It’s probably only 75 or 100 feet from here to there, from where I’d like to stop to where I decided I would stop, so I keep running those 75 or 100 feet. There is a neat line of shade there. That’s how I decided, “I’ll run to where the shade starts.”
It’s entirely arbitrary, but also, I think, pretty important.
This relates to some sense of “completion” maybe, but since the distance is arbitrary and small, I think it’s actually more to do with control. I’m coming back from a sprained ankle. The injury isn’t too bad. I can ride a bike. I can walk without a limp. It’s a little swollen still, and it’s sore in the morning, but mostly fine by lunchtime.
Trail running, of course, is not any of those mundane things. Trail running wants an ankle that’s 100%. Trail running requires joints that can bear all of your weight, all of the time.
So this was my first run in a week, and it was a dicey proposition. The temperature is spiking, the humidity has set in, and the ankle is right in that sweet spot between healing and healed. It wants to move, and some impact lets it know the jig is up, that we’re back on our bullshit. The heat, while not yet at blast furnace levels, reminds me that things are about to get real on long runs.
I chose a route that was only very modestly technical, with a few stretches of wide, soft, flat trail, some climbing, some descending, a short loop to test our progress. It’s fine. I can do anything for half-an-hour. I can sweat, and I can hurt.
As it turns out, neither the heat nor the ankle troubled me too much. I concentrated on not modifying my gait to accommodate the ankle, even when it got a little angry over uneven ground. I pushed the pace a little, but not a lot, so as not to blow up in the heat and kick off the summer with a bad experience.
That brings me back to those last 75 or 100 feet. I made the decision to run them, not to be a hero or bank some specific distance, a round number say, but only because I needed to make it clear to my body that I make the decisions. I don’t have them made for me. It’s a control issue. The distance between here and there is not important, but the need to do the things you decide to do might be.