When it clicks it clicks

Despite a minor hangover I got out running this afternoon, for the first time ever I scared the world by wearing running shorts as in the lycra type ones. Along with a new Inov8 top I bought with a zip neck I was all proud of my new look :p  And the placebo effect was in full swing as I ran 7 miles at 9.37 pace which is quite frankly unheard of for me! I’m not sure why this happened but as soon as I started the legs felt awesome so I just let it all go. Weirdly my kneee did not play up once – I’m wondering why – I wish I knew but if it stays quiet I’m happy!

It was such a beautiful day at the beach and they say a picture is worth a thousand words so I won’t keep on ….

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Traeth Mawr
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Looking back to Monknash from Witches Point
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Like a millpond
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We’re in rock hopping territory here

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Voyages of Discovery

I like discovering things. Hence my beachcombing sorties. This mornings run turned out to be one of discovery although it never gets planned that way.  I was up early – well half seven is early for me on a weekend – and decided today was the day to crack out my “new” running shoes. Why the “? Because technically they aren’t new. I’ve had them months but have never worn them as I’ve been waiting for better weather as they’re minimal – Inov8 Flite 240 – Which arent really trail shoes but I wanted to have a go with less cushioning.

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Inov8 Flite 240’s

Also they technically aren’t new because – And serious runner types look away now in horror – I do buy shoes on ebay. Yes I have a scheme. People often sell nearly new trail shoes on ebay which have been worn only once or a few times as they didnt fit. Now I’m not fussy, I’ll wear other barely used shoes once they’re disinfected and washed. And in this way I’ve picked up good bargains – These inov8s had been used once and the guy didnt like them- I picked them up for £12 – A quick google tells me they’re around £60 new.

Ok I hear you cry, but the fit – the fit is crucial!  Well yes I agree and as they say you have to kiss a lot of frogs.  The shoes I buy (And I set low limits to what I’ll spend – I’m looking for bargains and a way of testing as many brands and styles as I can cheaply) if they dont fit or they aren’t right I simply resell them – The most I lose is a few quid on shipping and I’ve turned over a profit on some. I’m honest in my ebaying, I say I bought them and they don’t fit and I say what the previous owner told me – as in they’ve done 10 miles or been worn twice.

It might be unusual and not to some peoples taste but in this way I’m learning what’s good for me and getting to try out different styles. Just like today. I had no idea what to expect from a more minimal shoe but I really enjoyed it.  The first thing I noticed was that you can really feel the trail underfoot – Not ideal on rocky patches or trails with pokey up stones (technical term there) but on grass and dirt track it was truly lovely to really feel the trail. Every small undulation was apparent, every foothold felt good. I came to hills – I was a little worried about this as the soles didn’t look grippy – Bugger how they look – These things grip like a gorilla holding the last banana! I was like a mountain goat – no a bloody ibex!

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The grip down and up these valley sides was fantastic

I did 10 miles in them this morning and felt comfortable all the way. I can’t wait to see how they perform on the beach and on rocks.  I can’t say I’ll definitely switch to more minimalist for good until I’ve done more testing but they aren’t being sold that’s for sure.

Back to the discoveries though.  At the top of this valley something caught my eye – rubbish. Who would drop litter here? My anger turned to curiousity though, the litter looked like a book in a bag and it turned out to be a geocache!

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Sadly water had got into the book so it was unreadable but I packed it all back as well as I could and left it for the next person

Next up was the top of the waterfall I go past on the beach, it’s a bit tricky to get to the top of it and there’s an easier route that I always take but today something made me scramble down to the cliff edge and I was delighted to find a pond

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I get the feeling the bright green vegetation is going to look great when spring really kicks in – at the moment they appear to be small rushes
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I also discovered I could dangle over the edge of the cliffs here to take photos – Mainly because I’m stupid
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But you get some nice photos of the tide fully in at Cwm Mawr. Strange to think I run here at low tide.

I kept going, enjoying the feel of the shoes, past Southerndown and turned at 5 miles to begin the journey back detouring slightly to take in Dunraven castle – I have run past this loads but never through it. I don’t know why as it’s so pretty and peaceful – I had the place to myself as I was so early.

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Dunraven Castle grounds
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Yeah you can kind of tell solicitors wrote it :p
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Pond!
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Dunraven Castle remains

I also discovered that my knee still hurts no matter what shoes I’m in. However I then discovered after 8 miles it hurts no more than the rest of me at that point so I don’t care!

Final discovery wasn’t really mine – It was these two discovering the world for the first time. I’m kinda glad I’ve moved to a plant based diet these days. Enjoy your weekends everyone!

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Bouncy Dancy Happy

Today was a lovely day to run …. and without any other distractions such as kayaks I did! In fact I didn’t just run I bounced. In fact I didn’t just run and bounce I danced too. I was in such a good mood – It’s friday after all with a weekend of fine weather, running, old friends and rugby ahead of me – that I found myself perfecting my running dance moves. Come on you must do this? Or is it just me? Uptempo songs (in this case the most excellent Dub Pistols album Woshipping the Dollar)  make me want to groove when its sunny, so I waggle my fists over …..here and shake my ass a bit  over there ….. and bounce to the beat in step with the trail and nod my head …. just so and point over …. there and point over ….. there and yeaahhhhhh it’s good.

Ok perhaps it’s just me – but if you haven’t tried this then have a go.  Slow down a bit if it’s your first time and it’s best on an even trail although rockier trails are more fun and challenging to get the steps right without decking it into a tree. Then keep running but let the music take your stride and pacing over, instead of running straight it’s more of a hop from side to side while keeping the momentum going (downhill is a good place to start) once you got the legs moving right forget the uniform arm pumping of a normal run and bring those arms into action, point, conduct, do whatever you feel fits the music!

Luckily I run alone so people don’t feel embarrassed by me and there’s never anyone around to witness this but it doesn’t matter anyway, having fun is perfectly acceptable even if the worlds thought police would rather you toe the misery line.

Next time you’re flagging on a run and you have some music with you try it, it breaks it up, it makes you smile plus next time you’re on a real dancefloor it’s going to be shock and awe when people see your moves!

Yep i’m in a good mood today people- Hope you are too!

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With sunsets like this no wonder I’m in a good mood

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Sunset at Monknash beach

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Rocks and rockpools

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What a day to run ….

Only I didn’t …. Wait! What? I hear you cry, on such a glorious spring(ish) day? Are you crazy?

No I didn’t because I had to go and pick this up …..

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Yes indeed I now own a kayak (plus paddle and wetsuit) which I won on ebay and was only 30 minutes down the road. Thankfully it fitted in my car (not my car in background as a. This wouldnt have fitted in it and b. This car is clean unlike mine)

I can’t wait to try it out and hopefully spend the warmer months running and now paddling the coastline. All I have to do is work out how I get it back and forth to the beach. Of course I should have considered this in advance but I’m learning to enjoy challenges.

 

 

Hope I never catch normal

To be honest I know I’ll never catch normal but just throwing it out there as a thought. Why do I say this? I don’t seem to do normal things, or think normal things … But I guess normal is different for everyone. In this case I mean the vast majority of people I know or meet in work who do the same things day in day out, they bitch and moan about work, their kids, other peoples kids, their other halves, how expensive things are, what happened in some TV programme ad neauseum and it leaves me cold.

I’ve never been married, never had kids, never done this “normal” life thing, I tend to do things on a whim – Like leaving my super secure council desk job to run a pub.  This summer I have the six weeks off as I work in schools now but I’m not planning a 2 week holiday on a beach somewhere or planning to grout my bathroom, I’m planning where I can go to do some scenic running on my own.  Is that normal?

Anyway all that came from my run home today. I was knackered and thinking “Why am I doing this again?” Of course it didn’t help that I was carrying a huge driftwood branch back from the beach (yes more beachcombing). It didn’t help that a leisurely trot to the beach had turned into me beasting myself up steep steep hills six times in close succession for no good reason other than “I wanted to see if I could”

Then again I would imagine the vast majority of the population would think anyone reading this blog and thinking “Hey that could be me” is not normal.

See? you’re not normal either.

I’ve confused myself now so i’ll stop

To the photos!

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Beautiful sky tonight – I was promised a sunny end to the day and it delivered
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Hill one – repeat 3 times
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Hill 2 – Repeat 3 times
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More scenery
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Out of focus and out of my mind for carrying these back – The one on the floor was todays prize!

Oooh it’s all gone a bit technical

Or as technical as it will ever get with me! I was listening to a podcast earlier  and the guest was Matt Fitzgerald (who I’d never heard of before admittedly) and the subject was about motivation and percieved effort in running. How can athletes push themselves further than they thought they could. It centres (it seems to me) around the old mind over matter theory, that it’s our minds ability to endure that snaps first not the body. I really enjoyed the podcast even though I guess its principally based on elite athletes or those looking for race wins or great times.  I couldnt do it justice explaining it as I think i’ll have to give it another listen just to fully comprehend it. Its at this site anyway and called “How bad do you want it?”

This led to me thinking (not always a good thing) about what is motivating me with running right now?  I’ve done a half marathon, I’ve run up to 15 miles off road so I guess its the full trail marathon next?  I swear I never got into this “to do a marathon” it’s not a bucket list thing (I have no buckets or lists) but it seems the next natural progression. I probably haven’t really considered it before as it seemed completely impossible six months ago. But there we go, as long as I go at it all at my own pace so it doesn’t consume me or become a chore I’m happy to give it a go …. Is that enough motivation? I think it is for me, perhaps not for others. To try to do something just to see if you can seems a legitimate way to live to me.

So two days off and champing at the bit today after work. Had a few things I wanted to try, I knew the tide was in so it would have to be the cliffs – I say have to be, it’s hardly a chore to run anywhere around here.

I wanted to slightly modify my form again towards the chi running technique of leaning forward and getting away from my heel striking and had a good practice at it. It’s really hard though to change ingrained technique though because as soon as I stop concentrating my body slips back to its natural form.  However I do think it’s worth persevering with because I swear the knee ache dimmed. A further complication is that front foot striking does lead to me increasing my pace which I’m sure many would argue is no bad thing but I do know that endurance is more important to me than speed and increased pace = decreased distance at my current level of fitness.  Conclusion … I shall sleep on all this!

I did manage four and a half miles without exploding my ventricles or falling flat on my face and was surprised to see a near 10 minute pace – However this does include a mile or so of road running which is a bit like cheating in my rather weird little brain.

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Moody clouds on the cliffs
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Looking back to the cliff top from the road
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Arrghhhgh the birds!

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From one slipway to another

Saturday runs – I just love them. I was lying in bed last night and was actually excited about getting up and getting out there. Like a kid at xmas! The sun was shining and it was a beautiful morning to head out so I packed my rucksack and off I trotted.  I decided to switch it up a little and at the beach headed left towards Marcross along the cliffs.

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Today is a lovely day to run (coyright Eels)

It was a pure joy to be outside, I removed the headphones and just enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors. My legs felt good and I felt good. At Marcross I stuck to the cliff path and went past the lighthouse (this is not the lighthouse – well it’s like a mini lighthouse – I duon’t actually know what it is)

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Mini lighthouse thingy

Then I went past the foghorns

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If these go off when you’re nearby it A) makes you leap out of your skin and B) deafens you for the next five minutes. I could hear these from my house when i was growing up. The sound of them in the far distance while I lay in bed was always comforting to me as a kid.

Then the lighthouse proper!

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It doesn’t actually lean, that’s my awesome camera work shining through yet again

And onwads along the cliff path, down through the woods at Atlantic College until I reached slipway number one.

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Slipway at Atlantic College used for launching lifeboats (not sure they still do though)

I turned here and retraced my steps back towards Monknash but this time on the beach – I say beach but it’s rocks from here to back past Marcross. I noticed a few runners approaching from the other way and heading for the cliff path. Despite being on the rocks I managed to keep pace with them to Marcross – I’m not that competitive but sometimes it’s good to take your mind off the miles with a little game eh?

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I call this the “pavement” – Its a smoothish stretch of rock you can pick pace up on – though you still have to have eyes down watching for the cracks
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The lighthouse from the beach. You know what? Perhaps it does lean, surely even I can’t take two photos on the wonk of the same thing can I? (Answers on a postcard but I think the answer is yes I can)
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Now this must have been a job and a half! Below the lighthouse the cliff has been shored up with stonework – I can only imagine how hard it is to do this kind of work between the tides with nary a cement mixer in sight plus the danger of falling rocks ever present – I tip my (hard) hat to whoever managed this!

I kept going along the beach and back towards Monknash, I could have turned for home up the Cwm but decided to keep going as I felt fine.  Onwards with the sun occasionally popping out to warm me which was appreciated due to a biting headwind. By the time I reached Witches Point at Southerndown the rock hopping had taken some of the juice from my legs. Luckily I had remembered to hydrate and fuel at the right times (despite my Garmin going mental and stopping without me noticing) and I climbed up and onto the cliffs above Dunraven bay.

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From the cliff edge I could see slipway number two at Southerndown beach – Now you get the post title – See I do plan these things!

I turned here and headed back but this time along the cliffs until I reached Traeth Mawr. Normally i would keep going along the cliffs and then turn for home up the usual trail but today I headed inland across the fields and then a lane as I wanted to pop in to see my parents on the way home. They live in Wick and in fact live at the highest point in the Vale of Glamorgan (Not that its exactly a mountainous county to be fair) so the run there was all uphill from the coast which really made the legs ache. I was twinging in my ass (I think the technical term is glutes) but I made it back and when I pieced together my Garmin runs I had covered around twelve and a half miles which over all that terrain I’m very happy with!

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Bonus cloud photo for Slowrunnergirl!
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Part one of run
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Part two – the elevation gain at the end was the issue with my ass!