From a decent way up the hill there's a place in the trail that allows a quick glimpse of the parking area at the Trail Head. Depending on where you've parked you can clearly see your car. This always makes me think that the run is over even when there is still 700' of vertical to descend and nearly a half mile yet to go. I always get lazy here. Legs start to feel a bit shaky and my form drops. I let down my guard and start to drift mentally. I'll begin to think about what I'm going to fix up to eat when I get home. What I need to finish up with work. All the house work that needs to be completed before such-and-such date. And on.
Returning to the car is my least favorite part of the run. However, it's also my favorite. I want to keep running because it feels awesome, but I want to stop running because of complacency. Being comfortable and sitting is always nice, but being able to move about so freely is quite liberating. A massive contrast of emotions. During this last stretch I sometimes think of other runners, and if they, too, experience the same waning during the last stretch of a regular training run. "Do they get to their car, stop the GPS and drive off in a hustle as they slurp down their favorite protein drink?" - "Do they situate gear, stretch a little, sit down, have some water and reminisce over their run?" - "Maybe they lounge in the back of the car, gate open, shoes off and just …sit there." – I'm sure everyone has their favorite way to complete their run. I know I'm guilty of doing all of the practices I've listed. How does your run end? Are you checking your phone for emails? Do you disconnect when you leave the car and reconnect when you get back? Do certain trails have a different return ritual?
I know for sure that I have certain trails that offer different return rituals. Some returns I'll get to my car, unlock the doors, walk to the passenger door, sit down, drink water, kick off my shoes and just sit there. Other trails I'll take time and stretch and do some cool-down exercises. It varies. It would be nice to make my return more consistent. I feel this is something I need to work on. Perhaps, as this year comes to and end, I can make the return consistency my resolution.