Today is all about running, a little break from the rigours of mental health and well being. Richard Askwith in his book Run Free, which builds on the idea of Boff Whalley’s Run Wild identifies 7 stages of running. So I thought I would take you through my road through these stages. The stages are:
1. The Stage of Need.
Where you identify the need for wanting to run. e.g. the release of stress or wanting to get in better shape, to feel better or to have more energy. For me the first few times I went through this cycle it was around keeping my weight down. This time round it was about losing weight but also about my mental well being based on what I had read in Spark.
2. The Stage of Habit.
A difficult stage. You have to get used to the discomfort of running, the niggling injuries and self doubt. There is quite lot of low level pain, mental and physical but not a lot of gain. When I used to run a lot for around 15 years or more but I would still take a break and then I would come back and start at this phase, getting back in to the habit
3. The Stage of Contentment.
You realise your hard work is paying off. You feel good about your running. You lose weight, it becomes easier to get up and go for a run. The gain outweighs the pain, which has also reduced. In an ideal world it would be good to stay at this stage but we are human and by our nature most of us are competitive – well I am.
4. The Stage of Wanting a Challenge.
The competitive stage. You begin to push your own limits, to see how far you can go, how fast you can go and to try and set a new personal best.
You test yourself and by setting new goals you stay motivated to train more and workout harder. This is the first part of what for me is the addictive phase. I would go for a run along the canal in Brussels, I would see another runner ahead of me and then set myself a target of catching them by the next bridge. If I ran a race I wanted to be in the top 25% as a minimum. But lurking at the back of my head is one final challenge, I am taken with the idea of a lakeland ultra run, it just niggles away.
5. The Stage of Passion.
This is the phase when your running is hardwired in to your daily routine. I would rather not give up on my training because it gave me so much satisfaction. The second part of the addictive phase, in my case bordering on the obsessional. I would take my running kit on business trips, if we went to friends or family for the weekend I would get up at 6am and go for a long run before breakfast.
6. The Stage of Acceptance.
This is the moment when you are faced with the inevitable. No matter how hard you try your physical conditioning does not improve. Now is the time to re balance your expectations. This is another difficult stage, learning to accept your own running mortality. This is where I am now and interestingly it is not so difficult. Probably because of my mental health issues, I didn’t run for the best part of 7 years. So I knew when I restarted a couple of years ago that this was the case, I was 25kg heavier than I had been so being competitive, even with myself was a pipe dream
7. The Stage of Resignation.
Running is no longer about accomplishment, meeting expectations, or following a training schedule. You run for the run itself. The decision is to leave the watch and heart rate monitor at home. You go out to run as long as your legs can still support you. This will be the next stage for me and it is the stage that is highlighted and lauded in both Run Wild and Run Free – I look forward to getting to this stage. But not too quickly!
Run Every Day – Day 11 40 mins
I didn’t intend to run this late but events overtook me so it is gone 5 when I head out. I decide to test the new headlamp up on Cunswick Scar. Up Gillinggate and then across and up the lane by the side of Serpentine Woods. Slow and steady in my newly increased bubble of light and then I get to the top of the golf course and the wind hits me. I had been sheltered from it all the way up from Highgate. I contemplate turning round and heading back down the hill, but it’s only a bit of wind so I carry on across the golf course and drop down to the A591. I cross a flat field on the other side of the road, in daylight the path seems quite obvious but in the dark looking out from my bubble it is hard to pick up and I wander off line a couple of times. I get to the wall at the bottom of Cunswick Scar – discretion takes the better part of valour and rather than heading up in to the wind to the cairn I turn left. On the low level route I am sheltered from the wind but all I can hear is the wind through the trees on the edge of the fell. As I get to the intersection with Gamblemires Lane (I love that name) I crest the ridge and the wind, again, takes my breath away. Now it is time to tun for home and I head left heading down to the Underbarrow Rd, back over the A591 and down the road driven by the wind back in to Kendal.
The view from my ‘bubble’