Do you use running as a way of exploring a new area, or getting to grips with a holiday destination? And were you one of those who spent the weekend running non-stop for 24 hours – or did you take it a little easier?
This weekend I did a run I’ve been looking forward to for six months. Usually that would mean a target race, but this one just meant getting my kit on, going out of the front door and not coming back for a good couple of hours – nothing more than the average Sunday long run, basically. The difference was I moved house at the start of the year but somehow hadn’t yet done a long run from home in all the time since. As a result, I felt like I’d moved house, but I hadn’t really moved in.
Since I started running, it’s become a way of orientating myself in the world. Do other runners get this? I don’t feel I properly know somewhere until I’ve run there. Holiday? Better go for a run to suss out the town/beach/bars. Visiting friends for the weekend? I’m just nipping out with my trainers on to see what your life’s like. I moved to London about 10 years ago, but it was only when I started running here that, rather than a sprawling mass, it began to feel like the place I lived, a thousand shortcuts and ginnels tying the city to my street.
So, for various reasons – time, illness but mainly plantar fasciitis and an associated collapse in running mojo – I hadn’t managed a proper run since I moved. A few lunchtime runs from the office, even a couple of commutes, but nothing that felt like I had run in my new area. Come Sunday morning, six months’ buildup felt like a lot of pressure – possibly even more than Catford could stand – but it was great. 14 miles – at least five more than my withered fitness can really cope with – and I now know two new ways to one of my local parks. I know there is an off-road path leading from that park to the southeast side of the brilliant Beckenham Place park, a part I’d never reached before and which turns out to be covered in long, lovely, empty wooded trails. I know a pub I fancy trying out, and I know which streets in Downham are considered best for practising skids on a stolen pizza moped. I know where I want to go next time, how I might try to get there, and when I get to my new front door, after six months and two hours, I finally feel like I’m properly home.
How was your weekend run? I liked (possibly the wrong word) the look of the Thunder Run and the Lakeland 50, but even if it was just an average Sunday, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Let us know below the line.
source: The Guardian by Ben Smith