We've had gale force winds here the last couple of days, accompanied at times by rain, sleet, and even a brief bit of snow. This is not my favourite running weather. I do like running when the temperature is cool and I even like running in a bit of light rain. Last week two of my runs were in dense fog which lent a magical quality to an overly-familiar landscape (aside from the shrieking fright that I got when two unexpected pigs close to a fence snuffled menacingly at me). Bright blue skies on a cold, crisp day are nice too. I can even find something to like about running when it's a bit breezy, which is fortunate as most runs in this part of the world are accompanied by breezes of varying strengths.
But I hate running in the wind. It's tiring. It's boring. And it certainly is not fun. I seriously considered not going out today. I thought about using my newly stitched leg as an excuse but the real reason was the wind. I thought about putting today's run off until tomorrow, but a quick check of the weather report revealed that tomorrow would be even windier. This was the first real test of my commitment to marathon training - would it be the sofa, a mug of tea, and the new Ian Rankin? Or would it be a slog through mud, puddles, and fallen tree branches?
Amazingly, I chose to go for the run. My feet were soaked within 5 minutes. The ankle-deep puddles in some places meant that I had to walk along very squishy, muddy, weedy verges (note to self: nettles still sting even this late in the year). And the wind - which was blowing in gusts of up to 22mph - literally stopped me in my tracks several times. In some places, I walked because this was faster than running. In others, rampaging wind sweeping across the open fields threatened to push me into the drainage ditch at the side of the road.
But I was firm in spirit, if not actually on my feet. After each mile, I made the conscious decision to continue for one more. And then another. And then another. My hamstrings were aching, my ankles were tight, and my quads were burning but, when I got to 4.5 miles, my direction changed and all of a sudden I no longer was running into the wind and it all felt fine. So fine, in fact, that I ended up running for 7 miles in total. This is the first time in years that I've run more than 6 miles and it was feeling like a bit of a psychological barrier - but I did it, and during a gale at that.
I'm sure that there's a lesson in this about the importance of persevering in the face of adversity and about the importance of one's mental attitude to the success of one's run but, frankly, the really important thing was knowing that I had burned off enough calories to justify the Tesco's Finest Belgian Triple Chocolate Cookie waiting for me at home.