What do you do if you can’t go running?  That is, apart from drink wine, eat cake and watch a film (all of which I have to say, I did last night).  One idea is to sort through old running tops; the sort you get at the end of most mass running races, that you maybe wear a couple of times and then stuff in an already over loaded, running draw, never to see the light of day again.  My wife told me I had over 40 of these things stashed in various drawers around the house and that it was probably time for a clear out.

Now, running t-shirts are just things right?  True, but as I went through them they invoked some incredible memories and I started sorting them not by their quality or practicality but according to how valuable the memories were.  This is why we like taking so many photographs and why some people call them “memories”.    Today, photos play a different role in society than they used to because of the ubiquitous access to high-quality digital photography.  Today, almost everyone carries a powerful digital camera in their pocket and people will take pictures willy-nilly to record pretty much every enjoyable moment of their life.  After all, it costs nothing, unlike the day not so long ago, when developing and printing a roll of 36 exposure 35mm film would cost you several quid.  I have heard it suggested that by taking so many photos, we might actually be eroding our power to remember, because we rely so much on the pictures we take on our cameras and smartphones so much, causing us to neglect to store the memories in our heads.  I am not so sure because like my t-shirts the pictures aren’t the memory itself and don’t have any meaning, unless there a a powerful real memory to unlock.

This is why I never delete photographs and have them all backed up to multiple locations (cloud and otherwise), but should I get rid of t-shirts?  The answer of course is yes I should because it reaches a point where the degree to which they clutter, overrides any nostalgic benefit.  50 odd running tops take up a lot of space and it probably isn’t worth sacrificing all those drawers for an occasional browse down memory lane.  After all, I have my photo library and that isn’t going anywhere.  Talking of photos the picture shown in is of Helen and I after smashing the Edinburgh Marathon in 2011 and this leads me to the last point.

There are some things that I can’t bring myself to get rid of simply because they represent extra special memories.  I will keep my London Marathon tops for example, recent ones (which are practical) and some of my first, given out when I was starting my running journey.  After all, I need something to run in.

‘See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.’  Isaiah 65:17 NIV


Off the beaten track

The phrase “off the beaten track” might have its origins in the time where explorers, or frontiersmen may have created paths through the forest by cleaning away the undergrowth and other obstructions.  Being off that beaten path meant you must have been in real unexplored territory or worse, completely lost.

You might think that the Leeds Country way is the complete opposite of this concept because it is by definition, a way cleared for tourists, walkers and yes, even runners to enjoy safely, the Yorkshire countryside.

You would be wrong.

Returning to Leg 1 of the LCW relay after three weeks and its nearness to civilisation, it’s very on-the-beaten-track-ness seems to have gone back with the onset of summer.  Entropy has taken over!  The decision to wear long running tights was a good one.  They are not completely nettle proof but have saved my legs from being raw after wading through them waste deep.  In places you might think that surely a path doesn’t go through there!

This might be a little woosy-ness on my part because these “jungle stretches” were probably a few percent of the total route that does go through some stunning countryside.  But, as the Boy Scouts say, you should “be prepared”.  So my advice to anyone doing the Leeds Country Way Relay:

Firstly, reccy your route and then do it again, in even this simplest of routes near home I had to look at my GPS a few times.

If you are going out at this time of year, wear running tights/leggings.

Above all have fun doing it.  I am told the beaters will be out before race day so it will be a joy to run and probably not so difficult to navigate.

“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭27:20‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

The 4 minute mile

Before 1954, some thought that running a mile in under 4 minutes was impossible.  Then, at a track in Oxford, Roger Bannister ran it in 3:59:04.  With the track in mind, the Rodillian Runners turned up at the Thornes Park athletics track to see if we could follow in Roger’s footsteps.  One thing we did have in common with that day is that some thought that for us, running a mile in under 4 minutes was impossible. Unlike 1954 though, in this case, they were right!

Running on a track is a bit unusual for my friends and I, who major on roads and trails, but I think we enjoyed the experience.   We had some good times though but 4 minutes remains out of reach.  Our fastest man was Edd who managed a mile in just 5:36.  Edd, all you have to do is keep that up for 26.2 miles and you’ll get a half descent Marathon time!  If you think that’s fanciful, Josh Griffiths, who stunned the athletics establishment by, as a mere “club runner”, being the first Britain home in the London Marathon, sustaining about 5:15 minute miles.

The point of course is, that, as the saying goes, it’s all relative.  We all as individual athletes, have our own 4 minute miles, the achievement of each is personally just as significant and involves no less personal effort.

I expect other runners are like me in that we all have our own fitness benchmarks.   These are times which we expect to be able to achieve when we are fit, not absolute PBs but times that we can achieve with moderate or “threshold” effort.  When I am not able to achieve one of these benchmark levels, I tell myself that when I get back, I shouldn’t beat myself up for not achieving personal bests, but be thankful that I am fit enough to achieve what in my book, are good times.   One such benchmark for me is a 24 minute 5K, which I was able to do at Wakefield Thornes parkrun last Saturday.  This pleases me because it means I have a good level of fitness and a platform for my upcoming Marathon training.

“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving”  1 Timothy 4:4 (NIV)