Inspiration for the dying days of Autumn

26 Nov

This guest blog is from my brother – in gritty running spirit – Mark Field @markfield79. We struck up a friendship over twitter and wierdly ran our first half marathons the same weekend. And, much like me he has discovered that Autumn brings out the best in his running relationship. He says:

“Having completed the Nottingham half marathon at the end of September, I returned to running less than a week later to notice the season had changed. Not something I would have even cared about some 32 years earlier, but like most runners, I have a heightened sense of awareness of exposure to the elements.

I’ve been running for almost a year now, since 4 January to be precise, the day after I read the Grit Doctor’s piece in the Times, ironically sitting in a gym café. It wasn’t a new year’s resolution but more of an acceptance to what was being said: “Run, just get out there and run”.

Starting running in the coldest of months, it thankfully wasn’t long before I felt the glow of spring and warmth of summer make those first 10 minutes all the more bearable.

But, returning to running after the half marathon on a cold, dull, wet October day wasn’t the least bit inspiring – I felt sluggish and miserable. To be honest, for the first time in 10 months I was worried that this hobby I’d become so obsessed with was about to end prematurely, confined to the drawer of football kits, gym gear and all manner of fads and fashions I’ve long since forgotten.

I decided to take a week off running and hope that I’d miss the exercise. If this relationship with running was about to end, it was going to go down fighting. Returning to my running roots, Grit Doctor told me that Autumn was the best time for running: Cool, clear and, most importantly, without boundaries. And so it hit me – the second running revelation in a year!

As a road runner, I’d become too predictable and as consequence bored of doing the same route, four times a week. Training for a half marathon, I’d put myself on a strict training program to beat two hours. Once the jubilation had gone of achieving this, I felt flat (think how our Olympians must feel!). I’d been running with my head down, aware of the temperature, but unaware of the fact that nature was having a blast and inviting me to take part.

So, I threw away the music, route planners, timers and fancy gear and just ran, with eyes wide open. At the earliest opportunity I left the road and hit the countryside. I felt the thrill of running again. I climbed steeper hills than ever before and savoured everything autumn has to offer.

Turns out, so was everyone else. I saw more runners and walkers in one morning than I’d done in a week on the road – I said hello to anyone and everyone. What’s more, I got lost – and enjoyed it. I didn’t care, for I was content again, running to explore and not to a set of rules I’d created for myself.

So where do I go from here? I’ll do more races again, but I can’t ever forget that if running is going to be a permanent fixture in my life, it needs care and attention, spontaneity and above all freedom – something which autumn has provided. I’ve run every season now and autumn has become my favourite. It’s opened my eyes to a new type of running, one that’s less concerned about going from A to B, but more a competition with the elements and all that nature has to offer.

On my recent run across the hills, I emerged from a knee-deep mud-filled bog to pass two cyclists – geared up to the max. “Too cold for shorts mate” the one said. “I hadn’t noticed,” I replied

The Grit Doctor says:

We are all going to need balls of steel to keep our running relationship going over Winter. So, lets get the most out of Autumn while we can.

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4 Responses to “Inspiration for the dying days of Autumn”

  1. Melodie November 26, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Having not gone outside all weekend; (rain & floods in Cornwall made it pretty much impossible, even the Springer spaniel said “no”) this post just appeared in my inbox. I am definitely venturing out after work for a long and gritty run in the elements. Cheers Mark!

  2. Angela Considine November 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    I went out for a run on Saturday morning here in New York, It was cold!! the first real cold day this season, but I loved it. The best time of year for running.

  3. alderica69 November 26, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    Excellent, but for us here in the Alpine regions just a tad too late….. Autumn was fantastic for running, but now it’s snowing and sub-zero. Main motivation is that I’ll be running my first 5k race on New Year’s Eve….

  4. Jennifer McLaren November 28, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    What a well-written and inspirational blog-post! I’ve given myself more than a week off, and I live in the Southern Hemisphere so I have Spring on my side. I’ll be out there running ASAP. Thank you!

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