There are three months until the London Marathon. So far I have been able to get out almost every day since early December, and the mileage has slowly being growing from six to nine, twelve and now fifteen miles at a time.
Most of these miles are clocked up at lunchtime, which means a return to the routine of going between meetings in the office with wet hair and sometimes barefoot. The really big miles though have to wait until the evening when I have to cram in as many as I can before the boy’s bath.
The further up the Thames Path you run, the more dimly lit the pathway becomes. There are sections where there are no street lights, no car lights, only the moon and the blinking of the plane lights as they come in to Heathrow. This absence of light leads to a kind of vertigo, with each foot being placed down with some trepidation about what will be found under foot. But over the weeks I have learnt to feel more closely the gravel beneath my feet, learning to listen to the lie of the land as it comes up through my shoes, while remaining completely blind to what is in front of me.
Ten years ago Jonathan Franzen published his first really seminal novel – The Corrections. He had locked himself away in a sound-proof room for six years, emerging into to view only once in that time to write his essay – Perchance to Dream – about the death of the novel. When, in 2001 he came blinking out into the light of publicity he spent a year explain himself. So bored of this process did he become that at one point that he told an interviewer that he typed large sections of the novel blind-folded, so as to better see the characters that were forming in his mind.
Even though Franzen was probably was just having a laugh, the idea is a familiar one – that by closing off one of the senses, the imagination is pushed to new extremes.
I can feel the miles shaping my muscles again – the straining in the calves, the weariness of getting out of bed in the morning. The trade-off is the return of an ergonomic rhythm and the knowledge that I am learning again to feel with my feet again. When the wind and rain whips around the ears deep inside me there is an exhilaration that the Double London Marathon will be a real treat this year.