What I Swear About When I Swear About Running

My legs fucking ache. I mean they’re sore, sorry, tired, wee twigs of nothing much at all other than embarrassment. This morning’s Wimpole 10k Hoohaah was hard work on a warm and breezy morning. The climbs took whatever little oomph I had in my wet rag legs and put squeezed it out as thoroughly as one of those old fashioned mangles. My get up and go got up and fucked off after about 3k and now I’m sitting here on my sofa watching re-runs of NCIS with a cat flaked out beside me. She has spent quite lot of time this afternoon with her nose in my smelly ‘pits with no sign whatsoever of distress. She’s a strange creature.

As I was dying on my arse towards the end of the final climb of the morning I had a particularly virulent swearolog running through my head. “Please end. Please fucking end. I don’t mind if I die as long as I die in front of this fucker but please end.” I usually feel more supportive of my fellow runners but today it was all about me and my woefully shagged legs. I wanted to stay in front of every bugger I overtook and cursed my legs and lungs when I couldn’t.

I took a walk break to sip some water at the halfway mark and found that I couldn’t breathe when I started to run again. Running with COPD is always a bit of a challenge. My lungs just don’t function as well as they would have had I not given them a nice tarry coating over twenty-odd years of smoking. I have nobody to blame but myself so that means I reserve a particular vitriol for my own stupidity.

Sometimes I wish that the first thing to fall to hand in my language toolbox weren’t the fuckhammer but it’s just so satisfying to give things a thorough twatting with it. I don’t think things actually improve when you use the fuckhammer. I didn’t run any faster because of it today for example. I couldn’t have; some complete tosser had taken the fuckhammer to my legs already. You just feel better for the emotional release.

I’d like to know whether different people get the same amount of relief from using different words. For some people “Dash it all” would have the same degree of intensity as “Bugger it all to fuck” does for me. Someone should do that experiment. I would but I don’t know anyone who would want to be really sweary for science. Also, I’m a fuckwit who wouldn’t be able to design such a research study.

In addition to the fuckhammer, the linguistic toolbox contains the cuntdriver, the bastardrill, the twat chisel and the plane speaking. Everyone has their own range of descriptors and emotional intensifiers which they use when they’re communicating. Some can do it wordlessly. If you know what you’re doing you can give your opinion of someone as a cockgobbling twatbasket with only a raised eyebrow.

Swearing can carry the same degree of linguistic invention and innovation as other speech. I love playing with words and swearing is a bit like playing in the mud. Who doesn’t love splashing through mud? Making mud pies? Mudtastic fun! And you can do the same with words for fucktastic fun! So remember that when you have your linguistic wellies on.

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An Idiot Abroad


I have a thing about new clothes. I won’t buy any. I will buy bundles of boxers and party-packs of socks from time to time but that’s about it. I haven’t bought a t-shirt since I started running because I get all the tees I need from races. I have very occasionally bought a shirt in an emergency, usually after I’ve dribbled my lunchtime soup down the one I’m wearing or I’ve been caught in one of those rainstorms which soak me so completely that complete strangers are transfixed by the sight of my nipples and chest hair through the now-transparent fabric. Generally, however, I won’t buy new clothes.

I will buy second-hand clothes. My ex introduced me to the delights of the charity shop. (Hello Jane, if you’re lurking. Hope it’s all going well.) I thought it was weird at the time but she bought me what became my favourite blue shirt in a charity shop in Oxford. I’ve worn it so much that the collar is threadbare and becoming detached and yet I can’t bring myself to throw it out. It’s just such a beautiful colour and the fabric is softer than a kitten’s kiss. I have bought a few things from charity shops myself since then but now that I’m not a fat man any more, there is little on the rails my size.

That’s the basic problem I have now. I need skinny clothes but I don’t want to shell out for them. I’m stuck with shirts I bought five or six years ago because there is lots of wear left in them. It’s a waste for me. I could take them down to charity shops and make space in my wardrobes for clothes which fit but I never quite get round to doing it. Twice in the past week, I’ve gone into shops to buy a new pair of trousers and a couple of shirts, spent half an hour carefully selecting the items I want, taken them to the till and then bottled at the last minute and left the shop empty-handed. Partly it’s the cost. Clothes are expensive. Nice clothes are really expensive. The clothes I like are really very nice indeed. I tried again at Tesco. Tesco clothing is not particularly nice but it’s not that expensive. It’s like new charity shop stuff but even thirty quid for two shirts which don’t billow like spinnakers and a pair of decent trolleys which won’t fall down is too much for me to pay. I’m too tight to pay for snugly fitting clothes.

There is a proviso to that last statement. I’m not too tight to pay for snugly fitting clothes made from Lycra. If you can run wearing it, I’m more than happy to fork out for it. I wouldn’t buy those things for thirty quid on Friday but I paid £40 for my lovely new, too sexy for slow, track spikes yesterday. I didn’t even buy them from the interwebz. I went into a real shop and talked to real people and really bought a real pair or really quick shoes. Shame I’m too broken to use them right now.

Yup, I’m on the injury bench again. I broke at mile four of the Wimpole Half Marathon Hoohaah. In truth, I shouldn’t have even started but it’s my favourite race in my favourite place. Who wouldn’t want to run around Wimpole for a couple of hours and get a medal at the end? There was the additional delicious prospect of hugs from various marshals round the course but I never got as far as seeing any of my mates who were out there. They were perhaps a little relieved not to have to deal with a sweating, slobbery, wheezing mess of a man clinging onto them in an attempt not to fall over. Social runs can sometimes be so detrimental to social relationships.

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Hot, Hilly and Slightly Horrible

I haven’t been blogging much recently because I haven’t had much to say for myself. I know that I’m a loud, sweary, sweaty man but sometimes it’s good to stay still, sit down and shut up when you have nothing much to say. The product of swearing and sweating is seldom worth reading on their own.

I had to write off Manchester Marathon in early April because I was really poorly the week before. I passed out on the sofa at home. That was a novel experience. Normally when I collapse it’s done with some spectacle, most notably on the altar at Mass one Sunday morning when I conked out just after the consecration of the host and sent the altar bell skittering and ringing across the floor. More recently, I managed to lock myself in the loo, throw up, pass out and cack myself all in the space of about thirty seconds. On neither occasion had drink been taken.

I’ve had a really enjoyable weekend of racing this weekend though. It’s made me think about fun: what it is, where it comes from and why running around like lunatics on a hot day can be considered a fun thing to do. The first round of Hot, Hilly and Horrible was the BMAF Road Relays in Sutton Park yesterday. I had an early start made tolerable by the company of a carload of attractive women. There’s nothing quite like the prospect of pulchritude to get one out of the door before seven o’clock on a Saturday morning. I picked up a coffee first because I’m an idiot and I ran out of coffee on Friday, then Maria, Nicky and Lynn before heading off along the A14 listening to the ladies make connections. It’s fascinating. They talked about children and work and each of them had different people in common. They wove a web of acquaintance in a way that men just don’t do.

The ladies’ race was at 11:00am and we arrived at 9:30am. Bitter experience has left me as mistrustful of the A14 as I am of an unfamiliar dog. You never really know whether you’re going to run past it unscathed or not. Yesterday was fine. We had plenty of time to settle in, have more of a chat, a bite to eat and something to drink before they set off on their warm up. It wasn’t a long one because the day was already heating up. Nicky took the first leg and stormed round the 3 mile course. I sorted myself out while she was running, getting changed into my race kit and shoes, taping up my sore Achilles tendons and all that palaver.

The rest of the men’s team arrived just as Maria set off on the second leg. She ran strongly too and Lynn was gone before I really had time to think about things. Each leg has an uphill finish and I waited towards the bottom of the hill to see Maria and Lynn in. They both flew up that hill looking strong and fresh. In the end, they had a great race finishing 9th out of 23 teams.

The boys didn’t quite fare so well. We set off at 1:00pm and Simon ran his leg much more quickly than I thought he would. I was next to go and wasn’t quite ready for him. A bit like the handover from Christof in the Round Norfolk Relay last year, I looked up and there was Simon powering over the line. I had to barge my way out of the holding pen and set off. My deep apologies to anyone I stood on or elbowed getting away. There is a brief, blissful downslope to begin the lap, just enough to get your legs turning over, before the major climb on the course. I was being overtaken by younger men which was fair enough, men in my own age category which hurt a bit because I was really trying and finally by much older men and that was painful.

The standard in this race was much higher than in any of the local races I’ve done recently. I must be getting complacent. I’ve become used to running hard and finishing in the top third or even the top quarter of the field. I ran my heart, lungs and legs to overheated, bloody pulp yesterday only to serve as the next target for some speeding, strong, freak of nature behind me to come screaming past. If I hadn’t been suffering so much I would have found it very impressive. I lost sixteen places in my own race, and countless others to the other categories. I didn’t overtake a soul. At one point, a runner from Trentham came past on a downhill stretch and I tried to stay with him. I managed for about 100 yards. It felt like a 100 years.

The weather was hot, the course was hillier than we usually get round the Fens and I’m a wimp so it was never going to end well. Had I been racing for myself, there were times I would have walked. Knowing that Ian was waiting to set off kept me running even as the next bloke blew my doors off. That last climb couldn’t come soon enough, it really couldn’t. I bustled over the line in 21:26 feeling very ill indeed. I couldn’t breathe, could barely walk, the sun was relentless and a big Brummie was trying to keep me moving through the funnel. I really hope I didn’t swear at him. The marshals and other volunteers were brilliant if a little thin on the ground.

Ian was back before I had finished stretching and Andrew smashed the course and himself. We finished in 1:20:00 after Ian had made up four places and Andrew a simply magnificent 23 places. Andrew was running on a dodgy ankle too so his truly was the Glory Leg. So, the course was horrible, the weather was disgusting, I was humiliated by some sprightly but elderly men and yet I had fun. I had lots and lots of fun. I was out running with and for my mates and when I got back and had stopped wanting to throw up, I had sausage rolls and very nice cake and the company of some remarkably generous and supportive friends and I loved the entire experience.

Today’s Wimpole 10k Hoohaah was even harder than yesterday’s race and I wasn’t even racing it. It became Hot, Hilly and Horrible Part 2, The Wrath of Cramp. I love the Wimpole Estate, love it to bits. I spend a big chunk of most Saturdays there for parkrun and sometimes I go back on Sundays for a long run. It’s hilly for Cambridgeshire and the trails can be ankle-deep in mud during the winter. The 10k course starts on the flat and then you’re climbing from about 1.5k to about 4k on narrow, rutted farm tracks and field margins. It’s not easy underfoot but the views when you look up from the ground six feet in front of you are lovely. The rest of the course undulates through woodland where the tracks are wider and drier. There is a final climb from 6 to 6.5k when you just want to find a kindly forester to take his axe to the back of your neck and put you out of your, his and everyone else’s misery in a 20 mile radius. I stopped at the water station to get a drink inside me and again at the Top of the Hill at 7k to help a BRJ clubmate who was having hamstring problems. Richard and I jogged in once he’d stretched out his hammie. I crossed the line high-fiving Alison from Hoohah in a near PW of 51:56. There is something about racing at Wimpole and about the Hoohaah atmosphere, I just feel at home there. I suppose it is my second home.

This was still fun. The run was hard work over challenging terrain on another hot day. The course rose and fell like a soap star’s reputation and the weather was more suitable for a garden party than a race but I had an absolute ball. This race was similar to last autumn’s Half Marathon Hoohaah there. I had a shocker there because of an injury but the race was still one of my favourites of the year because I saw so many mates running around. Friends make for fun times and that’s what I had this weekend.

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The Moaniness of the Long Distance Runner

I’m injured again. Again, I’m injured and I tell you what, it’s a complete pain in the arse. Except that it’s in my right foot, and up the outside of my right leg and ultimately in my groinal bits. A physio would probably say – has in fact said – that it’s because of weak gluteals but that’s by the by. It’s a pain in the arse foot. I should probably try to have Anne massage my intimate areas. It wouldn’t be any sort of cure but it would definitely cheer me up because there’s nothing quite as mardy as an injured runner.

I’ve had a couple of weeks off now ever since having to stop at 8 miles in the Wimpole Hoohaah Half Marathon. I shouldn’t really have run there, just as I shouldn’t really have run at the Bourn to Run 10k the previous week but having got away with it once, I thought I’d get away with it again and I really, really didn’t. Coming downhill at speed resulted in stupefying pain and I ended up gingerly walking down the hills and caning it up them. I was climbing at better than 8:00 per mile and descending more slowly than 10:00 per mile and the whole thing was a mess so I’m moaning about it now. I finished, by the way, in a PW of 1:55 something, jogging in while people frothed and foamed and sped and sprinted past me. Well done, them.

I’ve been moaning about it quite a lot to anyone who’ll listen and it’s a testament to my friends and clubmates that they will listen to me. Endurance runners all know what it’s like to be on the bench. They will lend an ear to one of their own in pain because they know, know in their super-stressed ligaments and bones that they will hurt too soon. Perhaps “moaning” is the wrong word, at least for what everyone else does. We swap stories of our aches and pains. We get help and advice and support from one another. Positivity comes but first there’s the grouchiness and ouchiness and just the faintest tangs of whine. “Oh, it’s nothing really but I’m slightly fed up…”

The thing about not being able to run is that nothing else is really the same. I wanted to take my bike out today but it rained off and on all day. Running in the rain is a joy. Cycling in the rain is misery cubed. I hummed and hawed and bumbled round the house not doing any chores until I dragged my weak glutes to the gym for a stint on a rowing machine. I lasted all of fifteen minutes. Fifteen miserable minutes or miserable misery. Chris said on Facebook that I should have taken my bike out in the rain. He was probably right. I’m going to try again tomorrow. I’ll take my headphones and listen to some music or a podcast and maybe I’ll last longer or maybe I’ll just break down.

I have another week of Not Running. I’m being good. My foot feels okay with just a hint of tighness across the top when I dorsiflex my toes. I’d like that to be gone before I try again. Patience is a virtue, quite an old fashioned name for a girl and something with which I am usually completely unacquainted. It’s so tempting to join in with tomorrow’s session running the triangles on Parker’s Piece or the mile time trial on Tuesday night at C&C. I need to be sure that I’m back properly before I start training again so the idea is to have a bimble round a parkrun on Saturday and if that goes okay to do five or six miles on Sunday. Please God, let it go well. I can’t cope with being this grumpy for much longer.

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