Two years. Two years.
104 weeks since I decided I'd make a bit more of an effort with what used to be a very alien pursuit for me. I've gone from being a panting mess that struggled to make it a couple of times around the local park to running literally thousands of kilometres over the last twenty-four months. I've run through the night, I've run for hours to see the sun rise, I've headed out to find peace and time to think. Sometimes, I've done it with hundreds of other people to be a part of a tribe and specifically to be bombarded with noise and activity. I've run a marathon to get to the start of the hilliest cross-country race I've ever run; I've run seventy-five miles on my own and plan to have another crack at 130 miles later this year.
The point of this isn't 'what I've done', it's definitely more how I've got here - that's what it's always about. Maybe it's a fractal-like situation where however large or small a scale you look at, the message is the same:
It's not each step you choose to take, technique is about how you move your body to make each one. It's not about how far you've gone on a particular run, it's about what you've done and learned on the way. It's not about how many runs, or what kind of runs you've been on in year, it's about you through that year. How, never what.
My 'how' of the last two years has already been told here, but that's not to say there aren't always new horizons to cross - and it seems I'm always in need of new horizons.
If I'm honest, I'm at the end of a few months of what was probably resting on my running laurels. I spent a period of time where I wasn't trying too hard to actively improve my running, I was just enjoying being able to do it fairly well. For my own pride's sake, I hope that this is an easy trap to fall into - I can comfortably run distances that would make other people squirm, so there was little impetus to really examine my technique. If anything, I was feeling not just like my running was going well, but also that I was a good Runner.
This was all very well, but my body decided this wasn't enough of a journey. While my mind was obviously quite happy with the state of things, my body decided I needed a reminder that getting better is kind of a good thing. It did this in a way that I had thought I'd grown out of - it gave me shinsplints.
Finding myself struggling through this to run even half of my normal times has driven me back to a place I quite enjoy being: the start. Sort of. The start of a period of fresh growth, at least. By having my carefree enjoyment randomly curtailed by a nagging pain, I'm being forced/allowed to re-examine everything about my running again. Even though it sucks that I'm working through an injury, it's actually infinitely better to feel like I'm at least working at it.
One last thing: it's nice to not only see the development in myself, but in others too - I think I've mentioned before that my girlfriend and our friend Luke have been inspired to start running a bit more. This continues apace - last weekend we all had a great off-road 10k race around Arlington. We ran it together, so there was no looking to shave seconds off my previous year's time, but what can I say - in this case, running slowly with other people seems to feel like it has more rewards than running quickly alone. Who's have thought it?
And who'd have thought shinsplints could be a good thing?
Back to basics