Showing posts from 2012

It's Going to Get Worse Before it Gets Better

In the 2 months since I've written a post, the seasons have changed and it's lovely and cold now; perfect winter running weather with just a dusting of snow for good grip on the trails. Yesterday was clear, cold and brilliantly sunny - running with my friends Ben and Jamie on a quiet trail alongside the sparkling Coaticook river, it was one of those days where everything seemed right with the world.

I am tentatively thinking about running my tenth marathon next spring, and so have been slowly upping the mileage to build a good base before starting to train in earnest after Christmas. The title of this post refers to a kind of mantra I use when training (and have often subjected my training partners to). Although it sounds negative, it is a reminder that on some runs I am just going to feel awful. My body will initially protest the increasing mileage, but as the weeks go by I will get stronger and faster. Interestingly, I find that I almost always feel great on long runs - it is…

What's Worth That?

Sometimes running can be a solitary experience. I am currently sitting in the dark huddled in a blanket, forcing myself to eat breakfast and get some coffee down, because I'm running a trail half marathon in an hour and a half. My stomach is churning with nervous energy and I'm obsessively checking the hourly temperature forecast (-1 at the start, 5 degrees at the finish. No rain, so all in all a good morning for a fall trail run, but I'm going back and forth on whether to wear a hat. This decision seems of paramount importance at the moment). Once the breakfast settles I will painstakingly attach my timing chip to my shoelaces, triple-checking that the zip-tie is secure and vaguely worrying that I have put it on backwards, even though I have worn chips countless times and know this does not make a difference. I will likely visit the bathroom at least 4 times before I leave the house, and yet somehow need to find one as soon as I arrive at the race start (and I will not be…

Running Sustainably

Ed Ayres, author of The Longest Race, draws a metaphorical comparison between running endurance and societal sustainability. He writes, 
"We are by nature the most enduring, patient, and envisioning of all species. But our culture has seduced us away from that nature. There are communities that have instinctively resisted that seduction — “slow food,” hiking, trout fishing, meditation, violin-playing, gardening, reading, bird-watching, trail running. But to have hope of a truly enduring future, our whole global enterprise will need to slow down — in its addictive consumption and grasping for quick rewards — and begin to find a rhythm for the long run".This resonates with me. I have always thought of running as a kind of exemplar for how I live my life (setting goals; being determined and working hard; pushing through difficulty; finding joy in simple things), but I never considered extending the metaphor this far. In the book - which I have yet to read, but will be on my book…

The Great Equalizer

Over the years, I have spent time running with many different people. My favourite of these informal running groups was - and is - the group I ran with during my time teaching at Bishop's University in Lennoxville, QC. We ranged in age from 30 to 60+, and together comprised of faculty representing the departments of Environmental Studies & Geography, Philosophy, Psychology, English, Political Studies, Biology, and Religion, as well as coaches of the football and basketball teams. This was a diverse bunch. At least two of us would run together at lunch 3 days a week, and it was not uncommon to have the whole group out on a perfect afternoon. Three runners (myself and my dear friends Jamie and Benoit) made up the "core" of this team and were often training for marathons together, adding long runs in on weekends. Memorably, during the summer we would route a 30-k run to end up at a pub on a lake in neighbouring North Hatley, where we would wade into the lake and subsequ…

Fall, or Why I'm Starting a Running Blog

Fall is my favourite time of year to run. Until winter, when I will remember the joys of winter running - but for now, fall is upon us. The air is crisp and dry, the sky is (usually) clear and the trees on the trails are slowly turning all shades of fiery splendour. Some mornings, I breathe in and the damp, faintly sweet smell of decomposing leaf litter instantly transports me back to high school cross-country races. Fall is always a time of renewal for me, much more so than spring (a curious side-effect of being a career academic, for whom a new year has always begun in September). For years, running has in many ways been a lifeline for me, and this always seems to be brought into sharp focus in the fall, when life suddenly gets busier. Maybe this is when I need running the most. I run when I am happy, upset, confused, angry, and overwhelmed. I run when I just feel like running. Through all the ups and downs of my life, running has always been there for me, like a comforting and yet …