In the end, fuck, I spoke, to no one, spitting the word and then actual spit on the track.
Which, yes. The track. I'm going now, once a week, alternating 400s one week, and mile repeats the next. That is Tuesday. Thursday is "tempo" day, or marathon pace day, or threshold day, depending on how I want to justify what I've done, ex post facto.
This is because the pace that day is a product of groupthink, of testosterone and endorphin soup, drank sometimes to stomach churning fullness. It is, in other words, a group run. Six to eight miles, starting hard enough, then tightening the screws, often finishing at a traffic evading sprint. As the groups ultra mascot (though others have done one), I, of course, run three miles there, and three miles home, because jogging makes me happy.
There is a cap on how much improvement one can expect from pleasantly jaunting about town, and so, despite the fact that I do very much enjoy said jaunts, I do other things. Like the track? Like the track.
This is not to say that I don't enjoy the track. I do.
Nor is it to say that I don't enjoy the group run. It is, in all likelihood, the most fun I'm likely to have in an average week. (Please don't think less of me because of that.)
What I am saying is that, when you're doing a thing, you're not doing another. That is, an evening spent at the track, as tonight was, is not spent exploring town at a leisurely pace, or slipping along the mucky dirt of post-winter woods (wishful thinking).
And so, while there is pleasure in what you are doing, there is some feeling of absence, of loss for the thing you aren't.
Although, perhaps I should be specific: You may not feel this way. A normal, wholly sane person may not. But I do.
This food is good. But optimal? Maybe not.
This book is good. But there is so much left to read. Even at three to four hours a day, I can't begin to dent my ever increasing list of pages that demand attention.
And, of course: This run was good. But was it perfect? Was it right? Did I do enough? Too fast? Too slow? And yes, it was fun. But as much fun as something else I could have done, which may have been a "better" choice on top of that?
You can guess, then, the anxiety I invite by reading running books. And yet I do. Everything I can find, basically. Steve Magness just released his opus, which I'm eager to devour. Unfortunately, it will almost certainly be excellent, filled with the kind of technical information and suggestions for application that send my neurons into a frenzy. There will be moments where I wonder if I actually like running at all, or if I just enjoy being a recreational exercise physiology geek (and oh god I do enjoy that), and then experimenting on myself (that too).
But then those moments when I am spitting on the track and everything aches and is bliss occur, and I am thinking nothing and feeling everything, looking at my feet, then the stars, feeling the breeze and a dagger in my side. In those moments I don't wonder anything, because I feel, if only then, that I'm sure, that I get it.