- join a running club. Well - I did join a running club ages ago - in 2006 - where I met SuperSal - but I found it hard to make the weekly meetings in the evenings. Also - to be honest - I like training alone and fitting my training in where I can. Anyway, Jonathan, my osteopath, recommended I try another local club because they do all sorts of hateful things like time trials and hill workouts and track workouts that are good for me. So I went along on a Tuesday evening 3 weeks ago. The first thing I have to say, honesty compels me, is that the coaches (yes there were true honest-to-god qualified coaches) were friendly and seemed good. The second thing I have to say is man! The English can be terrible in social situations. As Sophia used to say in the Golden Girls "picture the scene". Group of runners standing around in running gear in front hall of leisure centre (yeah) waiting for workout to start. Congregating round coaches. The clothing makes it clear who is with the running club or just there to eat the fast food in the cafetaria (yeah). New person turns up. Clearly new because no-one has seen her there before. It is clear that the other members know each other (they are speaking in groups, shooting the breeze, you know being social). So this person - not standing in a group, greeted loudly by the coach "Hi Petra, nice you could join us today!" is new. What do you do? Do you a) go up to her and say "hi, I'm x" and start a conversation or do you b) stand around staring at her but not speaking to her. If you chose b) you chose the group's correct reaction. Jeez! Anyway I haven't developed my extraordinary social skills for nothing so I worked this crowd. As we jogged to the track I struck up conversations, showed interest, expressed admiration at race times and achievements. The track workout was a dud as half the track was closed, and so this created some bitching I could in with (nothing like bitching together to draw people together). We slowly jogged back, and back to our cars. End of workout. For honesty's sake I will make the following points: 1) some people were very nice 2) I do not expect the red carpet to be rolled out for me. The question that has you all hanging on the edge of your seat is - will I go back? And the answer is ... no. And not because no-one's being nice to me. Because I'm sure, over time, the folks would defrost and I would find some kindred spirits and yadda yadda yadda all would be okay. But actually - I have done my speed workouts alone this year and like that. My Garmin keeps me honest. I'm not really that keen to ingratiate myself with a new bunch of people when what they offer is not something I desperately want or need. Call me Greta. (ref. Garbo not Waitz).
- changed my playlist. I tend to listen to podcasts when I'm out running so one of the lightning bolts of inspiration that struck me was that to change my mood I needed to change what I was listening to. So far so genius. As you may recall from aaaaagges ago Mika's Life in Cartoon motion got me through 2008 Chicago training. Mika has a (relatively) new album out (The Boy Who Knew Too Much) and as I can never get me enough sexually ambiguous madness I popped it onto my iPod. Amazing album. The guy is as mad as a snake but fantastically funny with it. And sexy. Couldn't really see that while I was running but I could think it and that helped. Did it help get my mojo back? Well - in so far as it stopped me from thinking and got me belting out songs, yes. I wouldn't say it proved the tripswitch but it helped.
- set myself goals. One of the many kind emails I received in the past month was from Gary, who I ran with at the White Peak half this year. He's quite an incredible ultrarunner and has set himself the goal of running 50M next summer for his 50th birthday. I had emailed him that I might join him on some of it and he responded by saying that my joining him really helped him get motivated. So that I needed to set myself some more goals to get me motivated. He said some more very kind things I won't embarass him by repeating but trust me - the man is a mensch. So here are some of my options:
- run 50M (or part of it) with Gary. I could use Boston training as my leap up in mileage, and then just carry on running long runs. Part of me is quite intrigued by whether I could do an ultra. But maybe 50M is a very long way to go - and will detract from my other training goals (see below). Maybe do 20M - 30M with him? Tips / advice?
- Triathlons. I am very close to finding a swimming club, I have been in touch with some tri gurus and I am fairly confident that, if I cross training with swimming and biking during my Boston training I can get into some sort of triathlon shape by the summer. There are a number of sprint triathlons close to me (Woodhall Spa triathlon, May 9th, Lincoln Triathlon July 4th) and then I'm quite tempted by an Olympic (or oly as I think I'm meant to call it) in London over the summer - the London triathlon. I'm not signing up to anything until I've sorted out my swimming club, but once I've done that I think I'm signing up to these three.
- Bike ride from Arnhem (Netherlands) to Berlin (Germany). I have some local friends who bike a lot and who are tentatively planning to ride from Arnhem in Holland (coincidentally where my parents live) to Berlin. I think it's about a 350 mile bike ride, mostly on quiet roads and cycle lanes, and we'll take about 6 days to do it. I think this would be great fun to do with friends, Adam will join me, and it's one way of seeing just how well I bike (and how good my soon-to-be purchased bike seat is going to be).
- That leaves the autumn open. Which is probably a good thing. If I pull off all the above I might be ready for a break. Alternatively there are so many decent local running races I can enter later in the year that I don't need to decide now.
It's a week later now and though it's not like my hair grew a lot in that time (I wish!) I have managed to make it my own. Does it look like I am disguising my hair with a cat? Well I am. I should have put her in front of my crow's feet as well...
Okay. So what can you learn from me? In a nutshell:
- Not everyone has great social skills.
- change your tune. You might enjoy it even if it doesn't work.
- set some goals. It does work..
- don't cut your hair when you're trying to prompt a change.
Finally. I've been reliably informed that I need to post a picture of my new "ride". Be gentle with her - she's second-hand and was a bargain..
Ok. So as I'm in week 1 of Boston training - yes - I'm off for 8M with 4M at hm pace. That should be fun.. Speak soon my friends.