Saturday, 21 September 2013

Life lessons from running 1. (might be the only one)

I was going to do another trail run this morning but to be honest I couldn't be bothered driving into the countryside. There's some trails within a mile of home, over reclaimed industrial land which I'll probably explore over the winter. Anyway I decided to do a run on the road around home.

Wherever I could I took to the grass verges and I ran on the grass in the park. I also took advantage of any tarmac surface if it was the only alternative to paving stones and tried to keep to rough tarmac.

As I think I said before, trail running is more like a very vigorous massage of the feet and legs because of the changeable and uneven terrain; grass, mud, earth, stone. This contrasts markedly with the hard monotonous surface of the pavement where the high repetitive impact puts much greater stress and strain on muscles, ligaments and bones.

So this morning I was much more careful and discerning about the surfaces on which I ran. Uneven terrain is harder to negotiate and if you aren't careful it's easy to trip, stumble or fall. But together with running up hills, it provides better, more thorough exercise than monotonous hard surfaces. I find that hard, even ground and descents take much more out of my feet, legs and hips. So what you would expect to be worse for the body is actually better for it. That certainly applies to me anyway.

We think that when life is at its most comfortable and straightforward and easy going, we are better off. From what running tells me, it's the ups and downs, the uncertainties, the challenges in life that make us 'better'. As C.S. Lewis put it in The Screwtape Letters, 'the road to hell is soft under foot, without turning, without signposts and leads gently downwards'.

This is where I ran today:

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