Now be honest…How many times this summer have you looked outside at the utterly disappointing UK weather and complained about it? Is it in the double digits? Or the triple?? It is very telling that the topic I discuss most often these days with friends, family and random strangers while queuing is whether we are having a typical British summer or if this is ‘something else’. With the cold temperatures, fluctuating winds and unexpected outbursts of rain that make the weather forecasts about as reliable as a horoscope, the results of my straw poll weigh heavily in favour of the ‘something else’.
But many of us in the UK are relatively lucky to only be whinging about the lack of BBQ opportunities and getting rained on again during a run. It may have been easier in the past to ignore the ‘something else’ weather when it seemed to be happening somewhere else. But seriously, when the weather is producing catastrophic demonstrations of severe floods and wildfires in such sheer frequency in places that are increasingly more familiar, it is impossible to ignore the absolutely devastating effects that the climate crisis is having on communities. I have to hope that there aren’t many people left on this planet who still doubt that a fundamentally radical change to how the world is tackling the climate crisis is now essential. Although that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone agrees on the solution…Especially when it comes to food and diet.
With life comes risks and that is never so true as when it comes to running. Because being a runner means that you have to accept the risk that one day, you may injure yourself. But all runners know that the benefits of running far outweigh any risk of injury. Otherwise they’d never lace up. However, that does not mean that being injured is any easier. In fact, as someone who has been forced to take a break from running due to a badly injured knee I feel like a grizzly with a sore paw. Impossible to reason with while equally despondent and impatient by not recovering soon enough. Who wants to RICE all the time when they feel in every bone in their body (apart from their sore paw) that they really should be running? Not this grizzly!
As the Covid restrictions ease further in the UK, many people have become practically obsessed with the all-important subject and First World problem of where to go on holiday. I’ve noticed, however, that most people seem to fall into one of two very distinct camps of thought. Up first are the holiday optimists, who have their eyes fixed firmly on the travel traffic light system like a personal beacon of hope. They grasp their passports while waiting on tenterhooks and praying out to anyone listening to get the green light to safely travel abroad to sunnier horizons. A fringe sub-set of this group will settle for amber. Then there are the holiday realists, who have taken a much more cautious and slightly pessimistic approach. They think that traffic lights systems should be left for the roads. They believe that the only safe and sensible option of any vacation is that it takes place within the confines of the temperamental British shores. End of. But no matter how divergent and contentious the opinions of these two camps are, they wholeheartedly agree in the essential need and indeed, urgency for a break from this Covid-shaped year.
I was reminded the other day of a time when I was 12, when a good friend said something to me that has since stuck in my head. She said that if she ever picked at her food at the dinner table because she didn’t have much of an appetite, then her mother always told her that she ‘ate like a bird’. For some reason I couldn’t get my head around what it had to do with birds because my friend didn’t look the least bit avian. In fact, I knew all too well that she had become a frequent visitor to a new takeaway that she passed daily on her way home from school. Her weakness was their specialty of deep fried sweet and sour pork which came swimming in a sticky sauce. She told me conspiringly that she was never hungry for dinner if she stopped for an afterschool snack but what her mother didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her. But as I was reminiscing past times while looking out the window at the birds feeding in our garden, I also thought that maybe her mother wasn’t too far off the mark.
We may have started the New Year with a sense of deja-vu as we entered another lockdown but at least there is still one thing that we can count on. Running outdoors! Although…this may be of little solace to those who are more keen on working out in their closed gyms while catching up on Netflix rather than facing the prospect of running in the freezing winter weather. It also hardly seems something to celebrate if your main motivation to lace up your trainers and hit the pavement comes from the camaraderie and weekly catch-ups with mates from running groups and parkruns which are sadly, suspended. Not to mention that it can be difficult to carry on training in such uninviting weather when you’re feeling slightly demoralised because every race and event you signed up for the foreseeable future has been cancelled or gone virtual.