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Flow

November 9, 2015
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Setting off for my long Sunday run slightly later than planned, the sun felt unseasonably warm. I padded down Mill Road, quiet still, but the cafes were starting to fill up with brunch-seekers.
It’s maybe a mile and a half to the riverside path, but once you’re on the path the route becomes smooth and flat, the surface tarmac or flagstones, until you’re over Green Dragon bridge and then gravel crunches satisfyingly underfoot. Stourbridge Common and Ditton Meadows stretch beyond the opposite bank, the cool fens shrouded in a thick mist. The temperature drops, and by the first turn of the river it’s possible to convince yourself it’s a smugly satisfying dawn run.
Boat-loads of rowers fade into view through the mist, in pairs or eights, either awaiting orders or pushing their oars against the water in time to the ‘two, three, four and push’ yelled from their coach cycling in parallel on the towpath.
I felt comfortable, but as I picked off the fourth mile, I noticed that my splits were just under 7 minutes per mile; I’d been planning for 20 seconds or so slower per mile. But it felt right, so I kept my pace steady.
My turning point was Waterbeach, just shy of 6.5 miles out, and then the same distance back. It had been a while since I’d done an out-and-back, and I was hoping to keep steady pacing throughout. By the time I turned, my pace had been virtually metronomic, only a couple of seconds difference between my splits.
A couple of miles into the return journey, it became clear I’d picked up the pace. Again, it felt comfortable, so I decided to see how I felt with four miles remaining.
Good, was the answer, so I put in a couple of faster miles, my pace not wildly different from my shorter tempo runs, but feeling much more fluid. The return through the streets of town, once off the towpath, was slower with pedestrians to dodge and roads to cross, but I got home feeling invigorated and satisfied.
Sometimes runs feel clunky and laborious, but other times running feels like the most natural and effortless thing. The feeling of flow is my best indicator of returning form, and was as welcome as the warmth of the sun as I trotted back down Mill Road, the brunch crowd replaced by the early lunch crew.
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