mundane adventures in running
On sunday, I tried doing a long run with a hangover immediately after eating my body weight in filthy, pork fat rich Bolognese sauce. The coffee didn’t help either. I found myself throwing up every ten minutes, and aborted at 11k. I repeated pretty much the same route yesterday as a longish run. It was far more successful second time round, but i was pretty sore when i’d done. Today felt like a good day for an active recovery session.
I’ve become quite convinced by the concept of active recovery. It’s basically the idea that after you’ve overdone it, filled your muscles with lactate acid and depleted them of sugar, total rest isn’t the best thing for you. Active recovery is intended to get your heart pumping, so that the blood flows through your body, washing out toxins and replenishes your muscles, but without stressing your body and so without any further damage. I normally do cross training for active recovery, so a gentle session on the bike, or swimming with less focus on the pull buoy, and a bit more leg action. When i’m not cross training, I’ll just go for a slow, gentle run. The jury’s out on whether it’s actually beneficial, or just a way to train without adding to the stress of your overall program, but either way it’s part of my training regime which I really enjoy.
Reading that last paragraph back, it sounds a bit more science-y, build a better you, fit freak sentiment than i really believe. It also misses a really important bit of active recovery: when i run on an off day, without any goals and without putting stress on myself, i get to enjoy doing something which just feels natural and easy. It’s the very opposite of stressful, both physically and mentally. There’s no challenge there; I don’t place any expectations on myself. I don’t worry about pace, distance, or form. I just run, slowly and gently, soaking up my environment, focussing on everything and nothing, blissfully projecting myself through the world connected and present.
Connection and presence. I guess that’s what i’m trying to do mentally with these runs. I tend to do them barefoot, without headphones, and with my eyes and ears open wide. I’m not a 100% barefoot advocate, but for these run it’s a wonderful thing to do. It makes you more aware of your body, and heightens your proprioception. Perhaps more pertinently, it just puts you in touch with the ground and opens a whole other avenue for experiencing the world; you can see, hear and smell the environment, and you can feel the world under your feet as you dash with delicate and considered steps through the streets and parks of London.
I finished the run feeling less sore, less stiff than when I’d started, and incredibly, happy, relaxed and positive.
For stats and maps (for what they’re worth) click here