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) 🙂

Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese art of forest bathing – taking 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 !!

R.E.D. January for MIND, Week 2, & QECP 13 miler

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Day 8

Charged around to make time for a run and then it was the slowest 5K I’ve done so far … ha ha … made me laugh 🙂 Still, it’s all for a great cause !!

Day 9

It’s surprising how you speed up when you realise the battery is running out on your garmin. I hit my first target of £50 today so I’m looking at £100 next 🙂 I’ve been surprised that my legs are coping with the number of tarmac miles. The cycle commute to work does help free them up !!

I’m pondering on a longer run at the weekend now that my legs are starting to get used to daily miles. It’s all going very well. 31.6 miles in total ….. that’s my smileage !!

Week 2

Days 10,11,12

More street running, building up to my first long steady run.

Day 13

I decided to head out into the countryside today with two of my trail running friends, Paul and Nikki. Our distance, well, if it was day 13 then 13 miles seemed appropriate. This distance also conveniently fits as a half marathon. My chosen route was the first half of Second Wind Running’s Spring marathon.  It’s a varied run with hills, mud, woodland and with it being located within the Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP) there’s easy car parking and a tea room to reward yourself with, at the end.

Paul and I have run this a number of times but Nikki had only run sections. The sunrise had just about appeared on our arrival and conditions looked perfect with no rain forecasted and a chill in the air.

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QECP has a number of trails that crisscross the 1,400 acres, not least of which, the South Downs Way. Just off the A3 and three miles from Petersfield QECP is also only a 25 minute drive from us. The park is also within the East Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). You’d think it had been there “for ever” but in fact most of the Beech trees were planted in the 1930’s.

Talking of AONB’s, Paul and Nikki were in fine form, banter wise, as we set off up the initial steep climb out of the park and alongside the A3. There was much talk of upcoming races and the R.E.D. initiative Nikki and I are supporting. So, for us to stop running after 3 miles to take a look at the new adventure trail that’s being built, “well”, it must have been impressive. There were 20 or so obstacle course type wooden structures that will be opened soon and Paul videoed a few of them.

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As we dropped down towards the bottom of QECP, where they hold the parkrun, Nikki (not for the first time) mentioned she’d have liked to of run the 5K, however, we’ll save that for another day and I think I won her over in the end with 13 miles of varied trail.

We even ran past the parkrun start before another of the steep hills that helped make up 2,111 feet of elevation on our run. Nikki’s strategy of fast hiking/walking on some of the hills was almost as effective as a slow running pace. The advantage of a long striding hill walk is that it also stretches out/loosens up your muscles, so that’s something to consider.

Just in case it sounds like all we did was run up hill, I liked this photo of us descending.

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We joined the SDW and then pealed off to head down towards Chalton. The conditions underfoot were actually quite reasonable and in no time we were approaching 10 miles.

Our route passed various countryside views of open fields and wooded sections which will be more apparent in Paul’s video, which I’ll add to this blog depending on when he has time to edit it.

I haven’t run with Nikki for a while and it was noticeable that on the steeper sections she would let out a Michael Jackson style “whoo” I found this quite amusing until she told me she has breathing issues so …. note to self … never make assumptions.

Heading back from Chalton another of our trail running friends Dean passed us along the long drag that follows the Staunton Way back towards the parkrun area. This photo from Nikki and mine below sum up why we trail run on a Saturday morning 🙂 Both Paul and Nikki showed that off road running requires strength as well as running fitness.

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As we approached the QECP centre I couldn’t resist free wheeling down the last hill after all the inclines !! We then decided to treat ourselves to a refreshing cup of tea after our 13 miles and 2,100 feet of elevation. Some of the parkrunners were still chatting in the tearoom so it was great to see Joanna and Dwayne that we know.

I have to say the staff were very cheery and welcoming in both the café and on the help desk where Paul and Nikki organised their car parking passes for the year ahead. Paul often compares himself to either Brad Pitt or George Clooney and the lady on the desk said she could see the likeness …… now that’s customer service 🙂 !!

Day 13

After a great mornings running and laughter I was reminded of the phrase I’ve used before in blogs, “you only really start running when you’ve forgotten that you are running”. This sense of freedom and enjoyment comes with running in the countryside with friends. Today was one of those days. Many thanks to my running pals Paul and Nikki.

PS If you’d like to sponsor me for RED January and Mental Health that would be fantastic, I’ve reached £130 so far, here’s the

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Many thanks

Roger

PS Day 14 ….. 5 miles = 60 for the 14 days 🙂

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RED January (Run every day) for MIND : Week 1

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Introduction

I’ve signed up for RED January in aid of MIND. I’m excited to be running each day in January with my minimum target of 100 miles, however, I’m more excited to be raising funds for MIND, the mental health charity. The charity link is HERE many thanks.

I have written more about why I chose to run for MIND below the daily updates.

Running

Day 1 : Fareham parkrun, wind, rain, huge puddles and mud … a great introduction to 2018 !! 3.2 miles Cum 3.2 miles This post from the parkrun facebook page sums the morning up !! Many thanks to them.

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After waking up late and then realising my garmin was still going while I was in the scanning queue everything else was straight forward in-between. It’s great to run a local event where you recognise lots of runners and then share the puddles that span the complete width of the track that you’re running on !! “Epic” start to 2018. PS for the record I was 125th /265 in a cautious 27 minutes.

Day 2 : After cycling home from work I went straight out onto my run so as to save time and a second shower in the same evening. Even 3 steady miles around my local streets reminded me why pavements, junctions, cars and street lighting aren’t my preferred running location. However, I survived !!

Thanks very much to the 35 people that kindly have me Kudos on my Strava Day 1 download. I’ll update this Strava training log photo each day.

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I’ll keep these short run posts fairly brief. The interesting news from the weather forecast is that storm Eleanor is on its way !! Bring it on …. ha ha 🙂

Day 3

After an interesting ride to work with the strongest winds I’ve come across in the 3 years I’ve be riding, as well as rain that seemed to be horizontal !!, this evenings run in comparison was calm and pleasant. 3rd 5K in a row and I threw in a 125 feet hill too. Dry January is also progressing well #nocider.

Thanks again to the Strava community because after Day 1’s 38 Kudos hits Day 2 had 26 as well. I appreciate the support 🙂

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Day 4

Fourth 5K in a row and again thank to the Strava community for their 20 odd kudos clicks. I hope to receive my T Shirt soon but to be honest this will just be a bonus. I know there were 20,000 to be handed out so that’s fantastic if so many people are involved. I don’t expect to raise too much money in these initial days I’m hoping that as the weeks go by interest will pick up.

Saying that I’ve certainly talked about mental health to lots of people so raising awareness is just as important 🙂

Day 4

Day 5

Todays run in the January sunshine made a welcome change !! I’ve held off promoting the fundraising side until there’s a few miles clocked and with 26 days to go I don’t want to peak too early. The Strava Kudos figures are in the 30’s and I’ve followed a number of fellow running club runners who are also logging miles for MIND.

Day 5

The mindfulness benefits of running are well documented and then combining this with a dry January I certainly feel I’ve had a positive start to 2018. It’s great to be involved 🙂

Day 6

Another steady run with some elevation Cum miles 20.5

Day 7

It isn’t easy being sensible but I decided 3/4 of an hour and around 5 miles would be enough today. With there still being 3 1/2 weeks left and not wishing to stretch my family’s goodwill this seemed the right answer. I chose Portchester Lane because it’s steep !! My 4.8 mile run clocked 800 + feet of elevation and 4 hill reps.

DSC00945This photo is about a quarter of the way up. It’s an access only road so there’s little traffic and as you can see in the distance it really ramps up !! Todays run took me past 25 miles and it’s all “logged” on Strava. I couldn’t resist this “logged” photo on my run today 🙂

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With the temperature only being 3 degrees care was needed as water runs off the fields and there were a couple of slippy patches. Thankfully I managed to stick to the speed limit too. I’ve never run seven days in a row so today was a PB !!

The legs are surprisingly good, what I aim to do now is promote the fundraising side more now that I’ve got a weeks miles done. Please read more about why I chose to run for MIND below this “speed photo”.

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Week 1

Fundraising

Mental health is a topic close to my immediate family so I’d like to both raise awareness generally as well as funds. An advertising campaign once said “its good to talk” and this is so true when it comes to mental health. Part of the money raised will go to the Mind info line which means their information and advice is only a phone call away.

The central theme to all Mind’s work is that anyone experiencing a mental health problem gets the support and respect they deserve.

I have printed off my paper sponsorship sheet and the daily calendar to manually record the miles too. Electronically, here is the Fundraising Link

Donations of any size would be very welcome, thank you. PS I’ve also decided to throw in dry January too i.e. no cider for the month too 🙂 Strava daily updates too.

Many thanks Roger

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