MacPhail – week 11

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We are now more than a week into Lent and as promised in the last article, our modern day attempts at sacrifice and penance is the subject of this week’s offering.

Regardless of our reasons for doing so, whether religious, social, personal or for health and well-being, giving ourselves set periods of time to do something, stop doing something, not eat this or not drink that, is generally good practice.  It is also easier to fulfil such time periods of self-enforced sacrifice if lots of others are doing likewise at the same time.

So, as with much of our behaviour, it shows signs of the sheep within us all where it’s good to go along with the crowd and follow the flow of fashion.  In no way do I trivialise the partaking of Lenten penance by those who have deeply religious reasons for doing so. They are in a very different category to those like myself who are really just carrying out interesting experiments on our health and discipline.

In order to increase the level of experimental penance this year, I’m going to simultaneously stop drinking and start another 12-week running programme in the lead up to having another bash at the Edinburgh half marathon in May.

I did part of a programme last year, and though I started it late and missed a few weeks with injury, I managed to struggle through the 13 miles. With the combination of the full programme and no deoch till Easter, I reckon Mo Farah better watch out – though I think ‘Mo Mhathair’ might be as much of a threat to him as I will be!  All being well, I’ll head down south to join Team Eilidh again to do the Manchester 10k on May 19 and then join them for the Edinburgh event the week after.

I’m half way through the second week of the training programme and it’s not easy getting the body moving again after so long without doing very much in the way of physical activity.  It would be a lot easier if I had carried on the running after the events last May and the fact that I didn’t is a reflection of why these set aims within a timescale are so effective.

As soon as the set aim was passed, I just did not have enough motivation to carry on the running, even though I knew it was undoubtedly good for me. Without having told Suzanne and the Team Eilidh organisers that I would do the events last year, there is no way I would have carried on through the training programme and completed the runs.

If you have a specific aim on a set time scale, finding the motivation to put yourself through discomfort is much easier. That is why using Lent as a defined entity of time for which to place a certain duty or penance upon one self is so effective and why so many find it a fulfilling experience.

I may miss a few training days, and due to a Christening this weekend, I will be taking a one day holiday from ‘prohibition’, but I hope my even fairly loose adherence of this age old observance will have a positive effect on my ability to cover the distance in May and hopefully I’ll earn a few extra pounds in sponsorship for that very worth while charity.