Having got back to Vancouver from Gold Coast I decided that I really really really needed to start getting my head, body and backside into some serious marathon training, so with the rain pouring and jet lag kicking in I headed out the door for some Stanley Park running action.
After two miles I had to remove my vest, it was completely saturated in the driving rain and I headed for the relatively dry trails under the blanket of tree canopy. I was going well, legs ticking over nicely and I started to pick up the pace, hitting 6min miling which would get me round 26.2 miles in little over 2hrs 35mins.
One thing I use to distract myself from the monotany of training is music and my iPod shuffle has done its fair share of a few thousand miles since I got it as a birthday present two years ago. However, on this one occasion, despite battling the rain for the best part of an hour (and not for the first time!) it stopped working and my ears tuned in to the sound of my mouth gasping in the oxygen and of legs pounding the ground.
Having got home and tried everything to get it working the iPod decided that its expiry date was up and alas it needs to be replaced.
However I haven't got round to finding a new one, and I'm not sure that I need to. You see, when I listened to music my brain would think too much. The music was a distraction from training, but my brain soon became tired and thought up its own things anyway. Some of those things weren't always positive as my brain would start to get moody as the blood was redirected to the muscles which needed the oxygen. Sometimes I would come home with a tired body and a tired mind. The endorphine buzz from exercise was unable to pull me back up, and when you're physically and emotionally knackered it's a tough thing to feel good again.
But something changed. Now I can't train to music it is as if my body has become a single machine again, not separated into an overactive brain and automatic legs but a working unit that moves in harmony. My thoughts are clear, my senses heightened and my sense of wellbeing improved.
When I run I now understand my body's function. I hear the breath leaving my mouth, feel my lungs inhaling and placing pressure on my ribs, taste the sweat running onto my lips and sense my feet striking the surface. For once, when I train it is as if I am at one with the world, one organism existing in its environment, doing everything absolutely necessary to continue doing what it was built to do.
It's a beautiful thing and it has made me realise how amazing my life is. The moodiness has gone, the positive thoughts have climbed in, and in a little under four weeks I will toe the line in Echternach and start a journey where it's just my body and my mind versus the road. Both will play an important part in ensuring I complete the race, but I already know that my heart will be beating stronger than ever.
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2 months ago