Sometimes I wonder if every runner has to have a favourite distance, or a type of race that they prefer over all others, or a climate that brings out the best in them.
Maybe it’s because I’m still a young runner in terms of time in the sport, but I’ve certainly not found my one true niche.
So far I’ve run race distances from one mile to 13.1 miles. I’ve raced on the track, road and trails. I’ve run in rain and hail, blustery winds, blazing sun; through ankle-deep mud, up and down incredibly steep hills, over long grass and newly-laid tarmac. I’ve completed some rather mad obstacle course races where I spend a lot of time up to my waist in mud, being thrown over walls, or clambering up ropes.
And I love it all. Running in any way, shape or form brings me joy. Pain sometimes. But always joy.
I’m setting PBs at all distances regularly. In July I set a new 10k PB and came in under 60mins for the first time with 58:06. I smashed it less than a week later with 55:57. A lot of this comes from natural progression, but I put a lot of work in too. Generally speaking, I’m equally “good” and “capable” at any distance right now, and therefore I enjoy all distances. Every one is an opportunity to set a new benchmark.
Going all-out for just a mile is fun. My legs wobble and I have trouble standing up as I cross the line. But settling in for a couple of hours for a half marathon is also fun. I get into a good form and relish the feeling of running.
Pulling on my minimal shoes, or even going barefoot, and using the slight spring of the track to keep my steps light and easy holds a lot of pure, unadulterated bliss for my soles and my soul.
Hilly trails challenge me mentally as well as physically, forcing me to stay aware and literally think on my feet.
Roads are smooth and I don’t have to worry about mis-placing my feet. The rhythm of my regular steps is medititative.
I am solar powered – I feed off the sun’s energy and it makes me feel happy, alive and raring to go. The blazing rays and temperatures in the mid-20s don’t faze me.
Dressed appropriately, chilly winter days have a crispness that keeps me sharp and focused.
Running in hail is painful, but refreshing and invigorating. Rain and wind can make easy runs tough, but the payout is even greater as a result of the extra effort.
I can’t honestly say that I prefer one of these distances, terrains or climates over any of the others. They can all be fun, difficult, tiring, exhilarating and rewarding.
The only type of running I don’t get on with is treadmill running – gyms are never the right temperature and it just feels odd on my bones.
Maybe one day I will start to favour one distance, or get sick of flat road running, or even refuse to go out in the rain. But I hope not.