Forest Bathing

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I do¬†enjoy a forest run but¬†today I tried something completely different, Forest Bathing !! I saw an article¬†by the Forestry Commission which really struck a cord with me, so I headed off to¬†soak up some bathing (no towels are required) ūüôā

Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese art of forest bathing Рtaking in the forest atmosphere and connecting with all your senses.

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My journey started with this wooden bridge that lead me into the dabble sunlight of the trees. From my trail running I know a number of routes through these woods, some quite densely forested and some more widely planted.

Today I didn’t need to concentrate on tree roots, branches and other potential hazards I really could¬†simply absorb¬†what was there right in front of me.¬†In many ways the trees are competing for the sunlight and at the same time they all seem to fit into an orderly pattern.

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With spare time on my hands I had no time restrictions but equally with this being new to me I wasn’t quite sure how long I’d be.

The trees spend their lives growing ever taller in an effort to reach that golden sun in the sky, the birds have their continuous search for food and the seasons shape how the forest looks.

I sat on one of these conveniently places logs and quite simply just tried taking in what was around me. The occasional dragon fly, a bird flapping high up in the leaves and the swishing of the ferns were the only obvious noises.

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It’s almost¬†October but the warm sun¬†meant I only needed my t¬†shirt.¬†Our modern lifestyles don’t often allow us to just stop and stare, to breath in the woody air and feel the¬†breeze on your arms.

One of the gnarled tree trunks had insects scurrying in and out and the branches move almost like they’ve waved¬†at me. Don’t worry, I haven’t been drinking, I’m not on any illegal products, I’m just bathing in the forest even though we’re miles from the sea !!

It’s great to be able to step out of your Monday to Friday work and just connect with nature.

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Moving on towards the less densely planted forest the individual trees really stand out. They almost have their own personalities, some stand tall like a soldier, some¬†lean at¬†an angle almost as if they’re about to uproot and find another spot in the woods.

Standing at the base of a tree and looking straight up, as I did with my first photo, really gives you a sense of the trees age, the winters it has endured and the ground that it has dominated for many years.

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Three quarters of an hour later I was back at my car and feeling considerably more at one with myself.

The sights and feel of the forest will change as the new season approaches. I look forward to returning in a month or two for the Autumnal browns, gold and orange as well as the colder air.

#getoutside ……….. go Forest Bathing !!

National Get Outside Day Sept 30th

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To quote those enthusiastic people from Ordnance Survey (OS) Leisure ……¬†On 30 September 2018,¬†they want you to get active outdoors. Join in with a National or Regional event near you, or create your own adventure outside with family and friends.

For more information, just follow this LINK

I’ve long been a convert to the Great British countryside, it’s¬†out there just waiting for you …. take in the fresh air, the scenery, the sights and sounds and you’ll be hooked, just like me ūüôā

 

 

Goodwood Marathon

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Goodwood motor racing circuit¬†was the venue for my first race in three months. OK, I realise that 26.2 miles¬†of tarmac don’t exactly amount to off road but the location is only 35 minutes away and the track is such an iconic venue.

This initial photo is my favourite from the day. The historic Goodwood start/finish straight, Stig (possibly not the real Stig), Paul from Fareham Crusaders and Gosport road runners Steve, Catherine, Claire, Lisa, Katrina and Hayley.

With numerous other RunThrough uk races scheduled for the day our marathon started at 9am in pleasant conditions. The pre race warm up set the tone for a light hearted day running within a fairly small field, but a very supportive one.

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This photo from the warm up shows my friend Hayley adopting the New Zealand hakka, me clinging onto an imaginary bar above my¬†head (for what ever reason) and Paul (the Brad Pitt lookalike) talking¬†on his imaginary phone to his imaginary PR agent ūüôā Yes we were all raring to get started !!

Before the off there was just time for mine and Paul’s trademark photo with the motor racing pits behind us.

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The prospect of 11 laps might have put some people off, however, I was keen to use it as a good mental test. I spotted local blogger Anna who eventually placed as first lady in 3.26 and radio/running personality Vassos Alexander who finished in 3.22, the checked flag dropped and we were off.

Each lap of the track was about¬†2.4 miles¬†and it varied with some gradual inclines and declines as well as the wind direction blowing across, in front and behind you. What I hadn’t considered previously was that there’s an aerodrome in the middle of the track !!

A good thirty or so light aircraft and helicopters were parked up with quite frequent arrivals and departures. I have to say the first time a plane landed above our heads it was quite amusing and quite close !!

With 11 laps there was only the need for one feed station but I was impressed with the number of marshals around the course who offered continued support on every lap. RunThrough had placed speakers to play uplifting music and then totally out of the blue two gentlemen in Mexican attire, complete with guitar and trumpet, added to our entertainment.

With there being a number of races held through the day we were regularly lapped or saw runners coming towards us. This did break up the day and it was great to see Andy Paton from Liss Runners charging along on his 10K.

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There were¬†various motivational signs around Goodwood, with one that read “keep to the racing line” which I wasn’t totally sure was for us but again it made you think¬†as we ran the¬†twists and turns of the track.

I chatted with Hayley on my first lap and then later with Claire and Joanne. The support from the grandstand was a real boost but for the remainder of the time it was largely “you and your thoughts”.

One of the joys of running for me is to completely switch off and simply observe what’s around you. The South Downs in the distance, the aircraft and even the wind on your face or the sun on your back. Running is definitely my mindfulness.

Pace wise I stayed around ten minute miles but drifted slightly once past 20 miles. The mile markers were dotted around the track in reverse order which personally I wasn’t sure about but it did motivate me when it said 5,4,3,2,1 miles left !!

Both Paul and Hayley were a lap ahead of me and Anna must have lapped me twice but I only remember seeing her once ūüôā #oldage !!

I have to say I walked a few times on lap eleven due to a lack of training but with the marshals encouragement, the sight of the finish line and the ever supportive Gosport ladies, this was enough to carry me home in 4.42 which ultimately was a fair time for the day.

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Yes, I do look quite knackered but I achieved what I came for i.e. to get back on track and Goodwood was certainly a great place to do it.

One thought for the future …. the water came in the form of endless single use plastic bottles. It seemed such a waste with piles of them, some only half empty, scattered around the course. Naturally that also meant they needed picking up as well as going against the single use of plastic that’s becoming more frowned upon #savetheplanet.

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I liked this board …..”You will never win, if you never begin” it might not have been a quick time compared to the Berlin world record but¬†I think all of us that entered should be proud of completing what is still the benchmark of distance running.

Thanks to RunThrough uk for a well organised day in a great location and an impressive t-shirt and medal.

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Happy Running everyone …………. thanks for reading and see you at the Isle of White marathon in four weeks.

Roger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meon Valley Trail training

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Over the last month I’ve been using the Meon Valley Trail for my training. In its basic format the trail is a ten mile stretch of disused railway line that starts in Wickham and heads north to West Meon.

The trains may be long gone but this local gem has been resurfaced and now provides access for runners, cyclists, walkers, horse riders etc etc. The tree lined track gives shade from the sun but at the same time creates dappled sunshine markings ahead of you.

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Numerous bridges break up the essentially straight pathway and you are constantly reminded that you’re in the countryside with the birds in the trees, the occasional squirrel and sights of the surrounding fields.

You really can switch off as your miles tick by because with the exception of only a couple of road crossings the horizon in front of you is one long tunnel of green.

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Seven miles into the trail you’ll come across the South Downs Way signs to Exton and Eastbourne in their West and East direction. You pass old sidings that have laid asleep for decades as well as a privately owned station at Soberton.

Whats at the end of the trail I hear you ask ??? The remains of the West Meon station and a car park.

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All in all if you are in the Southampton / Winchester area I’d recommend it as a great route to run. There’s a gradual incline as you head North but naturally you benefit from this on your return.

Whether you are starting out on your running journey with a couple of miles or you use it as I’ve been doing for marathon training, the Meon Valley Trail offers something for everyone.

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For lots more information just follow this link MVT

Happy Running !!!