Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Shame about the weather

As I was loping through the fens yesterday ... no, that sounds much too glamorous: the sheer ugliness of 99% of the fens depends on the fact that a landscape that was lacking in either pastoral charm or sublimity has been wrecked by a modicum of human intervention by humans with little or no interest in beauty reinforced by an almost theological conviction that they understand the countryside in a way you don't ... so: as I was running along the B1102 yesterday in the glorious, sweltering heat, I decided that I liked running in the sun. Sunshine has a similar mood-improving effect to running. You feel relaxed and let your arms move freely, you don't worry too much about your pace, you absorb the dusty air through your pores.

It reminded me of a run with Sean a couple of years ago in the dark days of rehabilitation (from injury, not from Sean's encouragement of late-evening-prior-to-long-run toping). At 7 am we looked out into a dreary Nottingham cloudscape and, pooh like, wondered if it would rain. Gilets on, we started the run and it started to rain. 'It's bloody started to rain,' I said, by way of making what passes for conversation between runners who don't want to be running.

'It's perfect race conditions,' he said, 'only a year ago you would have thought this was perfect.'

And he was right. When on a relaxed lope through the countryside you want to enjoy the weather and pretend all is well with the world and rack up some miles without too much boredom or suffering. And when in the monocular tunnel of training or, worse, racing, you want a slight bite in the air and a little drizzle. Look out of your door at those conditions when you just want to run, and they seem inhospitable and you try to think of some other commitment that insists on being addressed immediately and require you to take your shoes off; look out on race day, and you know that whatever time you rack up this morning, the weather will have been on your side. You won't overheat, you'll be focussed on that space floating above the road.

Runners can always find something to complain about. Or enjoy: they're happy people. The fact is, running and racing prefer antithetical weather, and that's just the way it is. It's another mental obstacle to overcome on this long road to recovery: the weather doesn't have to be great.

I look at Facebook later and see that my friend Simon was running the Milton Keynes marathon, and was crucified on the altar of the sun. It was not a good day for breaking three hours. Do not despair: one of the thieves was saved; do not presume: one of the thieves was damned. It's a fair percentage.


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