Le Trail de Sauvageonne - Regaining the Freedom of Running

After my adventure up Canigou I decided it was time to rest; in truth I could do little else. I also had to go back to England to earn some money. This meant going back to 6am starts, 1 1/2 hour commutes and grabbing a run on a lunch time when I could or running at 7pm when I got back. For most of the time I am lucky enough to avoid this with its associated stress on mind and body. Whilst last September I had hoped to leave behind for good this stressful work routine, building a business is a slow process and as part of this transition it’s important for me to keep going back to maintain my lifestyle through this period.

However, as is usually the case it was not many days before my legs began to itch and my mind began to need the space that I can only get when running. Perhaps an interval session with the Wharfedale Harriers was not the ideal second run on my return phase…

That speed session practically broke me! For the next two days I felt like I’d run a marathon again, my body ached all over and the sensible voice which must exist somewhere within me broke faintly through the noise; I heard whisperings of previously read articles about how long it takes the body to recover from a marathon and how long it takes for the glucose to be completely replaced (6 weeks apparently). In this age where longer and longer distances are becoming more popular, it’s easy to forget that, just as it takes time to train for these events it also takes time to recover. 

Why I am routinely both surprised and dismayed to learn that my body is not a machine I do not know, somewhere deep within is a wise runner, but this person gets very little air time. The value of having a coach is that they can give that wise runner more air time. Many a session with John has consisted of him asking one pertinent question (e.g. how does this fit in to your overall goals?) to help the wise runner emerge. If truth be told sometimes John has to be the wise runner for me!

The following weeks were all about consistency, a little each day with at least one full rest day enabled me to start to feel the rhythm again. By the time I returned home I felt ready to train hard again so when a friend mentioned a small local trail race at Egat just an hour away I couldn’t resist; the smaller 10km race as some speed training seemed like a sensible option.

My favourite races are small, local events, run by local people. I knew this was going to be a good one when the race organiser explained that they simply wanted to share some of their beautiful countryside with others. Local runners and inhabitants of Egat turned out to ensure that the race could take place. It was, as is always the case in France, well marked and, more unusually for France, the majority of the descent was off the paths. I had followed Theo all the way to the top and as he surged easily away from me on the descent, I was reminded once again of my need to do some work on my descending skills. That said, I loved it; running across that tussocky grass, dodging or jumping over the bushes and shrubs I could feel the freedom return. Coming in first female was a small but welcome bonus; it showed things were on track and I’d managed my recovery well.

People who do not run often ask, ‘why?’ and my answer varies. I think for me the real addictive nature of running is the freedom I can feel when being out in the hills/mountains just running, I don’t have to think about anything else I can just focus on taking the next steps and being. Running is my time to think, my time to heal, my time to reboot and remind myself that my body can take me to the beautiful spaces that we often forget exist in the world.

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