I was quite convinced when I started C25K that I just wanted to run and swim three times a week. I really wasn’t too concerned about speed. I know I can run for 43 minutes and I don’t care that I only cover 4.3k in that time. (Only? If you’d told me that a couple of months ago, I’d have collapsed on the sofa with a fit of the vapours.)
So why, just a couple of weeks after graduation on a grey, grim day did I find myself heading for the Heath having just downloaded 5K+ Stepping Stones? (I’d thought the name was a bit silly – it sounds like jumping lightly from stone to stone across a gurgling brook – but yesterday the Heath was covered with gurgling brooks that had spring up from the sodden ground, so it was quite apt really.)
I haven’t run with Laura for over a month; nothing personal but I couldn’t bear the music so I ditched her in favour of my own soundtrack as soon as the long runs began. Yesterday there I was back with her voice in my ears, feeling a bit guilty for having been off having fun with Springsteen and Handel while she was stuck inside. I was dreading it. A little voice reminded me, "You don't have to do this. You're a grown up, no-one will ever know if your give up.'
To my surprise it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. I could keep up with the beat, though there were a few times when I had to slow down because of slippery leaves, steep downhill slopes or mud up to my ankles. I pretended I was dancing in a club rather than running under a leaden London sky, which definitely helped and I always run with small steps, so that bit wasn’t difficult. I made it through with energy to spare and by the end of the 30 minutes I’d developed enough of a warm glow to brave the Ladies’ Pond, where the water temperature was down to 7.5C and raindrops pitted the surface.
Back home entering my route into mapometer I confirmed, as I'd already suspected, that I’d only (‘only’ again?) run for 3.15k, so I’m still stuck at around 1k in 10 mins. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Does it matter? I'm not looking to do marathons or even park runs. I'm not competitive. Why do I even want to run faster? I think that like a lot of people on this site I still have a nagging doubt that I can’t be a real runner if I don’t, which I know is crazy but that’s the little critical voice of self-doubt that nags away at all of us, I suppose.