Recovery Week 2 is now complete. Hooray! Three runs done of 4 minute running and 1-2 minutes walking. It's been a great week for beach running - lovely weather, not too much wind and tide times fitting my schedule. It's been an incredible contrast with the freezing wind and rain of my training runs.
Of course I'm delighted to be running again, it's fabulous. But if I'm honest it's been a hard slog even though I've not run for more than 4 minutes at a time and only hit 2.5 miles today. Every run I've wondered how I ever managed to do 26.2 miles when I haven't even got to 2.6 miles yet, yes it's been tough. But of course runners know to trust the process and the wisdom of our bodies, so I just got on with doing the running bit and waited for the usual miracle to happen.
The miracle came this morning. Saturday morning runs send a tingle down my spine. During marathon training Saturday was the day I did my long run - my favourite run of the week. On a Saturday I could run as long as I wanted, no time limits, no desk to get back to, just the trail ahead of me. It's like being a kid and being allowed to play out all day. So early this morning I left the house with a lovely warm
glow from previous Saturday mornings at the back of my sleepy head.
The beach was empty for almost the entire run. The beach was mine, all mine. Running along an empty beach is like you own the whole world for 30 glorious minutes. I headed off as usual, checking my garmin for my 4 minute intervals, listening to the sound of the waves and the seabirds.
Because it was a Saturday I allowed myself an extra interval, plenty of time to rest as I can't run again for at least 3 days. As I hit the big stretch of beach between North Berwick and Gullane, the empty beach rolled out ahead of me and my own footprints behind me. Something clicked inside; my legs eased into running gear, my breathing slowed and I just relaxed. I felt like a runner again.
As I ran I remembered how even at my fittest, I often found those first two miles bloody hard going. I'd put the struggle down to my slow recovery, but I'd forgotten that I nearly always have to grit my teeth for the first couple of miles even at my 'peak'. My heart lifted, my stride lengthened. As I started my last 4 minute interval I checked my time on the garmin and for the first time in my recovery runs, looked at my pace. I had to smile at the return of my speed obsession but I was pleased that I hadn't even thought of speed until now.
So a great recovery week, more recovery of the heart and the spirit than the legs! Though of course technically, this is not about recovery - I'm not going back to how I was, I am going somewhere new, somewhere better. But the discipline of recovery has been critical; it's made me slow down and this has given me time to learn and reflect. If I'd done my usual dash to get back to form, I'd have missed some important stuff. Sometimes in running you need to slow down and let the sound of the waves carry you.
Have a great week, run safe and run strong!