Thursday, 28 December 2017

Running every day in December - update

Taken last Saturday on a longer 7 mile run

I am quite enjoying this "running every day in December" lark although I must confess I have missed a couple of days, more about that in a minute.

Perhaps I mentioned before how I wanted to give myself a little target, something to aim for.  I wanted to do something that would keep me moving at the coldest and most drab time of the year.  In previous years I have run every day during my Christmas holiday, say from the 22nd December through to New Year's Day.   That's been okay but I've wanted to do something a little different.

It's flippin' cold!

The obstacle which I have faced is snow and ice.  Some days the roads and pavements have been like an ice rink and running would have almost guaranteed a fall together with a broken arm, wrist or worse. So because of the ice I have missed two days, perhaps three.  Other times I have managed only a tiny run, perhaps half a mile.  On those occasions it didn't seem worth getting changed into my running clothes, although I did of course put my running shoes on.  My daughters were quite amused by the thought of me running around the neighbourhood in my smart office clothes.

Many of my runs have seen me venture out onto the Busway, or to be more accurate, the gritty path which runs alongside the guided busway.  This is ideal in many ways - quiet, traffic free, flat, impossible to get lost and because of the gritty, rough surface it is good in these freezing conditions.

Most of the runs during December seem to have been in the evenings, with the cold and darkness being the main feature.  It has been the weather which, in some ways, has shaped each run and how I've felt about it afterwards.  In misty or low cloud conditions, it has been a little scary in the dark.  My head torch simply illuminates all of the tiny water droplets in front of my face and offers little help in seeing the ground or where I'm running, so it gets turned off.

Ghostly figures

Ghostly figures sometimes appear out of the mist, sometimes one or two at a time, dressed in dark featureless coats, faces hiding under hoods.  At first I try to determine if they are actually people, as opposed to tree trunks.  Are they moving?  Which way?  Towards me?  Who are they?  Are they up to no good?  Should I say anything as I run past them?

Other people sometimes wear reflective patches or stripes.  These can be spotted well in advance and are kind of reassuring as you can easily tell if it's someone walking or maybe cycling.  Surely if they're up to no good, they wouldn't be wearing reflective clothing, would they?

Having said that you see hardly anyone on the Busway after dark.  Occasionally I pass someone and glide past in silence.  On Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day I found myself cheerfully saying "Merry Christmas!" as I ran past them.  Most responded in a similar way, some grunted and one or two remained silent.  One man started talking to me, not that I really heard much so I turned around, paced back a few yards and said "sorry I didn't catch that".

Although he was out walking, he said he was a runner himself and, fair play, he looked like a runner (probably more than me).  He commented on the Busway as being a brilliant place to run and why running was such a good thing to do.  For now, he explained, he was just getting a bit of fresh air and having a quiet break from the Christmas festivities.  He said he sometimes ran out around the Edlesborough area, which is certainly a good run from Dunstable.  We parted in a friendly way.

Getting lost in my thoughts

Some of the runs have seemed quite hard going.  Hard going in the physical sense when my legs feel heavy and I'm almost dragging my feet along.  Once it was raining hard, with the rain flying almost horizontally which was hard going on the homeward stretch.  On one level I didn't mind at all, remembering some previous runs when work has been troubling me a hard run has seemed such a good cure.  Almost a way of refusing to be beaten, not giving in and pressing on regardless.  One such run springs to mind (click here) when I worked in Stevenage a few years ago when I almost wished it was an even harder run.  I love it when I get lost in my thoughts, almost running on autopilot where the miles drift by almost unnoticed.

Running with my daughters

Myself and Becky
My two daughters are, at long lost, getting the running bug.  Hannah has been impressive by running almost every day and clocking up 30 miles a week lately.  A couple of times we have run with each other but she prefers to run in silence.  We don't talk, just run alongside each other.  Could be a profound father-daughter thing here.  Becky, at 19, is the older sister and has a different build.  She's light, nimble and very chatty.  Moreover she's quite caring when we run by pointing out frozen puddles and other possible hazards.  These are times to be savoured, full of precious, tender memories.

Just a few days left....

So now on 28 December, there are only a few runs left to do.  I am feeling positive about these through now being on holiday again (I had to work yesterday).  It means I have more choice about where and when I run, how far and so on.  Today's run will be at dusk, in about an hour's time.  Already the temperature is freezing or perhaps a little lower.  How far?  Where?  Where will my thoughts take me?

I happened to stumble across another runner's blog who has also been running through December: The Unfinished Sentence

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