I ran laps of my local GAA pitch the other night as my two sons played football in the goals and took lumps out of each other with hurleys. They were special moments. Even though my watch told me that I was moving slowly, my heart rejoiced just because I was actually moving. My heart was light and my mind gradually unclenched. Lap followed lap and, after a while, I noticed a phenomenon that I’d almost forgotten about.
I could see that I was gradually making a little silver trail around the edge of the playing surface. Each footstep flattened a few emerald blades and, as time went by, the setting sun revealed a winding silver path of my making. I smiled and remembered training sessions of just a few years ago when I’d noticed the same phenomenon.
I was almost there.
I was almost nostalgic for the days when I used to be ‘able to run’ before I snapped out of it and pulled the emergency ‘stop’ lever.
Returning to running has been a haphazard, frustrating, mind-blowing process – but I don’t want to come back to be a tourist. If it comes to the point when it becomes clear that I will never again be able to well and truly kick the living shit out of a run, I will change course. Until that day comes, I will keep on trying to return to full fitness. It is also possible that I will eventually wake up to the fact that being fit and running well means a lot more to me than it really should. Perhaps I’m in the process of learning that lesson the hard way.
When I do run, my head is filled with moving images of the Dublin Marathon, the Craughwell 10, the Connemara Ultra, the Tuam 8k, the Street of Galway and many others. My mind watches silent footage of races that I may never run again and my legs dream about covering those routes once more.
At the moment I’m training every day – but only running every second day. I have a routine of stretching and core work in the gym on the first day and running the next. If I mantain this discipline, I can run for an hour with minimal discomfort.
I need to keep my enthusiasm in check, to keep my recovery on track.