My friend @Trail_Plodder pointed me at a series of videos on YouTube. They feature a young man called Kilian Jornet and are absolutely compelling viewing. I'm sure anyone with an interest in ultra- and trail-running events will be very familiar with him but I'd never even heard the name before.
(Even though the videos are sponsored by Salomon, there is almost no advertising or product placement. Perversely, that makes me think much more kindly about their brand than I might have otherwise.)
I've been struggling with my running a little recently. The recent races have been great experiences but they seem to have been very hard. And that's been reflected in the increasingly long periods of "rest" after each one. It's been a real struggle to get back out and do some quality training. Once I'm back at it, I've really had to push myself out of the door to keep some kind of routine going.
Today was very different. Over the last few days, I've watched most of the Kilian's Quest videos and they have helped me to look objectively at what I'm doing and why. What I've been missing is the simple joy of just running around with no particular goal in mind. My training had become a series of short runs, long runs, interval runs and so on, everything having a place in the Great Plan.
All well and good but I'm not an athlete and I'm not chasing performance goals. And I don't want to. I lost sight for a while of the idea of entering a few races to give some punctuation to my running routine. Instead recently I have been structuring my training with the events as the goal. And, honestly, I think that's what has been keeping me from running as much as I usually do.
So yesterday, pretty much on the spur of the moment, I decided to run along with my daughter as she rode her horse from the field we rent back to our house. We took the dog, too. It's only 7k or so but the profile is far from flat. As we ran, I kept seeing the how Jornet ran in my mind's eye and wherever we left the road, I tried to move in a similar way.
It was fantastic. The uphill was exhausting as always but I really flew down the hills even on the rough and steep paths. Totally exhilarating and relaxed. I wasn't looking at pace, distance or fitting the run into a schedule. We just went where we went and did what was necessary.
As an added bonus, after we got back my daughter (11) wanted to go for a run as well so we did another 1k loop around the village. It was a great way to end the day and, hopefully, I'll remember to just get out there and enjoy myself whenever the Great Plan seems to become a chore.