Mid-life reflections on the MacRitchie trail

All images in this post by J.

It's like learning how to cycle when you all grown up. All you can think about is the falling down.

The last time J and I ran along a trail at the MacRitchie nature reserve was definitely more than a year ago. Maybe even two. Since then, I haven't even gone running much, having grown lazy with "the demands of work".

So when I stupidly suggested going for a run in MacRitchie, J's eyes lit up - mostly with disbelief.

Actually even I didn't believe it will happen. I was super dreading the painful, breathless trudge up the uphill sections (and there are many). Aiyoh, there would be the heavy 4pm air that clogged up the lungs. Oh and the humiliation of these retirees whizzing by, plus the distraction of aggressive monkeys...what about the potential cramps and headache...

After hours of such silent protest and whining in my head, we took a cab to MacRitchie. I survived to share these reflections, which are kind of like my mid-life (does 42 going on 43 still count as midlife?) reflections, if you will indulge the metaphors.

1. It is ok to walk when the uphill-going gets too tough...
It feels like you've given up - failed - lost it. It's not. As long as you keep moving, just keep moving - however slowly.  The uncle or two uncles will run by you in the meantime. Heck, even the auntie doing her briskier walk will outpace you - and that hyper 5 year-old will skip by. Some things are difficult. Be humble. Some things are gonna leave you breathless. But most times it's worthwhile to still keep at it, however slow.

2. Cos, hey, if you don't at least reach the top of the trail, you can't enjoy the downhill sprints.
The downhill sprints are worth it. Especially for lazy people like me. Little effort. Much reward! Even if the bare-chested sinewy runners who aren't breaking a sweat running in the opposite direction  uphill are taking even larger strides than you are, it's your moment of freedom.

3. Running downhill (ok, that sounds too ominous) - running downslope is better when it's fast.
And you've got to run like you are free. There is no time to think of falling. Trust your body and the momentum. I'm not smart enough to get behind the science of this. But running downslope actually feels more dangerous when you are slow and your landings are hesitant and heavy.

4. Feeling the hard, rocky ground is safer than being completely cushioned from the sharp edges.
There are some crazy rocky bits on the trail. Protecting your feet is important. But I've found myself more sure-footed when I can feel more of the ground on a minimal, flexible sole. Some friction keeps you grounded.

5. Listen.
Maybe it's because having more information helps your body to process, balance, and adjust against the terrain. And in the same way, if your body is saying slow down, slow down. Listen to your body.

Listen to the ones you love and trust. So when J said not to have any more excuses and just run - I'm glad I did that afternoon.

But even your body and loved ones are not always wise or right. For J & I, it's always a reminder to listen to God. No metaphors here.


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