The pavement vanished under foot, trees and fields blew past me in a hazy blur, passers-by, fellow joggers, dog walkers, curious onlookers were left to eat my dust.
[Note: This is an archived post taken from One Small Step, a running blog I wrote during my training for the 2012 Virgin London Marathon.]
I was running. Not just running, but racing, tearing up the tarmac beneath my feet, blazing a trail, doing it.
This was my best run so far, I was ecstatic, euphoric, and certainly not exhausted. I’d reached the distance I’d planned to run that morning, and I’d kept on going. I ran back home. I turned around, and I ran some more.
A small voice in the back of my mind suggested I might want to think about what I was doing.
‘Steady on, son, you’ve still got a lot of training to complete.’
I listened but ultimately chose to ignore it. I was running harder, better, fast than ever and, best of all, I felt good, real good, doing so.
Minutes flew by, miles clocked up as my body flooded with a blissful and my mind created bright, vivid images of the London Marathon finish line hurtling towards me.
The scenery changed, from red brick houses and chugging motor cars to an empty road lined at either side with lush fields and grand trees which swayed in a gentle breeze and back again.
My pace varied, from a slow, careful plod to a desperate sprint before settling somewhere in the middle with a comfortable steady jog.
Yet one thing remained constant; a beat.
It was a hard, pounding beat, a heady concoction of sweltering bass and belligerent drums that perfectly matched the rythm of my footsteps as they tore up the pavement and the beat of my heart as it pumped adrenaline through my system.
It was by a band called Rage Against the Machine and it was awesome.
I’d always ran to music.
I’d always done most things to music if I’m being truthful, but there was something about the act of training for a marathon that just seemed as if it couldn’t be done without a pounding beat and nihilistic guitar ringing through my ears, blocking out all sounds and driving me onwards.
I needed that. I needed an angry, pissed of vocalist to become my own personal heavy metal drill sergeant and yell down my ear hole words which, whatever they might have actually been, seemed to cry out:
‘Oi! You! Keep running! You’ve gotta prove to everybody that you can run this marathon! You WILL prove to everybody you can do it. Now stop slacking and MOVE IT!’
I’d tried different bands to find this perfect mix of pumping beats and motivating screeches.
German group Rammstein had served me well l for my first few runs. Metallica, despite being one of my favourite bands of all time, just didn’t quite cut it, and an eclectic playlist mixing Nine Inch Nails, Rob Zombie, Pantera and Machine Head, whilst fun to listen to, just didn’t quite provide the drive I needed.
To be perfectly truthful, I didn’t really think I’d find what I was looking for in politically-savvy rap-metal outfit Rage.., but I saw no harm in giving them a shot.
And so I did, and I found everything I was looking for. Their rhythm and tempo seemed to match my running pace perfectly, often inspiring me to push it that little bit further, and even if the vocalist was really urging me to rise up and give the middle finger to The Man, all I heard was that much-needed drill sergeant willing me on.
Ever since then, I’ve stopped looking for other bands to accompany me on my run. Rage have done it every time for me since, and ever since my training has only continued to improve.
Bring on this marathon, I’m more than ready for it!