This could have easily been one of those runs that make me want to sing (inwards, of course. Not outwards. I don't want to get evicted and/or involuntary committed to the mental hospital). The only thing stopping me was the constant worry that I might slip on a root or that my knee might not make it. Otherwise, all the ingredients that make for a delicious winter run were there: great company, fresh snow, undulating terrain and a pair of legs as excited to go out and play as a little puppy.
Oh, and some warm mulled wine afterwards. Strictly speaking, not a part of the run itself, I'll admit. But - all scientific evidence agrees - a very important part of the recovery phase afterwards.
Our coach had informed us beforehand that it was to be a short run, about an hour long and mostly on terrain. My plan was to try and run 15 km, an increase by one km since last week. My knee responded to last week's increase so well, I thought I'd push its limits just a little further. I drove up to the hockey arena some 40 minutes before we were to meet, left the car in the parking lot and started running.
The sun might have come up but you wouldn't know it, thanks to the thick layer of clouds covering the sky. Not a soul was to be seen in the woods, and the only tracks to disturb the snow belonged to a hare. The world was quiet except for my own footsteps.
I got back to the arena just in time and spent a few minutes chatting with the others and warming myself up by the radiator. We then headed out again, and after a short run around the neighbourhood, we entered the woods once more. This time, we left the paths and followed a singletrack.
Singletrack is just about the most perfect surface to run on. Challenging, soft on the body and easy on the eyes. But during the winter it can be treacherous. Under the thin layer of snow lay stones, roots and ice, none of which I could see properly with my dry, watering eyes. Miraculously, I managed to stay on my feet, despite slipping on a root at some point.
My watch claimed I had run a grand total of 15,5 km when we got back to the arena. I celebrated in the most decadent and gluttonous way, that is to say with not one, but two gingerbread biscuits. It was lovely to spend this Christmassy moment with my club mates. The warmth from the mulled wine spread to my whole body, contributing to the enormous sense of well-being I was experiencing. Perfect.