The weather over this last week has definately took a large step towards winter.The proceeding weeks of mild weather have given way to near frosty nights,combined with biting winds.This change,combined with the rapidly diminishing hours of daylight,has put me into prime winter mode,where the motivation to step out the door,into the cold,is often tested,but,where,once out and running,a whole new dimension is added to the training experience.Wednesday night was a case in point.I've had an easy week this week,due to feeling the effects of the weekends efforts.Monday,I did not run-my thighs were way too tight and Tuesday was only a steady 5 mile or so run with the folks from the running club.By Wednesday,I was ready for something slightly longer.By the time I had returned from work and got ready,it must have been 7 p.m or so.The night was bitter,mainly due to a virtual,cloud free sky.Armed in tights,hat,thermal top with a t shirt on top, I set off.I looked for a pair of gloves,but couldn't find any,so settled for a pair of socks,worn over each hand.If you haven't got to carry anything,I prefer these to gloves-you just look abit strange wearing them in daylight.
I decided to head up to the seafront.I had run this route,from Winthorpe to Chapel,so many times over the summer-sometimes twice a day that I had got totally fed up with it,and ,consequently,had not run it for a while.However,tonight,in the darkness,it appealed to me,as I knew it would be very quiet.The view I get when I crest the top of the path,before hitting the promenade,always takes my breath away-winter or summer-the vast expanses of sand,stretching in both directions,and the varying conditions of the sea-sometimes calm,sometimes wild,sometimes somewhere in between.As I headed north towards Chapel,the quiet,the darkness-my path illuminated by a single white beam of light,the cold and the nights full moon reflecting exquisitly on the still expanses of ocean,made the journey quite magical.To think that,within 20 minutes of leaving the banger,I was enjoying this beauty amply rewarded the effort needed to break out into the darkness.Glancing into the brightly lit front rooms of residences on the way up,noticing people glued to ever increasingly big flat screen tvs,at ever increasingly bad quality programmes,made me thankful for the gift I had been given within--to actually want to carry out,and,indeed,enjoy the basic freedom of running.
Last night was another great night run,this time with David J,for around an hour,in similar conditions,in and around Skegness.I went to sleep last night feeling the onset of a cold and ,on waking this morning felt terrible.The first cold weather of the year had taken its toll!Not wanting to make things any worse,I decided to take the day off-keeping warm,checking out bloggs,sleeping and listening to the radio.
As mentioned in the previous post,one area I want to concentrate on in the year ahead is,what I will coin 'Eco-running'-essentially trying to keep the adverse enviromental damage caused by running to as low levels as I possibly can.This will involve work in several key areas:
This is an area where I have been a culprit as much as,if not more so,than other people.Last year I travelled to Mexico,in order to complete The Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon.Although I have not taken many long haul flights in recent years,the enviromental impact ,and the ethics of travelling for 10/11 hours certainly have to be questioned.I am not ruling out extensive travel,but the adoption of less carbon hungry ways of transport will,in future ,be used.I have been extensively reading about the concept known as 'Slow Travel.'This basically emphasises the merits that the actual journey can add to your trips-avoiding air transportation and instead using 'slower' means of transport-buses,trains,ocean liners,freight ships,houseboats,bikes etc.A large element of my whole experience in Mexico was,indeed,the travel.Landing at Mexico,I had to take buses and trains all the way to the canyons.This gave me a wonderful oppurtunity to interact with the local people,try out my bad spanish and savour amazing scenery,as well as a wide variety of other interesting sights and sounds.This did take time,but is an experience I valve.I have visions of other epic trips to Mexico-this time taking freight ships across the Atlantic-what an experience that would be.
Travelling to local races can also cause problems also.A change in recent years for races to be held on Sundays is a big problem,especially in a public transport back water like Skegness,as Sunday services are drastically reduced compared with the rest of the week.Some local places are easy to access-Lincoln and Boston-by bus,Mablethorpe can easily be reached without too much effort by bicycle-but with many local races occuring in small villages,off the beaten track,the chance to reach these races are limited without cars.Purchasing a fold up bike and travelling to a place near by ,by bus or train ,then cycling,is an option-the other being not to do them.If there were enough people who followed this lead,then race organisers would have to factor in public transport concerns when organising races.People run for alot of different reasons,but my main enjoyment is connecting with nature,enjoying the great outdoors-and if causing damage to this-by using cars or planes-results,it is a great irony.A great irony I will try hard to address.
I have plans for several races that I could easily do-any race in Lincoln(Lincoln 10k,Tales of the riverbank,Ducks and Drakes,The Spires and Steeples),Boston(Poppy run,6/12 hr races)and any races in Louth and Mablethorpe.I am also looking to compete in several LDWA events,held on Saturdays over distances from 20-100 miles.By not working on Fridays this gives me the idea opportunity to travel on that day,stay overnight near the race,then return on the Saturday afternoon.The time taken and the costs will be more than travelling on the morning by car,but a whole weekend adventure will more than make up for that.
Just a look at the athletes at the start of any road race,and especially trail races,and you cannot help but notice the plethora of products worn by runners.From Gps watches,Heart Monitors,Bladder packs and different shoes for every condition-the list goes on and on.Of course all of these have their valve in certain situations.A GPS watch may be wise if venturing into the mountains,but on a road race?A Bladder pack may be useful on long unsupported runs-but on a trail marathon with water stations every 4 miles?
Running shoes are advisely changed every 6/800 miles.By whom?The shoe manufacturers ,of course.In my experience this is totally unnecessary,and will get any old school runner from the 60s/70s and 80s shaking their heads.Back in the day a resole and copious amounts of shoe goo were the order of the day and shoes were not discarded until they,literally, fell apart.My current footwear cost £14.99(Fair enough-it was a sale item) and have logged pretty close to 3000 miles,I would estimate,and still have plenty of life left in them.By realising that the majority of claims about the merits of certain items of footwear and clothing is ,usually,marketing hype by businesses,primarily aiming to maximise profits,runners should be able to use more discretion in purchasing products,and cut down on unnecessary comsumption.And ,of course,lower levels of comsumption can only have positive effects as far as enviromental impact is concerned.