The physical recovery from the (almost) marathon I ran on Sunday was surprisingly smooth. For the remainder of the day I resembled a shrivelled up zombie, only capable of stumbling around aimlessly and producing various goaning noises. On Monday morning my limping was more purpuseful and less stiff, and by lunchtime I was tucking into a big plate of pasta. Monday afternoon I was capable of walking down three flights of stairs (facing forward) and went for a 5km recovery jog around Athens. Since then, I’ve been for several more runs in and around this great city.
My post-marathon running plan is incredibly straightforward: enjoy running.
It’s not as though I didn’t enjoy my pre-marathon training runs – quite the oposite in fact. However, for the past 16 weeks or so, each and every run had a purpose: work on speed, run some hills, run 18 miles. While I have absolutely benefitted as a runner from this strict regime, I also love the freedom of running outwith such boundaries.
Nevertheless, my runs this week have been a bit of a shock to the system; no glancing at my watch, no thoughts about pace, elevation or distance covered. At first I felt a little lost (ok, I admit, I really did get lost several times in this massive city!), but then it came back to me so easily: put one foot in front of the other, follow your heart for as long as you like, head in whatever direction looks most tempting, and enjoy the scenery. I’ve spent several happy hours exploring Athens and it’s surroundings in my beloved running shoes. I still track and log my runs (some things never change), but this time there’s no pre-determined purpose or forward-thinking goal. For the time being, I run just for the pleasure of running and am re-discovering feelings of playful joy and liberty that I didn’t even know I had temporarily shut away by following a strict training schedule.
Despite not quite completing the Classic Marathon this time around, I have enjoyed running in Athens and the surrounding Attika region of Greece. Running is part of the heritage of this great culture and beautiful city, and it feels right to run here. Random Athenians have congratulated me and cheered me on as I ran past them in the middle of the city, as though my running is a tribute to their ancient traditions. It’s an urban jungle, an adventure so very different from the much colder and quieter Scottish trails that make up my usual stomping ground. But still, what a place to run!