(This is another post about running – sorry about that. If you would like something else to read, my new column about some rather gorgeous tall clothes is out today.)
You know when you listen to yourself and hear a discordant phrase? I hear it as colours. Not in a synaesthesic way, I wish, but in a “oh that sounded a bit green, it should have been violet”. There is absolutely no way that I’m going to explain this in a way that doesn’t sound utterly bonkers, so we’ll move on to the actual point.
There came a horrific moment on Sunday when I realised I was turning into a running bore. I was talking to my parents over an unfeasibly moreish glass of champagne in Stratford. I’d just done the Anniversary Run at the Olympic Park, and had a lovely morning with my friend Olly, wandering around with coffees, talking about 2012 and bursting into tears at the Stadium, that sort of thing. I’d done my best time ever, was wearing new shorts and generally felt like I had conquered a very flat Everest.
I was chatting away and then realised that everything I was saying was the colour of deeply boring to anyone who isn’t you. This is horrendous. There is nothing worse than suddenly realising that you are a bore. This is something for least-favourite uncles, or…or, oh God, people who care too much about their new hobbies.
With this in mind, I took myself off to the running club that I joined in a fit of post-race enthusiasm the previous week. Since choir has finished for the summer holidays, I have Tuesday nights free, so I went along to Dulwich College to try out some track training.
Obviously, I got horrible lost, but if you’re going to get lost anywhere, it might as well be somewhere as stunningly beautiful as Dulwich College.
I was pretty confident about being able to keep up at least a bit, because the website said the club was for all levels. I soon realised that might be the case, but that the shit-hot, lean, quivering chunks of pure active muscle in front of me were very much the upper echelons of level.
Everyone I spoke to was lovely and welcoming, and told me not to push myself. Seeing as I’ve never done any kind of intervals or speedwork in my own training (which, let’s be honest, is basically “Ok, let’s just run at the same-ish speed for an hour and see how far we can go) I found it all a bit much. There was a lot of running round trees, on grass, and talk of “Your 5k pace” and “your 10k pace”. I only have one pace, and when we rocketed off round the pitch, it soon became clear that their 10k pace is a bit faster than mine.
It was great fun doing the sprints though, lots of hopping, skipping, arm flapping and differences in pace which almost made up for the fact that I finished so far behind the front of the pack that I may as well have been the camel carrying their equipment.
It was when we moved onto the track that things got really hard. It’s a 300m track, I thought, this is fine! No it was not fine. Many laps were involved, and I had the humiliating, horrible embarrassment of having to wheel off several times, unable to breathe. Not even in a lactic sort of way, but in a “Oh dear lord, I’m allergic to everything and I can’t work my lungs” sort of way.
At one point, I was so frustrated with myself and not being able to do anything that I felt like I’m going to cry.
(This is the bit that is really awfully embarrassing. I have never possessed the ability to push down tears. If I feel like I’m going to cry, it’s going to happen.)
I had a small cry into my kit bag, and then wiped my eyes and headed back to the track, hoping that I could style out all the water with all the sweat running down my face. The last lap that we did, I tried as hard as I could, and chanted something about The Blerch, from The Oatmeal’s brilliant cartoon about running. I was still horrifically slow, but I did it.
I’ll go back next week, but it will be a very long time before I bore anyone with talk about my running*. After an evening like that, I know I’ve got miles to go before I am a runner, but at least I’m prepared to put the effort in.
*except here, smart arse, that’s what a blog is for.