What a dead Romantic taught me about running

Percy Shelley. Not known for his jogging prowess.

Percy Shelley. Not known for his jogging prowess.

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like an exhausted jogger,
Dodging dog deposits on Amiens Street.

Percy Shelley didn’t write those last two lines. But his Ode To The West Wind is just about histrionic enough to cover most runners’ reaction to the gusts that blew through Dublin earlier this week.

Which one of us, buffeted with the breeze while dodging the wing mirror of a passing bus, hasn’t lifet out face to the heavens and proclaimed:

Thou dirge of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre
Vaulted with all thy congregated might
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: O hear!

No? Maybe it’s just me.

A summer of relative jogging calm came to a breezy end this week when the arrival of the first winds of Autumn, something I dread.

O uncontrollable!

O uncontrollable!

Hail? Fire? Black rain? I’ll take all of that – anything but wind. And much of my running is done near the coast, meaning I get the full, squally whack of it each morning.

This has transformed the gentle draughts of summer to blustery, gait-wrecking bursts. It’s a breath of Autumn that lingers through winter to Spring. And sometimes beyond.

It chills the bones (and more), adds minutes to my times and, over 10k, helps deliver rain to every last crevice.

But, like Canute manically ranting at the surf, shaking my sweaty fist at the latest passing Atlantic low pressure is pointless.

Shelley, not noted for his jogging prowess, nonetheless has advice.

If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share
The impulse of thy strength, only less free Than thou, O Uncontrollable!

In others words run with the wind.

Who said the Romantics have nothing to teach us in the post-industrial age?

Next week – Wordsworth’s top five stretching tips.

_____

Postscript: He may not have been a runner but Shelley’s outdoor pursuits, combined with the wind, eventually proved his undoing. Three years after he wrote Ode To The West Wind his sailing boat encountered a storm in the Ligurian Sea, off northern Italy, in July 1822. The poet and two companions were drowned.

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One thought on “What a dead Romantic taught me about running

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