after that. Then it snowed. A lot. Then the snow started to clear a bit leaving lots of ice which I deemed too dangerous to venture out onto (despite seeing plenty of other runners coping with the conditions). Then it was the weekend again and another night out.

I’ve always liked beer but have never enjoyed mixing it with running. At 40+ I am now totally unable to combine beer with running or very much else other than junk food and the odd groan of regret-tainted misery from the sofa. And this goes on for a couple of days.

Having recently completed reading the excellent Born to Run, imagining myself as a prolific ultra-marathoner, I was amazed by the way in which the Tarahumara apparantly manage to drink vast amounts of beer and then run so far (it does appear that their beer is not as strong and far more nutritous than the average brew in the average British pub). So a very poor excuse for drinking to excess on a couple of occasions is that something in my subconscious was trying to turn me into a Tarahumara. But t didn’t work. After nine days without a run I felt awful as I battled through a terribly slow six miler, and nearly as bad the next day on a three miler. 

Unhealthy eating and drinking certainly fuels the laziness aspect, especially after a few days without a run. It’s easier to put-off the inveitable ‘pain’ by sitting in front of the TV with another bag of crisps and a glass of wine. I’m not a couch potato by any stretch of the imagination, and I love running, but sometimes the easy option is to not bother. Especially when I am under the illusion that I’m so good.

Maybe this complacent amateur needs to set himself more challenging targets. I’m entered for the Wilmslow HM in a little over five weeks time, and I’ll aim for sub 1 hour 50 minutes. And I’ll follow the calorie controlled inspiration of the excellent Born to Plod blog’s Food, Glorious Food post. I have had a go at the ‘salad for breakfast’ thing – three consecutive days now- and it doesn’t seem to have done me any harm. It’s also helped over this short period to stop me craving biscuits and cake mid-morning which always seems to happen a few hours after a bowl of sweet breakfast cereal. So I’ve made a start. Now I need to stop kidding myself that the more I run the more healthy my lifestyle (less lazy, less junk, less drink) will become. In other words I’ve got to make a bit more effort and have a bit less daydreaming. After all, I’m closer to needing to get my amateurish ways under control than running through the canyons of Mexico. 


*Or indeed finding out how to put the little 2 after E=MC which makes the MC bit squared…


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