First foot forward

It made sense, at first. I had to perform the ghusl before Fajr prayers, and it didn’t make sense to shower, run and then shower again. I’ll just do it tomorrow, I thought to myself yesterday morning. My running schedule is spaced out on alternate days, but it’s not like I’m running a 10km every morning so much so that I’d constantly need a whole day’s recovery.

Of course, I didn’t actually check the weather forecast.

And as I looked out of the window at the frost on everyone’s car (and clearly, poor old Gomo too even though I covered him well last night), I figured a shower-run-shower-again combo would have been better than a run in -3 degrees.

I could have given it up, but of late, running in the morning before work has given me both a sense of structure and a sense of self. It put my head in the right place for the day ahead, and sometimes it even verged on the therapeutic. In fact, running therapised itself from becoming something I didn’t like very much, to becoming something I’d actually do.

And so out I trudged, doing the scheduled 4km and choosing a route that had two runs in two separate parks on the way. Birmingham has an abundance of these little parks just beyond the busy thoroughfares that make it Motor City. You just need to know where to look. On my last stretch back, through Pebble Mill Playing Fields, I saw other runners braving the cold. Clearly more dedicated than me, and at a faster pace, too. A few even nodded and waved, a mark of camaraderie, I suppose, and an acknowledgement to each other’s madness for venturing out on such a day.

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I have in the past confessed that for someone that does it quite a bit, I don’t like running. I don’t, really. I want to say that I am more of a people person and enjoy team sports more; but my reclusive nature that more and more people are beginning to attest to would say that’s a lie. My preference for sports such as football, badminton and those of its ilk lies in one thing: the ability to score, and the ability to win. I like winning, let’s put that on the table. And I’m not a fast runner, so running doesn’t offer me the opportunity to win, as much.

What made running really unenjoyable for me, in the beginning stages of my foray into this sport, was the fact that I could only push myself so much, and having failed to achieve a personal best every single day, for that was what winning entailed in my competitive mind, I got frustrated. I later found out about the run-walk movement, where the whole aim of the game is to run and walk rather than just continuously run. You start off walking more than running, and then ultimately as you get fitter, you flipped the process. So you’d end up with say, a 5-minute run and then a 2-minute fast walk, which when done in sets of 10, could pretty well get you to 10km or beyond. And that gave me more of a sense of achievement – doing a decent 10km, than huffing and puffing to run 6o minutes straight and then feeling dejected having failed to do so.

Allowing myself to do something which I am nowhere near good at has been excellent therapy for someone who is used to doing well in most things that she tries. It humbles you, and humility is never a bad thing.

And so I run.


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