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One deadly sin

January 2, 2013

I decided that today would be a short and easy run. I’ve still got some of the Christmas cold rattling in my chest, and my Achilles tendon on my left foot has been resolutely stiff in the mornings. A quiet run along the steadily-drying Lea Valley would do me nicely.

When you’ve been running marathons for a couple of years, getting into the mindset of deliberately running short is difficult. Normally my short route is an 8.5-mile loop down the towpath, around Hackney Wick, and back again. Or a 9-mile out-and-back up the Lea Valley to the lock beyond London Waste.

But today I was going to run 6 miles. And not particularly fast.

The run itself was nice, if remarkable only for the Christmas cold resulting in parts of the towpath looking like… well… if you remember the character Slimer from the 90s Ghostbusters cartoon, you’ll probably get the idea.

But deliberately running short felt a bit like putting the lid back on the Christmas chocolates when there are only a couple left, and it’s a really big tub. Or getting to a climactic scene in a thriller novel with only one chapter to go, but putting the bookmark back in and resolving to leave it until tomorrow.

Perhaps I’m a glutton. I like a lie-in – which you might want to class as ‘sloth’, but really I’m a duvet glutton. Once I get properly into something, such as a good novel (I’m currently tearing my way through Ben Aaronovich’s excellent Peter Grant series) the chances are low that I’ll be sensible and think about whether I would be better off leaving it for the next day. And as for those Christmas chocolates – to put it in terms of the old Milky Way advert, if the red car and the blue car had a race, I’d be the red car.

Is it so counter-intuitive that gluttony can extend to mileage? The run-until-exhausted approach to picking a distance to run, versus the run-what-you-need approach of leaving plenty in the tank for a more focused session later in the week.

I have miles left on my plate, but for once I’m going to put them in a Tupperware box in the fridge and have them tomorrow.

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