I managed another run this morning. My head wants to get back that feeling of running fast and freely o’er hill and dale, although my legs are protesting that that was probably twenty years ago now. One of my favourite runs used to be down the Rivelin Valley, out of Sheffield and into the Peak District, up a steep forest trail bordering the reservoirs and then up on the top of the world for a fast, gravity-assisted descent. About six miles for that one, a lot of it at six minutes a mile. I used to relish the huge hills – flat is boring and doesn’t test your range sufficiently. There’s nothing like the sense of achievement of racing past a group of fully kitted out, lycra-clad cyclists on their expensive bikes with hundreds of gears, and seeing their faces grimace and eyes grow wide with astonishment. Broaching the brow of the hill and beginning the descent such a sweet relief after those last few oxygen-sapping yards and feeling the power return to muscles, heart and lungs!
OK, just a memory at the moment. Despite my head wanting all that, my legs are still a little bit heavy and sore from my previous run, although I have been able to negotiate stairs without any involuntary groaning, so there’s hope! It was nice and cool when I got up at 6:30 am, but the air temperature rapidly rose and became increasingly humid. Despite opening every window and door in the house, there was little air movement, and it draped around me like a moist, heavy blanket. Outside there was a slight breeze, but as I started out this seemed to disappear. I can only surmise that the breeze was blowing in the same direction I was running, and at the same rate – around six miles an hour.
Initially, the Sun was hidden by cloud, but a few minutes in began to shine bright and strong, so I braced myself for the accompanying heat which duly obliged. Quite a few dog walkers this morning, but tame animals more interested in the thrown balls and smells not discernible to my impressively large olfactory organ. That was until I remembered one of the most feared aspects of running through this park on a hot and humid day. Remembered is not the right word – rudely reminded is better. About a half mile into the park the rich, pungent stench of the sewage treatment works based on the opposite bank of the river filled the air around me. Bad enough trying to breath in this hot, humid soup of a summer’s day, but when the air is permeated with that fruity, sickly, gut-wrenching aroma it becomes a challenge of Herculean proportions. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it did smell bad!
The smell did spur me on though, in an effort to escape its influence, although it did entail a mental battle between trying to breathe deeply whilst at the same time suppressing the urge to seal my mouth and nostrils. At that point a girl I had seen running the other way ran past me on her return. A girl!!! OK, I know it may sound a bit sexist but I don’t like being passed by a girl when running, especially when it appears that she is actually running quite slowly. If she looks slow, how slow do I look?!! She does look rather young and athletic though, so I am a little more accepting of my failure to keep pace. If telepathy were possible I’d want to say ‘OK, you passed me, but I bet you don’t have a broken femur, heart attack and diabetes to think of as you skip along the path!’ Well, I didn’t really have a heart attack, and my femur broke six years ago, but I still think she should consider these factors before smirking about her triumph!
And the convergence? One thing that always amazes me is when you can go out on a run in different circumstances, varying the route to keep things interesting, and feeling differently about your perceived speed and relative tiredness – and post exactly the same distance and virtually the same time! Not remarkable if you run the same route, but this morning’s run was quite a bit different at the halfway stage and finishing portion, but it was exactly the same distance, run 14 seconds faster (possibly due to slightly different terrain) and expending exactly the same number of calories (332 – surely at least another pound lost?). Blood sugar behaved – 8.9 mmol/l (160 mg/dl) at the start and 8.3 mmol/l (149 mg/dl) at the finish. If I didn’t use hardly any energy, why do I feel so exhausted?!!