I’d been running for a while even before I came to Sydney, but in the past couple years I’ve started to pick it up a notch. After my shoulder surgery last year, when I was dying for any possible form of exercise I could get, I really began to pay closer attention to it, not just because it was my only outlet for months, but also because it was becoming tragically apparent that I was no longer endowed with the superhuman healing abilities of youth. My body was beginning to show faint signs of that slow, steady decline, and I did not want to help it along any further than necessary.
I’ve toyed with any number of different things: clocking my miles with a Nike+ monitor and setting goals, barefoot running, different warm-up and strengthening exercises, changing my stride and the way I land my feet, and even reading about running. I’ve by no means become a spectacular runner, but I’ve begun to amaze myself at how far I can go. I’ve started to become one of those people who runs not because it keeps me fit, but because it feels good.
This last Saturday I took advantage of the rarer winter daylight to run the trails near my house, a fantastic series of ribbons of almost primordial gullies and sandstone cliff edges along quiet backwaters of the harbor, all snaking through the middle of urban Sydney. I ran somewhere around 7 km (~4 mi), and at the end charged my way up the hill to home, energized by the feeling of strength and defiance against a hill that just weeks before had me walking and sucking wind. Sunday morning I slept in while the rest of the city packed together to run the City2Surf, but instead of taking my usual rest day, I decided that afternoon to run my own version and logged 12.5 km (~8 mi). And again, rather than staggering to my doorstep, I practically sprinted. I ran 20 km in two days and my body barely noticed.
I may have learned some lessons of getting older the hard way, but one thing it has helped me appreciate: brash, raw enthusiasm may only last so long as you careen through your teens and twenties, but you don’t have to slow down there if you pay attention to the details.