Battling Demons

It’s almost a week past my  10k run for charity and it’s taken me this long to find time to sit down and write. That’s down to a combination of work, meetings and social life and I make no apology for those. These inconveniences make up my life and there is no real way round them.

That brings me nicely to a conversation I had last night at the pub. Talking to an ex-runner who really knows everything there is to know about running (imagine me here rolling my eyes, because this person certainly thinks they know all about running) I encountered what I can only call back-handed encouragement. I’ve referred to this person before; someone who no matter what they say they always manage to make me feel as if I should just give up. I am rubbish. I don’t have the commitment to become a better runner. I shall always be a jogger. I will never improve my times. I can’t run half-marathons because I walk. Blah blah blah. You get the sad picture.

I’m safe writing this because this person will never think that they have done anything wrong. They will go on thinking that they have done me and the running world a favour. How wrong they are.

I try not to mention running in front of this person, let’s call him Jack, because Jack suddenly becomes the oracle of running. He’s been there, done that, got countless T-shirts – mostly from the marathons he’s done and he is liberal with his advice. Lucky me. Last night he remarked that I had lost weight (which is a step up from when I started running and he told me that I was too fat to run!) and before I knew it the words were out of my mouth.

“Oh, that’ll be the running”.  Damn.


First of all I need to join a running club. Running solo won’t make me a better runner, I need to be in a club. The fact that I can’t commit to running x number of days a week with a club and sometimes have to resort to using the treadmill (which are “rubbish” apparently and won’t do me any good) means that I don’t have the commitment to improve. Jack used to run every day, running 100 miles every week. That is commitment.

Then I need to give up this walk/run malarky because real runners only use fartlek in training. Once they’ve lengthened the run interval (because in fartlek, apparently, you start off with short distances and gradually lengthen them – not do set speed sections like I thought!) they don’t need to walk anymore. Real runners never walk.

I mustn’t do any resistance training because that just builds up muscle. Real runners, long distance ones at least, don’t have any bulky muscles. No, I must give up the thought of doing any weight training at all. Perish the thought!

And it went on like this. Jack certainly knows a whole lot more about running than me. But he’s proud of me. How bloody patronising is that?

So, anyway, my 10k. I was running for Sport Relief UK, one of hundreds of thousands running either 1, 3 or 6 miles that weekend. I’d chosen 6 miles along with maybe 20 others at Dumfries. Most people on the track were running 5k. Some were walking it, some were doing a combination of both. The 6 milers had 24 laps of a 400m track to do. How boring!

It was a hot afternoon and we started at 1.15, maybe not the best time to start a race. I started off at what I thought was a steady pace, but found myself near the front of the field. I checked my Garmin and  I was under 10 minute mile pace, but not going daft, so I carried on. Apart from having to slow to sort out my iPod which had stuck on an album instead of shuffling through my running songs, I ran fairly steadily for the first couple of miles. I found it hard to drink and run, perhaps having got used to only drinking on my walk intervals, and drinking was very necessary in the heat. My stats show that my walk breaks were very short until the last mile when I was starting to get tired.

At the start I had been chatting to a girl who I thought I vaguely recognised, but couldn’t place. She didn’t seem to recognise me though so I just assumed I’d got it wrong. About 4 miles in she caught up with me and we did a couple of laps together before I had to walk again. She was running a fairly steady pace, maybe the pace I should have been running all along, although I felt comfortable at the pace I was at and she did say that until I started walking she’d not been able to catch up with me. Sadly I was unable to catch up with her as the tiredness and the heat took over. The track we were running around was like a suntrap and the last time I was out I was running in zero temperatures! Acclimatisation is not a word we use much in Scotland.

I finished in a PB of 64:44. I could have gone faster if I hadn’t walked as much so I’m hopeful of a faster time on a cooler day, or at least another day like this further into the season when I’ve started to warm up a bit!

The girl, by the way, turned out to be a teacher at one of my schools. We visit on different days and so I’ve only ever seen her photograph up on the wall in the corridor. Now there’s a memory for faces!

Distance: 5.96 mi
Time: 1:04:44
Avg Pace: 10:52 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 7 ft
Calories: 697 C
Best Pace: 8:03 min/mi

4 thoughts on “Battling Demons

  1. Great work! Even with a little bit of walking, your pace was not bad at all. Keep it up. I have a couple “Jacks” in my life as well. I always like asking them if they are such pros, why did they stopped.

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