I have been on a break from running for more than two months. My left heel gave some clear yet rather calm warning aches, and for once I did not push my luck but switched to other exercise types (and a somewhat more relaxed routine as an added bonus) right away. The heel still aches a little bit when I press at the right spot, but for most of the time I have felt no pain neither while or after walking. And just a week or two ago, I suddenly rediscovered feeling with my feet. Playing with positioning, noticing how adjusting my weight feels, spreading my toes and feeling the surfaces I am standing or walking on. I do not know when I lost that (perhaps winter cold along with thicker shoes and socks had something to do with it) but it feels amazing to have that sense back. While podcasting yesterday, I spent an hour sanding on carpeted floor, and the whole time I was taking little steps, raising my heels, curling my toes and generally just enjoying being on my feet. This combined with the returning light and clear hints of spring in the air has of course made me really hungry for trying to run again.
Today, it was time. A couple of hours to myself, a bright yet overcast day of perfect running temperature, and a whole new forest to explore. I put on my clothes, tied my shoes and performed the remotely familiar procedure of waking the GPS watch.
Then I was off.
And it was great.
To someone not used to running, it might all have felt different. I had only the faintest idea where I was going. I ended up on odd little one-way paths and along roads without sidewalks. My breath was a bit constrained, the ground was unfaimiliar and required a lot of focus, and it was generally clear my body was surprised at the effort. Some, most or all of this might have seemed like good reasons to stop.
To me, it was all good. Being a little lost and on unfaimiliar ground helped me remember to not run too far or too fast. And all the little signals from my body added up to one clear and wonderful impression: a dried crust of hibernation cracking, crumbling, falling away and revelaing everything beneath still in good working order, ready and eager to get going again.
It was joyful to run again.
(And I managed to not go too far this first time. And my foot feels and felt just fine.)