A Positive Outlook and stunning views

The definition of a positive outlook is optimism i.e. you are expecting good things to happen, you view life as a challenge and consider that you have the confidence to deal with your chosen challenge. I pondered on this and considered it in running terms because running can take you away from our current lockdown situation, which is far less positive.

On a run we know where we are heading and based on previous experiences we know we are capable of achieving it. Therefore, we are looking forwards, with a degree of inner strength, based on our past.

Secondly, I do think there’s another layer that can be added to your positive outlook and that’s the fact that you know your route will be scenic. Yes, as Phil and Kirsty would say, location, location, location. Granted in these lockdown times it’s not as easy to strike out too far but hopefully we can all find a small slice of rural release.

The beauty of running through the countryside or along the coast is that it gives you both the challenges and the scenery therefore, from start to finish you have a positive outlook and as you reflect on your day that positivity is still there, maybe just under the surface, but undeniably influencing your mood.

What’s so great about the countryside I hear you say, “do me a favor !!”, the prospect of fresh air, open spaces and stunning views fill you with excited anticipation. I’d go as far as saying you feel grateful before you even get there !! I know I’m passionate about this subject but I do hope “you”, as the reader, can either relate to this or are interested enough to read on.

The rolling hills, the patchwork fields, the peace and the unspoiled views all mean you are absorbing your surroundings by purely paying attention to them. I never take my runs for granted because they feed your soul and it’s this energy and this life affirming glow that will make you more optimistic for the future, especially as 2021 hopefully opens up.

Take my first photo as an example, it’s a Summers day on the South Downs Way that climbs out of Winchester towards Cheesefoot Head. The contrasting colours are impressive enough but couple that with the view back towards the historic town and it’s a winning combination, all you have to do is get to the top !! The blood red poppies, the different shades of green that the hedgerows, grass and plants give you, the earthy brown soil and the aqua blue sky that looked like the sea near a tropical island all shape your positive outlook.

Now, have you possibly overlooked local routes ? I know I’ve enjoyed revisiting trails closer to home and even though they might not be quite as grand I’ve enjoyed running routes that bring back memories of people and places around my neck of the woods.

This second photo is from the outskirts of Fareham, once gain the sunshine puts a smile on your face but regardless of the season there’s so much to take in and connect with. It goes without saying you’ll experience the same whether walking or cycling and after all the countryside is there for everyone to enjoy.

There’s a field of sunflowers 🌻 to the left of this trail and when they are in full bloom it’s such an uplifting sight. Even as I’m writing I can see the yellow and gold combinations with the brown seeds. This imagine is in my mind regardless of the time of year that I run past so it’s both something to look forward to and reflect on.

I’ve included this local photo because I think it’s important to reinforce positive images that are accessible and close by because this keeps your experiences in the forefront of your mind due to them being familiar. You may drive to work or shop not too far away so you are reminded of your enjoyable adventures while going about your day to day activities.

It’s almost a way of subconsciously smiling when you see the trails you ran a few days or weeks before on your more mundane travels.

Your positive outlook can also be influenced by the people you meet on the trails because, due to their “out of the way” location, everyone has made an effort to get there so consequently they are also in a good mood. The phrase “good morning” really means just that, it is good, in fact it’s bloody great and we are all sharing it. In fact the initial hello is usually followed by where have you come from and how far are you going ? Again during lockdown I appreciate this is less likely to happen, but you’d be surprised.

I know we can only run with one other person at the moment and to be honest I’ve generally run on my own of late but when the time is right exercising with other positive people means you feed off each other.

I’m not saying outdoor exercise will take away all your negative thoughts but it certainly gives us a happy place to exercise in and enjoy. All you have to do is follow the signs, after all, the word footpath will always be linked to a positive outlook in my mind.

Thanks for reading,

Roger

Self Esteem – Runnings hidden benefit

The physical benefits of exercise have long been known, some people choose to embrace them, others couldn’t think of anything worse, naturally it’s all down to personal choice but an additional benefit that might not readily come to mind is the self worth and positivity that can be gained from a pair of trainers and running, regardless of the pace or distance.

Speed isn’t a factor and all runners whether novices or experienced old hands will tell you that the physical benefits of running are only half the story, self esteem is probably the single biggest factor in my running these days. In short, the world looks a better place when I’m running.

As runners we probably take for granted the physical benefits of our hobby / passion. Cardiovascular fitness, maintaining or loosing weight, kick starting your metabolism, toned muscles, lower cholesterol, blood pressure reduction, falling asleep quicker and sleeping deeper, the list goes on and on !! In fact, I recently read a quote that said exercise can add years to your life and life to your years.

So with the physicality covered I wanted to write about why running is so important to me and maybe encourage others to try it for themselves. I stand that little bit taller when I talk about or go running.

A familiar comment that I hear is “do runners actually enjoy what they do because they always have a pained expression on their face” well I guess if it was easy then there wouldn’t be the same challenge but there’s definitely a second satisfaction to be had, long after you’ve showered and settled back into everyday life.

Having a sporty identity and been know as a runner implies to people that you are fit and healthy but one of my best kept secrets is that it positively influences the rest of the my day, week, month and year.

I’m not fast, I haven’t run a personal best for years but running gives me an inner feeling of self worth. In many ways I believe in myself, this doesn’t mean I’m overly confident it simply means I appreciate my achievements and if I hadn’t been running then I wouldn’t have set myself these goals and wouldn’t have enjoyed aspiring and ultimately reaching many of my target. Be proud of your running 😀

Having pride in your running isn’t being big headed because I can list numerous people that can run faster and further than I can but in many ways that’s the point, I am proud of what I do. Don’t compare yourself to others because what they are doing is out of your control. I do think that we can put too much pressure on ourselves, I must and I should have can be quite damaging instead I like to concentrate on what’s realistic.

Building on your previous training and races means you are learning from both your successes and mistakes. When I’m struggling I do like to draw on previous runs and say to myself, “come on Rog, you chose to do this, you’ve done it before you can do it again”.

The other great thing about self esteem is that it can have a cumulative effect and each positive run / experience builds on the last so that when you do have a bad day you have lots of good days to fall back on.

It’s probably inevitable that the one event which you consider as your best performance will give you your most self esteem. Race to the King was the one event that encapsulated everything that I’m trying to portray but running a double marathon across the South Downs Way implies the feeling is only achievable with an above average effort and this isn’t the case. Yes I completed 53 miles in twelve hours but the fact that I was on the move from 8am until 8pm isn’t necessarily the achievement it’s the fact that standing on the start line the previous seven months of training meant I believed I could run/walk eighteen miles further than I’d previously attempted.

I have other photos but I like this one because with my eyes closed it implies I was glad it was over when in actual fact it gave me the biggest buzz I’ve ever had, I was on top of the world, even if the winner had finished hours before I had I’d proved to myself that I could achieve my goal and that feeling never leaves you.

Standing on the train platform in Winchester once I’d finished, I had a massive smile on my face even though my legs ached but this inner sense of self worth and personal value is just as achievable after a run in the rain when staying indoors felt like a better bet or heading out on a chilly morning when staying in your warm bed would be most peoples choice.

I may have a preference for longer distance running but I firmly believe we all have more in us than we think and once you’ve experienced that then you realise you don’t need to be the best, just the best “you” that you can be and that’s more than enough.

The self esteem that’s gained from exercise means you believe in yourself and even though this might not solve all of your everyday problems it really does lift your spirits when you reflect on what you’ve achieved and on what you are planning to attempt because you approach your future goals with a “can do” mindset.

Exercise is known to help you process stress, anxiety and depression, the great outdoors is free to access and thankfully its benefits have been recognised even during lockdown. If you add self esteem then that’s a great place to look forwards from.

Running sets you free !!

Thanks for reading

Golden Hour sunsets give you hope

Lee puddle

Towards the end of 2020 and into 2021 I’ve been choosing to run or walk at sunset because it really inspires me. Winter is upon us but equally we’ve passed the shortest day of the year so each sunset will appear slightly later and the daylight will gradually increase. The phrase red sky at night shepherds delight has meant the promise of a better tomorrow for centuries, this has taken on a new dimension recently for me.

Exercise has always played a large part in my life but even more so in this pandemic. I haven’t blogged specifically about keeping running during the last nine months but I feel like it’s the right time to put down some words. Clearly we have a long way to go but at last there appears to be hope on the horizon.

I’m very lucky to live fifteen minutes away from both the coast and the countryside, this fact on its own has meant my exercise has remained achievable through these recent dark times. The main factor that has prompted me to write this blog has been the winter sunsets we’ve been experiencing recently. We had pretty good weather through Spring and Summer and the Autumnal colour’s were as inspirational as ever but there simply wasn’t a sense of the pandemic ending.

In photography the term “Golden Hour” describes the period shortly after sunset. Due to a few circumstances I’ve been out running later in the day and it’s these thoughts and photos that I’d like to share. While the golden, orange and red colours are best displayed at the coast, due to them reflecting off the sea, my first connection of hope and the passing of one day to the next was out in the countryside.

While out running I try to clear my head of all day to day events and simply soak up my surroundings but that hasn’t been as easy to do in these worrying times. However, I really have noticed that over the last few weeks I’ve been drawn to feeding off the energy that the golden hour gives us. I’ve reflected that my exercise is combining its health benefits along with the positive aspect of one day coming to an end and the next starting afresh.

Running alone through the fields in late November I have to say my outlook may have been glorious in terms of the countryside but what lay ahead in 2021 wasn’t looking very favorable and as it turned out it December got a whole lot worse. Generally running keeps me positive, it feeds my endorphins, it puts a smile on my face and to be honest it’s an escape from day to day pressures. However, the thought of a brighter tomorrow wasn’t at the forefront of my mind.

Running is a challenge, life is a challenge but your running is dictated by your own expectations and is largely shaped by what you’d like to achieve. The current pandemic is out of our regularly washed hands, that was until vaccines became available.

Our sunsets have been disappearing below the horizon, turning to twilight, moving on to dusk and then making way for the dark evenings ahead. Now, there’s the possibility of new beginnings and these thoughts really have developed with me since I’ve included more coastal exercise.

Running by the sea has always given me a sense of calm, the endless lapping of the waves and the timeless predictability of the rising and falling tide. The reflections of the golden hour sunset on what’s often been a glass like calm sea, of late, really adds to the experience that we are all going through. The sun disappears and reappears, it resets, it renews. The Summer sun makes us smile with it’s warmth, the Winter sun makes us smile with a warmth inside and helps us reflect that the cold days will once again become warmer.

Running has always given me satisfaction, achievements and personal worth, this recent sunset exercise has added an extra emotional layer to a pastime that has always been my passion. I’d say that if I hadn’t of laced up my trainers and got out for a run then I would have missed the beauty of nature and the self help that having time without distractions brings while you are simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Running is for today and tomorrow. Stay safe and hopefully 2021 will be the dawn of brighter days ahead.

Thanks for reading

Roger