I’ve been running a bumpy, but interesting, road since the New Year.
In mileage terms, each good week has typically been followed by a less-good one.
The good ones are often fuelled by dreams of races to come in the spring and summer; dreams of long evenings in good company on quiet roads; dreams of recaptured youth. Almost inevitably and shortly thereafter, a weary and fragile body prevents me from getting out the door and I feel diminished. The pendulum swings from positive to negative; from hope to dejection. Thankfully, the general trend seems positive and, as time moves ahead, there are more good runs than bad and fewer periods of sulking. My wife is thankful for this.
As the year unfolds, I’ve been taking my own advice and resting when I should; even when that has meant taking three, four or five days off in a row. Thankfully that has meant that, although my mileage has been reduced, I haven’t been forced off the road altogether. It’s difficult to teach an old dog new tricks, but obviously not impossible. As an antidote to melancholy, I’ve been re-reading some classic running books. Ron Hill’s two-volume autobiography got me started. As an example of unrestrained compulsion, they’re hard to rival. The man is a head-case.
Next up was my favourite – the best running book that I’ve ever come across – Jim Shapiro’s ‘Meditations from the Breakdown Lane: Running Across America’. Every time I open the covers of this book I learn something new about myself. One observation that drew my eye this time was about how runners view ‘big’ races; the ones we focus on from afar and obsess about for months. He notes that, for the runners he has known, there is no race as important as the next one and none as unimportant as the one just completed. We rarely stay in the moment long enough to appreciate what we’re doing. The lesson I am choosing to take from this is that there should be no run more important that today’s.
That worrying today about what I might be able to do in the summer, will just subtract from my enjoyment of the run today.
If I can take Jim’s advice I have a chance to stop sulking and start really running.