Sunday, February 07, 2010

Keep on Running

Today was a special day in that I felt really alive for the first time in weeks. I went for a run around Cambridge with my eldest son and we covered a distance of 12.1 km. This was good because we are training for a 10km road race in April.

So far I have been training at the gym and over the past 3 weeks I have been stepping up the treadmill distance by 1km a week starting at 5km. For those with a maths (math if you are American) degree, you will quickly pick up on the fact that my last session amounted to 7km, with a little extra for the cool down. I went for a run in the freezing wastelands over the New Year break and was shocked at how unfit I seemed to be despite going regularly to the gym. However, after about a kilometre I found my pace and my breath and got into a rhythm and continued for a little over another 4 kilometres.

And so it was that I found myself running along the river Cam just after midday today. For about the first kilometre I was puffing away like a Victorian steam engine heading for the knackers’ yard! My son, however, had a good plan, and that was every couple of kilometres walking a couple of hundred yards. Now this is not cheating. After all, we were in training and it wasn’t a race. The only thing which mattered was getting back and having a good run in between.

It wasn‘t really until today that I appreciated as well what a great place Cambridge is. Of course, with living so close to the place I come here quite a lot shopping, and even had the odd walk taking photographs in the dying golden rays of the late afternoon sun in Autumn, but running around the place as I did today I saw it in a different light. Running along by the river, there were lots of university students out rowing with their mainly female coxes shouting the directions to them. There were barges moored and lots of other people out running as well as ourselves. It was all very picturesque and I plan to walk some of the route taking photos, as it is full of character and very photogenic.

I didn’t spot anyone as old as me though, they were all young, lithe, fit things. This is good as far as I am concerned. Age is no barrier when it comes to running. I have a friend who is 72 this year and still runs the London Marathon including a lot of other races besides. The oldest marathon runner I am aware of is a 98 year old Sikh. Most people can’t even walk at that age, let alone run marathons! There is hope for us all! I was wondering how long I will go on running for myself as since I hit the big six-o I suddenly felt a lot older. However, its all in the mind and the reality is I am actually very fit in terms of most people my age and a lot of the people I know, so I’ve no plans of easing up for many years.

Running is one of the best ways I know of keeping fit. You burn up more calories at a greater rate than in most other forms of exercise, and its great for keeping the cardio vascular system in good order. Its also very exhilarating. Once the adrenalin kicks in you really can find yourself on a high! Running through the centre of Cambridge past all the heavily wrapped up shoppers felt really good. It was also good to be amongst so many shops and not spending any money!

When we finished we were on a high and feeling that we could have run a lot further - maybe next time. Following a wonderful shower (all showers are wonderful when you are covered in cold sweat), we went to a restaurant and I had my favourite health food - burger and chips - lovely! I also had a pint of Murphy’s but I wasn’t bitter.