Right, I'm back. What can I say - no excuse but I've been so busy, and the running has been going well.  And the reading and writing too.  I've loved being outside so much for the training and experiencing the snow and ice has been a test of my mettle. 
So, I am just finishing week five of the Runners' World intermediate training schedule.
I am pretty much sticking to it but missing at least one run a week so basically running all but one or two a week of what they suggest. My mileage for the last month was 108.4 - just totted this up. Needless to say I am eating like a proverbial horse and feel like my legs are getting way more muscly. I also think I feel stronger though not necessarily faster. I think I can do the distance runs more easily than the speed. I love the long slow runs, zoning out and enjoying the peace and time alone. 
People talk about having creative thoughts and revelations while running. Not me - I think about the most mundane small things and circle around them, immerse my mind in my feet and quite often the melody of whatever I am listening to. After a run I often feel creatively 'purged' - pleasantly empty and almost scoured out. I think this tender and slightly raw state is a good place to be. 
Just found this quote from Haruki Murakami: "It's precisely because of the pain...that we can get the feeling of really being alive - or at least a partial sense of it.
"Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking ,  but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself." (What I talk about when I talk about running"
He also says: "Even if the skill level varies, there are things that only runners understand and share". I would also add to that, people who have given birth, poets, teachers, and a multitide of other categories ( I am uneasy about human categories). But the running experience is sharp and mortal and self-propelled.
Running changes your consciousness and your quality of corporeal experience - both while you are doing it, and afterwards in a permanent kind of way, even if you stop.


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