Fitness Big Year: Call me old

Unexpectedly this year, I’ve no longer been able to complete 10-km runs. I petered out after 6 or even 5 kms, sapped of all physical energy. Why? Who knows. Was cycling ripping the strength out of my running legs? Was the body, accustomed to four jogs a week, rebelling at twice weekly? Was my mind saying, “isn’t bike riding so much more manageable?”

Last year I moaned but completed 170 of my 10-km outings. This year . . . none.

I tried all manner of tactics. Clearly, good old grit didn’t work for me. At first I was almost heartbroken, then I grew resigned to the fact of pulling up short. I began to do what I’d promised myself never to do last year, that is, keeping going with a mixture of jogging and walking, and logging the mileage onto Strava anyway. Last year I’d have called that cheating. This year I didn’t care, I needed the kilometres.

Over the past fortnight I’ve attempted a desperate remedy. If I can’t run 10 kms, why not run further? So I’ve been increasing the distance, each time also increasing how far I ran before pulling up winded (and then walk/running). I made life as easy as it could be, constructing a route with barely any hills; I called my route Pancake Flat.

Yesterday a minor triumph resulted. Pancake Flat is now 12 kms and I ran the first 10 kms nonstop, so in essence I’ve got my 2016 distance back again. Next, over the upcoming month or so, I’m going to build up until I can run Pancake Flat, all 12 kms, without a pause. I’m slower now but going further. On completion yesterday, I was drained but once again, as on the wet cycle the day before, a burning joy coursed through me.

This Big Year has been nothing but a reminder of aging, but now, nearly three months in, I believe something fine is occurring.

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