Or “Who am I if I’m not a runner?”
If it feels like a long time since I last flexed my Ordinary Runner muscle, that’s because it is.
In fact, I last posted almost a year ago. And that’s from when I started writing this, ignoring the time I’ll spend dithering, editing, procrastinating and imposter syndrome-ing.
As I uploaded my previous blog, I knew it would be a struggle to meet my plan of one post per month. However, even with that in mind, I expected to post more than once in the entire year.
That’s not to say I didn’t start writing anything. My “Ordinary Runner drafts” folder is littered with half-baked and undercooked ideas. But, just like my running, they didn’t go anywhere.
And that’s what lies at the heart of my non-posting. I didn’t really run last year. Not enough to call myself a runner anyway. Ordinary or otherwise.
I had plans for running in 2022. Not big plans, but definitely exciting ones.
I launched into the year with the WSFRL Hangover 5. At the time, I described it as a “gruelling five-mile slog.” 12 months on, it feels like an impossibility.
Aside from the Hangover 5, I planned to finally take on the Worthing Half. I also hoped, once again, to Beat the Tide. And I expected to sail through the Worthing 10k.
All that, before “trying not to break myself” at the same Maverick race as I ran the previous year.
Plus, I thought I might reach 100 parkruns before the sun set on 2022.
In these heady plans, my training would span the green hills of the South Downs. Not for me the endless plodding along the seafront (however beautiful and inspiring that might be). No, my distance target of 1,100km would take in many a muddy trail over many an undulation.
It was exciting.
Unfortunately, none of it happened.
We’ll come to that later.
Who am I if I’m not a runner?
Okay, I’m much more than “just” a runner.
I’m a dad and a husband.
I’m a freelance copywriter and a keen (if amateur) photographer.
Last year, I also became Marketing Director of The Wellderness, a wonderful not-for-profit organisation which connects an incredible community with nature and with each other.
And while all those things are enough in themselves, running is a big part of who I am. Physically and mentally.
Of all the blogs I didn’t write last year, this one – “Who am I if I’m not a runner?” – played through my mind the most. But I never even started the first draft. Because I never managed to answer the question.
I still haven’t.
Because I don’t want to accept that I’m not a runner. Even though I ran less than 100 miles all year.
Why am I “not a runner”?
I don’t know.
I mean, I know that I have an injury that won’t go away. And I know that my injury was the reason I barely ran last year.
But I still don’t know what the injury is. So, I still don’t know what it is that’s making me not a runner.
Yes, I saw a couple of physios. Eventually.
At first, I ignored the injury. Then I hoped it would go away if I didn’t run for a while. Then I hoped it would go away if I didn’t run for a longer while. Then I flounced around like a teenager who has been told they can’t go to a party that ‘literally everyone in the world’ is going to.
Then I saw a physio. And then I saw a different one.
But neither physio fixed it. Plus, as a freelancer, I don’t have any of that lovely health insurance cover for luxuries like physios. Which means I have to think carefully about how much money I spend on luxuries like physios. Especially in today’s incredibly expensive world.
So, the injury lingers.
Resting helps, but then it comes back whenever I run again. And the more I run, the worse it is… which is glaringly obvious to anyone.
But there’s none so blind as those who will not see.
What does this all mean?
I don’t know.
After starting 2022 with a gruelling (but otherwise enjoyable) slog, I’ve limped into 2023 with a cautious (and slow) 5k.
I ran almost 25km in the first week of 2022. This year, I don’t expect to run much more than that in the first month.
With that in mind, I’m not setting any goals for 2023. Not that there’s no point in setting goals – it’s always good to have a target – but I have no idea how the year will shape up. And besides, I don’t want to put myself under pressure to run more than my body will allow.
That said, I’m not without ambition
I have five ‘not goals’ for running in 2023:
- Get my injury sorted – as much as money will allow, I’ll keep seeking professional advice and find a way to fix this thing.
- Don’t be despondent – despite the tone of this blog, I’m upbeat. I meandered disconsulately through 2022. This year, I’m striding forward with optimistic determination (for now).
- Do yoga – While not “running” per-se, yoga will definitely help me keep in shape, mentally and physically. So far this year, I’ve dragged myself out of bed at 6 o’clock every morning for a yoga session. Over the coming weeks, I intend to form a habit that will see me spring out of bed, eager to begin each day on my yoga mat.
- Lose weight – a consequence of not running last year was a further broadening of my midriff. In other words, because I didn’t run, I got fatter. As I lurch towards the end of my 47th go around the sun, I need to try ever-harder to stave off my ever-expanding gut. My new mantra is: “be less greedy, drink less beer.”
- Try harder to write this blog – I don’t want to start next year with the first post since this one.
Whether I call them goals, ambitions or intentions, these five things are what I want from the year, running-wise.
If I can, I’ll enter races. As much as I can, I’ll do parkrun. Wherever possible, I’ll just get out there and run.
In many ways, I’m the archetypal Ordinary Runner. Full of hope and ambition, I’m limited only by my own body.
Unfortunately, for now, that means I’m very limited indeed.