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.