Saturday, March 15, 2008

Uncompetitive

I haven't really mentioned the running lately, but I have been keeping it up and this week has seen some minor milestones that I would like to share. Besides, I feel my running needs a bit more explanation.

I should say that I'm not really a competitive runner, in the sense that I have never deliberately raced against other people. There are three main reasons for this: firstly, embarrassment at the thought of not only coming last but coming so far behind that people will question my propriety in entering. I am assured by people in the know that such a circumstance is not only highly unlikely (lots of people will be walking round) but that runners just aren't like that. It's not an elitist sport and the top runners won't look down on the stragglers, provided you don't actually headbutt Steph Twell or something. I wouldn't. She scares me a little.

Secondly, I have no raging thirst to pwn my fellow man. I ran cross-country (a misnomer: it was more cross-carpark) at school because, like most people, I was forced to: I really didn't care if I ran faster than anybody else, particularly since they would have beaten the crap out of me later, and being cheerfully accused of subhumanity by PE teachers was strangely unmotivating.

Thirdly, I live in an area that has precious little in the way of 5K races - as I don't drive I can't easily get to a race ten miles away without having to walk substantial distances, which is not terribly helpful when one intends to run when one gets there. 10K races are a little more plentiful but I'm not quite ready for that distance yet.

Excuses? Possibly. But I have run regularly for over a year now, motivated by nothing except my own will - why is beating somebody else that big a deal? I've consistently improved without needing other people to shame me into doing it: in fact, with a job like mine where dealing with people is much of the work running provides a blessed relief. Most runners, I gather, are just the same: we run for the feel of running, to keep healthy, to get some fresh air, to feel like we earned our pizza and cake... besides, the vast majority of people can't run to the end of their street, let alone keep going for miles. It's meditative, fulfilling and, most importantly, chicks dig it.

Anyway, this week I extended my long run to 7.6 miles, the furthest I've ever been. Today I ran my regular 3.2 mile speed run in 26:26, which is not bothering Mo Farah in the 5K stakes (13:30 on roads) but at a mile pace of 8 minutes 20-ish is the fastest I've ever done. I don't need to beat anyone to feel like I've accomplished something, not even myself, but it's quite nice anyway.

Oh yes, new discovery: MapMyRun is a Google Maps app that measures the distances for your run routes for you - very handy.

2 comments:

Gina said...

I was searching for "perfectionist runners" and this blog posting came up. Me and a couple of friends just trained and ran a half marathon yesterday. It was my first running experience and my first race. And ever since I crossed the finish line I've felt complete disappointment. I can't figure it out, but I don't think I like running competitively. It's all cool that your a "runner" until you get to a race where everyone is a "runner" and most are WAY better runners. I'd like to stick with running, but don't really want to do a race again. I appreciate your honesty, thanks for letting me vent.

Maddox Kent said...

Running can be a very personal thing, I find, almost private. I run in woodland and green spaces, where birds and rabbits and such run along with me instead of scattering, as if a man running is somehow more right and proper, more natural, than a man walking. The people I pass - some running, some biking, some exercising the dog - say hello and smile, which they don't do in the street. Strangers and creatures united for a moment in doing something indefinably good and pure... It's like communing with the gods. Introducing a competitive element almost seems vulgar when you're in that mode of being, and maybe that's what not all runners are racers too. At least, not on the same day...