2016 has been a stinker of a year, and November hasn’t pulled its punches either. You keep thinking it can’t get any worse then that fecker Trump gets in and your lovely relatives go and die on you. Being one who can slip into despondency without much prompting, it’s been a struggle to remain up-beat. However, by hanging out with good people, and keeping up the exercise, I’m keeping the dark thoughts away. Just about. So I don the trainers and off I skip.
One of the most pleasurable aspects of running for me is as a means to commute. I get a surge of satisfaction as I canter by clogged up lanes of traffic. It’s also a brilliant means to incorporate exercise into one’s daily business. I jogged over to the RVH recently for an appointment, which was a brainwave. I knew exactly how long it would take thus I didn’t have to factor in time for busy traffic AND it obviated the need to queue for car parking. Dealing with snarled up roads and grumpy drivers as a consequence is something I can live without.
It’s also brought a new aspect to the phrase ‘school run’ since I now jog over with child number one on her bike, before doing a few errands on foot and getting on with my day. This also eases the conundrum of what to wear as I just fire on my running gear and get trotting.
I’ve found running to be a remarkably sociable activity. As a member of Belfast Running Club I have the option of many social runs or training sessions throughout the week. However with my mornings free I prefer to scoot out then. And how lucky am I to have the Towpath on my doorstep? Once a week I meet my friend, (The Racing Retiree) at Cutters and she puts me through my paces. We swing a right up into Stranmillis, endeavouring not to break our necks at Cardiac Hill, then hit Shaw’s Bridge before arriving purple of face at Lock Keepers. (I’m always puce, she’s fresh as a Daisy, at over fifty, the cheek of it). This fortifies us sufficiently to run back, even fitting in a sprint finish. Another pal and I do the same except we sojourn to 5A for a chocolate peanut cup. Last week the frost lent an ethereal beauty to the scene, the hazy sunshine imbuing it with a certain stillness. It was like pressing the mute button on an otherwise difficult week.
Ask any of my friends why they run and their response is unanimous: it clears their heads. Jane, a dentist with three kids swears it’s what keeps her sane. Her husband automatically hands over her trainers and tells her to leg it when she adopts a certain expression. She’s learnt to perfect the look. LSB has taken the same approach with me when he sees me sour of face and ratty.
I am not a gym bunny. I am not flat of tummy and toned to perfection. I have neither the time nor the inclination to emulate the Tatlerites who I think exist to make the rest of us feel inferior. But I’m speedy, and thanks to my yoga I’m strong. To me running is like medication, keeping me fit in body and mind. And it justifies the crisps and wine, another bonus.