I can take in my surroundings. The trees bare of their leaves, dark branches slicing the white grey winter sky. The pavement dusted with a glittering sprinkle of frost, blades of grass frozen to attention around crackled icy puddles. I can peek into windows watching life going by, I can glance into shop windows and wonder idly if I would suit the sequin party dress displayed with pride in one of the boutiques I regularly pass.
When the weather is good I can run across the fields. Cows grazing and dog walkers nodding a cheerful hello. I can dodge the ruts and navigate woodland paths, glimpsing secret dens build deep within the canopy by some enterprising little boys. Picking my way over wonky tree trunk bridges thrown up over trickling brooks and squeezing through stiles that bar my path.
If there are problems in my life they seem to melt away and answers flow without the usual everyday distractions clogging up my thought processes. These are some of the reasons why I love to run.
But since entering the marathon I have stopped running for the pure joy of it and instead begun to 'train'. Rather than setting off with a vague route and time in mind, but never mind if I don't make it or decide to be distracted off by some mysterious foot path, now I have a schedule printed in black and white on the back of my office door. I have a wall calendar that I fill out diligently with miles run and training sessions completed.
I not only run, but I work out, train with my PT, practise Pilates and spend hours doing stretching, foam rolling, flexibility and strength work on my own. I still feel slightly pressured that I am not doing enough (thought the upside is that my body is about as good as you can expect after having four kids, one a set of rather enormous twins).
I dreamed of entering a marathon, but now I am scared that it is ruining my running. Not only has it left me with a injury that makes me nervous to forge ahead, it has also taken away the spontaneity and pleasure of running, turning it almost into a chore.
While I am still looking forward to my marathon, I must admit that I am also looking forward to being able to go back to being a simple runner, not a marathon runner.