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Road running – What’s it all about?     

Steve Wyatt muses …

Running – it evokes some strange responses. In my experience few congratulate me on my middle age quest to remain fit and healthy but are more likely to eye me uneasily as if I really am a being from another planet. In truth they have a point; I remember fondly Ron Hill tracksters and cotton running vests and the move to technical/lycra hasn’t been all that flattering for 99% of us. Back in the day one did get a bit soaked with manly effort and there was a rather natty fashion for Union Jack shorts and string vests which also had the unfortunate point of making you look like a bag of onions!

Roll on 30 years and the increase in leisure time (not for me – I’m too busy running) has meant that the increase in middle age spread amongst newly-confirmed cyclists (thank you ‘Wiggo’) has taken the pressure off us slightly but nevertheless, there we are largely clad in synthetic wearing a pair of posh plimsoles and a ‘special’ watch. It’s perhaps not so difficult to see why all this and the competitive element of ‘racing’ make us a breed apart from the average person in Dorset.

And then there’s the language, and I’m not talking about the repeated swearing as we stagger up Wesley Road for the umpteenth hill session. Oh there’s Jerry’s b***dy house again is oft the cry …..

Pronator, cushioned, support anyone? Sounds more like a counselling session than a code for something you wear on your feet. And so many of them…Can there really be a demand for the 3,700 different running shoes that exist on one well known website? Aside from the expense of that key element; running shoes at circa £70 a pair (500 miles only please), there really isn’t an awful lot to worry about regarding expense. Your ‘special’ watch at circa £130, a reflective vest at £10, numerous race entries at anything from £10 to £50 and you are good to go. Keeping happy a long suffering partner who tolerates all this nonsense without so much as a PB mentioned is perhaps more of a concern. I know one person locally who enters his races without telling his wife by passing the entry fee to another runner who enters on his behalf! (I have made a note of this procedure in case things turn sour at Casa Wyatt).

Of course you’ll rarely be without something to wear in running as the one thing you’ll never be short of is memento T-shirts. We treat them like seals and cull mercilessly every few years but still they seem to breed quietly at the back of the running clothing cupboard. A lucky few make it to the duster pile or maybe even get worn on a couple of runs after their actual race date but we don’t tolerate favouritism. They get their five minutes in the sun and then it’s off to the black bag with all the others earned through blood, sweat and tears. (Mainly tears it has to be said when another race entry fee is wasted on a below par performance three minutes off my PB time- and there have been many……….)

I swore that I’d never cry in front of the dog so the fact that we don’t have a dog hasn’t stop me blubbing like a toddler at the senselessness of it all, train all winter in the dark, bumbling around in the wind rain and cold, spending money and time chasing another person of declining ability around a road that on any other day of the year you can run on for free. Ten hours per week training to knock a few minutes off your race time? Really? Who knew you could spend so much time on such little return?

I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my times in races at a similar level to the past and so I’ve had to turn to drugs. If Ibuprofen or paracetamol ever appear on the banned list then I really am in trouble!

Running; it has many positives but it’s not difficult to see why so many say – What’s that all about then?


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