Calf muscles seize into fits of tightness over five days. Time to rest. The short sprints to catch trains after work don’t help. A short run on Saturday over softer ground is a test, with new, chunkier shoes to protect against the impact of hard roads in the months ahead.
Thibaut Pinot, a favourite on the Tour de France is forced to give up. He weeps. He wants it too much, perhaps. Expectation becomes a weight, magnified internally. The root of suffering is attachment.
Murakami cites a mantra snatched from a feature on running in the International Herald Tribune: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
Is that so?
To keep on going you have to keep up the rhythm. This is the important thing for long-term projects… The problem is getting the flywheel to spin at a set speed—and to get to that point takes as much concentration and effort as you can manage.Haruki Murakami
I’ve bought a running vest to carry water and a telephone. Light rain drizzles. Perfect weather. The plan was to take the 7:42 train from Royston to Baldock and run back. But all trains are cancelled. Instead I’ll run to Ashwell and Morden and back, double up on last week. The Gold Card will be useless this morning. I run past a conversation by the station between good-natured passengers and station staff talking about how the rolling stock is all in the wrong places and it will take long to get operations back on track.
The first few kilometers by an A road are easy. Then I begin the long straight run towards Ashwell through the fields. A runner in front of me is much faster, but he’s not going far and passes me on his sprint back. Wide-ranging fields, muted colours, comfortable running.
It’s a new route and time passes, the kilometers click by, each with a little vibration from my watch. I pass the station and now it’s a few hundred meters running on the fringes of the dual carriageway, with cars racing towards me.
A repeat of last week’s run, but with heavier legs. The mind drifts and thinks about the time to finish. Muscles tighten. Pulse and breathing are relatively relaxed at a 6 min per km pace, but the legs are not.
I finish the water, surprised by how thirsty I am in the rain.
Now, now… now. How long is now? Inhale, exhale. Step, step… The breath is a unit. The breath gives us an observer’s view of our self.
The notion of ‘now’ is nothing more than a certain relation between a certain observer and the rest of the universe.Kurt Goedel – quote in The Order of Time, Carlo Rovelli
Cars pass respectfully. Vans pass carelessly. From the road into the wood. I’m hungry, a bit dizzy. Shall I eat my biscuit now? No. Progress feels much slower now than it did two hours ago. These parts are too familiar. Should I loop a bit further, push for a bit of extra distance? No, it’s better to stop feeling a bit more might have been possible.
I’m back where I started. Most trains remain cancelled. I fumble for the biscuit and gulp it down.