Saturday, 25 October 2014

In the gym no one can hear you scream

At 07:30 on a Saturday morning, before the sun has come up and while the sky is still dark, there aren't many people at the city hall gym. Of course, I wasn't a hundred percent certain that I was alone when I let myself in and found that all the lights were off. But soon enough, when noone came up to me to complain about my choice of music on the stereo (cheesy hard rock), I deduced that I was, indeed, alone, and I could do all my rehab exercises as wrong as I wanted to without worrying that people would laugh at me for doing so.

It was a bit worrisome when I caught a sudden movement behind me, as I admired my perfect technique in the mirror while doing some squats and singing along to Mötley Crüe's Kickstart my heart. ”Seems like I've got company”, I thought irrationally, because where would the company have come from? There were no doors behind me. ”A ghost”, I thought coolly. Because I don't believe in ghosts, so if there was a ghost behind me, I had nothing to fear. That made perfect sense, so I kept doing my squats. 

Then, I turned around. What I'd thought was a ghost was in reality a bird, a great tit (get your mind out of the gutter) that had flown in through the window that I had opened earlier. See? I was right not to believe in ghosts.

Birds have been behaving strangely around me lately. The other day, I almost stepped on one while running. Go ahead, try to step on a bird and see how close you get. I had to perform a little dance to avoid crushing this particular one to death.

Rehab is going great. I'm almost liking this gym lark again. And running? Well, I'm almost back in business. I've been running in three minute intervals for the past month, slowly increasing the total number of intervals while simultaneously reducing the amount of walking time between intervals. I have one run left in my rehab programme before I try to run without breaks, and boy am I looking forward to not having to look at my Suunto all the time.

Being in running rehab for the past three months has left me with a devastating hole in my social life. If you think about how I normally spend at least five hours per week with other runners when I'm not injured, talking running and shoes and adventures, perhaps you can imagine what effect the absence of the above has had on my life, my routines, my topics of conversation (not to mention that I had to channel all the spare energy into trivial activities, like vacuum cleaning and making dinner and, I don't know, work or something). To put it simply: I miss running with the group. I miss running in itself, the freedom of injury-free running, but I also miss connecting with others about it. The nerdiness, the company, the mutual, unspoken understanding. I read posts about it on AIK's Facebook page and feel like everyone else is having a blast at the best party ever - except me.

But after I had been to the gym this morning and gone for a lovely walk with a friend, it was time to visit the annual ski fair. There, I ran into and talked to no fewer that four AIK-runners. Then, J and I went into town for some coffee, where I ran into three more. I even had time to discuss marathon plans with one of them. Suddenly, within the span of a couple of hours, I had talked running with lots of people. I felt energised. As if I belonged once again to that wonderful, wacky band of long distance runners. As if I had never been injured and fallen behind.

And, with the first interval-free run only a couple of days away, as if I'd just been invited to the best party ever.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Silver linings

Every time summer starts drawing to an end, I start worrying about the oncoming autumn. How I will deal with the rain, the dark, the cold. It's as if, every single time, I forget that autumn is not just November. It's so much more.

It is, for example, my heart beating extra fast, giddy with fear-laced excitement during a run in the dark with my crappy headlamp on, its narrow, weak beam illuminating no more than two metres ahead of me. It is forests lit on fire by orange leaves. It is patches of blueberry bush turning Marilyn-lipstick red and fir trees hanging on to their dark green needles, providing contrast for the sepia toned birch trees. It is soft, bark-littered paths and trails under a canopy of neon-yellow rowan trees. October. What a great month to be a runner.

And runner I am. Even though I still have to run in three minute intervals. Even though I still sometimes forget I have already been out for the day's run when I gaze longingly out my window in the afternoon, because my legs are not tired after only 5 km. Even though I spend more time building up leg strength at the gym and going for walks than running. Because, despite all that, I am making progress.

I am being patient, careful, methodical. But I am not going to lie. On October days like this, I wish I could have a pair of injury-free legs to go on a long run under the autumn foliage with.