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Running as displacement

October 26, 2015
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Six weeks of regular running. Three, and sometimes four, runs a week. Sunday long runs that can actually be justifiably called ‘long runs’. It may not sound like much, but this has been my first regular structured training for a year (and maybe a bit longer).

The routine – and actually, the pleasure – of getting out regularly has been both a distraction, and an opportunity to focus. The churn of work (the sheer bloody energy required at times to inch projects forwards) had eaten into my running routine to the point where scrappy commuter runs and perfunctory Sunday sessions were all that remained.

And then – with the atomic-clock regularity of publishing, two years after I joined the company in the wake of a restructure – a restructure was announced. I’m fortunate to work in a business where going freelance is comparatively straightforward and established, but even so, awaiting the dread day of trying to spot your name on an org chart gives time for speculation, gallows humour and idle ‘what if’-ing.

When everything’s up in the air, you control the controllable.

A six-mile sunset stretch through the beautiful Grantchester meadows, looping back to the office via the smooth tarmac of the guided busway twice a week. A tempo run over flat ground, run hard.

A languorous Sunday trot either down the river – picking off the rowing coaches on their bikes, calling out to the crews of eights that they need to push through the next bend – or over the Gog Magog hills – dodging loose dogs and small children being supervised by sloe-picking parents.

Occasional recovery runs between mid-week sessions, just stretching the legs, working through any residual stiffness.

Running has been my sanctuary, and if nothing else, this period of uncertainty has been my prompt to fall back in love with running. I’ve had time to decide that if I need to go freelance, I’ll be able to use running to structure my days. Heck, I could perhaps take a Leadership in Running Fitness course and run lunchtime sessions in Cambridge. Or take some time to write a new running book I’ve had in my mind for the last few weeks. Maybe I could even give the blog a proper overhaul, and actually make a real go of it. The opportunities spooled endlessly before me.

And so there was something a bit weirdly deflating about finding out that I still had a job. (Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad to still have a job, and my bank manager is glad I’m in permanent employment, and it makes it easier to sleep at night.) Staying in gainful employment will be significantly helpful with the mortgage payments, but rediscovering running is (like the Barclaycard ad) priceless.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. cheerfulken permalink
    October 27, 2015 1:08 pm

    Mastercard ad executives cried into their cereal when they read this. Millions down the drain…

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