Eventually, competition and adventure wane, and I enter my ibuprofen phase. Tweaky hamstrings and achy knees restrict mileage, but I continue running for health, sanity, and the ritual of a Sunday trail run with like-minded buddies. We discuss the nagging injuries that bedevil us, and remember the good old days when we were kings.
When an athlete has relegated the persistent rumors of cheating to the back room of the mind, he hasn't really forgotten them. And when he glances back to where rumors hunker in the darkness, he hopes with a savage heart that somehow, some day, those cheaters will be brought to justice.
I've never owned an actual trail-running shoe myself, but maybe I should. My favorite paths are fraught with peril, much of it skulking at shoelace level. A rock, a root, an errant pine cone. Wham, and you're down, choking in dust and picking pebbles from wounds in your forearms and knees.
A good teammate is someone willing to get outside of personal thoughts and emotions, a friend who tries to understand, appreciate, and encourage other members of the team.
Running at night used to frighten me. Part of it was simply safety, the question of whether level ground would truly appear under each tentative footstep, and whether the temporary but complete blindness suffered while running toward headlights was, in fact, concealing death.
Fartlek, or speed play, is variable-pace running that emphasizes creativity. During a 30-minute run, choose objects to run to - telephone poles, trees, buildings, other runners, whatever. Make choices that mark off different distances, so your pickups vary in length from 15 to 90 seconds, and modify your pace to match the distance.