In Need of a Bath

A friend commented on my blogging the other day and said that while she was completely fascinated by my route maps and device obsession, what she really wanted to know was what I think about when I run.

I think she was being polite and was really asking, “Why do you do this running thing? and when will you stop filling my newsfeed with such drivel”.


I’ve spent a good portion of my recent runs trying to think about what I’m thinking about, which is always a fairly futile task involving much tail chasing.

I was pretty convinced that I was always focussed “on the now”, consumed by the elements but always fully in the present. Having done a few test runs I’m not so sure at all. It strikes me that I go all over the place.

I compose stuff, mostly blog posts…… the most marvellous blog posts that you never get to read as I can never remember them by the time I’ve finished. I plan stuff and commit myself to wild and wacky schemes that if I’m lucky will also be forgotten by the time I finish. It’s a really creative time actually. Today I was planning a book that I fancy writing, I was dreaming of the software required for the task and even prepared a few quotes to kick me off.

While I seem to be creative and inspired (if a little forgetful), it is clear that I’m also a bit thick. There must be a left-brain, right-brain divert when I run because I cannot perform even the most simple task of mathematic reasoning. I think my logic centre gets starved of blood from the moment I press start on the Garmin. I test myself regularly with simple pace queries:

if I maintain an average 10 minute per kilometre for 100 km, how long would it take me to complete the London2Brighton challenge.

I just can’t do it. I can’t compute and run.

It does appear that I am almost always future focussed and positive when thinking and running, except of course when I get lost, which happens often. Then I get rather grouchy and miserable. The last time I got lost was in Wimbledon Common – it almost always is in Wimbledon Common. I was doing my thinking about thinking thing and was suddenly thrown in to the here and now as a rather unexpected Windmill came into sight and I realised I wan’t where I expected myself to be. Dark clouds assembled but then I spotted the car and it dawned on me that I’d arrived back at the start point a good 3k ahead of schedule and quite fortuitously there was a cafe right in front of me. I accepted the gift of silver linings and stopped off for a latte.

Coincidentally I just read a section from Tim Noake’s bible: The Lore of Running, discussing the different thought patterns of runners and walkers:

…..I learn how different the worlds of the runner and walker are. Compatible as we are, when we walk, we frequent two different worlds. When I run my mind is elsewhere, full of everything but that which I am doing at the moment. Perhaps I am vainly trying to understand humanity, or writing this book, or planning some new experiment that will finally explain all of exercise physiology. Only occasionally does my environment impinge on my activity – usually when I need a rest.

I was in the run/walk section of The Lore of Running as I’m sure the only way I’ll get round my 100k challenge is to mix in the two. I’ve therefore been dabbling on my training runs with different ratios of run/walk intervals. Today I was out for my long-ish run around the Thames and opted for a 3min run followed by 1min walk break. It’s pretty relentless but I was comfortable throughout, finished 15 mins ahead of my previous time, which I recall was a horror of a run, but nevertheless I was faster this time.

It was a drab ole day today but perfect conditions for a cool run around the river. I extended it beyond the planned route as I was feeling so spritely and finally racked up 13k for Day 6 of Janathon.

A few hours later and I am now feeling shattered after my efforts and all I want to do is to crawl into a lovely hot bath. The challenge is not yet over though and so the closest I will get to that for a while is an an equally warming bottle of Bath Ales Dark Side Stout.

I was initially disappointed by the Dark Side, it seemed a bit thin, with a weak aroma and a correspondingly bland flavour. A little dusty malt coming through and a poor head. In the end I came to appreciate its smoothness as it was so different from the rest of the stouts. I did a little research on the difference between Stout and Porter and it seems the historical difference is mainly related to strength with stout meaning strong but nowadays it seems to be down to the brewers choice when naming. Historically this one would have been a Porter but Bath Ales have gone to great lengths to adopt the stout nomenclature suggesting the smoothness of flavour is “a hallmark of exquisite stouts”.