One of, if not the last time I ran 10k was the 14th of December 2016. Here is an extract from my journal the day after:
"I reached the meadow and stepped through the screeching metal gate.
It was chilly, but in the fading winter light I took a moment to breath deeply and enjoy the view that gets rather ignored during these runs. In front of me a wide circular expanse of grassland, surrounded by water. Only the loud hum of the A14 taints the atmosphere but even this was dulled by the soggy earth and low lying mist.
Around the edge of this eerie field, following the course of the water, the ground is worn from human, canine, ovine and bovine feet that share this grassland depending on the season. Judging by the scars we all seem to use it in a formulaic manner.
I walk-jogged the 400 metres or so from our front door, after stretching at home, but still the first steps were stiff and uncomfortable. I slapped heavily on the wet ground. My stride lengthens then finally shortens a little, as I find my range and the warmth from within spreads, then I settle into my pace. It is one I feel I have known since I was in my teens and it is like the embrace of an old friend. As I completed the first circuit I really felt I could run forever."
I am not amazingly good at it but I love running.
The rhythm. The metronomic feeling of control. The illusion of perpetuality. The shattering of that illusion and the digging deep to rebuild it. Step by step by step.
I love running. I have always loved running, probably because as a skinny youth it was one of things I could do quite well. In truth I have never run more than 19km in one go. But, unlike other outdoor activities, I never completely abandoned running.
The trance. The pounding, slapping or bouncing of feet. Each side with its minor difference in sound. Right foot. Left foot. Right Foot.
I like the feeling of invincibility (albeit illusory) which comes with the comfortable use of the human machine. People use phrases like "in the zone" or "being at one with oneself" to describe this quasi-automatic ease of motion. Like controlled floating, I imagine. I think if you haven't experienced it, it might be unimaginable.
It isn't constant and it doesn't last. But there are moments - waves of it - that make running for me one of the most relaxing of pastimes. Beyond the obvious physical benefits of raising one's heart rate, it clears my head and invigorates my spirit.
Last week I ran 5km on the treadmill. Yesterday I did it again. Something I have not done (walking or running) since early January when I decided to prepare for an ultra marathon. Pain, first in my right, then in my left knee has seen me cut out running completely from my fitness "regime", if it can be called that.
Following some self-diagnosis, then professional biometric assessment, strength and conditioning program and regular physio sessions it seems as if I may be running across a muddy field again soon. My joy is unbounded at the thought of it. So much so that I tweeted this uncharacteristic drivel, in my endorphin-fuelled euphoria, replete with douchebag Trump-style hashtag.