Running with a “Spring” in your stride

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The phrase “Winter miles make Summer smiles” can apply in a number of difference circumstances. For me it refers to building my running miles back up again after a quiet spell. Rediscovering your self belief is a powerful emotion and this weekend has fuelled the fire even more.

I ran on Friday and Saturday for the second week in a row and as you can see from the photo above I’ve washed my Ultimate Direction running vest now that I’m on the verge of justifying it with the miles I’m achieving.

Running 3.3 and 8 miles last weekend and then 4.5 and 9 this now means that I’m on track for a training run approaching two hours. My clean and considerably better smelling running vest is another metaphor towards starting a fresh. I’m excited, I’m ready to commit.

There’s no better feeling than leaving work on a Friday afternoon knowing the weekend is waiting for you. Having plans with goals attached to them really does add to your anticipation.

My largely desk bound job does mean the first half of my run commute feels a little laboured but once you’re out there all those project lists, meeting requests and deadlines simply fade away.

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I’m a firm believer of living in the moment and that’s exactly what I did. I took this photo because I went out of my way to include this stretch. Getting outdoors and discovering these footpaths add an extra dimension to your running.

Saturdays alarm clock went off at 7.30am and it was a case of “up and at them”, I polished off my porridge and contemplated where I would run. My target mileage was 9 ish miles and knowing the coast is about 3 & 1/2 I set off in search of the seaside.

The early morning mist soon burned off and the glorious morning sunshine came streaming through. Technically today was still a run in the Winter sun but the daffodil’s and snowdrops really add to your sense of anticipation that Spring isn’t far away.

I said hello to quite a few runners including Lee Rhodes, over literally 200 metres. I crossed the road he said hello, I said I’m puffing and blowing already, he said I’m off to the parkrun, I said I’m off to the coast, so we wished each other well and carried on.

abb3Arriving at the coast I was reminded just how lucky we are in this part of Hampshire to have the South Downs in striking distance as well as the sea on our doorstep. With the Isle of Wight on the horizon and the shingle stretched out ahead of me the only question was when to turn around and head back.

abb2I stopped for a drink and took these couple of photos before setting off. There’s something very relaxing about running by the sea, you can taste the salt on your lips and the sound of the lapping waves adds a sense of calm.

Running challenges me on some days and it relaxes me on others. The benefits are endless and I’m so glad I’ve rediscovered all of these aspects.

Today might have been February but I was running with a “Spring” in my stride. Nine miles to add to yesterdays 4 & 1/2, even with a slight cold, has motivated me for the coming weeks. A pace of around nine minute miles was fine for what I had in mind.

Talking of a run in the sun if you follow this link I’ve been impressed with their Instagram page photos and website, who knows one day it could be irunoffroad in Spain !!

On my return home I was reminded of a badge I made with my kids probably ten years ago. It sits with all my other favourite endurance race medals.

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It’s good to know that ten years ago I considered “I’ve still got it” and even though I’ll never be fast I’m still content with being fit, healthy and happy.

Yes, I believe “I’ve still got it” 🙂 ………. Thanks for reading

Roger

 

 

Running sets you free !!

 

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My last two blog posts have charted how I’ve turned around quite a few weeks of low motivation for running. It’s great to say I’m back on track.

I finished work a little earlier on Friday because the sunshine was streaming through the office windows. Yes, the local woods were calling me ….. “come and run, come and run”.

I only had limited time but 5K was still on the cards and after the recent rain that run-shine really charged up my batteries, #solar power.

The pace wasn’t great and I’d admit to stopping for a couple of photos but with the late afternoon sun peaking out between the trees it was a joy to be out there.

I often add hash tags like #getoutside #nature and #countryside to my twitter posts and its locations and moments like this that both inspire and motivate me. Running sets you free 🙂

As off road runners we can sometimes take these glorious places for granted but it reinforced why I love what we do and why I enjoy writing about it.

So, that was me fired up for Saturday morning. The alarm went off at 7.30am and I looked out of the window to see thick fog. OK, I’m not going to lie this was a little disappointing after Fridays pre Spring and Summer sun but the fact that I hadn’t spent time pondering whether to get out of bed in the first place meant ….. “the boy is back” !!

I had eight miles planned for the next step in my progression which also included 1,000 feet of elevation. I may have lost some basic fitness but I still have good legs from cycling 🙂

This Strava elevation graphic gives you the basic idea of what I wanted to achieve, and did.

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Setting off from Meonstock my first priority was to enjoy it. I headed for Beacon Hill which is on the South Downs Way and is at about 40 of the 53 miles of the Race to the King route.

The race uses a country lane to get to the top so I used this approach rather than the trail alternative. I’m a firm believer in practicing what I’m going to encounter. The heavy mist meant small droplets of water were dripping off the overhanging branches and the rows of vines in the vineyard to my left could only be seen for a hundred metres.

The lane that leads to the trig point ramps up in three different places so the order of the day was slow and steady. I was very pleased to reach the top without walking.

I took this photo on the way back down, no views across the valley but the eerie mist made my trail experience quite different to the norm.

ex3Reaching Exton I set my sights on Old Winchester Hill. I knew it would be muddy and the trail didn’t disappoint. Good traction, balance and feet to eye coordination were all employed to the max. That said I needed to walk through a couple of very boggy sections !!

The final leg of OWH is the steepest and with damp tree roots, care needs to be taken. Once at the top again I was robbed of the view so I settled for a trig photo while I took a drink.

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The various destinations are mapped out but one was missing …. Rogers route back to running 🙂

I took care on the descent (if you are running RTTK this is probably the most technical section of the whole run)

Returning to Meonstock I’d bagged eight miles and two trig points but most importantly I was smiling and plotting my next run.

“All blue eyes is back”

Thanks for reading, Roger

“Message in a Bottle” 10K run #police

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Since last weeks blog post entitled “Are you a running believer” I haven’t run. So, in many ways that would suggest I’m not, hmm …… ??

99.9% of my blog posts are positive but I think it’s important to recognise that sometimes we have a dip in our enthusiasm. The good news is I’ve turned the corner.

I’ve been contemplating on what piece of the jigsaw has been missing and the great news is that on todays wet and windy six miler I have realised what it is.

Seems I’m not alone at being alone with these running mojo thoughts. Thank you to the people who have contacted me on this topic.

So, here goes my train of thought. I sing or hum to myself quite a lot while I’m running, weird maybe ? but I do like music. The Police, (the band) had a big hit with “Message in a Bottle” and while I was humming this a number of things fell into place.

For younger readers or simply people that enjoy the song here’s the video.

While I’ve been trying to process why I’m not enjoying running I’ve been looking for an answer. So effectively I’ve been a castaway, an island lost at sea and maybe unknowingly I’ve been sending out an SOS, hoping someone gets my message in a bottle.

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A month has passed since I metaphorically sent my note but I should have known right from the start only hope can keep me together and that’s why I set off today in the wind and rain to find my answer.

I wasn’t even sure in which direction I’d run today and then I started singing, not out loud, well parts of it were … ha ha and as the rain started I pondered that the classic messages would be sent from a desert islands.

So, I decided on running a circular six mile route which I’d imagine was an island. OK, Stubbington might not have beaches of palm trees but today it would be “my” island.

This is the beauty of running on your own, you can think about nothing at all or you can explore your thoughts. I decided not to look at the pace on my watch, just to run how I felt. This did mean slowing right down on occasions and then it struck me. It was almost like a coconut had dropped on my head !!

I haven’t been running so I’m not as fit, if you aren’t as fit the overall experience isn’t quite as enjoyable. If you miss training runs then unknowingly you feel unfit and you don’t believe in yourself as much. I’ve almost been avoiding running and using life events as an excuse.

It’s time to get back to basics, enjoy your running and it will pay you back with that endorphin buzz, a better nights sleep and an excited anticipation for when you go out next. That’s the simple answer.

Ran out this morning, don’t believe what I saw, the answer was in front of me, on the Stubbington shore (again metaphorically speaking).

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This is a Strava image of my running desert island that I ran in an anti clockwise direction. My revelation happened at the bottom right hand corner and from then on I started planning how I’m going to fit in more running.

The idea of swopping one of my cycle commutes for a run commute will start this week and I hope to try and get back to attending my Fareham Crusaders running club night on a Thursday.

Running has helped my physical and mental wellbeing for over thirty years, maybe my kitchen photo at the beginning of this blog shows I just needed a “Sting” to remind me.

Thanks for reading, Roger

Are you a Running Believer ?

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I love running, it’s been really good for me, it helps me relax, it helps me sleep, it gives me a sense of achievement and it boosts my wellbeing, so why am I struggling to get out ?

We all have callings on our time, jobs, family’s, responsibilities etc etc but it’s really important to have a distraction, a hobby, a pastime. Mine is running.

I wrote a blog recently about wellbeing and to be honest I haven’t been taking my own advice. I talked about making payments into the “Bank of Me”. Creating a life balance between you, your family and your work is the key.

This might sound selfish but I’m not the same person without running so, ironically, getting back out there will benefit everyone.

I cycle commute virtually every weekday but unless I’m running I find the edge goes off my lung and leg capacity.

Maybe a run commute could be the answer ? That way the family have the car and I get to run 🙂

Have I just answered my own question, ha ha !! That’s the power of collecting your thoughts while writing.

I’m a firm believer that physical fitness takes mental strength and for that you have to believe in yourself. I’ve entered Race to the King which is a double marathon in June so I now have a focus.

It’s time to become a “believer” again !!

Running the local fields this weekend has fired me up, so, watch out 2019 I’m coming to get you !!!

Roger