A Coastal trail run with the beach and sunset for company

Choosing where and when you run may come down to practicalities like the weather, friends availability or family commitments but try to make some time for a purely emotional choice, every now and then.

I’m lucky enough to only live a fifteenth minute drive from the coast and a twenty five minutes drive inland to the South Downs Way (SDW). Coastal trails may not always get the kudos their countryside cousins enjoy but todays Solent sunset was breath taking. Hampshire has so much to offer, it might be Winter but get outdoors and you’ll be rewarded.

While contemplating my latest jog I decided to consolidate Wednesdays 5K with one more before moving up to five miles. So the challenge was to maximise around 32/33 minutes as my mobility returns after a fall. The late afternoon decision was an easy one, yes, I was off to see the sunset. I parked at Hill Head then mapped an out and back 1.55 miles to make a 5K route below the Chilling cliffs.

The beach offers a softer surface, with less impact on your body, but in many ways you are working harder to achieve the same distance. The reduced stress on my ankles, knees and hips was apparent almost immediately, so I knew I’d made the right choice, but the motivation for my seaside session was emotional rather than technical.

Why is a coastal run so rewarding ? Setting off at 4pm I knew I’d be treated to both views of the Isle of Wight and the sun disappearing below the horizon. I don’t mind admitting I was feeling the same glow of warmth inside me as I was witnessing before me.

The sunset was due at 4.36 so I’d already arrived in golden hour, complete with the orange glow shimmering on the sea like a “yellow brick road” layered onto the Solent. My running shadow was still with me for the time being but the sun was sinking fast, I decided to take a quick video to try and capture the beautiful light and colours that nature was displaying. This clip is 40 seconds long and no matter how much I try to paint a picture with my words, it’s a snapshot to cherish as a memory.

There’s a rhythm to the sea as the waves ebb and flow, a rhythm that hasn’t changed for thousands of years. Perhaps this expected and predictable feature is what relaxes us and lifts our mood. I’ve read that this experience is called blue therapy. There were a number of walkers out along my route as I headed towards the Solent Breezes caravan sites and it’s safe to say we were all enjoying our free blue therapy.

In many ways your physical activity matches the waves rhythm, your breathing almost seems to match the lapping motion of the salt water, it’s like your running is connecting you to the sea. This might sound a bit pretentious but feeling part of your surroundings can be emotional and empowering. Granted the tide was out but I still felt the waters energy.

I’m sure the years of happy beach memories were being rethought somewhere in the back of my mind and who hasn’t left a trip to the coast without a smile a sense of positivity. Today wasn’t about sun tan lotion and ice cream, it was barely above freezing, but the cold heightened your senses and you appreciate the fact that you made an effort to enrich your afternoon.

My pace was relatively slow and naturally the crunching of the shingle and the sinking feeling of the sand didn’t lend itself to speed but I’m not at that point in my recovery to even worry about what my garmin says. I’ve walked numerous times through January and added various daily stretches in a bid to add flexibility and movement to resolve a fall five weeks ago.

I appreciate five weeks is no time to be injured, and I did have physio but as it was on the back of other previous niggles. I enjoyed the fruits of my efforts even more on this wintery Saturday afternoon. Ultimately I guess the work that you put into your training results in having opportunities like today.

I will definitely return, in weeks to come, to add the strength and endurance training that beach running offers but for the moment I’ve simply enjoyed the salt flavoured breeze and my mindfulness / wellbeing cup being topped up with sea water !!

Thanks for reading


Don’t take your running for granted. Make the most of it

Over the years I have to admit I’ve taken my running for granted. It’s always been there, all you need to do is lace up your trainers and off you go. Call up some friends, agree the time and place then enjoy a physical, social and sensory couple of hours. If you read no further than this opening paragraph, enjoy your running, embrace it, make the most of it but never take it for granted.

Over the last year I’ve had a string of injuries, interruptions and frustrations that have meant inconsistent training. That last sentence isn’t meant to sound like I’m looking for sympathy, naturally there are thousands of people who would love to exercise but it’s beyond them. I simply have to wait for strains to heal and try to manage my commitments better.

However, when running has been a part of your weekly life for over thirty years these inactive spells become more frustrating with each occurrence. We don’t have to run, no one is telling us to, we simply have a desire and a need to run. In many ways when you aren’t running it’s a case of changing your goals rather than giving up on them.

After falling and injuring back muscles four weeks ago I’ve progressed with physio, mobility stretching and lots of walking. With it being January I’ve also stopped drinking alcohol for a month and tried to increase my water intake, after all, if I’m missing out on burning 200/300 calories an hour, these will be positive steps while biding my time until a return to full fitness.

Clearly when you’re sidelined there’s an element of FOMO, yes, the fear of missing out but along with the running highs that our chosen hobby gives us there are so many elements that we don’t consider while we are fit and well.

Your focus and health are greatly improved when active but conversely your mind, immune system and mood can be negatively effected when you aren’t, this can then contribute to a reduction in your “get up and go”. This sluggish feeling inevitably makes us unhappy, stressed and grumpy. The next phase that follows this could well be a loss of self esteem and even confidence, both of which, could eventually trigger depression.

Our sleeping habits can be effected due to us not having used up our energy through the day. Rest is necessary for life generally as well as recovering from sporting activities. Getting into bed knowing you’ve been out that day or you have a run planned for the morning means you finish off that evening happy.

Even the very basics of running help you with your heart and lungs working hard to supply extra oxygen to your muscles. We need to try and hold onto this triple benefit if possible.

So, while we are trying to cope with a lack of serotonin and endorphins, consider ways to apply yourself rather than dwell on being disappointed, it’s better to try and channel your efforts with good habits.

In recent weeks I haven’t run so instead I’ve walked most days. You still breath in that stimulating fresh air and have a sense of achievement by getting a sweat on. Walking might be slower than running but it’s still helping your metabolism, burning calories and provides a cumulative motivation. Being determined and following it through works the same regardless of whether you are running at speed or walking steadily.

I’ve noticed that even in smaller doses the effort you put in is rewarded by rejuvenating your spirit. I’ve reached my 4 m.p.h. target and today I jogged two miles.

Twenty two minutes of jogging brought me huge satisfaction and ought to pave the way to my measured return. As an incentive I’m holding off wearing my new road shoes until I jog 5K which should be fairly soon now.

As part of my positive approach I also spectated at Stubbington 10K so that meant I felt part of our local running community. Seeing lots of familiar faces meant I left with a big smile on my face from joining in, with clapping and words of encouragement.

I’ve been watching adventure videos on youtube to inspire me and from this I intend to try and combine some camping and running in 2023. This added dimension wouldn’t necessarily have crossed my mind if I hadn’t been sidelined and looking for motivation. I particularly like Loyd Purvis with his Run 4 Adventure, Paul Coates videos (a good friend of mine) and the Film My Run channel with Steve Cousins.

For this running and outdoor footage don’t sit on the couch, exercise while you watch, so as to feel part of that running community spirit. While viewing you can stretch, bend, twist and add strength exercises like squats and knee lifts, depending on what has stopped you running.

In summary, don’t take your running for granted, in many ways running is a lifestyle that provides you with endless benefits. Once you’ve bought your kit then it’s essentially free (well almost) and remember the physical and mental activity that you engage in today will stand you in good stead for tomorrow, whether tomorrow is twenty four hours away or ten years away.

Keep it going, use it or loose it and when life gets in the way of your running, take a step back and consider your options, reassess what you can control and get back on track.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your running in 2023.


2023 Dry January – 31 days alcohol free

January is the prefect time to give your health a well earned boost, the Christmas excess has passed and quite frankly I’ve been snacking between meals too. Enough is enough !!

31 alcohol free days will give your body time to reset and more importantly kick start a weight loss plan as we head towards Spring and Summer. Added bonuses like increased concentration, saving some money and a sense of achievement will all fuel the motivation.

Combining drinking more water will also add to the benefits, so all in all, that ought to mean more energy and better sleep too. Naturally at the end of your working week the prospect of a few drinks to unwind will be tempting but in previous years I’ve managed to go into March before my first pint.

If water sounds boring then there’s always squash and while I’m looking for healthy gains then green tea will reduce the caffeine too.

One final benefit is that alcohol can be an irritant to your stomach so there ought to be a reduction in symptoms of reflux where the stomach acid burns your throat.

Don’t get me wrong I’m no saint but all of these positive impacts can then be combined with your five a day fruit and veg for a fantastic January detox. I have to say I’d be happy not to see any chocolate or sweet deserts for some time !!

Good luck to anyone else joining in, the results will be worth it. I’ll keep a weekly update of my progress.

Thanks for reading