Blowing away the cobwebs

Well I awoke with a bit of a hangover, a legacy of celebrating the Welsh win against Scotland yesterday (Though the performance wasn’t great I fully admit). So I slothed around a bit until the tide went out and decided to go for a trot to make me feel better inside and out.  And around 10 miles and just under 2 hours later I got back.  Seems like I can run fine with a hangover, in fact it actually got rid of it, I feel fantastic while I write this. Plus on a bright sunny day I got fresh air at the top of cliffs like this.

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Also happily no knee pain today, I wore the Adidas Kanadia which I try to avoid doing in wet and muddy conditions because they’re not in any way, shape or form waterproof. I’m guessing that if it turns out they’re better for my knee then I’ll be sticking with them full time, watery feet or not.

So in a weeks time I will have completed my first trail half or will have perished in the attempt and today was a good confidence boost. Plus I decided to put in some hills for the practice. In particular this bugger which i’m proud to say I made it up in one go!

 

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Cwm Mawr hill training

 

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Looks even steeper from the bottom.

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Dem Bones

A lovely evening to run after work, managed to fit in around 7 miles all offroad by getting to Witches Point at Southerdown then returning. The tide was way out and the sun was setting making it quite the spectacular run down there.  I can’t believe I ignored this place of tranquility and beauty for so long, well at least I’ve rediscovered it now thanks to running.

I felt a bit off for the first 2 or 3 miles today as if something wasn’t clicking then as usual I felt fine afterwards and by mile 6 I felt like I could run forever. Does this ever happen to anyone else? Of course I always beat myself up for the first few miles that it’s going to be a bad run and it so very rarely is. I need to stop listening to my inner voices. Plus a week sunday i need more than ever to be confident and know that it will all come together by halfway!

Oh the title of the post yes …… Dem bones indeed. I mentioned in a post a while back about the bones of local 12th century monks being found buried in the soft part of the cliffs at Cwm Nash.  Well the latest storms have uncoverd more which I actually discovered yesterday but didn’t want to post about until I’d informed the local archeological authorities.  Well they responded to me today that they would investigate so i’m posting as the tide will remove them anyway very soon. Of course as its not the first set of bones found its not national news anymore but I was kinda excited to find them.

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Looks like a leg to me (I’m no doctor)

So yeah – 800 year old bones (or 4-500 year old depending if they’re monks or shipwrecked sailors)

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The storms completely eroded this soft chalk cliff back about 2 or 3 feet in one night by my reckoning
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Todays obligatory sunset photo
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Not Soaky and I making prints anymore but someone had passed this way and it made me feel happy inside that at some point this afternoon a dog has had the time of it’s life at the beach.  If you have a dog give them a cuddle right now – I command it! Every moment you have them is a gift.
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Todays Route

Midweek Rock Hop

Got home with plenty of time to run. Haven’t been out for a few days and felt fantastic , I think I shall take a few days off prior to the half if this is how I feel. Had so much energy, got to the beach and the tide wasn’t as high as I expected so managed a little sand running but couldn’t resist the lure of a bit of rock hopping. Technically it was a stupid thing to do as at speed it’s risking a broken ankle at worst and a sprain at best but I just couldn’t help myself. It was just one of those days, so a good half an hour spent bouncing around the beach for the joy of it plus some driftwood hunting. All in all a great way to finish off wednesdays daylight =)

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Sunset at Cwm Nash
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My rockhopping playground
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Cwm nash cliffs and pebbled beach
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Me lying in a rockpool
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Just ….. Sunset

Todays route

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Mapping a half marathon trail route

I’ve spent a lot of time running along the beaches and cliffs of the Heritage Coast in South Wales – At least the part I live near which has given me the idea to map a half marathon route from Marcross beach to the river mouth at Ogmore by Sea and back.  Mainly as I wanted to see if I could – I find this a pretty good reason for doing anything.

The map


About the route

This is a half marathon trail course I have run myself in sections plenty of times. As it is a trail the exact distance run may me over or under 13 miles by a significant amount so bear this in mind.

The route takes in both beach and field/grassland running and the beauty of it is that you can run these in different combinations according to taste.

The overall route runs from the carpark at Marcross beach (next to the lighthouse) and along the Heritage Coast to the rivermouth at Ogmore by Sea and back.

If the route on the google map is followed then you will first traverse the rocks and sand of coast as far as Witches Point in Southerndown before climbing up to the top of the point before following the trail to along the cliffs and then the pathway to Ogmore Beach. You will then return along Ogmore Beach and along the same path back to Witches Point where you will, instead of running the beach path run along the top of the cliffs all the way back to Marcross.

Of course if you wish to run the beach on the return journey or indeed the cliffs on the outward journey you can mix and match according to taste.  You can reverse the whole thing starting at Ogmore by Sea, running to Marcross and then returning.

Much of the beach part of this run is dependent on tide times. It cannot be run at high tide and I would recommend running it an hour or so before low tide if you wish to maximise time on the beach. You can run the whole route along the cliffs never touching the beach at high tide.

Warnings – The tides here are the second highest in the world and can catch the unwary out. Always know the tide times before you set off and give yourself plenty of time to get off the beach before the tide comes in.

The route takes you over rocky beaches and care must be taken, slow down on the rocks, although loose rocks and pebbles look solid they often shift underfoot. Some of the smoother paved looking rocks are great to run on when dry but when wet or covered in weed they are treacherous, no matter the grip on your trainers you will slide and fall so slow down. My general rule of thumb is that the darker the colour of the rock the more slippery it is.  Stay clear of the cliffs as rockfalls are common.

Part of the route has you running along cliff tops – show common sense and stay away from the edge. The cliffs are unstable at the best of times and rockfalls happen frequently. Be aware of your surroundings and watch for changes in the path direction as it does come within a few feet of the edge in places.

There is often livestock in the fields, give it a wide berth, especially when new born and young animals are present.

You will be a fair distance from help if you suffer an injury so carry a mobile phone. The weather changes quickly at times and extra clothing is recommended for the cliffs section as the wind is much stronger up top.

 

 

 

Running – Thoughts, benefits, motivations and how it’s helped me

It’s been several months now since I started running and I thought i’d draw up a list of the benefits i’ve found. maybe it’ll inspire someone else to get up on their feet. Running has helped me through bad times and i’m sure it will in times to come.

Running has given me belief in myself and self esteem.  I’m doing something for myself. I’m doing something I never thought I could do, both physically and mentally. It’s given me pride in myself. I feel I have and can achieve more.

Running has given me a focus. Ever feel like you’re just drifting through life?  Well maybe I am in many ways but now I run it’s showed me how to focus on something and i’m letting that seep through into all parts of my life.

Running relieves stress and gives me time to think. Had a bad day at work? Run, run it off. Thinking negatively? Have a run and work through the issues on the move. It’s much easier to sort through things and bring the important ones to the surface while you’re in motion and feeling that running buzz kick in.

Running provides motivation, it used to hard to motivate myself to do much of anything. My focus was only on looking after my dog as she got older. Now I can self motivate. I’ve learned to push myself to run and choose the harder option rather than sit on my ass. I have plans for trail half marathons, hell i’m already signed up to one in 3 weeks. Motivated now? Bet your life I am.

Running has taught me patience. None of this has happened overnight but I’ve learned that given time you can effect positive change. There’s no magic bullet cure for negativity. Pull yourself out of it one step at a time, just like running, take a deep breath and push off, one foot in front of the other and just go. Don’t look back, focus on the path ahead.

Running has got me out of the door and into nature. They say nature is good for the soul and I believe it. I love trail running, I love being outside in the elements. It makes me feel alive. I see things I would otherwise have never experienced. You don’t see much within four walls and the screen is no substitute for real life.

Running has helped me grieve. People might say it was only a dog but I looked after that puppy for sixteen years. From the moment I found her to the moment I had to let her go I loved her for every second. I still do. I ran the day I had to have her put to sleep and I think of her when I run the beach where we used to walk and it makes me feel closer to her still. That has helped a lot.

Running has given me an interest even when i’m not actually out there on the trails. I like to think about it, I like to blog about it (here I am typing this!)  I like to read others thoughts about it.

Running has taught me to march to the beat of my own drum. You can read about how to run and what you should be doing forever on the internet. I believe it’s each to their own. Listen to your body and you won’t go far wrong. Perhaps to win races or set great times people must stick to training plans but that sounds like a job to me. I run for the joy of it. There is no end goal for me. No magic distance or time. Just do what I can and push myself a little further when I feel I can.

Running has made me feel fit, or at least fitter!! I was scared of how out of shape I was at the beginning of last summer. A few runs in cricket and I was almost on my knees – That’s heart attack territory for you.  Now I feel much better, I have more energy, I get more done in work, I want to be in motion not looking for a chair. Yes I ache occasionally, you know what? It’s nice to ache, it feels like progress when my muscles tell me “hey that was hard”

Running has helped with weight loss – Ok so to be honest I haven’t lost a huge amount while running. A few years ago I lost 70 pounds through sheer effort of will and hard dieting. That started to creep back on but running has helped me shed that creep again and i’m slowly going back down but feeling much stronger for it. It doesn’t feel like “diet loss” it feels like “strength gain”

Running has helped with my nutrition. I’ll freely admit i’ve never really thought too hard about what i’ve eaten. Now I think about it a lot. If I want to achieve better things (and for better things I don’t mean winning races I mean feeling that I’ve achieved something personally) I need to think about how I fuel my body for the runs. I’m virtually vegetarian now, in fact I don’t think i’ve eaten meat since xmas. I ensure that I have enough fuel for longer runs and eat as healthily as possible.

That turned out to be more expansive than I originally thought.  If anyone out there needs any reason to get up and go then just pick one of those points and use it as motivation, the rest will follow if you stick at it.  I run alone by choice, there are other benefits you can get from joining others – friends or a club.

I didn’t think I could do this. Sometimes I still don’t think I can do this. Don’t be afraid of failure. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go again.  The only failure is when you stop trying.

If you feel just a little inspired and want to get started running but not sure where to start drop me a line, i’ll quite happily give you the push off the line you need. Im no expert and will never claim to be but I know what it’s done for me. It really is something anyone can do – I’ve just proved that to myself

Onwards

Another run to and around the beach after work. I feel like i’m posting the same thing every day – and in a way I guess I am but this is also a log for me of what I’ve done and when. Runkeeper keeps the stats but it can’t tell me how I felt, what I saw, what inspired me that day. So i’ll keep on keeping on with the same reports!

A 4.5 run and it felt good – todays route

I’ve noticed how much easier its becoming to do what I now consider “short” distances, when once 4 miles was a killer and something to be proud of it’s now “something I can do” not that i’m not proud everytime I get off my ass and run it’s just nice to feel there’s still progress going on.

I was also happy to remember to take carrots for the horses today! They certainly enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed feeding them!

Also I found the natural freshwater spring on the beach a friend had mentioned. And it is indeed fresh water bubbling up from the sand and tasted wonderful. Must be all that filtration down through these cliffs! I do love my beach, it never fails to surprise.

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Huge horse, tiny carrot
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Freshwater spring bubbling up through the sand
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Bubbling!
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Cliff filtration system

Back to the trails!

After a few days break – work and weather enforced it was great to get back out running. Managed to fit in an hours run on the beach after work. Felt good today and pushed it a bit harder on the way back for an even split which isn’t bad considering its always uphill on the way home!

Todays route

I was glad to feel good today as yesterday I bumped into a teacher in work who I didn’t know runs and after telling her about what I was up to she told me about this trail half marathon virtually on my doorstep!  The hoka half at Margam Park

I’ve already got an event planned for that date in Avon and that was to be my first but thats only (I say only, I wouldn’t have said that few months ago) 12k not a half marathon  and having considered it for a day I’ve signed up for the half and will drop out of the 12k. I wasn’t planning to run a half until later in the year when I felt I would have the confidence to do it but having run the distance twice in the last few weeks over probably harder terrain than the event its something that I really want to do. I’m not worried about times but I am worried about finishing of course. But I believe that with just under a month to go I can do this! Time to put what i’ve been learning into practice. And i’m excited already!

Other things of note today – it appears that horses don’t suffer from vertigo judging by this lot happily grazing a few feet from a cliff edge with a couple of hundred foot drop right next to them! After taking the photo (poor quality im afraid, the camera hates long distance and ducky gloom it seems) I literally couldn’t watch them as I ran past. I’ve seen sheep doing this before and that was bad enough but the thought of a plummeting horse kept my heart in my mouth. I’m a complete animal lover and this scared me half to death. I’m sure it doesn’t concern them though and I’m glad I was on the beach not on the cliffs as it would break my heart if I was to startle one off the edge.

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Death defying stunt horses on Nash cliffs

Also of note were the first molehills. A sure sign of spring approaching as the earth has warmed up enough for our subterranean friends to start stirring. I can’t wait for spring. Winter running has taught me a lot and I’ve enjoyed running through the changing seasons but a little warmth would go down a treat around now

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First molehills of Spring!