Running on Christmas Day

"A 12-mile uphill fartlek? And with added interval laps of  muddy field? Really, you shouldn't have!"

“A 12-mile uphill fartlek? And with added interval sprints on a muddy field? Really, you shouldn’t have!”

December 25, and this morning many households woke up in great excitement and enthusiasm. Yes, small people unwrapping presents and playing with new toys – but also big people getting ready for a Christmas Day run.

If anything defines the popular notion of an elite athlete, it’s the idea that they train on Christmas Day. What dedication! What sacrifice! And yet if you love running then what else would you be doing?

At the height of his rivalry with Steve Ovett, Sebastian Coe went training one Christmas morning. Afterwards, back home and sitting down to Christmas dinner, he was gripped by worry – what if the other guy was training twice that day?

And so Coe went out for a second Christmas Day training session that evening. Years later, when the track rivals had become friends, Coe’s curiosity got the better of him and he had to ask Ovett: did he train twice that Christmas Day? “Oh, so you only trained twice that day?” Ovett quipped…

Well, I haven’t run twice today – just the once, as part of my 12 Runs of Christmas, but it was great. The morning was mild and sunny again, and with less traffic and pedestrians around I took the opportunity to run through town and all the way out to Blennerville Windmill and Tralee Bay. Less traffic and pedestrians around, but still sufficient spectators to admire my rockhardness in running on Christmas Day.

There were a few cyclists and dog walkers along the canal out to Blennerville but I saw only one other runner. Rather worryingly, I saw more boy racers driving like lunatics, obviously believing that the roads on Christmas Day are empty and clear for their speed antics. So, if you’re heading out for a run, walk or cycle anytime today, be extra careful on unlit or back roads.

I ran 9 miles this morning, and as I had hoped it gave me a huge appetite. The Christmas dinner of turkey, ham, potatoes and veg was demolished, and my bumper dessert of apple tart, plum pudding, ice cream and chocolate biscuits was polished off too. Now I’m ready to settle in by the fire to empty a box of chocolates while watching television.

Another run tomorrow morning looks necessary to burn off all today’s eating – but that’s fine by me. It’ll be like Christmas every day!

Enjoy the rest of your Christmas, and remember that little gift to yourself of a run this Christmas Day!

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