Off the beaten track

Umm… I seem to have become a trail runner.

When I first started this running lark just over 5 months ago, my routine consisted of squeezing into some lycra and some fluorescent stuff and heading out two or three times a week looking like a wheezing jelly baby to jog up the road and back (a total of around a mile-and-a-half). The run was nothing but cold hard pavement and continued to be so when I tried another route and started to increase my distance to just over two miles. Thing was, I didn’t go much further than that because I was trying to get my times down (with minimal success) before I even thought about increasing the distance.

When time allowed I took the occasional jaunt around my first love – the Blueberry Hill route, but these were few and far between as I just couldn’t keep running for the whole distance. I preferred the feeling of doing a shorter (i.e. road) route as it meant I didn’t have the “shame” of having to slow down for the occasional walk.

And then things started to change. I vaguely remember reading something on a runners forum a few weeks ago about how as a beginner it’s better to go for distance and let speed sort itself out naturally. I took this on board and decided to give it a go, once again tackling Blueberry Hill but this time taking it at a steadier pace, unafraid to slow to an occasional walk if it meant I was ultimately going to get further. That was the day I stumbled across the woodland route that I would come to blog about in my first ever post and the rest, as they say, is history*.

So that was when I started to catch the trail running bug. You may have noticed that when I blog about running anywhere even slightly off the beaten track I tend to happily waffle on for ages, but on the rare occasion I go for a quick road run I’ll be less inclined to blog about it, and even if I do it’ll be along the lines of “Went running. Bit pavementy. Saw a really fat pigeon”. And just like that I was hooked. I found myself preferring trail running for so many reasons – the satisfying crunch of a stony path underfoot, the undulating terrain, the adrenalin-high that comes from knowing that around the next corner I could come face to face with a Wicker Man. Most of all though it’s the sense of escapism and adventure; I know that these are feelings that come with road running too, but when I go off the beaten track I tend to find them much more palpable, as if once I’m out of sight of the roads and buildings I could be absolutely anywhere in the world.

Now whenever I’m out in a car, my eye seems inexorably drawn to anything even slightly resembling a copse of trees or a winding footpath. Seriously, those little “public footpath” signs are like green-pointy-arrowy crack to me now. On an average day there’ll be at least 10 occasions where I think to myself “ooh, that’d be a good place to run” or “I wonder where that goes”. Or sometimes “Beware of the bull? That’s a lovely hilly field… How big a bull are we talking?”

Interesting fact for you – bulls are better at running than they are at tolerance and compassion. But that’s another story.

 

 

*I’m not sure who “they” are. Possibly historians.

Some outside

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One thought on “Off the beaten track

  1. My fascination with potential trail routes went into overdrive this weekend when I headed up to Norfolk for a stag weekend and drove past miles and miles of forest around the Thetford area. Loads of great runs to be had there, and lots of those really tall straight trees that have no branches until really high up. You know, the ones that’d be useless if a bear was chasing you.

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