Proportionate Response

I intended to do an early morning 10K or so. One of my regular routes takes me along the A10. Then I turn right through Waterbeach, past the station to the River Cam and then right turn along the Cam, back to Milton. It’s a lovely route that has become one of the favourites among my Sunday morning runs. This morning it didn’t go entirely to plan.

I set off feeling fine. The first bit along the A10 is the least pleasant section of the run. I think the only joy of this section is that I know the scenery gets a lot better further along. I had travelled around 2 kilometres when I started to feel a slight pain at the back of my right knee. It felt like some kind of stretchy ligament thing. I’ve had this pain before and it keeps re-occurring. It does sometimes go numb so that I can carry on. This time it just kept getting worse. At 3 km I was gritting my teeth and wincing. I turned off the A10 toward Waterbeach and the pain became unbearable. I staggered along a few yards more but I couldn’t cope with it any more.

I checked my phone and found that I had only completed 4 km of my projected 10 k run. I was frustrated and upset. I felt that I could have wept. I was thinking about the upcoming Flaming June half marathon and that this injury might prevent my taking part in that. Alternatively the injury might heal but only if I rested it completely and then I wouldn’t be fit enough to take part in the half marathon.

Woe is (was) me.

I was staggering about and looking up at the sky. I felt distraught. I turned around to limp back home. I looked up at the sky metaphorically shaking my fist at the unfairness of it all.

Then I actually saw the sky. It was a delightfully clear day. I was outside, in the sunshine on a beautiful day, in the village of Waterbeach and not so far away from the glorious scenery around the River Cam. The injury would heal. I may not be able to take part in the Flaming June half marathon but that’s just one run. There would be many more.

It’s a strange reaction when you find you can’t finish a run. I’ve seen it before in myself and many others. The reaction seems massively disproportionate to the circumstance. When you consider the sort of tragedies that can hit us, all too often (friends or family suffering illness or death or being the victim of a violent crime or being put in prison) and compare that to the tragedy of not finishing a run then it doesn’t seem to fit. There must be some kind of competitive thing going on. It’s a striving for goals. You invest quite a lot into attaining these goals and if you don’t achieve them, then it feels like that investment was wasted. However, when you step back and see what’s really going on (especially in the case I’m talking about here) it’s only a run. I know, I know. A heretical view indeed. I expect to be stripped of my running shoes and drummed out of the corps in disgrace. However, it’s only a few weeks out of training. I can always get new goals. I can sign up for a different race and ramp up the training for that one. Meanwhile, I’m out in the sunshine and it’s a beautiful day. I can walk the rest of the route so I’m still getting some exercise and take a few photos too.

The first thing that prompted me to whip out the phone and take photos was the fantastically impressive St John’s Church, named for St John the Evangelist.

St John's Church
St John’s Church

I’m often amazed at the sheer scale of these churches in quite tiny villages.

I walked down to the train station across the level crossing. Then through the station car park toward the river.

pic of level crossing
Waterbeach level crossing

I was walking a path I’d run often but I had a little more time to look around. I noticed to my right a kissing gate and a sign. It said ‘Mouse Gate’. It seemed a quaint sign so I went through and saw some more signs. These said ‘Living Bridge’ and ‘Explorers Hangout’. Excellent thinks I.  There’s some exploring to be done here.

pic of kissing gate
Mouse Gate


The Living Bridge
The Living Bridge

I walked back and forth along the trails finding several other similar signs and hidden treasures. Not all of them amazing, I will admit. The explorers hangout is a bench.explorershangoutHowever, I suspect the idea is to spark off children’s imagination so that they have the beginnings from which to create something magical. It was a lovely little woodland area called Cow Hollow Wood.

Cow Hollow Wood sign
Cow Hollow Wood

I continued onwards coming back out onto the river. I tried to run again and managed to get a few hundred yards before the pain returned.

I distracted myself by taking a few more photographs.

boats on cam
and finally

Flowers and path along the camDespite the disappointment of the injury it was still a delightful morning. I did manage to run a little more but it was quite painful. I’m now here a couple of weeks later. I’ve been resting the leg as much as possible. I did parkrun yesterday and it didn’t hurt. So, I’ll be running the Flaming June half marathon tomorrow. I think I’m unlikely to get a good time but it should still be a lot of fun

One thought on “Proportionate Response”

  1. A thought provoking post there Jim…. and some lovely photos from your run route. There are some beautiful areas to run and walk around Cambridge and its surrounding villages.

    Well, it’s Sunday morning now and just over 2 hours to go before the start of the 2015 Flaming June half marathon. It’s getting warm out there already, so ‘flaming’ will be right! Good luck. Hope that injury keeps quiet. See you down at the registration area shortly…..

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