Tag Archives: runchat

The Wonderful Void

The other day I came across this fantastic blog about running on Oatmeal. This blogger, through his comics, illustrated how I feel about running and more. It as like he had taken all my thoughts and feelings about running and presented them to me in picture form. The last page of the comic really struck a cord with me and reminded me why I am so passionate about running and why I miss it when I’m prevented from doing it: The Void.

In Oatmeal’s comic he talks about running to find the void, to find clarity, to find the silence. And that is what I miss most when I’m not able to run. When I run it isn’t just about training or races, it is about the meditative state that I get into. Being aware but also being not quite aware. A level of awareness that keeps me safe while I run but also allows me to drift off into the nether regions of my mind. Thinking but also not thinking. Listening to my heart, hearing my breath, tuning myself into the hum of the traffic as it whizzes by, gradually sinking deeper and deeper into a trance. And when I find that void state, when I drop into the black hole that running has created for me, a mile can go past and I won’t have noticed.

However the void isn’t always completely silent. When I’m there the thoughts that have been crowding my mind trough the day can form a more orderly queue and I find I can go through them one by one. Or images of my family and loved ones flash across my mind’s eye as I pound the pavements. The anger or frustration that I may have been feeling can be expired by my breath as I run towards home, unburdened and cleansed. All these things fall into the cavern that is my void and melt away.

I’m not quite back into running again just yet, my calf injury has flared up again. When I read the Oatmeal post I realised why I get so angry when I can’t run. I have become addicted to the Wonderful Void, the peace that I feel when my body is running. Experiencing the void helps me not mentally but physically too. I’m sure the reason that I have been having bouts of insomnia recently is because I haven’t been able to touch the running void. I’ll try to be patient, let my body heal, get stronger and eventually I’ll be able to find the void again.

Run Your Own Race: Lessons in life and running from Mo Farah.

This evening I sat down like many athletics fans to watch Mo Farah go for his second double double in the men’s 5000m at the World Championships. I usually get butterflies before watching Mo race but tonight I felt worse. I felt nauseous and unwell as the field lined up. The feelings of unease continued and didn’t really settke as the race started.

Since his double win in London you just knew that Mo was going to become a marked man. Teams of athletes from around the globe including the dominant East African nations would be watching him, waiting to see what he did. They were ready to pounce on any moves he might make, talking to each other, possibly boxing him in to stop any tactical change in pace by the Olympic champion.

At one point early on in the race tonight one of the Kenyan athletes, I think it was Koech, tried to inject a bit of early pace and I immediately thought that this was how they were going to beat him: throw in some fast laps and run the finish out of him. A lot of the field seemed to panic and go with it. But not Mo. Mo sat back, unphased, doing his own thing. An Ethiopian athlete and South African athlete sat just behind Mo seemed to look at each other perplexed. Why wasn’t Mo Farah going with this injection of pace?

After less than 800m of the faster pace Koech seemed to realise that Mo wasn’t game for it and the pace slowed. And then all of a sudden Mo was at the front. The Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes, running as a team tried to respond, maybe trying to box him in, but every time they tried he drove forward again. He had an answer for everything they tried. They had no come back.

In the final lap I was worried that the athletes around might come back at him. But the hard work that he has done this year, such as fitting in sessions with his training partner Galen Rupp straight after winning the London Anniversary Games, just took him to another level above the pack trying to chase him down in the final straight. It was lesson in hard work and commitment. It was a lesson in running your own race.

The field tonight ended up dancing to Mo Farah’s tune. He didn’t panic, he didn’t get flustered and he stuck with his race plan. He didn’t worry about the form or the training of anyone else. He did what he had to do.

We may not think it but Mo’s race has lessons for even the most amateur of runners. Don’t worry about anyone else’s PB. Don’t worry about how many miles someone has told you they run every week. Care not that someone has run more races than you. On the day it’s all down to you. Run your own race and you will be rewarded for it. Lesson over.

Run With An Idea: Would you pay £50 for a 10k race

This is the second debate in Carrie and Dash’s Run With An Idea series: How much is too much when you’re paying to enter a race?

I have thought about this and I’m torn and trying not to sit on the fence. My instinct when I first read about the British 10k was why on earth would anyone pay £50 for a 10k in London of all places. Anyone can run in London at any time and there are always plenty of excellent local races that are a fraction of the price. I’ve just paid for my London Marathon place and that was £35 so fifty just seems like a piss take. And for the last two years I’ve read awful things about British 10k and it’s organisation so you’re obviously not getting what you pay for. So at first glance, no it doesn’t look like I would pay £50 for a 10k. But I do have a confession to make:

A few weeks ago I had my credit card in hand while furiously texting my husband asking his advice as to what I should do. I had completed the online forms for the Nike Women’s San Francisco Marathon and was poised to potentially pay in excess of $250 for the privilege (if I’d been successful in the ballot). In the end I closed it all down and decided that it was London that I truly wanted to do in my heart of hearts but this just shows that despite my cynicism and my urge to people to support local races, I too am prepared to fork out a *hell of a* lot of money for a race. So why was I prepared to do it?

I guess it was about experiences. I was looking for a great running experience abroad and I was prepared to pay for it. And maybe the people who are stumping up the money for the British 10k are looking for the same thing. I don’t agree that they should be charging so much when it is allegedly run so badly and more expensive than the London Marathon but it’s possible that it’s not just the 10k the people are paying for. The chance to run on major London streets if it’s unlikely they’ll ever run the marathon? The London atmosphere with all the crowds? The chance to run in London with friends? An alternative hen party? (ok pushing it with the last one).

So when I review my morals and my own running code of conduct I think it is possible that I would pay £50 but I’d have to get something for my money. High on that list would be slick, professional organisation and potentially a decent goody bag and medal (although those last two things are never high on my list of priorities). I think I would try and speak to people about the races too to find out if they’re experience was worth what they paid in entry fees, do a bit of online research and also see where it fitted in with my own goals. I would also look to see if there were similar races in similar locations run by local clubs rather than large corporations if it is just about the experience. I might also look to see if the entry fee includes a donation to charity which would definitely help me justify the fee a bit more.

I guess what I’m saying is if you want to pay that much for a race then do it, it’s your money and your running goals, but just be careful you don’t end up paying money for rubbish running rope.

Current entry fees on my bucket list of races:

Berlin Marathon £100.

New York Marathon for non US residents $347 (£225).

Disneyland Half Marathon £190.

Chicago Marathon £150.

Athens Marathon £70 (the 5k entry is £60 and the 10k is £65).

Hollywood Half Marathon $85 early bird fee (£55).

Great Wall Marathon in China $1420-$1795 depending on the package you want.

(video by Salomon Trail Running)

Head over to the Run With An Idea page to see debates from other running bloggers on this topic!