Yesterday after work I went to the gym with my buddies – we’re a group of four and make it to the gym two to three times a week. The good thing about not going alone is that there’s always at least one who’s motivated enough and drags the others with him; it usually ain’t me as I’m more of an endurance typ, but still enjoy the gym once I’m there. So after our usual workout (Mondays are shoulder days) I kinda felt the desire to go for a short run. My knee didn’t hurt for weeks and the latest Runner’s World arrived this weekend. In this month’s issue was a flyer for the Zugspitz Challenge Trail Run which I really want to attend – a really challenging trail run (hence the name). I still have three months until then, but giving my pain-free knee maybe I can attend a couple more shorter runs this year and slowly build up on that?!
Last night I went to bed late (late for me = 1am) – I went to a night shooting with the Army Reserve and even tho we stopped around 10pm we didn’t leave the range until past midnight. Weather wasn’t the greatest, but the folks were nice and we had a fun time. Consequently I didn’t lay down in my freshly washed sheets until way past midnight. Luckily I was able to sleep in today (I don’t do that often, but when I do it feels great). I was woken up by the sun shining bright through my window right into my face, looked at my watch – 10:30am! OMG what happened? Did I really sleep that long? I remember that I had the weirdest dreams – I was visiting my ex, being chased by a tattoo artist and surfing through downtown Seattle. Oh well, usually I don’t remember my dreams, but this one got stuck in my head. I didn’t leave myself time to think too much about it, opened the curtains and was greeted by blue skies – what a change compared to a few hours ago. This is gonna be my weekend I decided! After a bowl of cereal for breakfast I grabbed my running shoes and went outside – I haven’t even checked my phone yet…
The city I live in is not the nicest for running, but there’s a large park only five minutes by car, the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe – a UNESCO world heritage site with dozens of smaller lakes, countless statues and paths (partly paved, partly sand) with inclines of all levels.
By the time I got to the park it was already past 11am and I wasn’t the only one who wanted to enjoy the beautiful weather; tourists from all over, students and people from the city were walking their dogs, taking pictures or out for a run. I still found some nice paths that were less crowded and the further I got up the hills the greater the solitude. I stopped to capture some sun rays on a bench next to a nice statue – a place where you can enjoy beautiful vistas over the entire city, but only few people get there. Well, not so today. Two ladies had the same idea and sat down next to me. Even tho the temperatures were only at 40F it felt like t-shirt weather thanks to the strong sun and little wind. They too came up there to enjoy the solitude and we were laughing when we saw a group of tourists hiking up the hill. After a while we three parted, leaving this place of tranquility to the strangers.
I continued my run for another twenty minutes or so thinking about how great it feels to breath in the cold air while chasing down the muddy trails. Last year I started running longer distances and since I am rather fit I wasn’t struggling with up to 80km per week. Sadly your joints and tendons don’t improve as fast as your endurance does and after a few months I had to stop running completely – my knee was badly inflamed. For the following months I didn’t go running at all – which was bad for my temper since running is life for me and I knew that I won’t be able to start my first ultras this year. In the latest Runner’s World magazine I read an article about the common mistake unexperienced runners make; your skeleton is strong enough and endurance can be built up fast, but all the soft supporting parts (ligaments, tendons, joints and so on) need way more time to adjust. This encouraged me to slowly start running again – only very short distances of 2-5km. It feels so good and bad at the same time. Knowing that I’d be able to easily run at least a half marathon in a decent time, but having to stop after a maximum of half an hour to not overstrain. It’s more of a mental process, but I’m willing to give it as much time as it needs. For this year I won’t be planning any marathons (I cancelled all of last year’s ones), maybe a single half marathon towards the end of the season.
This run I added several walking parts in between, not only to relieve my knee, but also to take some pictures (please excuse the quality, they’re all taken with my cellular).
Or: What brings you joy?
One thing I love about being in the military is the fact that you can do sports whenever you want (unless there’s something that needs to be done immediately). And I love sports – well, not too much soccer, but I love running. When I was in high school I wasn’t really sporty and actually I don’t know how my attitude towards physical activity changed, but it did over time. In the US I started going to the gym on a daily basis to balance out the intense college learning. I’m not a big fan of working out anymore, you’ll see me in the gym maybe twice a week; however, I love running.