I went for a lovely recovery run this evening, my first outing for just over two weeks. Outing? It makes me sound like a race horse. Mind you, that was one image that popped into my mind as I was running. Not due to my graceful cantering, but because I noticed one stretch where there are wooden railings, as one might find on a race course.
I had planned to do my favourite 5km run from the car park at Titchmarsh nature reserve to the little village of Thorpe Waterville and back. This is mostly flat road running. However, in a moment of spontaneity, I opted for a run around the lake in the nature reserve. I was worried that the recent heavy rain would have made parts too boggy and muddy underfoot to be safe, but that did not prove to be the case. I think the uncharacteristically long dry spell meant that the rain was very quickly absorbed into the grateful earth. The grass had regained some of its greenness and was springy to run on. The only hazards were patches of very uneven ground and hidden divots that could have played havoc with my ankles. And because I am off on my hols tomorrow, I did not want to risk a further injury. The aim today was to put myself gently through my paces – again, like a thoroughbred! – to let my body feel the freedom of running again, and to test the integrity of my big toe which I injured during martial arts training. The choice to run on soft ground was partly guided by this consideration, and partly by the early evening sun glittering on the water, and the sound of ducks as they took off for a little flight along the river Nene.
My body felt great at being let loose again. After the first few hundred metres or so it remembered the pattern and rhythm of my running. This was running with no purpose other than to to move through space. I did not check my pace, I stuck to a level of PE (perceived effort) around 4 to 5, with a couple of bursts towards the end of about 6 to 7, but nothing too heroic.
I was wary at the beginning because of my toe, and I expected it to be a struggle because of the decrease in my training and the concomitant increase in my calorie intake, but once I settled into it I felt I could have run further and faster. That is a great place to be, but it is even greater if you can resist the urge to push yourself too hard during a very specific recovery run. I know how difficult it can be to return to training – be it the gym, running, or martial arts – after a break, there is always going to be a degree of falling off of performance. But I am used to this so do not tend to get too despondent about it. I think i have had more returns to training than Frank Sinatra had returns from his retirement!
I had hoped to wrap up the post in a neat way, referencing the title and one of Frank’s songs. I know it was Glen Campbell who wrote and performed “Gentle on my Mind”, but Frank did record it! It is what is known as blogger’s licence!