Can you feel it?
No, not the random placement of a Jackson Five song at the top of this blog; and if you don’t like this opening, then blame it on the boogie!
What’s that? The worst joke ever to open a blog? Bad jokes are as easy as 1, 2, 3 to me. I can do much much worse!
Nah, what I mean is can you feel the advent of spring coming? The mornings are getting lighter. Birds are singing with little chirps of joy instead of wails of frozen pain. Meanwhile, the Sun is winning its ageless daily battle against its celestial adversary the Moon. Every day it is getting lighter, just a few minutes a day, but over a week it becomes noticeable. Over a month it becomes remarkable. It is an annual event as old as the planet itself, but every year it delights us and surprises us in equal measure.
In the last week I have found myself switching the headtorch off mid-commute run. It is exhilarating. There are times in the winter when it feels as if a world of perpetual darkness is out there. Like being a fan of Adele, everything is just miserable, teary, and dreary. Once there was seemingly no end in sight to the winter gloom, no escape from the dark hue that dominates November to February.
But hope springs eternal. And spring brings eternal hope.
Then one day, the sun pops up earlier than expected. Bright and joyous in its bloom, bestowing its beauty on the landscape the way a favourite uncle can light up a room by his sheer presence. It makes us happy. We reach for the phone to take pictures and share them on every social media platform we subscribe too. It is wonderful to do, magnificent to see.
All of a sudden, there is an extra bounce in our step and not because we are reaching for a new pair of Hokas with more support than Real Madrid. No, it is energising. Why? Because the inward smile shoots outward. We start to notice little things such ducks splashing around the canal, or deer bounding across the fields or empty beer cans and a long since doused fire just off the trail path. Not everything we notice is great.
Running can be dominated by numbers. The intervals on a Garmin or the miles in a month are the things that make it on to most people’s lips when they talk about how the run went. “I hit a new PB and I took this Strava segment…” or “My HR was never out zone 3…” or “6152ft of vert in my marathon today, and I did a negative split, mainly cause I fell the last 1000 ft!”
All those winter miles are pre-payment for you to feel great now that spring is nearly upon us. I see them as my regular deposit into the running credit union that allows me to withdraw some just rewards in the coming months. I can cash them in now and enjoy that feeling of running hard but free as the Sun rises, or as the temperature slowly begins its mercury rising ascent up the thermometer. Mr Mojo rising too. Soon the gloves will literally be off, but not for a fight, instead it is another layer of restriction gone. The Buffs will be dropped from head and neck to forearm, reassuming their summer role as sweatbands, grateful I am sure to be away from the noise of the new album by The Cult.
At this time of year I like to take time out to see how I feel. HR, pace and all that are great and so so needed when it comes to reviewing your overall performance, but so is feel. It can be how you feel mentally, or how you feel physically or even how the gear you are favouring feels.
Next time you are out a run, take a moment to think about how you feel. Talk about your run in terms of feel and try to control that. I run because it makes me feel good about myself. Whether that be keeping fit, how my clothes wear or indeed, just that release of endorphins that come with a good run. I feel good when I do well in races, or if I have a great training run. My first thought is always how did that feel?
If I ever lost that feeling of joy that came from running, if it was to become a chore, then I’d probably give it up. As it is, running over the winter felt brilliant, I hope that I get that spring boost that comes every year now. It feels good.
Welcome back, Sun, you’ve been gone too long! Goodbye Rockin’ Robins.