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