Run, run (and reflections)

Goodbye gym, it was fun while it lasted

I ran on Friday – not necessary as one of the challenges I set for this year has already gone by the wayside (and the other will), but I’m sure it’s going to be important to stay as fit and active as possible.

I did my usual 10.2km route (a little over 6.3 miles) at just under 6 minutes a km in cool and breezy conditions.

The fact that some old bloke in Oxfordshire, England went for a run has always been (rightly) irrelevant to the world at the best of times but I think I’m going to carry on doing it, and recording it, for the sake of a bit of normality (for me at least).

We had the weekend up in London checking the flat. We managed to meet one of our sons and I had a really good walk with him along the Thames Path – but we were very surprised at the number of people out and walked back by various back streets to practice better social distancing.

The number of people out helped me decide that I was not going to run the route on the Sunday – in fact, the social distancing advice became firmer overnight so we left the flat and came back to Oxfordshire. I did a run in the afternoon – the same 10+km as Friday but faster, to my surprise.

That made it one session on the turbo, one in the gym and three runs (for a total of just over 16 miles – 28km) in the week.

That was supposed to be the first of the 16 week training plan for the ultra in July. Oh well.

The gym is now shut too. Having been there on Thursday, it actually felt very safe – almost empty and very good for sprays and wipes for the machines. However, I appreciate that these things need to be bans for all or none – there isn’t any scope for arguing a case for an individual gym (!) so, sadly, it has gone for the time being.

If you like irony, on the day all the gyms were told to shut, I got a letter from mine telling me they were increasing the monthly fee.

One trivial thing is that I am reminded how much I love sport. I don’t see loads of it live on TV (I object to satellite stations pricing the terrestrial ones out of so many of the markets so won’t subscribe), but I have the BBC sports page open throughout the day and follow football, rugby and cricket (and many others) on the internet. Now the BBC sports page changes very little, and even then usually for updates that are gloomy, pointless or trivial (or all three). The fact that I miss it is a very small matter – but just one of the things that emphasises the absence of much normality.

Although I am not going to live in a hut in the woods and go off grid, all this makes me wonder whether society (western, first world, society at least) has got too complicated and wasteful (and perhaps indulgent). As a very simple example, I saw the CEO of a supermarket chain saying they had cut the number of product lines they carried to ensure good supplies of essentials. He said that they had carried 60 types of sausage.

Just for fun I also went on a well-known UK sports website. I tapped in ‘mens running shoes’ and it came up with just over 1,600 options (and that just includes model of shoe, nothing about different sizes).

At a supermarket this week, next to empty shelves where the pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes, (yes, and toilet rolls) should have been, they had fresh pineapples. It struck me as a telling juxtaposition. I’m not anti-pineapple (I like them a lot) but I seem to remember the excitement, when I was a boy, when the shops got in the new seasonal fruit and vegetables. Now we are horrified if we don’t have kiwi fruit and bananas in December.

I don’t have a rose tinted view of the past and I’m not anti-progress either but we are very wasteful with the built-in obsolescence and non-repairability of much of what we buy and the ridiculous lack of any standardisation in so many areas – I wonder how many different types of car headlamp bulb there are.

I’m not linking the current circumstances to consumerism, or progress (or government covert science experimentation, or the roll out of 5G, etc) but perhaps we will start to value what we have, above what we want but don’t need?

Of course, I know it’s horribly complicated and our money helps the third world farmers, etc – I don’t have a solution and nor am I bright enough to understand the whole problem, I expect.

I will now shut my laptop, put my mobile phone in my pocket and drive my car to the supermarket to get some floor cleaner. I fear I’m a hypocrite – but perhaps I might not be beyond making some modest, sensible, changes.

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