For most of my life running (particularly across country) has been quite important. But since December of 2016, when I injured my left knee, I haven’t really run. Last week, I tried again... and made a video.
There is nothing like running on a trail, and for me it was always therapeutic.
I instantly forget stuff when I am running. I am totally absorbed. The metronomic action and the effort seems to use up even the tiniest amount of energy that my body or brain might otherwise steer towards the stresses and strains of everyday life.
We spent last weekend in the historic village of Tršić, in western Serbia, surrounded by wooded hills. Having "discovered" this little gem of a place on last year's road trip we were glad to be able to get back here again and stay in Konak Mišić; a wonderful B&B which is in fact so much more, as paying visitors receive an amazing welcome and are made to feel part of the family.
We walked on some muddy trails, cooling our feet in the heat of the day splashing in streams and puddles from the recent heavy rains. We sat around chatting with people late into the evening and we ate and drank far too much. As relaxing and refreshing weekends go it couldn't have been much better but because of last week's blog post, there was an itch I had to scratch.
"This was to be the new dawn of my trail running life"
So, shortly before we drove back to Belgrade for another week of work, I was inspired to go for a trail run. I wouldn’t do this at home in flat Cambridgeshire but I threw caution to the wind.
As I ran up into the woods, I imagined myself embarking on an epic trail run that would see me bound through these beautiful hills recapturing some (imagined) glories. My knee would be miraculously better, stronger. This was to be the new dawn of my trail running life.
- If you want to get into Trail Running, here's a primer from Jane Grates.
- This is why I started into running in the first place.
The first steep section through beach trees was eerily quiet and I was deafened by my own panting, lungs screaming for help. But I kept going. I pushed up through the broad-leaved woodland until the trail flattened out, slowing down with deep breaths and then… I kind of bottled it a bit. At least until the next uphill bit.
You see my knee is fine when I go up and the stress is muscular but the impact of the flat or worse still, the downhill sections, is where I feel it.
I didn't have the courage, or rather I think I was too sensible, to push my body so I invented a new form of trail running. You run only the uphill parts and then you cruise along the flat and step gingerly on the downhills to soak in the beauty of mother nature. Of course it also helps recovery from those chest-stinging, muscle-wringing ascents.
In a couple of days we go back to Cambridgeshire where the only uphill is a narrow flight of stairs to bed, so it might be a while before my next trail run, but I’ll savour this one for a while.
You can see the video I made below (pro tip: making videos also helps recovery).