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Free Running

12 May 2011
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Last night I went for the first ‘free run’ I’ve done in 10 weeks. I don’t mean that I ran up the sides of buildings, leap-frogged dustbins or swung from lamposts, I mean that I was free from the clutches of a training plan and free to run however far and fast (slow) I wanted to.

All trainer-d up, I stood in the hallway plugging in my headphones and Mr N asked me where I was going on my run. “Out”, I said. “Oh, out”, he replied, “I’ve heard of that place”.

It’s been great having a training plan to work to over the last 10 weeks, but I’d forgotten how it feels to leave the house with no idea of when you’ll get back.  Running just because you want to, not because you have to. Approaching every corner without knowing which way you’ll turn. Freedom is something I take for granted and experiencing it gives me a little jolt of pleasure.

A cynic might look at the 6 mile route I ran last night and note that it was exactly the same 6 mile route I’ve run many times before. How is it an expression of freedom to repeat old decisions, stick to the same established patterns, make the same choices again and again?

The same choices, I suppose.  That they exist, that I make them again each time.  Even if I take the same ones each time, the other ones are all there too. If there is a usual decision there must also be an unusual decision. With every extra mile that I start I consider and reject the possibility of turning around and going home, but that possibility exists. I’m not a quantum theorist, so I have no idea if it actually exists, but in my head it does.

Every time I leave the house for a run with Mr N, within the first few steps one of us will say, hilariously, “Ok, that’s enough, great run!”. So every run contains all the possible runs I could do, as well as the possibility of not running at all. That’s a big part of the pleasure, knowing that you have run when you could not have, that you made the right choice.

What I’m not clear about is whether this works in reverse. Could I could sit on the sofa, think about running, and get the same result? Maybe I’ll try that tonight.

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