After the hellish Madrid half marathon and the heavenly Flaming June half marathon, I now find myself in a purgatorial passage of running time.
Distractions multiply with the arrival of summer. Be it tantalizing barbecues, the FIFA World Cup, or flirtation with other sports, sourcing the desire to lace-up after work rather than heeding the call to the pub for the second half of the five o’clock kick-off is proving difficult. Squash and cycling have reappeared on my sporting landscape. As has the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga, especially my flavour of the month pose, bakasana. (Nothing leaves me feeling as energized and exhausted as a session of yoga.)
I’m a determined person who strives for continual progression. But there’s nothing like a month of football to worry the structure of commitment erected in even the most honest of athletes. Thankfully, England were as abject as ever. So they’ll be less hangovers, less wasted energy and fewer kisses and hugs for my mates down the pub.
Equally detrimental to my training regime was my pride with my time in the Flaming June in warm temperatures. That self-satisfaction is a double-edged sword. It’s easy to rest on your laurels after a good performance. You can convince yourself that you deserve a break. Which is true, to an extent. You kid yourself that your last strong performance is now readily accessible. Over-confidence? Perhaps. But the truly great athletes continue to strive toward even greater achievements, no matter if they’re on the back of a poor or excellent performance. The bar is not raised in jagged movements over time, it’s continually being prodded, poked and thrust skyward.
Thankfully, I’ve made the acquaintance of a couple of sports enthusiasts recently. One lady had just completed a 100-mile cycle race. The other, despite a frantic schedule and injury, trains for marathons. Why are such relationships important? Because research suggests that our friendships affect our own health. In basic terms, if we have unfit friends with poor diets, their deleterious ways will have a negative impact on our health. And the theory works in the reverse. If our social groups contain healthy, sports-minded individuals we are more likely to follow their example.
Two close friends have decided to tackle their first 10k race in November. In my Mr. Miyagi role, I’m spouting all the things that I’ve learnt from years of research. Yet I’m not practicing what I’m preaching at the moment. They are both keen and determined to do well, which I’m certain they will. I need to lead by example, especially when the going gets tough.
Looking forward is vital. Get a race booked while the post-race high, or low, from a race is still strong. With a reference point on the horizon there is always something to plan towards, a new target. Which is why, as soon as pay day hits, the most blessed of days, I’ll be booking myself into a late summer half marathon and aiming for the allusive sub 1:30.
Still, having said all that, I wish our England players weren’t perennial bottlers so that I could look forward to more drunkenness cheering on my national team. Will England win a World Cup in my lifetime? Not bloody likely.
¡Pues, por ahora, vamos Colombia, Costa Rica y Chile!