To define an absence, one has to start by finding what should fill it. It has no single, universally accepted definition. Most focus on the physiological bodily reactions— the increased blood flow, the muscle tensing, even involuntary contractions— as the signs of it. While psychologists look to the emotional and cognitive changes that accompany it, the rush of dopamine to the brain may even cause the odd yelp of enjoyment . But in the end, the only way to be sure they have had one is if they reveal it themselves. Some even fake it because it remains elusive, and for others it happens every time. But some never put themselves in the position to experience it, or maybe they’re doing it with the wrong people or in the wrong way. Those who have experienced it advise the “unfortunates” who have not “You’ll know it when it happens” and you’ll never forget your first time. They can happen in the strangest locations – forests, back roads, isolated trails – but my favourite is a warm evening on the beach even if the rough sand can cause chaffing. This neurobiological reward is thought to result in this habitual addictive behaviour, in an effort to get the next fix (Raichlen et al., 2012). This is one of the reasons that for the third year in a row, starting Wednesday 10th January in Newbridge, men and women will meet every Wednesday and Friday evening behind St Conleths Community school all in search of the same thing – the elusive “runners high”!!
The Newbridge Athletic Club fit for life group held its first session on Wednesday 7th Jan 2015, 148 people turned up on first night with most of these still active members. Since, nearly 1000 people have signed up and passed through. An average 60-80 people per night now complete the couch to 5k programmes, building up from a walk to jog a complete 5k, doing track work (includes strength, technique and speed work) and group runs on road. All in preparation for the intermittent goals which are set in the form of races (optional). Many runs have been completed, with a number of members taking part in the SSE Airtricity series in the park and many completing the Dublin City Marathon each year.
Lack of motivation, whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic is an easy excuse on a cold, wet January night. It can result in choosing the fire and Netflix over Lycra. Making a commitment to a group and setting goals with the advice of experienced coaches could make the difference between watching Breaking Bad and pounding the pavement. But ultimately you’re only accountable to you and you control the variables that decide the success or failure of your new year’s resolutions…….. Do it or just add it to next year’s list!
** To find a fit4life group near you go to www.athleticsireland.ie/clubs/fit4life/find-a-fit4life-club
Raichlen DA, Foster AD, Gerdeman GL, Seillier A & Giuffrida A. (2012). Wired to run: exercise-induced endocannabinoid signaling in humans and cursorial mammals with implications for the ‘runner’s high’. J Exp Biol 215, 1331-1336.