The song “Past is Prologue” by Tycho wil forever be associated with early morning runs in late October, for me. It was on one of my running mixes. I can still recall those exact feelings of being out early and the only one in the world up and running.
It’s cool but not too cold. I feel tired, exhilarated. Not sure I can do it. I’m out running early in the morning, doing intervals for c25k. I’m not sure if I can do it, i’m not sure if I’m doing it right. Every day is a new Personal Record, a new thing, a new realization.
I don’t see myself as a “runner” yet. So I just see myself as this guy out at 6:30 or 7 doing short runs around the neighborhood, slightly self-conscious. I know my brother may or may not be watching my progress via the running app I use. I’m hoping he’s watching cause it’s great to get the feedback, hoping he’s not cause I’m embarrassed at how I’m performing.
This is before I really having a running injury. This is before I’d even run a full 3 miles! It’s before the gadgets and before the tights and before the gear. Just me with some crappy shorts I’ve had for 3 years and shoes I purchased for a treadmill 4 years ago. Cotton t-shirt like a fool.
I don’t really know about heel striking or barefoot yet I don’t know about stress fractures or heart rate training. I’m just running outside, listening to some music, following a program. I go fast when I’m supposed to, slow when I’m supposed to. Enjoying the cool mornings, the smells, the clouds in the valley below.
Somewhere after hurting my knee and during the half-marathon training running became something else. There’s more involved, more data points to pay attention to. I’m more aware of what I do wrong.
So it’s different, now. Not necessarily worse, but I’m not sure better. It’s less simple, now. Now there are tights and compression socks and heart rate monitors, and GPS devices to make me a better runner. No longer simple up-and-run to the program; listen to the music, delight in each new discovery and new achievement. Now it’s “Gotta do a 5 miler today or tomorrow. I need to make sure I crosstrain. Crap, I didn’t stretch when I got back!”
Maybe it’s just that I’ve let fear in. Fear of injury. Fear of overtraining. Fear of undertraining. Fear of the unknown rather than joy in the unknown.
Who knows though, it’s entirely likely I’m conflating disparate things together. Work has encroached on my life incredibly in the past few months. When I run anymore it feels like running to escape. Maybe I bring it with me despite my best efforts.
And to be sure, all those things like the tights and shoes and statistics add a dimension towards running mastery that I really, really enjoy. I am still delighting in my new levels of athleticism.
So perhaps this is just innocence lost. I’d like to reclaim my early simplicity. I’m not sure it’s possible. You can’t unpluck the fruit of knowledge.