Surprisingly, happiness lies in a blast of adverse weather
TODAY WAS THE SORT of January day we all dread – cold and grey, with north winds driving tiny needles of sleety rain hard into your face.
We don’t have the world’s harshest weather here in the north temperate zone but – trust me – today was horrible enough.
When you threw in the post-Christmas comedown, worrying rates of Covid infections, and the Government announcing another six-weeks of lockdown, it added up to the perfect excuse for just sitting around and feeling fed up.
Please Santa, let me get fit enough to run on Xmas morning!
Now that we’re into December – and sort of out of lockdown – ’tis the season when Christmas preparations crank into overdrive.
Here in London, people have gone for it early – putting up their trees and outdoor decorations last weekend, when of course we were still in November.
Christmas purists like my wife (who believes that no bauble ought to go up before December and every pine needle should be gone by Twelfth Night) might look slightly askance. But no-one seriously wants to stop people from squeezing all the light and joy they can out of this bleak time – except maybe the Government.
I don’t go big on the MAMIL look, but autumn runs aren’t perfect without my tights
I reckon that there’s a lot not to like about autumn.
There are lots of little things to loathe, instead: like having to switch from drying clothes ecologically on the line to radiators, or an energy-guzzling, tumble dryer.*
Bath towels and shower mats no longer dry themselves magically; you’re waking up in the dark again and then – one suddenly pitch-black October evening – discovering that all the light bulbs you didn’t use throughout the summer are nevertheless not working.
But there’s one thing I love about autumn: braving the cold and wet, with my running tights on.
Running is The Dogs when it comes to Mindfulness, IMHO
In my day job, I’ve been writing a lot about Mindfulness lately.
Now that we’re all preparing for a second, six-month lockdown – panic-booking Ocado slots, stockpiling the Cushelle before it goes back on the ration – it’s understandable that we’re also after some mental reinforcement to see us sanely through the dark days ahead.
So, having exhausted my usual array of mental sandbags on the first surge, I’ve gone back to Mindfulness after a break of almost three years.
I’ve dusted down the old Guided Meditation CD, sat in the same chair with my eyes closed and assumed the familiar pose, supposedly embodying a sense of strength and curiosity.
I spent 20 minutes noticing my breathing and the noises around me, trying to sit quietly with any troubling thoughts that popped into my head.
And it was all right. In fact, it was much the same as it was when I last gave it up: at least I was doing something to combat stress and getting a bit of restful ‘me’ time’.
But one of the thoughts that did occur to me was: “This isn’t as good as running.”
I’m depressed again, but I don’t need happy pills. I just need to run more.
I’ve been feeling depressed again recently, for the first time in a long while.
I had a knockback at work which – as is my wont – I took quite badly.
And then, there was the end of summer. After the heatwave in mid-August, there were weeks of unseasonal, autumnal storms and heavy rain. I started to sense the short dark days and the long black nights a-coming. And I didn’t like it.
I’ve always felt guilty that I’m not a social runner – but at least going solo is perfect for escaping Covid-19
FUCK SELF-ISOLATION: that was the unspoken message in the air around London’s open spaces yesterday.
I ran through three parks as I knocked out my Sunday 10-miler, and it looked like everyone in the city was outside with me, despite the Coronavirus.
Given some half decent weather for once, Londoners were seizing the chance to stretch their legs, and for some space and fresh air.
Kids, Mums, Dads, old folks, lovers and dogs – they were all out – along with runners. Dozens and dozens of runners.
It even felt a bit Blitz-Spirit-y, being out there mingling in the face of Covid-19.
‘Bring it on!’ said the dog walker, bending to bag a turd”
Bring it on! Said the business-as-usual body language of the dog walker bending to bag a freshly minted turd. London Can Take It! said every Dad standing his ground quietly against a toddler baying for ice cream.
But in the midst of all these heroes was a coward – and that coward was me.
Because, as I dodged and weaved through the throng – woolly gloves on despite the sunshine and maintaining a safe two metres at all times – I wasn’t being brave.