Run Fatboy, Run*

Urban Trail run through Marlay ParkI’m sure I mentioned elsewhere on the blog that I have developed an unhealthy running habit in the last year or so.  Originally I saw it as a form of cross-training that would improve my general fitness and stamina for fencing, which it has done, and, rather more optimistically, as  a way to lose some weight.  Like many men in middle life, I have seen my waist spreading as the years, and beers, settle.  We all know that there is only one real way to lose weight – eat less, move more- right?  Unfortunately, I find exercise just makes me hungry so the more of the latter the more of the former too.

Anyway, last summer, I hooked up with a group of my colleagues who walk/run at lunchtime and began running on a regular basis.  Our usual lunchtime route takes us along Dublin’s Grand Canal from Harcourt Terrace up as far as Dolphin’s Barn, a distance of  5.8 km according to and a pleasant run on a pleasant day, the odd time we have one.  It still beats being in the office.  So, three times a week I pound the pavements along the canal and, over time, it has become faster and easier.

Of course, this world being in a state of chassis, after a while you begin to look for something else.  Something more.  Running is infamously addictive.  It was only a matter of time before the girls (I’m the only guy in the group) began to look to stretch themselves and try a few organised runs.   Which is what happened.

A couple of weeks back I joined in a 5k fun run around the Phoenix Park.  Hardly surprisingly, given that it is shorter than my daily run, I finished it full of energy and ready to go a few extra kilometres.  The next target then was to try a 10k, so I signed up for the next race in the Urban Trails series.

This is a series of off-road/trail runs that have been organised around some of Dublin’s larger parks.  Last weekend’s was in Marlay Park and featured a two lap 5.25K run.  For those good at maths, that’s a total of 10.5k – the extra 0.5 k was worrying me.  The route itself was quite fun and more interesting than pounding pavements.  Roughly half and half cross country and woodland trails and also roughly half and half uphill/downhill.  The biggest problem I found was that once I hit the 6k mark I developed a Pavlovian response of “hmmm, I should be back in the office getting lunch now”.  As I was afraid of overdoing it early and being unable to finish (shame is a great movtivator) I held myself back and didn’t push myself.  As a result the route took me an hour and twelve minutes, leaving me well down the field but in no way short of breath or sore of muscle when I crossed the line.  I think it’s fair to say that if you can chat to the person beside you as you run you’re not really racing.

Hardly the face of elite athletics or sporting sartorialism in Ireland. Here I do my best impression of a West Dublin criminal while being shadowed by a photorgrapher hoping that I will do something interesting, like fall in a ditch.

So, what now.  As I’m still looking for a  running challenge I think I’ll start training for a half-marathon later in the summer.  After all, it’s only 20k, which is only twice the distance of a 10k, I mean, how hard can that be?

Special thanks to my sponsors from Team Action Photography who, in return for me wearing their logo, kindly gave me a lift to the event.  They were clearly disapointed that my running is on a level with my fencing.

Has any of this helped my fencing.  Well, other than in improving my general level of fitness, no, probably not.  But it’s fun and there are measurable achievements to be had.

As always, all photographs  © and a selection from this and other events can be seen on their website.

* Run Fatboy, Run is the title of  an English comedy film from a few years back that is worth a look for some harmless laughs.  It is also sort of helpful advice my friends and family give men when out running.  Very encouraging. 😉

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