My First Love

During these past few years I’ve been dabbling with a variety of sports, through injury from running and through sheer fear of not being able to complete a swim event, I put my running on the back burner for a while.

Road cycling has hit my radar recently, after a spell of injury from running, I took to the bike to keep my body ticking over, to keep the endorphins high. I enjoyed it, felt strong and saw some improvements in technique and strength. It became a social event with others joining me and the weather we experienced throughout the late spring and early summer made it a thing of beauty. I have entered into the Ride London ballot and will hear whether I am in the event in February 2016.

Sea pool swim training started in earnest in June this year as myself and two friends were entered into the Bude Sea Pool Channel Challenge. We took to the water twice weekly to train for the mile we would be swimming in October. Considering I am not a “natural” swimmer, again I saw improvements in my technique and started to see my times improve accordingly. I’m very pleased to say we completed the challenge on 10th October 2015 and it seems we may be in the team for next year already!

Seapool

Variety is the spice of life but I have to admit that I always go back to my first love. Running has everything encapsulated in one sport for me. I find the social element a real highlight. Nothing quite gives me an endorphin high like it does. The calmness and focus that follows keeps me energised for days. It really should be prescribed on the NHS for all the positive elements it gives to its users.

Cross training will play a part in my workouts but there will always only be one true love for me.

No ordinary Tuesday

Running for the last two years has been ad hoc, fun and event free. Apart from an injury in spring this year, there was really nothing to write home about with regards to my running. Hence the blog silence.

No problem there then, well you’d think. But, I’m not one to plateau, I like the feeling of achieving more than I thought I could, improving technique or pace, generally bettering myself. I run regularly, weekly,with a group of like minded people through some stunning locations and have maintained a level of fitness. I think right there I have the answer to my running rut – the word maintained. I’ve definitely hit a crossroads in my running. Do I stay on the usual path or take myself on the road less travelled? Today has been the light bulb moment that I’ve been expecting for some time. Why today, who knows?

My love of running came from the initial challenges I set myself. From a post baby body where a mile was a hard slog, to my first 5K with two friends within my village, right through to my marathon and some awesome trail challenges that I’ve been on. All of these segments within my run history have been significant in that they challenged me. I had a training plan, I had a goal, I had a reason to get out there.

Today’s run was hard, I felt unfit and kept thinking “where did my fitness go”. My answer lies in the challenges I haven’t set myself, the events I haven’t trained for and the mundane maintenance I’ve let my body get used to. A very unexpected turn of events for what started out as a normal Tuesday!

I’m off now to get myself challenged…

Crossroads

Make room for Silence

 

Ever since I morphed into a trail runner (from a road runner) I can safely say, hand on heart, that I have never come home without having benefited in some small way from making the surrounding countryside my playground.

I benefit greatly from making time for silence in what is fast becoming an ever connected world. I wrote a post entitled Solitude, which details what time alone offers me on my jaunts around the coast and countryside of North Cornwall.

Do you use running as a way of getting away from everyday noise?

Enjoy the silence x

Withering Heights and Wonderous Memories

My One & Only Grizzly…..

What is it about some of the toughest challenges in your life that keep you going back for more?

The Grizzly was an event I had been wanting to take part in for over a year now as I had to give up my place last year due to lack of training. This year, I was determined to get to that start line and understand what all the fuss was about.

Taking On The Grizzly

After my epic fail at preparing for my Lanhydrock half marathon two weeks ago I was giving my body a fighting chance at this one. For the week leading up to Grizzly, I was putting in the necessary amounts of nutrition and hydration needed, I was showing the race prep the respect is deserved. It was due to be a beautiful day, which only helped the positive vibes as I set out my race kit on the Saturday evening. My race vest and shorts were getting their first outing of the year and I felt ready for the day ahead.

The Grizzly start

It was an early start from Bude, being picked up at 7 am meant I needed to get some early morning nutrition inside me, taking some more to take during the morning. Many of the Caked In Mud crew had already experienced the Grizzly, I had ample exposure to what I was letting myself in for, somehow this never prepares you for the atmosphere once you are there.

Seaton, the gateway to the Jurassic Coast, is a beautiful seaside town in Devon which wholeheartedly gets behind its most famous of events. This year was the first where competitors needed to enter a ballot to get in, the popularity of the event is growing, I was lucky enough to get my place. The whole town gets behind & supports the runners, with many staying in the towns various hotels, B&B’s and discovering the beauty of this stretch of coastline and enjoying the Grizzly fest that happens throughout the weekend.

I have vowed to take the boys camping there this summer as I am ashamed to admit that this was my first trip there, living only an hour and a half away, I will be returning before next year for a more leisurely exploration of the area.

The route was marshalled by over 200 marvellous merry makers, with folk bands playing, drummers drumming on the beaches as well as hundreds and hundreds of supporters lining the route with flapjacks, cookies, jelly babies and other baked goods to help us on our way. The carnival atmosphere never waned throughout the entire 20 mile route.

The beach

My highlight? It would have to be the Valley of the Bogs, where I managed to acquire a new pair of compression socks! The bog managed to give my race outfit a whole new look. The squealing & choice use of the English language that I was witness to whilst slipping & sliding through this part of the route will stay with me for a while!!

The Grizzly is much more than a race, it is a life changing event, one which I hope to be a part of again and again!!!

Grizzly motivation Memory tree

On my mind..

This Sunday I am going to be on the start line of the Grizzly 2014. The winter training has been about this run, it’s been on my mind for over a year now and I am just two days away from meeting it. I am looking forward to making my acquaintance with “twentyish muddy, hilly, boggy, beachy miles of the multiest-terrain running experience you will find this side of the end of time.”

Withering Heights (Grizzly 2014)

By rolling sea and reckless sky
these Grizzly comrades gather once again
to trek across the countryside,
to ponder on the infinities of exactly how and why
that they must explore the very wilderness that hides
within each beating heart,
within the deepening mystery
of their disappearing parts.

Across horizons far and wide
surrendering to the vagaries
of restless time and surging tide,
through gateways of metaphoric song
compliantly they find a resting place
where they, at Peace, belong
and there – rest awhile within their fragile frames
with others of a like-wise, consequential name.

Running free across the land
to reach for what they cannot understand
they find a bond, a helping hand
transcend the awesome “Withering Heights”
past realms of purgatorial agony
and ecstasy delights.

By “cliff and Heath”
by rock and reef
the body is depleted
the challenge, for now,
acknowledged and completed;
the spirit rises forth
in joyful celebration
in annual, glorious revelation
that, despite the trauma and the pain,
the Grizzly flame is re-kindled
yet and yet again.

Beyond all possibility of doubt
still wondering what it’s all about
it has, once more
deep within the secret file,
across all borders of denial,
upon the Grizzly shore,
(where less is certainly much more)
proved the magical worth
in it’s own, re-consecrated birth.

David Kelf
Dungscribe Unlimited
January 2014

© DK (The Celestial Dungbeetle), Ever On Om

Grizzly training

Oh The Places We Go

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Today’s run coincided with St Piran’s Day, the national day of Cornwall, named after one of the patron saints of Cornwall. It was a stunning morning, the plan was to take to the coast path around Hartland with much excitement … Continue reading

Nature Nurtures.

This morning’s run was spent being nurtured by nature.

The view from my kitchen overlooks the countryside that I run in and is always goading me in with its green pastures and muddy trails. I can see my route out over the common that leads into the woods and this morning I was itching to get out there. Pancakes were made and the boys were off to school…this was my chance.

It was T-shirt weather out there today, which always makes me a happier runner. It certainly feels more like spring now. The still air, the muddy but not sodden ground, the protective ewes with their lambs, the pheasants that I startled and of course the spring flowers in the hedgerows & churchyard.

I have survived a winter of run training with all of it being completed in the great outdoors, the promise of spring has been long awaited and I’m one happy trail runner.

Towards the ocean

Moss covered wall image Tree lined route

Respect The Run

Running races and distances requires respect. I knew this, had spent five years learning what works best for me in a race, how my body reacts and how to get the best out of my running.

Yesterday all this knowledge was blown out of the water. I had the worst race ever. I had failed to give my body what it needed to do the distance and had paid the price for it. A 2:22 off road half marathon was not the intention when I stood at the start line, I was using this race as a training run for the Grizzly in two weeks time, but I never expected this. With just an ounce of foresight, I should have seen this coming….

My pre-race fueling was atrocious to put it mildly. I spent the best part of the evening in a local police station identifying my property, which had been stolen from my home in a burglary earlier that week, in a warm stuffy room, dehydrating my body. I had eaten a packet of hula hoops for lunch whilst taking my boys out for the day and to top it off I had a breakfast that wasn’t big enough to fuel a 13 mile run.

My body didn’t take kindly to this during the race and by mile 7 I was run/walking the rest of the way back due to stomach cramps. Not my finest hour. I had not given my body the opportunity to perform at any level. Lessons have been learnt.

Rest and be thankful

When does running get easier?

Oh, that old chestnut!! How do you equate easier when it comes to running?

The result of “easy” changes as your running improves. While it gets easier, the more you tend to accomplish, your running will improve and you will start to make it harder for yourself!! When you write it like that, it seems we are a crazy bunch doesn’t it?!

What used to defeat me (that dreaded hill) now challenges me. I make it, I recover and then keep challenging myself. When I look back to those days when a run round the block tested me, I know it has got easier.

In answer to the initial question, running got easier once I got my mind set on a certain challenge, race or result. The mental challenge is a constant source of focus for me. It’s very much a head game at this point in my running. If I head out with the initial expectation of having a hard run, I tend to have already talked myself into walking that hill before I’ve given my body a chance to prove itself.

This is where running with others helps me achieve bigger & better things. Just being around others who are challenging themselves on their run, others who are encouraging you up that section of coast path or simply because I want to show myself I can do it, enables my brain to switch tactics and push itself when, if I was running solo, I may well have given up or given myself the opportunity to give up.

The mental game is a cunning one and, so far, the number of years running has not stopped this from playing it’s wicked games with my head. One day I’m feeling great after accomplishing a run, the next it beats you down with an “I told you so.” There are 3 words which our run leader keeps reiterating on our speedwork sessions. Don’t Cheat Yourself. This helps me. If I’m taking time out to improve my running, why then would I want to cheat myself of the results I want to see by just saying “Nah, ok, I’m hurting a little now, I’ll stop.” I’m not going to do that. This is where a consistent routine can help in order to avoid that, one week on it like a super sonic rocket kinda running ninja, followed by a ahhh I can’t be arsed to go out this week, I just don’t feel like it kinda sofa lover. Consistency, routine and patience play a big part in it all.

Consistency and routine makes running become part of what I do rather than what I feel I must do. If I run with others there is very often a specific time that suits us all, this becomes part of my day, which becomes part of my routine. That’s how I managed to incorporate running into family life and I’ve stuck with it.

What helps you achieve the challenges your running gives you? Any hints or tips would be greatly appreciated!

I’ve always loved this short film, it takes me on a journey that most runners will appreciate. It’s not always easy but wouldn’t life be boring if everything was easy? Happy running x

Soaked but stoked

This would have been the best run kit to have worn last night for my technical session with the Friday Nighter’s in Holsworthy.

Image

Another great group workout, wonderful encouragement for each other & best of all another 5.5 miles banked whilst getting stronger.

Hill repeats were on the menu last night. With my Grizzly run in a little over 6 weeks time, I have to know that I can take on the hills and recover faster from them. This thought and this thought alone accompanies me up Whimble Hill as I climb, in the pouring rain. Chasing the leaders, with my calf muscles burning, I would not let up. Grizzly, I’m coming for you!!

The double episode of Breaking Bad that I slumped in front of after having a lovely hot soak was even sweeter for having been out there and survived!

Happy weekend running x