Still held back by my weakened calf, I keep to a “comfort” distance (3 miles per run) and try to strengthen my leg by building up the frequency of my running. I run in a sweater and running trousers, with a hat and scarf but no gloves. I trust the principle that as I run my body will warm up naturally.
After a week or two of stiffness, but without pain, I allow myself the luxury of a parkrun. By a pleasing coincidence, a friend Ben, 18 years my junior, is there also. His recent times over 800m or 5k are little different from mine. He sets off hard, and at one mile is at least 200 metres ahead. By the start of the second lap, he is so far ahead that I can barely squint at him in the distance.
I up my tempo, desperate to catch up with him. He stops momentarily at the start of the final hill. Running as hard as my body will allow I close on him until, with a bend to go, I can almost touch him. “Ben!”, I shout. Hearing me, he hares off again. I end the race eleven seconds behind.