Running in circles

Usually, to go/run in circles would indicate that although you are doing something, you’re not achieving anything. But with circuit running it is quite the opposite. You do achieve a lot!

What is it about running around the same loop – preferably not longer than a couple of kilometres – that I find so appealing? Gerry and I did the Dawn to Dusk 12-hour circuit race in 2008, and if memory serves me well, we finished second in the mixed pairs division totalling 116km or so. I absolutely loved it! It was a one kilometre figure-8 loop around a school athletics track and other sports facilities. We set up “camp” right next to the course (as did everybody else all along the circuit) and swapped over after every three kilometres. You could tag it as you pleased: some runners swapped over every 5km, others every 10km and so on. It was a really jolly affair with supporters, friends, family and runners, all around the circuit.

Three kilometres sounded logical to us as all races complying with ASA rules had to have a water point (with coke!) every three to four kilometres. And the benchmark was three kilometres, not four. So we were quite used to running three kilometres, then walk a short bit through the aid station, before continuing on. It turned out a good strategy for us and swapping the timing/counting chip over was luckily easy as.

I am quite frankly amazed that we haven’t sought out more of these types of events over the past few years, giving the fact that we really enjoy this sort of thing.

You may wonder what is so special about running in circles? Well, I don’t have a simple answer. Maybe it is the fact that you can just go into a Zen-like trance, not having to think about anything, being comfortably numb; maybe it’s the fact that you have your own support every kilometre or two (or three – whatever length of loop you choose to do); maybe it’s the sense of achievement you feel each time you can count down (or up) a loop; maybe it’s the fact that you’re never far from your car/help should the weather turn super nasty, or you need to bail for whatever reason; maybe it’s because you don’t have to run with a hydration pack, and can add or take off clothing layers as the weather changes? Who knows. But for me, it is also the fact that distance just somehow seems shorter if you break it down into one or two-kilometre distance laps. It almost feels like I can carry on forever.

Recently, Gerry and I had to fit in a long-run as training for an ultra and decided to run the Massey University 2km ring road until we reached 32km. So, only 16 laps around the loop and we’d be there. That’s not so hard, is it? Being 2km, meant we could potentially get water/sustenance every 2km, but we opted to refuel roughly every 4km. Since we also broke it up into running one lap, then walking one lap, that meant we only had to keep track of doing the same thing eight times. And that’s making running 32km really super-duper easy! One would think it is very hard to keep track of how many times you’ve been around the same short loop, but believe my, it’s not! Your mind ends up being occupied by just that – keeping track of your loops. And each one feels like a massive achievement.

Admittedly, I also started noticing things on the road, like a blue paperclip. And every time I stepped over it, I couldn’t wait to see it again. Because that would mean I’ve done another lap! On the less positive side of “landmarks”, there was a piece of gum in the road, which really annoyed me. Who would spit out such a nasty piece of sh*t in the road? It sticks to everything, pulling nasty strands of gooey stuff that also gets stuck to everything. Needless to say, every time I passed the gum, having to sidestep the blob, I was annoyed again. But luckily the blue paperclip was chirpy enough, reminding me of a happy little character.

Maybe I should stop rambling on in circles before risking sounding like a real lunatic! 🙂

Just give it a try – you too may be converted to the simple pleasures of running in circles!