When I run, my looping route is nearly always clockwise. Now I’ve moved to Thames Ditton, my latest loop is more like a long thin rectangle, a grandfather clock: along the towpath from Hampton Court to Walton, over Walton Bridge and back to Hampton Court via Sunbury and Hampton.
This morning, in the endless heatwave swelter, my legs set off heavily but soon settled into their regular six-minute-mile pace. If I’m running well, the pace is metronomic, to the point of possessing an innate calm intensity, some kind of Gnosticism even. The feeling is simultaneously one of being earthed and unearthly. Sometimes, my mind is telling me that I really don’t want to run fast, but then my legs gallop away from me like an unleashed puppy; other times, I suddenly notice that my legs are running with a fluency that is requiring no apparent effort and no instruction from my brain, as if I’ve switched on the autopilot and completely divorced my body from my mind. Dualism in action.
We’ve had just one interlude in the drought in the last two–three months and that came as a downpour last Sunday, when I was out running. I was so drenched that I had to wipe my glasses on my top every couple of hundred metres or so. The contrast to today, when the heat on my head was searing despite me wearing a cap, couldn’t have been much greater. Water was never far from my thoughts. One of the roads was aptly named Loudwater Close. My routes last week and this took me between, alongside and around some of the great reservoirs and ‘water treatment centres’ of London. For aficionados of Victorian waterworks architecture, and for those who want to convert them for alternative usages, nirvana lies in these parts. By the time I got round to Hampton, I was getting so thirsty that all the Thames Water signs were taunting me, but I dug in. Mind over matter and all that.
surging wind . . .
the percentage of my run
when I’m off the ground