Why I hate running
Actually, I don’t hate running. I love it. There are times when I struggle with it, but at my age (I’m 51 this September), I am so respectful of, grateful to, and amazed by my body for being able to push itself beyond my wildest imaginings because of running, that I bang on about how much I love it. All the time. How long I run. How often. How far. What time I go. How many calories I burned. What injuries I have. What injuries I’ve gotten over. Which shoes I love. Which shoes I don’t like. What new gear I’ve bought. What iPhone app is best. What tunes I like. What audio book I’m listening to. Why I’m not listening to anything while I run. What event I’m training for. What event I’m running next. Why I hate running in summer. Why I love running in winter. What cross-training I’m doing. What stretches I could, should and do do. Weight I’ve gained, and weight I’ve lost. My Facebook feed is chock full of running related stuff: quotes, articles, nutrition, pictures. See? I could bang on about running for ever. Ad infinitum.
So why write about hating running when clearly, I feel exactly the opposite? That’s because there are running-related things that I hate. And while these things don’t detract from the actual joyful activity of running, they either a) annoy me intensely, or b) make my running life harder than it needs to be, and sometimes – just sometimes – make my runs really unpleasant.
I run most of my runs along the Torrens Linear Park. It’s a (mostly) paved 30km shared walkway/bikeway that follows the Torrens River from the Adelaide Hills, through the CBD, down to the sea. It’s a key feature of Adelaide and is one of the benefits of living where I live, because the Linear Park is literally less than 1km from my front door. Its accessibility attracts all sorts of people: walkers, runners and cyclists – I’ve even spotted rollerbladers and skateboards on the odd occasion – at all hours of the day.
Early in the morning and late in the evening are when cyclists and walkers are at their most active; people (quite rightly) use the Linear Park as an easy commute into the CBD for work, or as a scenic, safe way of walking their dogs (see next point) or with their children or grandchildren. Many cyclists are courteous: they warn of their approach via dinging their bell, yelling out “Rider!”, and slow down to pass. Some cyclists are not so considerate, and it is these few that are the bane of my life as a runner. They whizz past so close at God Knows How Many Kilometres Per Hour that I can almost smell the sweat on their skin. Worse, they whizz past – often down steep, curved inclines – without warning. No bell*, no “Rider!”, nothing. Just my imminent death if I dare venture 10cm over to the right – in my lane – to dodge a tree root or dog poop (and I keep to the left as far as practicable, just like on the road). Dare I say that these few cyclists are probably the ones who complain about inconsiderate drivers!
Certain parts of the Linear Park allow dogs off their leashes while owners walk them. I don’t know which parts, because different local councils are involved, but I do know that some unleashed dogs – or rather their owners – are a running hazard, because no effort is made by their owners to control them. At all. In any section of the Linear Park. Yes, I *know* that you think your dog is [insert suitable adjective here], but I don’t. I’m actually a cat person, and it’s not that I don’t like dogs, I just have no real affinity with them.
I can tell you, though, that I don’t like it when your dog bounds toward me, or up to me, or sniffs me, and I have to slow down and side-step it just in case I end up tripping over it. I don’t like it when your two, three or four dogs are running in packs, and I’m not sure which direction they’re heading. Or whether I’ll trip over any of them, because I don’t know which way they’re going. Or if they see me as a rather large rabbit that should be hunted. No, I’m not scared of your dog or dogs. I’m just annoyed, because I have to play guessing games on a run that should be pretty straight forward, not a canine obstacle course!
The Linear Park is maintained by different Adelaide Councils. Some councils are better at maintaining their bit of it than others. Some councils respond well and in a timely manner when I tweet them (Stephen Yarwood, who is mayor of the Adelaide City Council has always been responsive when I alert him on Twitter that something is buggered in his patch). Some do not. This is particularly irritating when it comes to taps.
There are any number of taps and drinking fountains located all the way along the Linear Park, and this is one of the reasons I like running this route so much. I pretty much know where every tap is, and how far it is between taps, which is especially useful in hot weather and when I am running a long (12km+) run, which I do pretty much every weekend as part of my half-marathon training. I don’t need to bring water with me when I run, which lightens the load considerably when I head out.
What irks me no end is when I get to a particular tap, and it’s either not working, or barely working. It means that I might have to run another couple of kms until I get to the next one… and there’s no guarantee that that tap is working either! Not so bad on long runs in winter, but a shortish 7km run in summer without water stops – even early in the morning – is dicing with dehydration. I understand that councils – like state government where I work – is probably culling staff these days, but water along this route is a necessity, so water outlets should be checked regularly. (Here’s a thought: everyone has smart phones these days… why not stick a QR code near a water outlet so that people can scan it to lodge a report that a tap is buggered to the relevant council?)
So. These are a few of my main pain points when it comes to running. I do have others (maintenance on the linear park that requires me to detour, and me not knowing where the hell the detour is going to take me; not knowing when and if new running shoes will cause me blisters, and if they do, where, and after how many kms; when or if my ITB will play up, and how long I’ll need to rest it if it does; group runs where I feel like the slowest, most useless runner on Gods’s green Earth – I’m looking at YOU Torrens parkrun!). As you can see, it’s not running that I hate. It’s the things that make it difficult *to* run that I don’t like!
Oh, and did I mention that running is awesome?
* I haven’t worn ear buds for ages, as I now prefer to run without listening to anything. These days, I’m getting all zen with my running.