(Jacob Rumans) #1

82 RUNNER’S WORLD JULY 2018 ILLUSTRATION BY PIETARI POSTI### BACK MARKERfor instance – I am trying my best,it’s just nowhere near enough. Andthe less fit you are, the less you’reused to really surging into pain. Aswe approach the track for the last300 metres or so, an old and quitefit bloke high-steps it past me.For some reason, he becomes mytarget – runners of all shapes, menand women, have gone past me thismorning, but he’s the benchmark.I stay in contact, tuck in, and as wehit the synthetic surface, a sensememory hits me. I’m back at school,or even last spring, and I pass him(I later find out he’s 64) and thensomeone else. There’s a runner10 metres in front of me. I know Ican take him, but I slow down. Ifeel embarrassed, I feel that I don’tdeserve to go past. Let him have it.In the chute, I’m leg-weary andbreathing hard. There’s a pleasurein that, certainly, but I’m feelinga bit stupid. This isn’t me; it’s animpersonation. As track seasonapproaches, I know that the onlyway through this is to run hard. I justhaven’t been training hard enough.Everyone runs for diferent reasonsand all running is good, but I’verealised there’s still a bit of pride init for me. My identity is tied up in it.Happy comes later.``````energy balls and visualising. It was ascommitted as I’ll ever get, so I’ve hadto accept that I’ll probably never getfaster over the marathon. If nothingelse, my wife would leave me.So what now? I fantasise about anultra, but don’t know if my body willtake it. My Morton’s toe is an issue.Every runner, it seems, gets an injuryto manage; and this is mine. It seemsto flare up if I go over 80km a week.Enough, but restrictive and possiblyharmful if I push into an ultra.I have another fantasy aboutbeing one of those happy runnersunmotivated by time – just running forexperience. You know the type – theywave to all the spectators, thank allthe marshals, talk during the race andsmile throughout. I like this. I can seethis being the future. I do love running,and I want to encourage others.But in some way I’m wrappedup in the idea of being fast, and I’mannoying myself. This morning,IT’S THE LAST 600 METRES ofthe local parkrun, and I’mgearing up for a big finish. Over the last400m or so, runners have cruisedsteadily past me; it’s been a livingnightmare. My arms sag ineffectuallyby my side, my legs lost in a lactic fog.I’m not very fit at the moment. Thecontrast between this year and last yearis stark. In spring 2017 I was crestingmy highest mileage ever, merrily doingYasso 800 sessions, 35km long runs,and racking up PBs every weekend. Ihad a goal, a sub-three-hour marathon;it was magic and all-consuming. But inspring 2018, Slacker Tonks is doing halfthe mileage, mostly unable to maketrack Tuesday owing to workcommitments, and posting personalworsts at every opportunity.Today, for instance, I’ll be a minuteand a half slower than I normally am.Some of this is physical. I had backspasms that lost me two weeks; thenthe ‘Beast from the East’ hit me hard,and I had ‘that flu’ that everyone got.I was in bed for a week, and threeweeks later I’m still not quite right.But it goes deeper than that. I’mhaving a bit of a crisis. Strap in.In Anthony Trollope’s He KnewHe Was Right, a character says, ‘Theyare most happy who have no story totell.’ I wonder if it’s hard for me to behappy about running unless I’ve gota race to aim for. I’m like a characterin search of an author at the moment.The sub-three push was amazing, butI’ve struggled to replace it. I lived, inessence, like a full-time athlete for sixweeks or so last year, knocking backwork, sleeping during the day, gettingmassages, chomping overpriced“I’m having abit of a crisis.Strap in.”‘I’LL PROBABLYNEVER GETFASTEROVER THEMARATHON.’BY PAUL TONKINSONRUNNERPEDIAIce treatment (n)How you make apost-race gin andtonic feel better.``````Attitudetraining (n)Running whilewearing anexpression thatsays, ‘Don’t evenlook at me! Didyou just look atme?’``````Warm up (v)Prepare for a runwith a lovely cupof coffee.

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