Basler Stadtlauf ’11

(www.alphafoto.com)

Well, I said I was going to run it…So I did.

Running – for me at least – is all about concentration. Not about physical fitness, really. After all, your body will always be telling you that you’re going too fast: when you’re racing your legs get weak & sore, the air you breathe becomes raw & hot. You can feel the blisters and stitches forming. Your body will always be telling you to slow down: you need to focus on moving faster, steadily dissipating the stitches. This is especially true of 5 K races, when you must rely on speed because stamina hasn’t really the time to kick in.

Anyway, the Basel Stadtlauf (City Run) is a nice little race. It’s 5.5K, or two and a half laps of the Old Town. You run through the main shopping district (Freie Strasse & Marktplatz), over the two main bridges (Mitlerebrucke & Wettsteinbrucke) and get to take in the major scenic points of downtown such as the Munster and Rathaus. The icing on the cake being that everything is illuminated by the recently-erected Christmas Lights and there are large crowds lining the route cheering you on. The Stadtlauf is segregated: school-age runners, young adults, older adults, men and women all run at different times. On a cold & dark winter night you don’t really want to hang around and support the other categories, but it stops your race from being too crowded.

I ran with a cold that I’d picked up from my Edinburgh visit, which I’m sure didn’t work in my favour, but nonetheless I managed it in 25.00 min: through keeping focussed on maintaining/increasing my speed and (hopefully) because I’ve been training well. The official photography company for the event I think did a rather good job: my nose was rubbed red and dripping constantly around the course, you can’t see that in the picture at all!

***

It’s time to admit defeat, however. The Basel Dragons (collective) have been pestering me about running “serious” races – I finally made a commitment to do a half-marathon in Freiburg next April. You win, Dragons.

Well, OK – it isn’t that begrudging on my part. I like having little plans and schemes on the go, and putting A Challenge in my calendar gives my life a nice bit of structure and content*. The Stadtlauf reminded me that I like racing, and that I’m good at them: it was the nudge I needed to come up with a concrete big race date.

I’m not going to refuse to run a marathon – but the time investment in such a thing isn’t very appealing. Nor is the risk of injury. I guess if I’m in good physical shape for a half, I won’t have any issues with the full. I’ll let the Dragons shame me into one when the time is right.

So…a plan of action is called for. I don’t doubt my ability to run 13 miles, but if I’m going to stump up an entry fee then I want to put in a good performance.  I’m going to have to think about a 3rd running session per week, probably: long run on the weekend, which can be done in the daylight. I’m going to have to think about gym membership to do strength and flexibility training: I know that running can really screw your body over if you’re not too careful. I’m also looking at some more races for the months in-between. Luckily there isn’t a shortage of 10K  or 10 mile races in the nearby Basel area. As a coach at Fife AC once said: “If you want to run fast marathons, you should try and run fast races.” 5 & 10 K will teach you speed, as well as racing strategies. (A friend of mine learned the hard way what skipping breakfast can do to your performance: luckily they learned that before their marathon.)

I’ll sign off with the song that always plays in my head when I’m running in the winter-time after dark. Running in the dark makes everything just that little bit magical and mysterious…

Laura Branigan – Self-Control

 

* Reference to Mt Rainier and DanceSport competitions in earlier articles.

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