From 0 to 15k

3 minute read

Photo © Copyright Paul Gillett and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Running is not my favourite activity and this is an euphemism to mean that I dislike it. I’ve always been moderately active and when I was a kid I did several sports, but running has never been one of those. Swimming is my sport, I swam for several years and I thoroughly enjoy it every time I can.

Nevertheless, a little bit more than one year ago, after a period of physical stasis I forced myself to get back in the game of doing sports and I decided, as it is often my case, to do something new. Let’s start running. It’s a challenge, it’s a new learning experience, plus I could’t bear the idea that I was short of breath after 2 flights of stairs, I was still too young for that. I started on the treadmill. Even so, the first times were a total pain. I remember I could barely do 15 minutes at 7.5 kph. Furthermore, running in a closed space surrounded by sweaty muscles-obsessed individuals and facing the wall was’t helping the fun of it. Back then I was living in a place which didn’t really allow for running in the outside (it was a relatively mountainy town with no suitable parks, pretty trafficated streets and a crowded small historical centre) so not much choice for where to exercise except the gym.

Then I moved for a short period to my parents’ place, there is a lake you can go running/walking around. Total distance around 3 km: I learned to do it in 30 mins, which back then was quite of an achievement! That was July 2014, I used to go running early morning otherwise I’d melt in the sun of a Southern Italian summer. Great, but still not satisfying.

Shortly after that, I spent around 1 month in London: this is where I made the jump. I used to go running (almost) every day around 18 pm and that was beautiful. I could take advantage of a park, the temperature was ideal and that August has been surprisingly short of rain. After London, there came Scotland. I arrived here on a gloomy typical day of mid October. The first time I went running it was fine. I was constantly improving the resistance time and the speed, and for the first time I could add light hills to the game. After getting scared at having to run at 12 °C and under a drizzle, I started getting accustomed to the new weather and became more constant.

Apart from a period of no running because of the snow, I’ve run pretty much continuously for the last year. I usually do 10k in an hour, but after that milestone I feel like I could continue without any problems. I still dislike running but I became sort of dependent to it: if I don’t go, I feel bad, physically bad. It’s like my mind doesn’t want to go but my body needs it so one of them has to win and eventaually mind steps aside because it realises it’s better to give body what it looks for in order to have it working properly and then ensuring its own health (that of the mind). Scotland is an ideal place (apart from when it rains heavily): the temperature never reaches the threshold of suffering, a drizzle keeps you cool and the landscape is always magnificent, which enables the mind to stay entertained. Also, there’s plenty of places within the city/town where you can go freely.

I’ve experienced running with technology (the phone which tracks your distance and time), running with no technology (how good it feels to be disconnected for an hour and to not let your device know everything you’re doing); running with music (after a while the music becomes too well-known so it’s like having none), running without music (it’s not a problem if you can keep your brain filled with something else but I find this particularly difficult); running solo (not enjoyable, I’ve already said I dislike the activity in general, but still the best way to make sure you calibrate speed and distance as you wish), running with others (good only if others have the same regime speed, otherwise it’s a fight between who caves and who leads, which adds to the frustration).

The most I’ve done up to now is 15k and no, I don’t want to run a marathon. Not yet.