This might not be the most upbeat post I have ever written. Sometimes things just don’t work out. I am mostly about being positive and even though there have been setbacks in my running there has been a gradual climb in my fitness and ability. This creates the illusion that was phrased so nicely by Brian Cox and co when he still played keyboards – ‘Things can only get better’ only sometimes they don’t. Sometimes despite all the belief and the positive attitude, all the hard work and the hoping, things don’t work out. The big question is what happens then?
This week I came to finally sort out the travel arrangements for my next big marathon attempt, Valencia in November. The chap who I am going out with has given me blog ideas in the past and we have chatted at parkrun and though we are not in each others pockets I consider him a friend. I had not see him for a while. This was partly because my parkrun habits have changed and I tend to run at a different park. We follow each other on twitter and I had not seen him post for a while. Last week I began to get a little concerned, quite aside from the fact that I knew he was struggling a bit and had an actual diagnosis (see here) and wanted him to be OK another friend had also signed up to Valencia and wanted to know what I was doing. I left him a message and waited. I had not heard anything after a few days and so started to get really worried. Your mind can do funny things when you don’t hear from somebody you get on with. Maybe it’s just me but there is an element of paranoia, he has realised what a prick I actually am and doesn’t want me to go.
Eventually myself and another twitterling who is also going to Valencia tracked him down through asking a few of the regulars at his parkrun and a whole tragic story came to light. This friend has been struggling for a while. Let me be clear this is an ongoing issue, not an injury or a bit of a funk this is a diagnosis of osteoarthritis. It won’t get better. Running has become something that is now hard, in the space of a year times have gone from a 48/49 minute 10k to taking over an hour. Half marathons cause nothing but pain despite heavy doses of pain killers. For this chap, running just got to the point where it was enjoyable and something to look forward to and, all of a sudden it’s taken away. The mans got balls and he ain’t no quitter so he carries on, but it’s not the same. What makes matters worse is that running has a way of insinuating itself into your life. Twitter for example became a pain, his feed full of overly enthusiastic runners that just served to remind him of the problems he was having. It is no surprise that he didn’t want to think about a couple of bastards imposing themselves on his hospitality and highlighting what he had lost.
This is what gets me to the point of this weeks running diatribe. There are two things that we all should be aware of. As this friend pointed out while I was speaking with him the other day, eventually this will happen to all of us. Nobody can keep running at the same pace forever, let alone keep getting progressively faster. At some point age will start to catch us up and we will get slower if we haven’t had a major issue before that. How do we cope with that? Well you can try and put it off for as long as possible, you can stop running
and only do activities that don’t put a strain on this bit or that bit or, you can get as much out of yourself as possible while you still can. Personally I think I have chosen the second option, I have no great issue at the moment but I am pushing onward all the time. This week I have become acutely aware that there will be a time when I will not be able to keep getting quicker and even further down the line a time when I will not be able to run at all. I just hope that I can reach my ultimate goal of getting a GFA time before it all goes tits up and this brings me to the next question. When it does fall apart how do I want to be treated? Perhaps it would be better to rephrase that from a different perspective. When it goes tits up for a friend how am I going to treat them? I want to support and I want them to feel that they can do the best that they can but, at the same time I don’t want to rub their faces in it.
Normally I wrap the blog up nicely and seal it down with a little blob of waxy reason. Today I can’t do that because I have no nice solution to this. How would you like to be treated when it all starts falling apart permanently? How would you / have you treated friends for which this has already happened? I really want to know because sooner or later you and I will be there too and it would be nice to have some options.