Still locked into my solo routine from an abundance of pandemic lockdown caution, I veered from my planned course yesterday. I left the house thinking of a simple suburban streets run, my typical get-er-done route. Instead, I turned ninety-degrees at the trail access, and trotted into the river valley to tackle a stretch of weaving single track.
I lamented last Sunday at the frustration of solo training. Friends who I usually spend multiple hours with every week, exploring local wilderness and who would have followed me (or vice versa) into a sketchy, frosty route through the wooded miles, are also sticking closer to home and training alone.
Yet I had some company on my single track trek.
A pair of fatbikers appeared and then followed a few dozen meters behind me at and into the trailhead.
The choppy snow was grippy enough for my modest pace, up and down and weaving through the forested valley terrain. We call this type running rollercoasters because its never flat, never straight, and never for the feint-of-heart. My pace always reflects on conditions and how I’m feeling.
But for a pair of fatbikes, I guess, it meant ride just slightly faster than a slow guy in sneakers. They paced me and crept closer and closer up behind, calling out some hellos and convo about the conditions, until about halfway along the kilometer-long route I felt it wise to pull left and let them pass.
Then I kept pace with them for the last three hundred meters, give or take, until we dodged back into the nearby neighbourhood.
In short, training alone is lonely, but temporary training friends are never in short supply if you know where to look.
Travel Tuesday, and I’m sitting here (just like a good chunk of the world) locked down in my basement during a global pandemic.
We (fortunately) banked partial refunds and credit for two sets of flights from twenty-twenty COVID cancellations.
This means that last year we didn’t get to go any further than we could drive in an afternoon.
It also means that sometime in the future I’ll need to book not just a trip, but a TRIP.
The Trip to Celebrate the End of the Pandemic Trip. TM
The first time of anything after a long stretch without can be nothing… or it can be everything.
For example, I sometimes give up coffee for a couple months (system purging) and my first cup after a break is always a personally special event. I treat myself to a great big Americano from a local café, and take a sit-down break to savour it. It is a moment of reward for an eon of patience and abstaining.
I’ve not been on a plane for well over a year, though I had multiple flights booked in my last calendar. It seems like it might be at least another before we can reasonably think of casual personal travel. That first flight after this unplanned break feels like it should be a treat, a great big amazing trip to savour.
A moment of reward for an eon of patience and abstaining.
Where would you go?
Sunday. Run Day.
It’s lonely out there on the trails these days.
I laced up and logged a quick eight klick run through the locals this morning. The snowy paths were worn down with thousands of footprints. The crisp air was calm but dry. Stragglers from another universe were out walking their dogs.
For the last decade I have run almost every Sunday morning.
For the last year, company on those runs has been sporadic or limited at best.
The pandemic gave us a summer of cautious gatherings. This was followed by an autumn of wary runners. In turn, that was followed by a strict lockdown with little tolerance for mixed company.
So I run alone lately.
Others bend the rules. Only a little, true. But bending is bending.
Running solo is lonely, with just the trail, your thoughts, and maybe some tunes. Eight klicks is well under an hour of action, but as the year presses on and the prospect of actually training kicks into full gear, those eight klicks are going to need to stretch to ten … fifteen … then over twenty. Twenty klicks is an easy two hour run.
Two hours of solo running is lonely.
And my motivation is fueled by good company.
But bending is bending.