I’ve been thinking. You’ve probably been wondering what pained, grinding noise was somewhere off in the distance. It was me. Thinking. But what have I been thinking about? Have I been considering how many years it takes the average woman or man (there’s no judgement here) to use her own height in lipstick? No, not that. What about wondering how many left-handed people are killed each year using right-handed products? No, nor that. Maybe I’ve been pondering whether when Pinocchio utters the phrase “My nose will grow now” it will cause a paradox? No, not that either. I mean, these are all useful things to ponder. And the answers are out there, somewhere. In fact, the answers are ‘five’, ‘2,500’ and ‘yes, yes it will’. But I’ve been contemplating something else. I’ve been thinking about why I took up running in the first place. In short, I know why: because I was fed up with feeling like a fat knacker. It wasn’t anything to do with how I looked or what other people thought of me, it was how I felt.
I’m at a bit of a crossroads at the moment with the ol’ running as we edge into a new year. Certain things that used to motivate me don’t seem that important anymore. I have no interest in flogging myself for a new personal best over any distance. I’ve done a marathon, so I can honestly swear *points accusatory finger to the heavens at his deity of choice* I’ll not ever be running any further than that in one sitting. Well, one running. Well, hobbling and crying a bit. So, if I’m not training to go faster or further, why am I running at all? Or, to use a perhaps more downbeat phrase, WHAT’S THE EFFING POINT?
This past weekend I took my daughter to Redcar. No, she hadn’t been naughty. In fact, she had acquired a new plaything and needed ample space to utilise it. You see, over the Christmas holidays we’d had a trip to Beamish Open Air Museum. The museum houses a 1900s Pit Village, and part of that village is a schoolhouse. In the yard of the schoolhouse visitors are invited to play with THE BOOLER. The what? You heard me: THE BOOLER. Its an iron hoop with a metal rod attached. The aim is to roll the hoop along the ground (at pace) whilst keeping it going with the rod. To cut a long story short, my daughter is some sort of Grand Master at THE BOOLER? We don’t know how and we don’t want to know, but for some reason she can keep THE BOOLER going all day long. Hence when it became apparent, whilst exiting Beamish through the gift shop, that such things could be purchased for home use, my daughter had to have one. But the undulating streets of my neighbourhood proved to be a poor arena for a 10-year old to practice her boolin’. Hence off to Redcar promenade: flat, fast, long – boolin’ heaven.
“Right well, this is all well and good, but can we just interrupt you for a second, Taylorson, to ask where this is going and how it is connected to the first two (seemingly unrelated) paragraphs?” I’M GETTING THERE. STAY WITH IT.
So, we get to Redcar. Its windy, cold and a touch on the bleak side. But Little Miss Booler won’t be dissuaded.
She’s off. Boolin’, at approximately 47 mph, down the promenade. Given there were a fair number of folk about, I was duty bound to stay in close proximity, and hence dashed after her. After an hour or so of boolin’, several things were apparent:
1) The sound of THE BOOLER was quite irritating. Lets call it an incessant clanky-clinckle.
2) Those who witnessed THE BOOLER and its master in action fell into three categories according to age:
i) Kids, who wanted a go
ii) Younger adults, who assumed I was some terribly worthy middle-class parent who insistent my child have a booler rather than a PlayStation for Christmas
iii) Older adults, who feared they’d accidently travelled back in time/were having a hallucination/were seeing a ghost, and were trying to remain calm
3) I can chase a Booler Grand Master up and down the prom all day and not be out of breath. With, admittedly, Limp Bizkit’s Rollin’ on repeat in my head. With the lyrics, quite naturally, changed from ‘rollin’’ to ‘boolin’’ – KEEP BOOLIN’ BOOLIN’ BOOLIN’ and so forth.
And it was in fact this final point that reminded me why I started running in the first place. Its all the stuff I take for granted now. Like dashing for a train or running up the stairs or weaving in and out of falling masonry or chasing my daughter down Redcar seafront in pursuit of a turn-of-the-twentieth-century child’s plaything. I’m fit as the proverbial fiddle. Not ridiculously fit. Just fit for life. Pre-running Ben would have been a-wheezing and a-panting after El Boolerino. But now I don’t give such things a second thought. Which is surely what I was kind of aiming for right back at the start of all of this running tosh? Maybe? Lets say yes…
So, with that in mind and the mantra still firmly on ‘just try and enjoy the running in 2016 Ben, lets not marathon ourselves into an early grave’, its time to enjoy easing down a bit. And because even ‘easing down a bit’ requires ‘some sort of mental plan because I’m ridiculous, we can’t just be casual about these things after all’ I’ve got a loose schedule. Firstly, I’ve settled into running every other day. And the plan is to do 4 miles on those days that fall on a weekday, 10k on any weekend running days. Which should be enough to keep me ticking over. Keeping me life fit. Until the summer months, where I fully expect to have changed tack altogether and have committed to something preposterous. Maybe one of those runs that involves flames and barbed wire? Only if I can sneak it past Mrs T without her noticing or reading this. Hmm…or there’s that run which involves dipping in and out of the Tees at various points that I’ve always quite fancied too. But for now, I’ll just stick to the schedule and chasing The Booler.