In previous posts I have alluded to 'the perfect run'. It is one of those rare things that happens occasionally when a numbers of factors or conditions come together. My long run on Saturday was, unexpectedly, one of those occasions. I do not expect a 20 mile training run to be a perfect run. There is too much scope for discomfort from a tired body, poor hydration and nutrition, to mental fatigue. This was my longest run since completing the Highland Fling at the end of April, plus it was jump from 15 to 20 miles ( a larger than recommended increase in mileage). In addition to that I had missed or abandoned my previous two long runs. I expected this one to hurt. I decided on a route close to home in case things did not go well, plus it was easier as my husband was away with the car. So, a tour of some of the parks on the southside of Glasgow. First stop Linn Park, a country park, just half a mile away from the house. It has some good rough,undulating paths along the the river Cart and through woodland. It provided me with a couple of miles good trail before I popped out onto the road to make my way to Rouken Glen. I was feeling relaxed and comfortable clipping along at a gentle pace. The park was quiet and the weather just right: cloudy but bright with a light breeze keeping the temperature just right.
Rouken Glen is part typical suburban park with playground and pond, and part wild. It was also quiet, especially for a Saturday. I did 2 circuits of the main green, then 3 round the pond before heading for the glen itself. A bit like Linn park the trail undulates through trees along the burn. I enjoyed the changing pace and stride length, the sound of the burn and waterfall, that special muffled quiet that you get when running through trees. I also got glimpses of the meadow beyond which was carpeted with buttercups. In fact I was enjoying it so much I did 3 laps, taking me to 10.5 miles, before heading back to the tarmac and down to Pollok Park: 13 miles and still feeling fresh and good. It was easy and comfortable.
I took my usual route through Pollok. In along the path that hardly anyone uses that pops out in front of the house, then another quite path along the Cart, under the M74 and out to a gate onto Corkerhill Road near Cardonald. There are wild dog roses, the flower associated with my birth date, along that path. They are just coming into bloom and the scent was heavenly. I turned at the gate and headed back into the park, appreciating the roses and then a bit further on the last of the wild garlic. The last few miles were along the main pathways in the park and a lap round the new shingle path the circumnavigates the police playing fields. I hit my 20 mile target back on the pavements a mile from home.
What made this run so perfect? The route and locations; the weather; the sights; sounds and scents. Also, the random shuffle of music coming through my MP3 seemed just right for run keeping me relaxed and steady, stimulating reflection. I got my fluids and nutrition right, taking small amounts on board regularly and keeping energy levels topped up. (Why can I not achieve this under race conditions?) It was not the hard slog that I had expected. It was a comfortable and easy run. Some would say that means I did not work hard enough, but I think that you need runs like this to keep you motivated and mentally strong. It does not need to hurt all the time. The perfect run is the reward, the special treat that you deserve now and again in return for all the tough runs that you slog through, for all the hard efforts in the hill reps and speed intervals. So, relax and enjoy and recognise them as special.