Aaah. One of the things I love about running is the hot shower afterwards. Defrosting. Replacing sweaty running clothes with clean, warm ones. Smelling nice. If I were one of those people who oversimplify human behaviour by reducing it to Pavlov dog-like responses to stimuli, I'd say that the prospect of that hot shower makes me drool while I'm out in the cold putting kilometres behind me. That it makes me run a little faster. But I'm not one of those people. Humans are way more complicated than that. As if the idea of a hot shower would make me drool! Now, throw in a good pasta salad for lunch in the mix, on the other hand, and icicles will form down my chin.
It's only Wednesday and I was already feeling exhausted after my Pilates session early this morning. My back has been aching in a dull, annoying manner that doesn't get better by resting. I wondered if I should skip today's planned run to save my legs for Saturday's long run to Varuträsk with AIK. At the same time I wanted to go out for an easy jog. I was inspired by Ingmarie's post yesterday about taking it easy from time to time and just doing what you feel like. So I decided to skip tonight's training with AIK and head out on my own. I took my Garmin with me but resolved not to look at it until I was back home.
Said and done. I let my legs set a comfortable pace that didn't feel tiresome and drifted across bridges and cycle paths. The frozen ground was slippery and I couldn't relax as much as I would have liked to, but it gave me a chance to practice a relaxation method I learned about in my Sports Psychology class. I tensed my shoulders, counted to five, relaxed. This relaxation method (devised by Edmund Jacobson in 1938) is supposed to help you identify areas of your body that might hold a lot of tension, and to show you how to relax them. My shoulders were such an area, and following this method helped a bit. Only tiredness remained.
I loved running on my own. Although I have been enjoying training with AIK and appreciating the benefits of organised sessions -especially intervals-, I had missed the spontaneity and freedom of heading out when I felt like it and letting my thoughts wander without worrying about speed (and I am an introvert, after all - there's only so much social activity I can participate in before I need to take a break). The only thing I worried about was how my legs were going to like it, seeing as they could hardly keep up at Pilates. I hadn't needed to worry. My tiredness was gone. My legs loved it and I spoiled them by giving them a proper stretch when I got home. As a bonus, my back felt better than it had in days. Running: the miracle cure for all ailments.
A couple of days' rest lies ahead. And then I'm rewarding myself for my patience with a 32-km run on Saturday.