I am either running or not running. It is either a running day or a non-running day. If it is a running day, I have either already run, am running, or am yet to run.
These are fundamental, primary states. There is no blurring or overlapping. There are finite transitions between them. This is the ever-present grammar of my life.
I am thinking, always, of my next run, or the ones after it. This is regardless of whether I am running or not running when I am doing the thinking. I sometimes think about activities other than running, such as my paid job, my domestic life or my political roles, but only of how they are going to frame and be framed by the running.
As I think, I plan my movements for the weeks ahead. On a certain day, I will run to work in the morning, so I must have left clean clothes and toiletries there on a preceding day. On another day, I will run at lunchtime, and forfeit the chance to do anything else in that time. At weekends I will run during the day and must plan my meals so that I take in protein within minutes of arriving home, and avoid coffee and its subsequent diuretic effect before going out.
As I look at the audio books and plays on my iPod, I plan where I will be running when I listen to them. A single episode will accompany a lunchtime four-miler. A weekend sixteen will use up two whole disks of a boxed set. Can I tolerate running with a production that I am listening to only out of completeness or loyalty when I am fatigued? Will I be able to follow something esoteric when I am navigating unfamiliar paths? Should I allow myself an intoxicating hit of music instead?
As I decide what to do with my non-running hours and days, I survey the damage running has done to my body and mind. Do I need to try and fit in more yoga? Can I do this before or after I have run? Do I have time to meditate today? Will running alone, perhaps without anything in my ears act as a substitute? Will attending a gym class address the parts of my body that the physical monoculture of running is neglecting or will it push me into overtraining and immune system depletion? Would my acutely sore tendon and spasming lower back be significantly better if I allowed myself to run less, run better, be truer to my whole.
I never think of the totality of the months between me and the ultramarathon. It’s too much to contemplate at once. I sometimes think of what it will be like to start the race, and often of what it will be like to finish it. I think a lot of what I will do in the week afterwards. I foresee I will be replaying the race again and again, sleeping little, and feeling adrift without a goal and a structured path to reach it, until I bow to my compulsion and enter my credit card details in the entry form for the next race.
The first three months of my year will be a brutal perfect storm of schedules and obligations. Running is the only activity over which I have complete majesty, to which I am permanently attuned, and which I will not sacrifice, ever, not under any circumstances.
Running and I have a perfect symbiosis. We are each agents for the other, enabling the other to be, and each defined by the other.
Money Raised: £2,753.77
Money to Raise: £2,246.23
Miles run: 156
Miles to run: 808
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