How things are going

I’ve sat down here, not really knowing what I want to write! I’m part way through my 10k training plan, enjoying running under the shelter of the trees in the early morning (although not as early as one of my friends, who has been getting up around dawn to get her long runs in before the heat of the sun breaks through!) Murphy, my canine running partner has been coming too although, at almost 12 years old, I have warned him that there may soon come a day when he just can’t come with me. That’s incredibly sad. He’s been my running partner for a long time and has even run a 6 miler with me in his youth!

However that day will come in a few weeks as I start to increase my distances beyond what I can eek out of the woods. In there, amongst the trails, I can get 3 miles. Not all under the shade of the trees, but still. Tomorrow’s run is 3 miles. It’s my Long Run Day and so will be a slow run, so I’m hoping that Murphy and I can get that one done in the cooler weather that is predicted for tomorrow. After than I think I’ll be able to do a couple of shorter runs and then I’ll have to move onto the road.

Road running here is a bit precarious as there are very few paths. I’ve been running for a few years now though and have built up a reserve of quiet routes which test me, but not the drivers trying to get round me! On most runs I hardly see a vehicle. Plenty of cows and sheep, but very little of anything else.

I’ve missed these well-kenned routes and it’ll be nice to get to see them again. Leaving Murphy behind won’t be as nice, but I’m sure he’ll be happy with a post-run walk. And perhaps a squeaky toy and a bone…

I’ve got it in my head that if I am race ready by September I will enter the Jedburgh 10k in October. I haven’t worked out how far through the programme I will be by then as I’m really not wanting to jinx things! At the moment I’m playing with run/walk ratios and seeing what I can do. On my last trail run I went out with 2 min/30 sec, which I adjusted mid run to 45 sec/20 sec and then finished with 3 min/30 sec. It’s reassuring to know that I can adjust these intervals as I feel I am running, without also feeling that I am not performing as I should. The trails are a different thing to road running though and I’m expecting to increase my running ratios to several minutes running to each short walk break. I am not expecting, post surgery and with significant physio issues, to be able to just run. I am enjoying covering the distance in a fairly respectable time.

My pace off road is currently around a 12 min/mile. Previously I could take a minute off that on the road; it’ll be interesting to see if that’s still true. If, however, I am now a 12 minute miler over distance then that’s what I’ll be. At some point or another I’ll run just a mile and see how fast I can do that. I think my fastest mile was just under 9 minutes. I’m not expecting to get anywhere near that.

My physio is happy with me. I am doing my exercises pretty much every day. My Plantar Fascitis has almost disappeared, thanks to those exercises but also to the orthotics I am now prescribed via the hospital. I have now worked up to wearing them all day and am allowed to run in them now too. These help to support my arches and stop my foot from rolling in, as it did. I’ve also started doing what is called Daily Yoga, but not daily. Usually it’s When I Remeber Yoga, but that’s good enough for me! I have problems getting from the floor to standing, so I have a stool on hand to help me. I’m hoping that increasing flexibility and strength will eventually mean that I use this prop less and less.

So, that’s where I am! Things are generally going ‘fine’.

5 Miles of Dragging the Dog (this is not a euphemism)

It was meant to be a blissfully easy five miler, the last long run before next Sunday’s Fleetwood Half Marathon.

I decided to try Murphy, my seven year old Jack Russell Terrier, out on a longer run and on the road. The route I’d chosen was my favourite four and a bit mile loop, mostly on quite single track roads infrequently used by farm traffic and I was preparing to add a little bit on by heading down the track to the castle which is tarmaced. Murphy is used to runs of around three to four miles, but mostly off road and off the lead. Today I’d fashioned a makeshift waist harness so that I didn’t need to hold the lead. I must admit that bit worked incredibly well.

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Murphy is a ‘bit of a dog’, by which I mean he likes to stop frequently and squirt on things, if you get my drift. This isn’t behaviour I attach to bitches, mainly just dogs; an incessant need to mark a route or a boundary or a territory, just in case we get lost between here and there, no matter how far apart ‘Here’ and ‘There’ actually are! This causes all sorts of issues when I run with him on a lead, so I was prepared for frequent full astern stops.

In actuality he did very well and I only felt as if I was dragging him away from places he simply HAD to squirt a few times. The looks I got were incredulous! I tried to use the language I’d heard on the Canicross videos (events where runners run with their dogs) I’d seen: “GO” “LEFT” “RIGHT” “HUP” and the generally encouraging “GOOD BOY”. I realised that this is exactly what I need at times. He was starting to listen but once he tucked in behind me there seemed little point in saying anything other than “good boy”. He was just following me at that point.

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We ran two minutes to one minute walk – something nice and easy on a reasonably warm and humid morning. I wasn’t sure how well Murphy would cope with anything else. However we ran these at a faster pace than I have been running longer runs. I was surprised when I heard Jeff Galloway announce the remaining miles and each time we were well ahead of suggested pace. It felt good and I wasn’t going to purposefully slow down just to suit the app.

At first Murphy ran in front, stretching the lead to its full extent, but after a mile he was heading into unknown territory and started to hang back a bit. The other concern was that between miles one and two the local council have put a temporary road surface on which consists of a wet layer of tar and then loose chippings thrown on the top. The theory is that passing vehicles will bed the loose chippings down and, after a few weeks, they return to sweep up the remaining loose bits. It’s a cheap fix to local road problems. I don’t mind running on this surface, but I could see that it could cause problems for Murphy’s little paws. This is when he started to hang back and by the end of mile two he was running at my heels. I stopped and checked his paws and they were fine. It might have been a coincidence, but I could feel him slowing down when we hit the change in road surface.

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However when we got on to mile 3 and a proper tarmac surface he was still running behind me. Maybe he was tiring or maybe he just wasn’t sure where we were. He’s not the most confident of dogs in unknown circumstances. He’s what’s known around here as a “fearty” i.e. someone who is afraid of everything. He balks at road signs, animals in fields, traffic, the big stones people round here use to demarcate their farmyard entrances – pretty much anything that doesn’t look like grass.

I was worried that he was tiring and I was prepared to stop and carry him, if I had to! He’s good company and I’d love to do more road work with him. At the moment we’re pretty much confined to doing off road running and locally that is restricted to a three mile maximum unless I get inventive with loops.

We ran well. I didn’t mind Murphy running on my heel. He does that a lot when we’re off road. I’m not sure how acceptable that would be in official Canicross events. I would imagine that the dog should be in front so that you can see them. The only problem came as we ran along the castle road and a Collie, notorious for barking at passers-by, started barking at Murphy. He reacted by shooting off, pulling the lead taut and then circling me at speed! I felt as if I was being orbited! That aside Murphy did incredibly well.

One tired pooch!
One tired pooch!
Rewards!
Rewards!

He’s totally exhausted now and has found a quiet space in the spare room to recover. He is, however, also lying in wait for the postman who is due anytime. On hearing the letters through the door Murphy will spring into life again, of that I have no doubt!

We ran 5 miles in 58:49. I’m really chuffed with that. It was meant to be a 13 min/mile paced run but I ran it as I felt happy and actually ended up with an easy feeling sub 12 min/mile pace. I’m hoping that this means I have plenty of endurance in reserve for Sunday coming!

Muted Celebrations
On Saturday gone we celebrated my 50th birthday, along with my Dad’s 75th, my Mom’s 70th and my husband’s 50th from last September! My birthday isn’t until Thursday, but this was a chance to get family and friends together before the school term started. I was actually a bit disappointed. People keep asking me how it went and in truth I felt let down by people I considered friends. I will continue to be polite and say “fine” when asked how it went, but here I’m having some internet therapy, safe in the knowledge that very few of my friends actually read my blog!

Don’t people RSVP any more? We were left wondering right up to the last minute in some cases how many of the 100+ people we’d invited were coming. More than half didn’t bother to even get in touch one way or another and very few got in touch beyond a week before the event. And then we had so many last minute cancellations it made me wonder if it was worth going ahead! We had estimated (for the caterers) that around sixty would turn up. In the end we had about forty odd turn up, trying to fill a room designed for over a hundred. At least those who did come had plenty of food and the dance floor had plenty of room on it. All I can say, without swearing, is never again! And thank you to the friends who did come, some from a long way away. It meant a lot to us all.

So on Thursday I’m planning a nice romantic meal in a lovely restaurant with the man I love. After that it will be ‘Welcome to running in your 50’s’! I’m looking forward to doing exactly that!

Week 1: It all starts here

Here I am, fresh after my first long run of my training for the Edinburgh EMF Half. Fresh indeed – I think I need that shower now!

Who would hate running here?
Who would hate running here?

I couldn’t believe my luck this morning, after what seems like weeks of rain, flooding, locusts and boils (OK, so I lied about the locusts) today dawned frosty, clear, calm and bright. Perfect running weather. I was down for just 3 miles, hardly a long run, but embraced the fact that 3 miles is exactly what I can get out of the paths through the local woods and my dog, Murphy, would love that! Once I’d managed to harness his excitedness we set off for an easy run.

My Garmin was a bit low on battery, but I had remembered to put my heart rate monitor on (wonders will never cease!) I turned on the GPS on my phone and set Jeff Galloway/LoLo’s Half Marathon training app to run (it’s really worth the £10 odd, honestly). I’d had issues with hooking up to GPS on these apps before, maybe because of the thickness of the case I use to carry the phone, so wearing my Garmin was a back up plan. What I didn’t realise was that as this was a new phone I hadn’t actually turned Location Services on for this app and so it was never going to hook up to a satellite. Technology is useless in the hands of fools.

I had downloaded some new music, having worn out the last lot I bought during last year’s training. I needed something new. My husband might not agree; apparently I am “always” downloading something off iTunes; magazines, music – you name it. I allegedly spend a “fortune” because “all these little bits add up”. Yes dear. Tell me again how much the Jaguar was…

Anyway, I had purchased The Running Bug’s Ministry of Sound album. It’s a year old, but it had really good reviews from runners, whereas a lot of the albums were not rating well. Comments such as “you can’t run to that” and “waste of money” really put me off buying quite a lot of so called running music. I don’t mind putting a playlist of my own together, but sometimes I need fresh music in there to keep me interested. What I did listen to today was well paced and I enjoyed it. I didn’t know any of it, but then I’m getting on a bit. It certainly wasn’t Status Quo.

Panoramic view of the trail
Panoramic view of the trail

I was surprised at the slowness of the pace that the app dictated. It was comfortable and made me realise that, yet again, I’d been starting off runs far too fast over the last few weeks. I relaxed into a sensible pace

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based on achieving around an 11 minute mile. Obviously as we’re including walk breaks I was having to run faster than that, but it was a nice, easy pace. And I enjoyed it. I managed to maintain a just-over-11 min mile pace which, off road, is fine. To be honest I couldn’t care less what my pace was. It was a lovely relaxing run with my little dog in a place I love. What could be better than that?

I get a rest tomorrow from running, but I want to get those core activations up and running instead. I have my book stickied with small bits of paper and I’m off to empty the cabin of some junk so as to make a bit more space, or at least reorganise what junk there is. Wish me luck on that one; we store a hell of a lot of rubbish!

Firsts, Lasts and A Loose Goose

That’s it! I’m done.

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Sunday saw me finishing my half marathon training programme with a nice, short 7 mile run. It was meant to be 8 miles, but I had a hissy fit a few nights before when checking my Jeff Galloway app.

I downloaded the app last year and followed the finisher’s plan. It worked really well and, without killing myself, I managed a 2:22 Great North Run. This year I opted to follow the improver’s plan. This meant doing lots of interval running, which near finished me off – especially the 12x800m ones! On the original plan my longest run was 14 miles; on the new plan it was 17 miles. I did all this and, at the end of the day, made no improvement at all. So last week I looked again at the finisher’s plan and discovered that when I input my pace (11 min/miles) the predicted result was exactly the same. I was killing myself for nothing.

I’ve decided that I’m happy being a finisher for the time being. I would rather enjoy my running than feel that it is a task. So instead of finishing on 8 miles I ran a paced 7 miles. I took my Camelbak and, once I’d worked out how it all fitted together, it was great. Nothing jiggling about my waist, nothing in my hand, just a back pack holding a small bottle of juice and my gloves (when the sun came out!)

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The following day I went for a sports massage. My first ever sports massage. Those of you who have experienced a sports massage will understand when I say that it was a mixture of pain, more pain and pleasure; the pleasure comes when the pain stops. It’s a necessity though. Over the last few weeks I’ve felt that my legs have become heavier and stiffer and no amount of stretching would alleviate that. I talked to my beauty therapist who told me that she was also trained in the heavier techniques, over and above a Swedish massage.

We concentrated on my gluteus, IT band and calves. I was prepared for pain because my chiropractor has offered it as part of my therapy with him; I knew what to expect! I won’t go into gruesome detail; I survived, albeit feeling a tad bruised two days later! I definitely feel looser. My calves and Achilles especially feel less tight. Had I not had a meeting tonight I would have tested those loosey, goosey legs on the trails! Tomorrow will have to do!

So, what now? I’m looking for another half marathon for sure. I have the bug. There are two on the horizon, one local, one in The Borders. I’m wondering about another in between then and now. 5ks and 10ks on Sundays or evenings are few and far between, but I’ll find something! What I would like to do, though, is make greater use of my GoRun minimal trainers. I want to see if running more naturally will help improve my running style and pace.

Recovery Miles

Sometimes after a grueling race the best thing you can do is the worse thing you feel like doing! Recovery miles are a downright slog, there is no other word for them! I don’t think I’ve ever come back after a long or hard run and done the next run with wings on my heels.

Last week I did one measly trail run with the dog clipping my heels. I enjoyed being out in the sunshine (rather than the rain), with a gentle breeze accompanying me (rather than a hurricane) and did a gentle 2 miles, there and back. I wasn’t bothered about my time, although I am hardly ever Garmin-less, and I’m even less bothered about sharing it now! It was 2 gentle miles.

And that was it for last week. It was my first week back at school and it was busy with after school meetings. Something had to give.

I was busy on Sunday organising a historic vehicle run for National Drive It Day. It rained all day anyway, so I wasn’t missing much and rather enjoyed tootling about the countryside in my convertible…with the roof up.

On Monday I had a lot to do, but I got all my chores done by 3pm and set off for a just over 4 mile run. It was meant to be 4 miles, but my route is just over and, well, I’ve been running 13, 15 and 17 miles so point something of a mile was neither here nor there!

In a moment of clarity I decided to run my usual route in reverse. It was quite windy and my choice actually meant that for once I was running mostly out of the wind! My only face on stretch was going to be downhill! Total result for the home team!

I didn’t struggle, although some of the uphills were a bit soul destroying; I remembered why I run this the other way after hill three, which came hot on the heels of hill two. I just ran as far up as I felt happy doing and walked up the rest. I honestly didn’t realise just how tired my legs were until I hit the hills. However, I wasn’t looking to do “a time”, just do a run.

I wasn’t happy carrying my water bottle. The juice was splashing about, my hands were sticky and I just don’t like carrying a bottle. Mind you, I had bought some cherry isotonic drink from Morrisons (because it was cheap) and it was a bit strong. Really water would have done. I don’t think my autopilot is used to me doing these short distances!!

I did 4.39 miles in 48:05, giving me 10:57 pace, which was fine. Funnily enough my “jog” back down to the village was at 10 min/mile pace – I must be doing something right. The only really slow bit was the uphill section at mile 3, so I’m happy with that.

On Sunday coming I have 8 miles to do and then that’s me done with my half training, for a while at least. I don’t think I’ll put myself through the training regime like I have done. I’ll still do the Jeff Galloway plan, but just the straightforward one. I honestly think that a couple of good trail runs and a long run a week more than set me up for any race, maybe even better than what I have put myself through this time.

On the treat front, look what I’ve replaced my water bottle with!

One hump, or two? My new Camelbak hydration pack!
One hump, or two?
My new Camelbak hydration pack!

I found this on ebay last week with a £15 starting price. Brand new, still with covers, I got it for £21 including delivery, which I think is a bargain! It has the 1.5 litre bladder, has room besides for my other stuff (inhaler, plasters and phone) and saves me carrying anything or having anything uncomfortably clipped around my waist. I realise that some people might think it’s OTT for a relatively short distance runner, but if it keeps my hands free and is comfortable enough I couldn’t care less!

I’m now off to UnderArmour to see about some nice loose fitting and flattering running tops. I’m sick of seeing a podgy runner staring back at me!

Streaks and Crunches – that’s the life!

I’m sure that you are all desperate to know how the run streak is going! Well, it’s going well as it happens and no one is more surprised than me!

When I started, just over a week ago, it was purely a means to an end. My running was suffering because I was so busy and I didn’t know what else to do. Running for just 15 minutes a day sounds ludicrous, but I’ve been managing 2.5 – 3km a day in that time and yesterday I did my fastest ever treadmill 5k with ease. There must be something in it.

I promised myself that I’d streak to tonight and then that was it. If I can fit in a run on Christmas Day I’d really like to do it, especially if I can take Murphy down onto the trails for half an hour or so. After that, who knows? I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing for me to be tied to running on a daily basis. Im afraid that as someone with OCD that might become a burden and running should never be that to me. It must always be fun. Something I do because I want to and not because I’m making myself do it.

That said, running for 15 minutes a night hasn’t been much of a hassle, although my poor old washing machine is struggling with all the extra gear I’m throwing into it! Run streaks are heavy on the laundry pile!!

I’ve also been dutifully doing my ab crunches and I’m delighted to see a 2-pack appearing already! I haven’t seenmy ab muscles since 1991, the year before my son was born! It’s hard work, but seeing results already is spurring me on!

This will probably be the last post I make until after Christmas so I’d like to say thank you all for your supportive comments over the last year – they are always appreciated (at least I know that someone reads my blog!)

I hope that you all have a very…

See you on the other side!

Autumn Trails

There really isn’t anything better than off road running on a sunny Autumn day. Really, there isn’t. The sun is low and spills through the ever-increasing gaps in the tree tops, sparkling with a leaf induced orange glow. I really don’t care how long I take on such days. My Garmin is simply a piece of jewellery, logging my distance.

After completing our Sunday tasks, my semi silent coach and I reversed roles and I took over the training again. I am not, however, semi silent. Did I hear him mutter “More’s the pity?” I hope not! As I mentioned earlier, my hubbie is not a fan of trail running. It’s hard work and demands much more of your lower legs and core. He much prefers a nice easy run on a path. Oh well. We don’t always get what we want.

We took Murphy dog, who has been accompanying us on all of our recent runs. He has had to get used to running on the lead through the parks, which is great practice for both of us as I’ve been planning starting racing with Murphy at Canix events. Usually Murphy runs free so I have been surprised by how well he is running at the end of a lead, save for one disaster on our last run when he decided it was time for a ‘bear stop’ in the middle of a run interval and was left being dragged along at the end of his lead before I noticed! He looked like one of those toy dogs on wheels!

Get the picture?

Once we’d warmed up we set off at a steady pace (11 min/mile) for our first run interval. I have to say 11 min/mile pace on the trails we run on is respectable. The trail consists mostly of either rocks or mud, take your pick. It’s not a nice easy surface.  You respect the trail because if you don’t it will literally trip you up, or worse!

At times the trail slowed us to a walk as we tried to get through slippery and deep mud, but generally speaking we managed to maintain 11 min/mile pace when running and, at times, even faster finishing with a last lap at 9:46! Admittedly this was on the tarmac as we headed away from the castle.

All in all we did 2.28 miles in 28.01, averaging 12:17 pace and at the end I looked like this:

 

And Murphy looked like this:

 

Poor Murphy.

New Shoes, New Limits

After my meeting with my chiropractor last week, everything started to make more sense. Yes, I run far better off road than on. I’m more relaxed and my posture is totally different. I realise that the terrain has much to do with this, but so does my shoe. I run off road in old Nike Alvord 7s that probably stopped being made five years ago, but bought them from the Nike Outlet at Gretna just last year. They’ve only got 100 miles on them because my off road running tends to be only 3 miles long.

When I was on holiday in Harrogate last week I went along to Up & Running in the town centre. I wasn’t running yet because my back was still sore and I was certain that I needed to heal properly before going out again. A few days missing running are neither here nor there. I did a fair bit of walking to make up for it.

The guy at Up & Running was extremely helpful. He put me on the treadmill and videoed my running style wearing Brooks Ghosts. Not wanting to say anything against the analysis of my style done previously, he wondered if my style had changed significantly. Read into that what you will! In any case I do not over-pronate; if anything I have a neutral footfall. I don’t toe strike either though. I land mid foot, which is good. I watched the video with him and was really surprised how straight I run. I’d always imagined that my right leg, the twisted one, would kick out more, but it doesn’t really. I do a good job of straightening it out and putting one foot in front of the other. It’s very strange watching yourself running!

The short story is I left the store with a pair of Ghosts, a free pair of socks and good wishes for the Great North Run.

 

I didn’t test them out until Sunday when I ran into Harrogate and back for a 4 mile run. I’d forgotten that it was a Magic Mile run and I wasn’t really up for one, if I’m really honest. I should have just run my 4 miles at 11 min/mile pace and enjoyed it, but I did try to do a MM and failed miserably. I didn’t really know where I was running, I was crossing roads constantly and having to stop to do so and I wasn’t physically fit enough! My MM came in at 10:24, which is abysmal for me.

I did enjoy the easy run back though and I love my new shoes. They are comfortable and I had no issues at all and, wonder of wonders, my back was totally cured post run. I’d gone out feeling a bit tight and stiff and returned without a twinge.

Yesterday I took my dog for a trail run on my usual 3 mile route. It was very warm and humid and I said to my husband that I was just out for an easy 3. My Garmin had died so I took Jeff’s app and listened to the music – not something I do often on the trail. I started off easy and just ran. It was a lovely evening and I was enjoying myself. I found my running easy and I felt strong, even the uphill sections were easier, although I should have known that something good was happening when my core started to ache. When I finished I realised that my easy 3 had turned out to be the fastest 3 I’ve ever done off road. 3 miles in 30:19.

It’s lovely when that happens.

Runs on Water

Well almost! It had rained so heavily yesterday that the woods were awash. I decided to go anyway because I didn’t want to run on the treadmill and I really wanted to take Murphy Dog with me.

I started off reasonably, ignoring the pace of the music I was listening to. The first part of the track consists of rocks and they were like ice. Before I rounded the second corner Murphy darted off to the right and stood looking into the trees. I couldn’t see what he was looking at and carried on. As we turned the corner I spotted a figure walking towards us. So did Murphy and he was terrified. Why? I don’t know. He is generally a very confident dog, but now and again some things just spook him and he freezes. I only realised that he was stood stock still after a wee while and stopped to call him to me. As I called him I discovered what he had seen earlier.

A red deer wandered casually onto the path within a few feet of Murphy, stood behind him and looked straight at me. It was a wonderful moment. Murphy had no idea that the deer was there; he was still focused on the man walking towards him. Amazing! The deer walked off into the trees at the other side of the path, Murphy still none the wiser!

The rest of the run was pretty uneventful, although I did stop to take some photos of the trail at the mid way point. I wasn’t racing, but I was working hard on the terrain, so stopping to take a photo or two was by the by.

Do we go this way…

This shows the route down to the new part of the woods that has been opened up by the timber guys. The picture doesn’t really show how steep that is. I’d love to be able to run down it at full tilt, but with all those loose stones it’s just not possible.

…or this way…

This is the route I run down to this crossroads. There is a fourth trail, but it dies away pretty quickly. This path leads back to our house.

…or this way?

If I wanted a shorter route I can head up to the castle drive. It means running just over half a mile on tarmac and the trail between this point and the tarmac can be very messy, with deeply rutted mud tracks. I only go this way if the weather has been dry for a while. It’s sheltered by trees, as you can see, and rarely dries out.

That shows my footprint on the way down to the second turn. Not the worst I’ve found the conditions here, but quite slippery.

My splits were identical for each mile, which I find amazing considering the fall of the land. At 10:52 pace it wasn’t the fastest I’ve run that course, but it was a good solid run after a hard long run on Sunday and I’ll take that thank you very much!

Comlongon Castle in the background, across the field.

Stats

  • 29:56 mins
  • 2.75 miles
  • 10:52 min/mile pace
  • Cloudy 63 ℉ / 17 ℃
  • 91% humidity

I took Murphy into the shower when we got home. For a white dog, he was very black! He doesn’t mind being in the shower and is very well behaved. I then ate quite quickly afterwards – finishing off the stew from last night. I’m feeling good. Good enough to tackle the ironing I guess!!

Hello!

First of all a quick hello to my new followers. I have absolutely no idea why you would want to follow my tales of self-mockery and woe, but you are very welcome. There is fat-free cake in the tin and a large canteen of black coffee on the stove. Help yourselves.

Since my last post I have been indulging myself with a few woodland runs. I’m not a huge fan of trudging along the roadside; it can be boring, slightly dangerous and not much good for my self-esteem. There have been times when I’ve been running on the road when I just wanted to stop and cry. I don’t know why. I think I’m maybe too hard on myself there, expect far too much and leave myself feeling deflated. On the trails it’s so very different.

On the trails I am surrounded by trees, cosseted against prying eyes, able to run without care. I run along looking at the trees, the flowers, sometimes the wildlife and feel free. The weather doesn’t even bother me. It can be lashing down or icy cold and I still enjoy the whole getting back to nature thing. It’s invigorating and, yes, it can be a tougher run, but it never feels like that. It  feels easier, freer, more stimulating. When you run on the road you can get lulled into a dreamlike trance, plonking one foot in front of the other ad infinitum. On the trails if you do that you’re liable to sprain, twist or break something. The ground literally keeps you on your toes, where you are supposed to be!

Of course my pace is slower, but (and this is the biggy) IT’S ALLOWED TO BE! How liberating is that? You get a harder workout, especially for your core, and you get to go slower! And not much slower really either. My pace on the road tends to hover around the 10 minute mile mark. I’d like it to be faster, but it’s not. Not yet. On the trails it’s between 10 and 11 minutes, not much different really. The only problem I have is that without getting in the car and driving to a park our local woodland only gives me a maximum of 3 miles providing I run there and back. I suppose I could run it twice, but I’ve never felt that I’ve wanted to.

Murphy, my Jack Russell, usually comes with me – which is an added bonus. I don’t like running him on the road. He’s a bit daft, tends to pull on the lead and stop right in front of me! I’m also wary of him hurting his feet on the tarmac. On the trails the ground is more forgiving and he will usually run at my heel after he’s checked the undergrowth for rabbits and the like. I enjoy his company and he loves to run.

We went out before work on Thursday morning. I only had half an hour to spare so opted to do just a couple of miles. With the walk to the woods and back that would be my 30 minutes slot used up. It was gorgeous; a sunny and warm morning, just delightful really. I ran happy and didn’t stop until  reached the turnaround point where I stopped for a few minutes to take photos. I thought I had the auto-stop turned on Runmeter (my Garmin was flat when I went for it so I made do with my back up GPS running apps) but I didn’t, so I probably ran a little faster than I’m giving myself credit for.
   

Today I convinced my husband to join me first thing. He was all for having a bacon sandwich, getting a few jobs done and then going running, just before we headed out to Carlisle. I know him well enough to know that the less important things (in his world) get squeezed out and that if we left the run until almost bus time, we wouldn’t be going at all! With the promise of a bacon roll in his head we set off at around 9am, not early but early enough for Sunday!

It was much colder than on Thursday and much, much windier. The sunshine was hidden behind some grey looking clouds, threatening rain. We left the dogs behind, much to their chagrin and headed out. My husband much prefers to run on the road. He finds running on the trails much harder than me. That said he set a good pace and ran for a mile without stopping, completing that in 10:46. At the turnaround we stopped to catch our breath. I was just saying that we hadn’t seen any deer when one crossed the path ahead of us! That is what running trails is all about. The return is always harder as it’s pretty much all up hill. With a few husband-determined walk breaks we did the last mile in 11:27, nothing to be sniffed at.

The jobs are all getting done and we’ve both got stacks of energy left. When we’d finished running my husband turned to me and said that he felt as if he could do it again and that is exactly how I always feel after a trail run. It’s fun. Full stop!