So on saturday it was raining, windy, cold and generally meh. However it’s never a waste if you’re out on the run. I try to learn new things, the general advice with effort and running is that you should be able to hold a conversation while running, if you cant then the effort level is too high. Bollocks I say, I have amended it to if you can run uphill into a gale while singing songs to your dog the effort level is not too high. I have an entire catalog of songs I sing to him, I make them up and then forget them and then make them up again, it makes the miles fly by trust me. What he thinks of it i’m not sure but he does tend to ignore me a lot so I think thats’s probably a clue.
Then on sunday we set out at dawn and what a difference, calm, still and so warm by the end of the run I was shirtless. It was one of those I could run forever mornings so I just kept tagging bits on so we didn’t have to go home so soon. And then we had been back an hour and it was just too nice to be indoors so we ran a few more miles up to see mum and dad (where I had to eat biscuits as I was bonking from not eating – I fed the dog but not me at home)
Over the years I think I’ve read about, listened to and absorbed a vast amount of information about running. How to do this, how to get better at that, 2500 simple tips to improve your stride length etc etc and if I’m honest the vast majority of it has been meaningless waffle. Running clickbait in the main. Of course there have been many useful articles and books but how many can be applied to my very amateur level of running?
I think I’ve belaboured this point before but training plans don’t work for me – I’m sure they do for others who like the structure and like to see the metrics of progress. Having to do this or that on a certain day may well increase performance but to my mind it decreases enjoyment. I’m only revisiting this because I thought about it while running earlier.
The thought process went something like this. I was reading a book regarding the central governor theory and how the brain judges percieved effort based on how far you still have to go and regulates effort so you get to the end with something in reserve. Whether it’s scientific fact or not isn’t the point here but it got me thinking as we tootled along the beach that three times this week I have set out for a run with Murph and had no idea how far we would go and how long we would be out. The only determining factor being the weather as I don’t run murph when it get’s too hot.
I was musing that therefore my brain has no idea whether I have another mile, 3, 5, 7 or 10 miles to go and also has no clue how much longer I will have to maintain the effort for. So does that mean my central governor is off or muted. Who knows? It’s certainly a way of thinking that appeals to the way I train. I simply go out to have fun with Murph and before we know it we are a dozen miles into another adventure, tired and happy.
In the name of unstructured training we have expanded our lack of planning to include direction … thus
The pebble of chance – Get to the beach, flip a pebble and it determines whether we go left or right – either way is fine by us.
I had a plan. It was a good plan. I tried to execute the plan. I failed. Maybe.
The plan was to run overnight on the solstice weekend between dusk and dawn, so from 9.34 PM to 4.57AM. I would do it mainly on the beach as the tides were right for most of it.
So I packed a drop bag and set off with Murph last night at 9.34 on the dot. We left the bag hidden on the beach as dusk set in and off we went. It was fun, it was different but something was off. I didn’t feel like the running was right, once it was totally dark it was harder than I thought to keep going over the rocks with a headtorch only – and to do it safely I was slow – which was fine by me. but something was off. Just a feeling. We covered 14 miles or so with a few rest breaks at the bag. but something was off. The ankle played up worse than normal and I think the battering it took on the rocks, the stumbles and incorrent foot placements had blown it. It was no excuse I’ve run through much worse pain than that.
After I while I realised that I wasn’t going to do the full seven and a half hours and once I came to terms with that then the pressure – albeit pressure only I had placed on myself – lifted and for the last few miles and the trip home through the fields and woods I was refreshed. I took the time to think about the whole experience and realised that in failure I had learned a lot more. Once we were off the beach I could turn my headlamp off and just move without having to cooncentrate fully on every step. I no longer had to worry about Murph (in his led collar) as the fields hold comparitively few dangers compared to the beach. I realised that much of my stress on the beach was worrying about him in the dark, I couldnt see what he was doing or exactly where he was. It struck me that in the total darkness I couldnt see him enjoying himself – Thats why i love to walk and run him – And in the dark I couldnt.
It was a good plan and it failed not because I failed but because it was a plan I came to realise didn’t matter. The failure would have been to not try in the first place. We got home around half two, I could I suppose have stuck it out for two and a half more hours in the fields but I would have done that just to make up numbers. It didn’t matter anymore. We woke at 7 and walked to the beach – and I could see him loving it, having fun and because I could see that it made all the difference.
I may have failed at one thing but I suceeded at a lot more last night.
Yes yes its been a month since I wrote anything. It’s because we all live in this huge vacuum right now and let’s face it writing about running isn;’t that important …. or is it? There should be more time to write now than ever. We are certainly out and about enough. But there still doesn’t seem to be enough time for everything. The amount of time you have to do things is relative to what you actually do – ie There’s not enough time to do eveything so just do the bits you like. I’m rambling now.
The thing is I like writing these – I’m enjoying it now, stretching the old cerebral muscles a bit too never hurt anyone. So why don’t I? Hmmm
Anyway Murph and I have been out and about ignoring the lockdown in a safe manner – we are stealth. Now the evenings have drawn out we take our duty to wander in the fields unseen very seriously. This has led to a surge in the progress of the Murphometer – I bet you all forgot about that didn’t ya. So with 5 months down we have reached 941 miles – the target of 2000 by the end of the year is looking most reachable – yay for corvid I couldn’t have done it without you! (this is of course tongue in cheek – I do not condone pandemically inclined viruses)
Running has tailed off while I fix a few injuries – in reverse to everyone else I prefer downtime in the summer when it’s not fair to run a dog in the heat. As you can tell from the murphometer though we’re still walking several miles a day though and I’ve started on some weights, flexibility and core strength work plus even a foray back into yoga. Whether all this lasts past lockdown who knows but we can try.
So what did we get up to then …. bring on the photos
Last few weeks have been a holding pattern – for much of the world I think. I was musing on the run the other day – last week was my birthday and that morning I planned to get up early and do a long run. I didn’t have much of a plan, it was more a case of throw some food and water in a pack and head out with Murph to enjoy the day before anyone else was awake. As it turned out we did 17 miles and were out for 4 hours plus – which I was happy with, much of the route was beach and much of it was rocky so progress was slow but we loved every minute. Even when with an hour to go the heavens opened and the chill cut in.
I digress – I was musing about the lockdown and how I felt about it. I have friends who are frustrated, depressed and can’t wait until its over – Which is understandable. So I was trying to work out why I feel so relaxed about it all, of course I can get out with the dog that helps but I genuinely am content to sit and wait and sit and wait and sit and wait. You can’t rush this thing, you can’t fight it, you might as well punch fog. No point in being angry it just needs riding out.
And then I figured perhaps I cope because it’s similar in a way to ultrarunning. You grind through it, you chop it down to step by step, you don’t look at the ending, you can’t look at the ending because it’s so far away and that distance is overwhelming. So perhaps ultrarunning has taught me patience and how to deal with living in the moment and taking one step at a time. The goal will come, we will get through this, you can’t rush it, the finish line comes when it comes. You might as well do what you can to enjoy the ride. In last years 50 miler there were moments I wished for the end, 10 miles out I was praying for the line to come, it couldn’t come fast enough. I look back and I see the mistake I made. I concentrated on the end not the journey. It’s inconceviable to me now I did that, I would give anything to be out there right now 40 miles into a race but out in the mountains and in pain. To try to enjoy that last 10 miles instead of wishing them to end.
No those last 10 miles weren’t pretty but they could have been if I’d chosen to embrace them not hate them. It might be a poor anology with people dying out there and losing jobs but times pass and we get one shot, embrace it all, even the shit bits.
The murphometer! As mentioned in a previous post our goal this year is to walk and run 2000 miles. Progress has been steady and as you can see from the power of high-tec wizardry we have cracked the 500 miles mark! After a 200 mile march – due in no small part to working from home and spring bringing lighter mornings and evenings we got there a few days ago.
Stay tuned for very infrequent updates when I actually remember to update!
Apart from that – obviously still running and walking while of course maintaining social distancing (It’s not hard to do while living out here to be fair)
And so the clock ticks and the seasons turn, in this case thankfully from spring to winter and so we all adjust to a new way of living, for a while at least. But some things never change and that no matter where you’ve been, no matter how far or near the roads always lead home. It doesn’t matter if you can’t do the distance you did, or be outside as long as you were you can always return home … and then do it over again … and again.
I know what im trying to say but am struggling to put the feeling into words. This photo though unspectacular struck a chord with me, it’s one of the many I take then forget about but this one stuck with me.
This is the road home for us after we’ve been out training in the fields instead of the beach. It’s also the end of our route home after we’ve been up to see my parents in the next village. For me this is a journey from one home to another. I’ve never lived more than a mile from my parents (barring university) and where I was born and grew up, be it where I am now or when I ran the pub. Some people find it strange that I’ve never lived anywhere else, I think some see it as almost sad. I find great comfort in it and the realisation for me is that simply I’ve never needed to be anywhere else. I love where I live, I’m exceedingly grateful to live here and the current climate is truly making me appreciate how lucky I am. I’m lucky that I have roads that lead to two homes.
I’m lucky that I consider the whole area my home, be it the fields, beach or woods. I know every inch locally like the back of my hand, I explored everywhere as a kid and I still can now through running and walking with a dog. Blessed is truly the word.
In these difficult times when people are told to stay home I have come to realise that for me that means everywhere. All these photos are taken within a mile and a quarter of home. Truly lucky and grateful.
Not sure what a sprong is but I like the sound of it. Well spring is here, been waiting for it for ages and now it feels a little anticlimatic due to viruses and lockdowns and the suchlike but nature stops for no-one. Today I saw the first bee buzzing around and teh evidence is everywhere. Just take a look …
I was out on the beach last week. It was cold, windy and raining. I had taken a fall and banged up my knee and elbow. The way back was into the headwind and I was feeling like I hadn’t had enough calories for the run (which i admittedly hadn’t). I was feeling kinda miserable and had the internal monologue of self pity going on at my suffering.
Then I thought this isntsuffering at all. What people are going through all over the world is suffering, losing, lives, loved ones, jobs, freedom. Thats suffering. My choice to run along a fucking beach in shit weather is hardly suffering on any scale and the only one who makes me do it anyway is me. And in that moment I realised I was being a complete self absorbed dickhead. I had the beauty of the beach, I had the company of my dog, I had health enough to run this and the freedom to do so. I am truly blessed and fortunate and its something I need to remember.
It’s made me realign a few things, go out and help people during this crisis, do what I can even in small ways, look after my parents, neighbours and community as much as I possibly can. Give something back for once, I can take what I need from nature on the run.
Time to step up and help others suffering because I’m fortunate enough to not be. Take care out there people and if you can do something good then do it. Little things, little gestures might just go further than you think.