AFTER a lengthy absence from the blogosphere, the Clapped-out Runner is back!
This blog first appeared seven years ago as ‘Diary of a Clapped-Out Runner’, its title a sort of tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating reference to the fact my times were getting slower as the years slipped by, and I was finding myself nearer the back than the front end of races.
But at least back then I was still running and racing regularly . . . nowadays, it must be said, that ‘Clapped-Out’ adjective has got dangerously close to being the absolute truth!
Various chronic running-related injuries, a series of ever-diminishing Parkrun times, and a collection of running shoes that mainly gathers dust . . . these things have recently rudely suggested I might like to quietly quit and do something else in the name of leisure and fitness.
But no. That hasn’t happened yet. In fact, I’ve even adopted the mantra “It’s better to wear out than rust out!” Stopping altogether after 37 years of running would surely invite overworked joints and sinews to seize up altogether; better to keep them moving, even if they do squeak, crack and complain!
Our new dog Arthur mentioned the other day he quite fancied a go at Parkrun - so there’s another reason for me to keep the running going. Can’t let him do the damn thing on his own.
Yep, my running mojo has evidently not quite vanished yet . . . and there was further encouragement recently when Runner’s World magazine published a set of statistics that somehow persuaded me I’m not quite as slow these days as I thought I was.
These stats were “average finish times” of the entire UK running population in 2019. How on earth they managed to calculate them I have no idea, but I’m in no mood to argue. They have made an old man very happy, for they suggest that even in my current state of sporting decline I can still go quicker than Mr and Mrs Average (as long as I can remain fit enough to actually reach a finish-line!).
UK race participation has become far more popular in the past 10 years (up by 164%), meaning the demography is totally different in 2019. There are far more runners out there whose main motivation is to enjoy a sociable means of staying fit and healthy, regardless of their age, size or sporting background. Running is no longer a niche sport for eccentric, serious-faced skinny chaps who smell of liniment and whose idea of nirvana is a place in the county cross-country team.
Newbies are everywhere - and very welcome they are too - which explains why average finish-times are getting slower these days. Of course this is good news for us veterans who need modest target times as we cope with Mother Nature’s efforts to slow us down.
Runner’s World reckons the average nationwide finish time for a 5k is currently 33:54 (men 29:08 and women 38:12). For the 10k it is 58:08 (men 53:38 and women 63:18). For the half-marathon it is 2:02:43 (men 1:55:26 and women 2:11:57. For the marathon it is 4:23:27 for men and 5:00:39 for women.
(* Views expressed in this blog are purely my own and not necessarily those of the two long-established East Anglian running clubs I am privileged to have Life Membership of).