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My new year’s resolution is to not have this cold

6 January 2023

When I was getting changed into my running kit this morning, my nose started bleeding onto the bathroom floor. I’ve had The Cold for three weeks now and I’m still not tired of complaining. It’s been horrific – like having a head full of glue – but so satisfying to moan about. I had to start my run breathing only through my mouth, and the bleeding stopped.

I left the house with no plan as to how far I’d run or how long. I didn’t have a purpose for the run other than to get outside. Headphones in, I started off with an audiobook, but there was no space for my thoughts so I put some music on. Music makes my mind wander; speech doesn’t, which is usually what I want. But today I wanted to wander.

From my house, all paths lead to Nene Park, so I knew I’d end up there, but would I do a muddy river run, a lakeside loop, or a longer outing to Castor or Alwalton? If I don’t start a run with a plan, I can listen to my body, adapt to the weather or conditions, and it can be less boring. But it can also be bad, of course: much easier to give up, harder to stay focused. Today I didn’t finally agree with myself how far I was going until mile 5. I had been hoping for 10, but settled on 8. I ran for 1 hour 15 minutes, but was outside for another 20 minutes on top of that, looking at birds and taking pictures with my phone.

On the path to the park I saw a couple of big groups of runners out together, in their high-vis jackets, chatting and looking cheerful. Friday morning is always busy on the trails around Nene Park, but it was much busier than usual. There were lots of walkers and runners, most of them older than me, with some wearing the odd outfits of newly reformed new year’s resolution runners. I always love seeing the random things people wear to run – it reminds me that anyone really can just leave the house and go. Today a wiry Jacob Rees Mogg type dashed past me with purpose, sporting long grey socks and a faded country casuals cotton rugby shirt tucked high into bunchy shorts, his gold framed glasses slipping down his nose.

I took a lap around the nature reserve at Woodston Ponds. I’m never sure if it’s ok to run on the wooden boardwalk – I don’t want to damage it as I know it has to be repaired by Wildlife Trust volunteers. If I’m doing a gentle pace like today though, I figure it’s ok, I’m not pounding around scaring the birds. From the entrance gate of the reserve, I spotted a heron high up in a tree overlooking the River Nene, and he was still there when I made it to the river side of the loop, surveying his domain.

Herons and cormorants are common birds around here. So common, I rarely notice them until they fly past unexpectedly – a heron lifting off from the bank on silent wings, a cormorant wheeling onto the water. They make me remember: dinosaurs still live among us. Today I got the rare treat of an egret, on the backwater near Goldie Lane. When I stopped to get my camera out, it stalked away through the reeds, less like a heron and more like a flustered hen.

At the furthest point of my run, just before I turned for home, I noticed a group of cormorants in the middle of Gunwade Lake. They kept disappearing underwater so it was hard to tell how many there were – maybe six, which felt unusual. Or do groups of cormorants fish together all the time when I’m not looking? I thought about all the people I’d assumed were new year’s resolution exercisers, like they were rare egrets, and I was a common heron, even though I haven’t run regularly for weeks due to Covid then The Cold. We were all out there together, on our feet, in nature.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. africker permalink
    6 January 2023 5:12 pm

    We have egrets round this way – frequently hiding in various ditches with brooks in so they come springing out as you pass – always glad to see them. Terrible at identifying most of the birds!

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