So last week after a delightful #ukrunchat #fastesthouroftheweek I asked if anyone could think of a subject for this weeks blog. @martinibubble was kind enough to ask my opinion on running in the dark and wet. I am not sure I am in a position to give advice as such, but I have a story, a tale of dark nights, jealousy and ultimately a satisfying resolution, and in the telling the fortunate and observant reader may be able to get some tips on winter running.
I know I am getting old because sometimes I think how lucky children are today. Apart from the obvious stuff kids have nowadays, things that appear to have stepped out of the scifi shows of my youth, games consoles, Raspberry Pi’s, the phones and OMG the internet, there are 2 things which I have serious envy over. One is those shoes with wheels in that were all the rage when my daughter was about 8. How I wish I could glide around supermarkets in a mysterious fashion, toes up without my feet moving. More envy provoking than those are the light up shoes, you know the ones that flash with every step. Not only do they look cool but they could also serve a useful purpose when running at night, what more could one want, an item deserving of jealousy.
Last winter was the first time that I did any serious night running. The year before I was a nooby and had an injury, flagged a little, and spent some time on a neighbours treadmill, consequently I had done almost no running at all. Last year however I was a new member of a running club which met on Tuesday nights to go out for a run. I was a little embarrassed when I first turned up in my batman T-shirt only to realise that everyone else had sensibly worn light coloured tops, with the most enthusiastic wearing neon. Easily seen at night you see. So I dutifully saved my pennies and bought a neon yellow long sleeved T-shirt thing so I could be more easily seen by cars. One evening a friend turned up wearing gloves with a light at the end of one finger. It certainly attracted my attention and probably the attention of passing car drivers, it was like running with ET. I felt like one of the cool kids gang, and more importantly, I could see that flashing lights for runners was a good idea, cyclists seem to have an abundance of them, and my innate jealousy of 6 year old children and their light up trainers reared it’s ugly head.
You can imagine my surprise when I turned up at club for an evening run and my attention was caught by flashing feet. I was astounded, somebody had produced flashing trainers for adults and jealousy seeped through every pore. I had to ask, and discovered that it was not the trainers that lit up, but a strap that ran round the back. I ran behind in envy staring at this holy grail, the object of desire, and I wanted one. No I needed one! Needless to say, as with all such moments of burning emotion it was not long until it was gone, and by the time I got back home and logged my run on Fetch, had tea, and settled down, life got in the way and the moment passed. Winter continued and I learned all the street routes around the running club, trails and country lanes are fine for summer but in winter you need to run in well lit up areas, on pavements if you can and preferably in packs. There’s safety in numbers and you are more easily spotted.
Fast forward to this summer. We recently had a Lidl open in my home town and I must confess I take a secret delight in going shopping now. In the central aisles they have a strange section where all kinds of remarkable goods can be purchased. I have bought a fantastic electric screwdriver and some decent sunglasses there. I resisted the temptation to get the last of the Quad copters they had for sale and a completely pointless BBQ set. Anyway, in the middle of August I strolled in to Lidl did my usual perusal of the centre aisles and my heart skipped a beat. Nestled amongst the underpants, slippers, foodmixers and mysterious tools, was a light up stirrup. Straight in the basket, straight to the till, and straight home it went.
Soon it will be dark again in the evenings, the light coloured tops will come out, the routes will be changed from the country lanes and slightly soggy trails to street lit pavements. One of my friends will don her gloves in the very best of ET impressions, and I shall be there one shoe flashing as I run like a one legged 6 year old with ADHD. My jealousy sated and my training taking on a certain juvenile quality.