born to run

I recently blogged about my running wishlist and was very lucky to get some of these for Christmas, including the book ‘Born to run‘ from my lovely friend.

Having just finished reading it, I’m finding it hard to put into words how I feel about it and how amazing a book it is. However, for the benefit of any of you who haven’t read it yet, I’ll try.

McDougall writes about his own experiences with running and injury – an all too familiar tale which I instantly identified with, as I’m sure every runner will. His quest to find the answer to the question ‘Why does my foot hurt?’ leads to an incredible tale about the Tarahumara people of Mexico. These incredible (but very real) people are perfectly evolved running machines, capable of running for days across all terrain and without the benefit of version whatever of your favourite running shoe.

McDougall’s writing style is concise yet descriptive enough for me to picture myself right there, with incredible ultra-runners from different worlds. Interwoven within the story is a plethora of scientific fact, both about the running in general and about human evolution.

In short, it’s an absolutely fascinating book (which I finished in 3 days but that’s because I was stretching it out, not wanting it to end) which has got fired me back up to run in a way nothing else has been able to. If you haven’t already read it, you must.

Of course, I’m now in a quandry. To try barefoot or persist with modern shoe technology which, so far, has done nothing to reduce my risk of injury. I’m definitely thinking of going for a more minimalist shoe and doing some more research about re-training myself in terms of running technique. And, if nothing else, this book has sold me on getting out to do trail running, away from concrete and tarmac.

What are your favourite trails? Are you a barefoot running convert or have an recommendations for minimalist footwear?

facing fears

Happy New Year!

As a perfect way to end the year, my local parkrun was hosting both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day events which gave me the chance to break the cycle of eating and drinking that generally takes up the festive season!

At today’s New Year’s parkrun, I volunteered for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to meet people and celebrate their post-run happiness as I scanned their barcodes. I’m not always the most sociable person in the world so this was quite a big deal for me but it’s definitely something I’ll do again. Running at parkrun is good but volunteering gives you a new perspective on the whole thing, especially seeing how similar all runners are, regardless of their times.

At the Christmas Day parkrun, I faced up to another fear that I’ve had lingering for quite a long time – the fear of coming last. Ever since entering my first fun run (very tentatively), I’ve been paranoid about being the last over the finish line. I meticulously check results from earlier events to see how long the last finisher normally takes and I don’t enter if I don’t think I can get in a bit quicker than that. I stress about cutoff times and worry that I’ll be out on the course alone when everyone else is done. On Christmas Day, it happened. And I didn’t spontaneously combust. In fact, it wasn’t actually bad at all. At about the halfway point, I realised that I was going to be last and, other than the twinge of realisation, wasn’t worried in the slightest.

When I did finish, I apologised to the volunteers on barcode scanning for making them wait, particularly on Christmas day. They were so lovely and didn’t mind in the slightest, reminding me that I’d done more than most people that morning who were still in bed or tucking into sumptuous breakfasts. However fast and wherever you come in the list, we’re all still runners and get the same buzz at the finish.

So, whether out of 70 runners or 7000, I won’t be scared of finishing last again. Having faced that fear, I can confidently say that it’s more important to celebrate the finish than to mourn my final placing. The key is to remember that I’m only competing against myself.