Holy cow, I've been a runner for more than a year.
Way back, I'd imagined that my 52-week blog post would have been a big event; a romantic retrospective of a year's progression from a complete novice to actually calling myself a capital-R 'Runner'. In my mind's eye, I'd write about all the lessons I've learned - all the recovery methods tried, all the nipples chafed, all the sunsets seen and distances covered... in reality, I've spent the ten weeks since my last post just thinking about... running. I have to admit that's probably better than writing about it.
As the days on my phone's counter tick down until my 130-miler in August, I'm becoming more sharply focused on what my plan is before the big day. Over the last couple of weeks especially, I've been upping my 'standard' run distance to around 20km and mercifully, my recovery time seems to be dropping quite nicely - this is particularly useful as it means I can start properly implementing what loose semblance of a training plan I have: I'm aiming to be running at least 10km most days (almost every day, in fact), with a longer run thrown in once a week (pushing these up to probably eventually around 70-80km at maximum).
Last night, as an example, I set out to run a route to a nearby town and back, remembering that it had been about 20km the last time I'd run it. The path is pretty much dead flat for the first half, with some nicely undulating territory for the second half (I figure psychologically, I know that if I don't get over those second-half hills, I ain't getting home!). In hindsight, I don't know where I got the idea that it was only 20km - as my watch ticked over to 15km and I wasn't anywhere near the turnaround point, I realised I was in for a bit more of a full evening than I'd anticipated. Although my route back from the town is shorter than my route there, it was still 28km before I arrived back at my door - a slightly tiring 2:45 later, rather than what I thought would be a more manageable 2 hours. I should also add that I'd anticipated being able to quite happily cover 20km without carrying water or food with me - by the time I hit home, I was laying into the milkshake and Chinese like there was no tomorrow.
In spite of all of this, though, I felt good - around the 21km mark, it occurred to me that not that long ago, a half-marathon would have been a much bigger event for me, with a lot more preparation; now I was feeling comfortable with it as an impromptu training run. In fact, looking back to my first blog posts on here, I remember when running even 10km was worthy of note for me.
It's also reassuring and kind of fun to read back over my initial concerns over technique, pacing and form - looking over things like striking styles that used to take up so much mental space when I was running, but have now long-evolved into complete habit.
I'm still running because I enjoy it - sure, I've got a bit of a plan to let me finish what I'm planning in August, but I'm so happy that I'm shaping something fun into something useful, rather than trying to force and wrangle something useful into being fun.
So, after just over a year of doing it, I'll finally admit that I quite enjoy running. I guess I wonder what I'll be saying next year.