Thinking about nothing other than running

Once you start running, how do you function in the real world?

Running is kind of like Facebook: it’s distracting and addictive. You know you have to get on with other stuff – like work, for example – but you keep clicking on that tab for just one more look. And logging out doesn’t help; it’s easy enough to just log back in.

And it’s not even as if Facebook is particularly interesting (it’s not – mostly it’s downright boring and unreasonably annoying) or that I’m any great shakes as a runner (I am most definitely not). It’s not even as if I enthusiastically charge out of the house at the crack of dawn each morning, gazelling my way down dark, empty streets, loving the freedom my light-as-a-ballerina feet give me, and filling my lungs with fresh, pre-dawn air.


In fact, it is now 11:15 am, and I have been sitting in front of my computer, wearing my running gear, since eight o’clock this morning. My running alarm went off at seven o’clock. It said ‘Get up, get up! Get running!’ I had planned to run from 7:30 to 8:30, which would give me the energetic start to the day that all the running experts promise. I have not managed to entertain the idea of running at 5 or 6 am. I just can’t make myself do it this winter – yes, yes, I know, I should try harder.

Of course, I didn’t run at 7:30, as planned. There was no good reason why not. I just didn’t. I made some coffee and toast and read Runner’s World instead. And it just so happened that this issue had reviews of five books ‘every runner should read’. Since I’m a running book addict at the moment, I immediately took myself to Amazon to read all the look-insides and add all the titles to my wish list. That inevitably took me to click through other running books kindly suggested by Amazon and from there I clicked through all the running tabs I still had open in Safari from yesterday.

I checked my training schedule (I need an 11 km today and on Friday, and a 28 km on Saturday … eek!), checked the gym timetable to see what crosstraining I could fit in and then took another look at Strava, just to admire all those little green blobs I’ve accumulated on my training log over the last few days … so pretty!

And then I needed to check out Pinterest for some inspirational running quotes. Some tea was needed to wash down all the feel-good pics and words … brings a tear to the eye, it does. It virtually pushes you out the door and onto one of those endless roads – all of them so clean, so gently rolling in lovely light and in soft focus … and if I come across that ponytailed, tightly toned babe in the tiny crop top and the snug running pants that show off her perfectly curved butt (you know, the generic female runner one who features in every single one of those inspirational quote pics) … well, nevermind. I’m never going to catch her anyway. Certainly not if I spend more time thinking about running than actually running.

Then I thought I would start writing this. So thoughts of running have consumed my tiny brain for almost five hours. Each time I clicked onto my soul-destroyingly boring work I would take one look at it and find something running-related to focus on instead.

I could have run a marathon in the time I have spent planning runs, entering races and thinking and reading about running this morning.

I could have written 5 000 words of a bestseller.

I could even have done some actual income-generating work. (This thought could lead me to googling ‘time management’ or ‘what the fuck should I do with my life’ and frittering away the next few hours until I have to fetch The Kid from school.)

And the funny thing is, when I eventually get myself out the door and onto the road (which will be in the next half hour), I will still be thinking about running.

Except then I’ll be thinking about when I can stop …!


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