On joining an athletics club

I just can’t convey how weird it is to say, to admit, to own the fact that I have joined my local athletics club. Now there really is a sequence of random words I never imagined constructing into any sort of sentence – ‘I’ve joined my local athletics club’. It makes me wryly smile in a disbelieving sort of way, like I must be kidding myself, or going off on some weird fantasy/nightmare. It’s just so … inconceivable. It simply doesn’t fit with anything I know about myself.

But here it is.  I’ve joined WADAC.  Winchester and District Athletics Club. To imagine I might do something that even vaguely constitutes ‘athletics’ is indeed inconceivable. I did used to be sporty, big into my sport, several lifetimes ago, but ball sports, not running-for-no-purpose (hugghhh, sacrilege?). Athletics is what you watch on the telly on a rainy/cold/bored Saturday afternoon as a work/play/chore avoidance mechanism. Athletics is what you get into with gusto and feigned knowledge once every four years at the Olympics. Athletics is not what I do. I’m still getting my head round running rather than jogging. Athletics is for runny-type people.

And speaking of which … Update to “When DOES jogging become running?”:  I ran for the first time on a running track last week. Oooohhh … spongy, yet solid, bouncy yet bold, firm yet flexible, Really quite a pleasant sensation.  A bit like extra-thick bounce on a new pair of running shoes. Tried it again last night at training. There’s another crooked smile, me going to ‘athletics training’. It’s all just so out of character … or maybe it’s in my ‘new’ character (that’s got to be another story, if it’s real).  Anyway, I’m altogether liking the spongy-solid, bouncy-bold running track thingy, and I’m also thinking of the grovelling gratitude of my knees, hips, ankles, oh, all of me.

It just makes me momentarily half-smile, with a frisson of flight/fight adrenaline from being so far outside my comfort zone. And then the moment of half-realisation is gone, and it’s just running stuff. And me trying to get myself in enough shape to complete the marathon. So my lungs don’t burn too much, so my legs don’t become like the jelly babies I’ll probably be cannibalising, so my mind doesn’t break its chains and go awol – I guess that last one is the ‘chimp’ I keep reading about in those running magazines.

They’re a lovely, friendly, welcoming bunch of people at WADAC. Alan got me started off, after a couple of tentative emails from me. They’re SO helpful, and enthusiastic, and wanting you to do well and achieve what you can. No judgement. Encouraging. Supportive. I’d been to a couple of group runs before Christmas, like an inverse ‘try-out’, i.e. me figuring out if I should cross that line and ‘join my local athletics club’, rather than them figuring out if I was good enough. They’re more than welcoming. Actually they seem to do lots of different things. Group runs. Mile or kilometre repeats (I can’t remember, just remember running hard to try to keep up). Other running stuff.

Early in January, I went down for the first time to join a ‘proper’ training session, in fact it was the beginning of a marathon training programme, I think, so I was lucky to link up with that (or maybe London features large in the annual training schedule). Anyway, as soon as I’d introduced myself, the lovely Lou was giving me the third degree and it took me a few seconds to catch up to the fact that she was just trying to find out where I was with my  running so she could offer the appropriate level of  guidance. Within a nano-second I was having an intense one-to-one coaching session (talking). Brilliant. Thanks Lou. I’ve since found out she’s a three time iron-man woman. Respect.

And here’s some new jargon. The other day a WADAC someone said to me “see you at the track”. How weird is that? They surely couldn’t be talking to me? Really funny. Not ha, ha. And there’s a thought. This is something I must remember when head hasn’t emptied on a long run and I need nice thoughts to keep me moving (the empty head post has nearly finished gestating, it may be next) … see you at the track!

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