Life in a Day

Life in a day
The price that you pay
For time that you spent
It’s such a fatal event
Take a look at your watch
There is no time to wait
Take a look deep inside
There’s no escape from this day

Saturday 19th September and Burnham-on-Sea Harriers elite squad formed A and B teams to compete in the Uphill to Wells relay. I’m not sure of the final placings but I believe our A team finished fourth. Everybody seemed happy with their runs. My experience of relay running from my previous life was County Championships, Midlands Regional Road Relays and Midlands Cross Country Championships. I believes it gives the team or group an opportunity of team bonding and comradeship above and beyond normal ‘club life’.

Anyway, as I’m now a slow old fart I was surplus to requirements. Madame Pompomadour and myself wondered up to Ian Booth’s as he kindly offered to repair Pompomadour bicycle. A nice little chat followed by a prawn sandwich and americano at Cafe Beans and a watch of some football and I was ready for my run.

I started by running down the road trying to loosen my load when I found a group of people with a cyclist who who was laying down on the ground. ‘Hi’, I said. ‘Is everything okay? I’m first aid trained’. Nothing. I quickly observed that the cyclist was in no danger, responding to stimulus, airways weren’t restricted and was breathing normally. I went on my merry way thinking the respondents were bloody rude.

I headed up to Stoddens Road and onto Crooked Lane. I remembered a segment that Matt Powell had used for a speed session and turned off towards that. Crossing a couple of fields, one of which had a number of curious cows, and a railway crossing. I followed the path to Brent Knoll, along a road and back onto a footpath.

After a couple of fields I reached a gate with another field. Two ladies and a dog were waiting there. They were waiting because several young bullocks were by the gate. Jeez, I thought. I’ve heard so many stories about runners and cows and I had already dodged one bullet this evening. I thought this is a moment. Talking sweetly to the young bulls, I gently opened the gate. The youngs bulls despersed like I was some kind of Moses parting the Red Sea. I must be some kind of bullocks whisperer or talker of bullocks. The two ladies and dog followed safely. I continued my run along Crooked Lane and Brent Broad and onto to the beach and home. Here I invented the acronym, GRUB Grass, Road, Urban, Beach.

Sundown

After a lovely soapy bath, I ventured out to purchase some beers to relax away my evening. Here I was met by people not observing the ‘guidelines’ of wearing masks and no more than 3 allowed in the shop at any time. I pointed this out to one individual and he responded with ‘my bad’. My bad. What the fucking hell is that about? I attempted to explain about a pandemic and R rates but the asshole suffered with a a severe lack of understanding. Sorry, but it’s like pissing in the wind. Maybe every asshole should die and we start again. No predudice.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Where’s Captain Baker? Apologies to Spizz Energi

I was beamed aboard the Starship Enterprise
What I felt what I saw was a total surprise
I looked around and wondered can this be
Or is this the start of my insanity

Oh but it’s true
As we went warp factor 2
And I met all of the crew
Where’s Captain Kirk

Two Metres if you please

Well, it’s been ‘difficult’ this year so far. No, actually, it’s been a f*cking sh&t year to be my first year as captain of my running club. I was elected captain at the AGM at the end of February and since then the coronavirus, Covid 19, has decimated all road and trail racing not to mention normal life. Folks in the know said captaincy will be easy, a doddle. All you have to do is set a route on club nights. Hence my nickname of Captain Calamity.

We came back, post lockdown, running in smaller groups of between 5 and 8 but recent legislation states that by law from Monday 14th September that social groups must be a maximum of 6. Sport England and England Athletics say that organised runs are exempt and can continue with groups of 12 but my wish is to continue in groups of 6 including a coach/run leader. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Super duper, it’s late Summer and folks are trying to get away before the colder weather. Each Run Leader who is absent means 5 members can’t run on a club night. It’s nobody’s fault but it’s a ball ache from a club logistic point of view. Something that was never thought of before Covid 19 is now the central consideration.

From a personal aspect, I’ve been overwhelmed by the response of our members with regard to coming back to running on our Tuesday club night runs. They’ve came and bought into what we’re trying to provide as a club now as they have done during lockdown with Kelly Sherriff’s Daily Collages where members are encouraged to run in a different colour shirt of the rainbow each day, our Spot the Harrier challenge to score points and all the other stuff I think of to keep our group together in uncertain times to try and keep motivation high. Matt Powell has provided some speed sessions and our Sunday morning social runs have been well subscribed. Hopefully, some bases are getting covered after a surge in membership.

We now find ourselves a little light on Run Leaders in some areas after a couple have stepped down and we are lacking first aiders in all areas. This, unfortunately, can’t be rectified yet but must be a work in progress when life returns to normal. We’ve been lucky to be able to have had Zoom chats with an England Athletics coach to help us try and move the best way forward. These sessions were meant to be face to face with our group but as it’s via a webinar it’s only attracted Run Leaders. Things are definitely on the up and we’re moving forward when everything could have stalled.

Doing the park run dance could be a while off

Towards the end of next month, October, park run hopes to return. I say hopes to because at the moment Covid-19 positive tests are doubling every 7-8 days. It is difficult to know what to believe from the various news agencies but they all seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet. If it’s that bad, and bearing in mind we live in a coastal resort town , I really can’t see it happening here. Overall around the country with it’s various spikes, the Government and local authorities won’t allow mass gatherings like that.

Hopefully we might be back in time for these outfits

Where’s Captain Baker? I’ve been here all the time at the Bridge. Mr. Sulu, warp factor 4.

Life’s been good to me so far or How running broke me and then broke me free

Oh I’ll break them down, no mercy shown
Heaven knows, it’s got to be this time
Avenues all lined with trees
Picture me and then you start watching

Falling in and out of love is troublesome enough for teenagers but it can be worse for adults. A compulsion and an addiction. Work and family get involved. Friends offer advice but they don’t really understand. Life produces so many different paths but we have no Sat Nav and we muddle through ocassionally taking the easy road because it’s easy but missing the scenic route with it’s trails, coastal paths and hill climbs.

Playing cricket at my alma mater, Tewkesbury CC

No, this isn’t a story of a middle aged man having a breakdown crisis and running off with a teenage Bridgwater pole dancer. I was/am a cricket fanatic. From the age of 6 I watched and played. I devoted my life to it. Then in 1997 I had enough and brokeout. I tried a bit of running to lose weight and get fitter. It progressed from a Jeff/run/walk to a run and, then, a speedier run. Local half marathons followed and then joining the home town club. I ran fast times, scored high placings, won things and it boosted my confidence. More races and more improvement resulted in pressure to succeed and harder training and eating disorders and finally, not burn out exactly but, disenchantment and feeling down, low mood and a resurfacing of depression. Running that had previously given me so many highs was now breaking me up and I had to break the cycle. My last race was the Milan Marathon. I had quite bad cramping in my calves and asthma problems and that was that and I thought I was finished with running and the thought of returning to my club for, by my standards, a disappointing marathon was crippling.

At that time, the diagnosis and treatment of mental health was pretty basic. I remember, when eventually being diagnosed, I was prescribed reading a book from the library. I understand the theory of changing the thought process but surely that must be guided and it’s never worked with me although I’ve tried a couple of times with no feedback. I’ve since discovered that it’s quite common for runners to have eating problems which is very disturbing at any level but that’s the 1 or 2% that might give you an edge. I only wanted to race for my county but that depended on who you were and what club you ran with. Unfortunately in Gloucestershire that wasn’t Tewkesbury AC. It was never really worth the sacrifice as I subsequently realised.

Looking ill. I nearly cry when I see this picture

Milan,just before my last marathon

I returned to cricket. I got my England Cricket Board coaching badge and passed a general sports coaching course. But cricket wasn’t my thing anymore. It felt different and the people changed. We had both moved on. It was like coal mining and the seams were running dry. Spring 2014, I broke my right elbow and missed the entire season and my wife, Sue, and myself with son, Elliot, moved to Burnham-on-Sea asI was unable to pay our mortgage on my sick pay.

When you move to a new town, what is the best way to make friends? Join a club. So I joined the local cricket club and the Harriers running club. I started running again to keep fit while my elbow was healing but nerve damage and paralysis in my hand were brcoming the bigger problem. We moved in October, so it was running and cricket that was not first the new recipient of my experience/talent/ knowledge. However things were definitely not cool. I was cramping big time on runs and I couldn’t manage the gentle 4 miles club runs. Kev Clements gave me encouragement walking by my side but I was broken. Winter cricket practice started and I couldn’t bat in the nets for more than a couple of minutes due to being overwhelmed with exhaustion. So after, Sue’s nagging, I finally went to the doctor at Burnham Medical Centre where I sent to Bridgwater Hospital for a flexible sigmoidoscopy and colorectal cancer was confirmed.

Alan, my stoma. Post cancer op

May 2015 the touring New Zealanders were playing cricket against Somerset at Taunton and I was at Musgrove Park Hospital, also in Taunton, to have the cancerous tumour that would/could kill me removed. I stayed there for the whole month convincing my friends and family that that was that and I wouldn’t be back. Twelve months later, I returned to the Harriers on Tuesday club nights feeling able to participate properly. I was greeted by Jayne Biddiscombe-Jackson. An NHS hero, she had lost her uncle to bowel cancer and her father had survived it. Club captain, Tracey Benton was also so encouraging after my recovery.

By now I had lost two seasons of cricket and thought there was little point in continuing being in my fifties. It was like the 70s song ‘Rock n Roll ( I Gave You The Best Years Of My Life). I would never fulfil any ambitions as I was always ‘one step behind you’. So I immersed myself back into running. This time for friendship and fun. Those personal bests were well in the past so I had the freedom of nothing to prove. Sue proudly always mentions my achievements which embarrasses me immensely. I think people are thinking ‘how can this chump run like that when he struggles for a sub 2 hour half marathon?’.

I’m happy now. I hate my job but love to run. Two hours running around the Mendips or Quantocks passes in no time and the views make my recovery worth it. I also have made friends with some of the loveliest people imaginable.

Best people in the world and happy running

A Grand Day Out

With races being scarcer than rocking horse pooh due to Covid-19, Burnham-on-Sea Harriers decided to set something up for their membership. Ganesh Gudka came up with the idea. His daughter, Becky, and her boyfriend, Pat, had signed up for their first half marathon in Exeter. Unfortunately the event was cancelled and as the pair and friends were running for Meningitis Research Foundation and still wanted to run a half to help raise money for the charity.

Ganesh approached our Chair Person, Matt Powell, and myself, as Captain, with his plan and we thought it super. Since lockdown in March we’ve came up with many challenges for our members to take part in. Things like wearing a shirt of a different colour of the rainbow each day and spotting other Harriers to score points. This seemed a great motivational event. And, Matt even managed to conjure up some fabulous finishing mementoes. The Half Baked Social Half was born.

So on a overcast and very humid Sunday morning, around 16 of us assembled on the ‘start line’ with two support cyclists. We were split into three groups depending on pace and of course everybody social distanced. This was very apparent after 5 km when three members of the lead group were being dropped. The leading pair were clearly on a mission and were running well. Most of us had been chugging around fairly aimlessly and discovering different trails, having fun and trying to avoid crowds. To be honest, this race came a bit soon and many of us hadn’t put in those training miles.

At around half way two of my group were struggling. Alison Barnes, running her first half, and Becci Green, running her first for 6 years. Roxy Faulks and myself caught up with Tracey Thomas, Billie-Jo Hopley and Dave Male from the leading group as we approached the dark side of Brent Knoll. I’ve never ran that way before and with no footpath was a potential problem. Luckily, traffic was light at that time on a Sunday morning but was safe enough. We carried on through East Brent to the slog that is Crooked Lane. It’s funny how these stretches always seem further.. Especially after ten miles. Billie-Jo dropped off so Tracey waited for her to help her finish the final couple of miles. Roxy was brilliant. Never wanting to stop and drink but doing it on the run

Joyfully, we finished with cake, tea and coffee to refresh us. The fastest two from the lead group had already finished and had showered! We then assembled on the road to cheer home those behind us. It was faboulous to see the faces of people finishing their first half marathon. I’ve ran many halfs and tend to be a little blaise about it but I was truly touched by the reaction of the first timers.

That coffee and walnut cake was truly sensational. Everybody appeared to have a great experience and I hope it becomes a regular part of training to Autumn half marathons. I’ve been a long time advocator of a run of over 10 miles at a social pace on Sundays, when not racing, and this proves there is a need or a desire for it and it will help for all distances from 5 km to half marathons.

Oh and the ‘grand’ day out reference. With this run I passed a thousand running miles for the year.

The Heat Is On

Summer is here and Glenn ‘Fry’ Frey’s song from Beverly Hills Cop is the soundtrack to running at the moment. The temperatures are scorchio but what can a runner do to keep the sun off their fair complexion and stay cool. Firstly and most obvious don’t run but us runners are creatures of habit , or addiction, and we need that endorphin fix or just to log those miles on Strava. Years ago girls driving would slow down to check me out but sadly not now. Unless they they think I’m in need of first aid or urgent medical care! I remember an old running friend of mine liking the feel of the sweat running off his shorts and down his legs. I now realise that was probably urine. Yuck!

Maybe run at stupid o’clock when the sun hasn’t fully risen and the air is reasonably fresh. The added bonus is you’re only be confronted by people going to work, dog walkers and other runners, or as BBC weathercasters say ‘doggers’, and therefore reducing your chances of catching Covid-19. I have to go to work at , for me, an unreasonable hour so on my weekends I prefer a little more of a casual awakening experience.

So, evenings after work. I work a 10+ hour shift cooking jam working in at least 35degrees so evening runs are a rare and special treat. My club run on Tuesdays and I always try to attend. I may attempt to make the occasional 5k or 4 mile run on a Wednesday or Thursday but living on the coast in Burnham-on-Sea means battling along the esplanade amongst holiday makers who’s idea of social distancing is not sharing their chips with the seagulls. A busy thoroughfare is never good for us runners especially when it’s full of townies taking in our beautiful coastal sunsets.

Coastal runners have added advantages. There is all that beach to run on and oh boy Burnham has beach, and mud. The World’s second highest tide, behind some place in Alaska and don’t park your car on the beach as the tide comes in quickly. This leads to some great Chariots of Fire training. A mile or so inland from any seaside town can lead you into some amazing countryside and here there’s no exception. A 30 minute jog would find you up the 449 feet climb of Brent Knoll with it’s fabulous panoramic views. A 10 minute drive to Brean Down, a 318 feet climb up a penisula overlooking the Bristol Channel where the Dambusters practiced their raids and Weston Super Mare where John Cleese practiced his silly walks .

A twenty minute drive and you’re in the Quantocks or Mendips and some of the best trail running in the South West with their huge climbs to trig points and superb views a must for any off road runner. The cool miles under the canopy of the trees and fresher breeze in the open on top of the climbs makes these sort of runs a refreshing change to the hot, dusty roads of the town.

Ironically, the day after writing this temperatures were down by 10 degrees and rainy!

Summertime and the livin’ is easy? Or, some you Gershwin, some you lose

The months roll on. March becomes April becomes May becomes June, get the picture. It’s now August and all the kids who have been in lockdown are now on school holiday. Most folks are back at work, or sadly reduntant, and some still working from home. We’re all still urged to social distance at a minimum of a metre plus but many don’t in actuality. England Athletics have formally announced that we may run in groups of up to twelve, including a coach or leader in running fitness. This means that Burnham-on-Sea Harriers are back and open for business. As club captain, I feel that twelve is too great a number and six to eight is more manageable and less likely to upset people who have been shielding and getting out for the first time in four months. We are a local club for local people and we must be considerate to the feelings of others.

August also means my first love, don’t tell the trouble and strife, of cricket returns but to empty grounds. Football has been played for a couple of months and again to their vast empty stadia. Still no races and this week, Thursday 6th August, the most popular and famous race in the UK/ World has been cancelled, The London Marathon. Inevitable really. Probably right as London attracts runners from all of the United Kingdom and the World and travelling form one area to another is fraught with consequence. Every week/ day more races are falling away.

Burnham-on-Sea Harriers have been back for 3 weeks now and it’s been so good to see and run with old friends. We’ve even attracted new members which is fabulous and they fit brilliantly into our club. The Summer months with it’s long sunlit evenings offer a chance for something a bit different. Our Run Leaders have been fantastic in offering choices to our membership. Mr. Chair, Matt Powell, has been taking runners on the hilly trails of The Quantocks. Steve Wilcox and Tracey Thomas have been introducing some of our tribe to the delights of Brent Knoll and it’s tracks. Celebrated Super Septagenarian Sue Nicholls helps our slower group and I pick up some quicker ones. It’s been working well and the feedback has been promising. Alas our core and stability session is still a while away but hopefully we can find a way of introducing some speed training just in case there may be a race before Christmas.

Many of our members, and runners as a whole, have discovered that their running disciplines can be satisfied by virtual running. By running a distance or a set number of miles during a month athletes can ‘win’ medals. They are great for encouragement but I miss the start line and anticipation of a competitive race even with the fears and doubts.

I always loved running in Summer when it’s hot. The roads and trails just seemed a little faster and responsive, like track running. These are the months that you can benefit from all those cold, dark Winter runs. The fast 5 and 10 kilometre races have been raced, with personal bests?, and it produces the perfect ‘kick’ into Autumn half and full marathons.

Until things return to a normal we can follow and understand, the best we can do is support and encourage each other, to try and help our comrades running and training, and support them when they feel uncertain and unsure.

Times Like These You Learn To Love Again

Things have been changing at an alarming rate. Firstly, our descent into lockdown with no shops open, except supermarkets, for three months and then an 180 degrees turnaround and everything is open. Humans of very small brain, like Winnie the Pooh, can’t quantify these changes as our Government would insist. Many people have lost loved ones and many more have struggled with not seeing family and friends, working from home and not seeing the usual work mates and arsehole bosses, or being furloughed on less money (but thanks, Rishi) with nothing to do. Others have been shielding due to age, health or just being careful and trying to do the right thing. Toilet rolls have been in short supply and hand sanitiser and face masks have taken over as currency.

My, our, running club of Burnham-on-Sea Harriers have been supported during this pandemic by Kelly Sherriff’s wonderful nightly collages, our Spot The Harrier competition, our weekly Friday Night Virtual Pub Quiz, our #BeKind tracks and First Single Bought. I hope it’s all kept everyone connected, entertained and motivated. Hopefully, as a club, we will return to our usual club run and some other sessions soon using guidelines from England Athletics and the Bay Centre.

Some of us today put our toes in the tepid water of reintegration today. Ian Booth, Tracey Thomas, Jon Jacobs, newbie Alison Barnes and myself stumbled from Brean to Weston via Uphill along the cycle path. We met at 8.00am without Andrea Tarczali but being one of our finest, a lie in was accepted. Ian and myself regularly sought out company for a social run with Ian being more successful than me. Clearly the lure of cake! It was great to entice Alison, Tracey T and Jon out for a get together jog.

The weather was unseasonably breezy but otherwise pleasant without rain or being too cold. We ran out the 5 km to Uphill where we were met at the beach by Darude’s sandstorm and the white horses similar to the famous Guinness advert. We jogged along a cycle path to Weston and then back to our original path back to Brean where Tracey and Jon ran some more to make it up to 10 miles. The pace always social and the chat convivial. No one gets left behind or left out. Harriers are inclusive.

We will return together again, in groups of 6 and social distancing , on Tuesday, 14th July. We can motive each other and train towards races in November or December, if still staged, or for many of the virtual challenges that are posted on Facebook throughout the summer and autumn. Keep your powder dry.

So here we are. I made a vow, to carry you home, If you fall sick, if you pass out.

Bloc Party

Well my little chickadees, life has moved on at an alarming rate. Maybe the Government have been forced into some sort of positive exit strategy to end ‘shielding’, isolation or ending the job retention scheme by big business or some vested interest.

For us runners, in England, at the moment, it means we can exercise in groups of no more than 6 but keeping a minimum of 2 metres apart at all times. Easy enough if you’re running with Harry Petheram or Tim Byrne. I’d struggle to be within half a mile. How does that affect the average club runner? Runners will need to set out in groups of similar ability however the crisis seems to be as large as ever.

Many sports are now able to continue such as football, snooker and horse racing behind closed doors and with the minimum number of people attending. Road and trail races cannot guarantee the 2 metres partition so therefore that is impossible at the moment. No races are scheduled before October and that is looking doubtful at the moment. Newport Marathon and Cardiff Half have already cancelled until next year. Some wonderful Spring/ Summer races have already passed by the wayside for this year and many Autumn races are sure to follow.

I’m now very proud to have been elected as Club Captain. I had hoped it would be easier with just a bit of encouragement and organising the Tuesday Club Run but I love the way the club has reacted by still running, trying to Spot the Harriers, the brilliant nightly rainbow collage and the Friday night virtual pub quiz. That support network that I mentioned is working overtime to keep everyone incentivised to carry on running, cycling or walking to keep fitness levels up.

As captain I must think on many levels, but members come first. and first must be safety. I/ we/we/I have decided that it is too soon to return to our usual Tuesday club night runs. It would be difficult to control with social distancing, routes to run safe from others and covid-19 possibly reaching a higher level here because of tourism. But, but members are frustrated. We want to meet up and run with our mates but we need to be cautious and respect all our members interpretation of social distancing.

I believe that certain misdemeanours by a person or persons close to Boris Johnson have precipitated this directive and he’s covering his ass. Either way, it’s too early and is bound to be abused as it is with mass demonstrations. I feel for everybody of colour or not who have been killed under Police supervision but we must keep our powder dry and hopefully a change will come. Schools are opening for certain ages groups. We all know that children are notoriously questionable where social distances are concerned therefore I can’t blame teachers being reluctant to return so early. Early? Well the R rate has been between 0.9-0.7 all along but suddenly now it’s okay to get out. Here in the South West the infection rate has risen to 1 and the Harriers are understandably worried.

Colourful Harriers in purple

I’m looking forward to a bloody good jolly up with all my Harriers buddies when this blows over with plenty of more drinking, dancing and singing.

Isolation a track from an album named Closer!

But if you could just see the beauty,
These things I could never describe,
These pleasures a wayward distraction,
This is my one lucky prize.

Things are getting really creepy these days. I run but aim to distance myself from others by as much distance as possible. Other ‘new to jogging’ joggers, walkers, dog walkers and cyclists seem to think they have all the room for right of way and I, and other runners, seem to have to take the lower ground and take their chances running in the middle of the road and do their best to avoid traffic. You even get couples walking side by side while considerate drivers hopefully give us runners a wide berth. Give an inch and make a friend is a popular saying amongst peloton cyclists.

I’m now furloughed which will mean I’ll have more time to train for running rather than work for the man, or rest my weary bones. It seems the older I get, the harder I’m expected to work and the less I get paid. If you like marmalade, curd or jam, I’m your man.

I must admit that at the moment the days are quite short. My daily pattern is waking early, between 6 and 7am, listen to the news and views and then fall back to sleep awakening several times but eventually getting out of bed with the realisation that I need to run at around 1pm. Not really any reason to get up earlier. Plenty of time for all the washing up and clothes washing to have clean running kit. A priority. So I now tend to run during the warmest and most populated time of the day. I loved running later at 8pm. It was quieter, more picturesque with the setting sun on the horizon and cooler temperatures. Tea, or breakfast, and watch crap telly, a few beers, fall asleep and eventually go to bed between 2 and 4am. And then do it all over again.

Rereading this, I really should use this valuable time wisely. I’m in the middle of two half read books which I could finish. I should try some You Tube Pilates and core and strength exercises. I have online England Athletics courses I could do. I’ve already completed a Mental Health in Sport course and the Harriers are part of England Athletics ClubRun support initiative. More of that later when the sessions begin. I could learn creative writing so hopefully this dirge may be more entertaining. Plenty of scope if only I could get my lazy butt into gear but it’s only been one week of six weeks furloughed so there is time for absolution.

The Harriers have come up with a few challenges to keep us all occupied during these days of Covid-19 isolation. April had a month of varying disciplines, May has Miles for Mind where you set yourself a mileage challenge for the month and be rewarded with a medal and raise money for Mind charity. We also have the brilliant Rainbow Challenge set by Kelly Sherriff. Where we have to wear a different colour of the rainbow tee shirt everyday. Monday is red, Tuesday is orange, Wednesday is yellow, Thursday is green, Friday is blue, Saturday is indigo/purple and Sunday violet/pink. Each night she posts a collage picture of all those wearing the appropriate shirt. Another reason why I can’t run too late! Friday is the online virtual pub quiz. And, we are now on Twitter. It has been fabulous to see how well supported all these challenges have been. At least I some time to think about a challenge for June.

Hopefully, we’ll be together again soon

Postscript

Last week we learnt of the sad death of founder member, Brian Beale. He held the club together during the times when interest in running and membership was low. I’m sure he would be very pleased how Burnham-on-Sea Harriers has flourished over the last couple of years and the visions we have for the future. RIP Brian.

Brian Beale 1936-2020

Don’t Stand So Close To Me

We now live in the most worrying times since World War II. Coronavirus, Covid-19, has become pandemic and social distancing of at least 2 metres have become the norm. I’m quite a tactile person. I love to congratulate other runners on great achievements with a comment or a hug but these days it has become impossible.

We live in strange times when to social distance from a dog walker us runners can run in the middle of the road without fear to avoid traffic because mostly it’s not there, or Dare thanks Shaun Ryder and Gorillaz.

Motivation is so difficult. It seems racing won’t commence until September at the earliest and those training runs may become less and less vital. But, they are. Keep going. Keep running as long as the Government guidelines suggest it’s wise, healthy, and possible to. Try and continue those long Sunday morning runs throughout these days and you WILL feel the benefits in the Autumn and beyond. Try some faster running even if it’s only lamppost fartlek. One session a week will suffice. Post on social media and others will give you kudos to encourage you. Wave and speak to other runners that you see out will give you and, hopefully, them a buzz.

So many runners have been training very diligently for Spring marathons, half marathons and prestigious 10ks, like Bristol 10k. We’ve all had the disappointment of races and training runs cancelled by a succession of storms that have battered the UK in the early months of this sad year and now this. I admit that I’ve been very lucky as my Spring goal race was the 20 mile Grizzly and that went ahead.

All the races that I’ve entered through until June have been cancelled so Autumn is likely to be busy if they are all close to each other and then there is the Autumn races which are so popular. Many race organisers aren’t offering refunds which is a real shitter because you may have to decide which race to drop and of course finisher’s memento comes into the equation. Medal or tee shirt, etc. That brings us to another consideration, virtual races. These have to be a real motivation to run just as challenges on Strava and other apps.

Mental health is of critical priority during this time. Running provides a baseline. It gives us normality. Running is really inherent as it gives some release from the pressures that work and life bring and worries about family and friends. Many people are home working or furloughed therefore to get out smell the fresh spring air and actually see another human being is important. Temperatures are rising and the sunshine is so tempting but, please, continue the two metres guidelines and run in your locality in a safe area and not drive to a location which may not be safe.

The word unprecedented has been used a lot recently but it is appropriate now. In my lifetime I’ve never experienced anything like life at the moment. I was pooing myself in the late 60s/early 70s over the Vietnam war and then a decade later over the Falklands Conflict and AIDS. We have the resilience as long as we adhere to social conscience and respect to others to reduce NHS to manageable levels.

Be Safe.