Catching the Bug

Posted on November 25, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I ran 12 kilometres this morning. Not far in the scheme of things. Nor fast. But fun.

It is, in fact, my longest run since May when I ran the Edinburgh Mara-hen. And before that it was May and my London Mara-hell.
If I am completely honest with myself I have not really loved running since I ran the Rome Marathon in 2010. I’ve run marathon distance four more times since then and I’ve pounded the streets for many miles and hours. But it’s always been a chore.

On 25th October I titled my 5.3k trail run in Training Peaks “Start of Project Ultra”. Every run starts with that first step out the door and every run campaign starts with that first run, no matter how fat or unfit I am or how short or slow the run is.

Since then I’ve just had fun. More fun than I can remember running ever being. I’ve run mainly off-road. I’ve hunted hills. I’ve got wet and muddy. I’ve run in the forest with a head torch.

Basically I am not plodding the pavements.

I am meeting dog walkers and seeing deer. I am stopping and chatting to people. I am accelerating when I see remote woodland psychos. Everything is fun. It is like the old days when every run was a new distance, a new PB, or a new route. Running is exciting again.

Today I thought I’d test run “the snack pack”. Also a transformational experience. Not least because I was wearing a couple of soft flasks with half a litre of water in each simulating, I imagine, the experience of jogging with huge silicon boobs wearing only a flimsy Ann Summers bra.

2015-11-25 13.08.27

No, the snack pack was more transformational. It had pockets. I didn’t have to worry about losing the car keys and hunting for them into the night as the doggers arrived. I could carry my phone with a map saved on it. I had a waterproof on my back. I had water.

Small things but things that normally need planning and fannying about.

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And so I hit the trails. The Blairadam forest is lumpy. But it is beautiful. Spruce and beech scents and scenes line the trails. There are no sounds but my rasping breath, thumping feet and the furious gush of swollen burns. Hat, gloves, buff, under armour, white beard and shorts versus icy puddles and frosty trails.

I’m not built for hills but I have noticed that most ultras seem to chuck in a hill or two. So I go head to head with hills now. The whole outward journey was uphill, at times so steep and icy that I was in danger of matching a gravel face peel with my silicon chest. Hillbilly cosmetic surgery is the way to go.

2015-11-25 13.06.18

Then I hit the high point with 205 metres of climbing in my legs, looped round and it was downhill most of the way home. Save, of course, for one last steep climb of 1.5km. I followed the ultra principle of walking some of the hill. Not, you understand, as a deliberate training technique but I just couldn’t run and squeeze my thumping heart back between my ribs simultaneously.

For the whole downhill all I could do was grin. Still silence, but for creaking trees and thundering streams. I met one man and two dogs in 12 kilometres of beautiful hilly woodland. I stopped for a chat, something I’d never contemplate on a road run.

Filthy, sweaty, cold and with an overwhelming sense of calmness, I finished ready for more.

I seem to have caught the bug again. And I don’t even mind.

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One Response to “Catching the Bug”

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I love your writing; you actually make me want to go for a trail run, words I have NEVER uttered in my puff. Happily though I’m far to lazy to actual bother. Crisis averted.

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