And so another year ends in a flurry of travel, family, bad weather, presents, great food and drink(s). 2012 was an interesting year - my trip to Paranal, the fun MIRI day in London in May and the instrument’s delivery to NASA, first results from the Milky Way Project, and the BBC News in my kitchen were particular work-related highlights. And of course, with work placing ever more demands on my time and energy, every minute spent with good friends and family gains in value accordingly.
As many of my twitter followers and facebook friends have probably noticed, one big development of 2012 is that I’ve managed to get myself back into running, after a few years of lying low in that area. In 2012 I completed a half marathon and two 10 km races (all in the final three months of the year, I should add – which possibly explains my permanently achy legs these days). Over the course of the year, I clocked up 1040 km, mostly in Heidelberg and Belgium but with noted outings in Austin, London, Paris, Nottingham and Amsterdam.
My experience with running, I realise more and more, is highly transferable into other aspects of life. As well as provide me with much-needed fresh air and stressbusting after a hard day at work, it’s particularly useful for dealing with the trials and tribulations of being an academic. So to start off the new year, here are my Lessons from Running, As Applicable to Life*.
1. Set long term goals, but remember to enjoy the journey as you get there.
2. Don’t waste your time: every run should contribute to your goal.
3. Don’t lose sleep over a bad time. There’s always another day.
4. Autumn forests are beautiful, but beware of falling chestnuts (ditto: free-running dogs).
5. A really bad run is always followed by a really good one. It’s called regression to the mean, and it feels damn good. (NB: that’s poor comfort if your bad run falls on race day, in which case: see 3)
6. Even if you prefer running alone, you’re still going to need someone to hold your snacks and warm clothes on race day.
7. You can’t fake running, and if you’re running, you’re a Runner. It’s not actually possible to be an impostor here.
8. “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” (thanks, Murakami)
9. Appropriate footwear is crucial.
10. Apply vaseline liberally.
And with that, I wish you all a most excellent 2013!
*sometimes in ways I haven’t quite figured out yet
[By coincidence, the Guardian have an editorial today in praise of winter running. I agree with it entirely - there is nothing quite like those first seconds under a hot shower after a frosty snowy run!]