Devon Loch*, that’s all I’m saying – Couch to 5k week 9

Photo by Daniel Reche on

It’s not much of a hill, but my house is at the top of it.  It means that wherever I run, the second half of that run is always uphill – or else I don’t get home.  It is of no relevance, I just wanted you to know.

On my last twenty-eight minute run of week 8, I kept going by convincing myself that when I reached ‘the end’, I would continue to run for another two minutes, in order to prove that I would be ok this week.  When I got there, I couldn’t do it.  The problem is that I currently run until the bell rings to tell me that I am half way home, at which point I turn around and retrace my steps: I know exactly where I should be when I finish and my entire focus over those final minutes is on getting there.  When I cross that line, everything collapses around me – including me.  At that point, I am no more likely to run a further thirty seconds than another thirty days.  I am done.  It’s like asking a man who has just climbed Everest to shimmy up a step-ladder from the summit and fit a new light bulb.  If you aim to make the perfect apple crumble, does anybody actually expect you to put crushed nuts on top?

I ended last week in a bit of a panic.  Circumstances beyond my control pushed me from a Wednesday run to a Thursday run.  This meant that in order to maintain the regime, my final run of the week had to be on Saturday.  On Saturday I work all day, I have a long walk to and from, and I was due to see one of my daughters and two of my grandchildren an hour after getting home.  Could I fit a thirty eight minute session (including warm up and warm down) into that gap (particularly as my getting ready/psyching myself up/drinking lots of water/going for a last minute toilet break routine takes at least thirty minutes)?

Well, I did it.  The stress of the situation took my mind off the normal certainty of failure and – other than the failure to tag an extra two minutes on – I managed ok.  It was earlier than I normally run and the weather was very warm.  In my panic to get on with it, I forgot my knee supports, my chewing gum and my water, but I reached the end without any hint of stopping along the way.  It was the work of seconds to cleave my tongue from the roof of my mouth with a screwdriver after I had staggered home.  This week, I have discovered that the entire duration of a run is spent in an internal discussion with myself over the advisability of ‘just stopping for a few seconds’ and I fear that at least half of it is argued out loud.  People with dogs cross the road when they see me coming.  People without dogs hide behind trees…

I have now completed two of my thirty minute runs.  Tomorrow I will have finished ‘the course’ and a smugger person you will not be able to find.  It remains to be seen whether I will be able to gather together the motivation to keep going now.  I will keep you informed.

For my run, my musical ‘soundtrack’ consists largely of tracks that are five minutes long or more: during a thirty minute run I know that I should get through six songs.  There are, though, one or two shorter ones lurking therein and I cannot articulate the pain I feel when one of them starts to play.  It boots my meticulous planning right out of the window.  I cannot adjust the timings in my head and breathe at the same time.  After a short track has played, there is no way of calculating when I will enter the last five minutes of my personal hell – other than the voice of Jo Whiley telling me that I am just entering the last five minutes, of course – but the fury drives me on, so the shorter songs stay on the playlist.  I haven’t yet had a run without at least one shorter track puncturing my schedule.  When I do, it will surely infuriate me further.

One further thing I discovered this week.  I really should not have tracks with quiet intros on the playlist.  When they play, I can hear myself breathe – and that is very bad indeed.  Nobody should sound like that unless they are wearing an aqualung.

Today I met some old friends whom I have not seen since before lockdown and they commented on my loss of weight.  Like an idiot I told them that I have been running (I have previously told no-one outside of my family and my tiny roster of WP readers).  They were utterly appalled.  They could not have disapproved more if I had wee’d in their cocoa.  After we parted, I kept checking over my shoulder, in case they had reported me to the police.  I anticipated disinterest; disapproval on such a grand scale left me wondering whether I really was being reckless beyond the point of criminal culpability.  At least I won’t be so easy to catch in a chase now.

*Devon Loch jumped the last fence of the Grand National in 1956 comfortably in front of the rest of the field.  Inexplicably, it then fell attempting to jump a fence that did not exist in the finishing straight and did not finish.


11 thoughts on “Devon Loch*, that’s all I’m saying – Couch to 5k week 9

  1. You’re doing great! A batshit loony, of course, but still great. Your friends are quite clearly jealous of your ability to run while not dying, which is an achievement many can only dream of. (I tried it once, I’m still not sure if I survived or if my life since is a Jacob’s Ladder style death dream). And they’re jealous of your close connection to Jo Whiley (I never really understood why she’s accompanying you on your run. Is she a good friend? Is it one of those new fangled App things? Be careful, I hear they can read your mind.)
    Anyway, I’m rambling. What I mean is, well done.

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    1. Yes, she is on an App. I don’t believe she can read my mind, because I have, on occasions, been very rude to her when she tries to tell me that I am not a knackered mess. Somehow, I don’t think she would like that. She doesn’t look at all the kind of woman who would tolerate an ancient batshit loony screaming at her. Oh well, her loss! I love the fact that you have stayed the course of my running as well. And you call ME a batshit loony! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  2. Having completed the couch to 5k thing roughly a quarter of a year ago, I can still recall that feeling of smugness. But with a further three months of running under my belt I can assure you I would still be very easy to catch in a chase…

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  3. Good job, old soldier! Would it be appropriate to ask how much weight you’ve lost? Your friends are jealous, poor folks. I have to be careful not to drink coffee when I read your blog, however. I read the bit about climbing Mount Everest and did a “spit-take” all over the screen.

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