Sunday, 29 May 2011

On the Question of Why

Why do we run?  I reckon the answers range from "It's just what we do" to "I'm keen to reduce my 10k/marathon/mountain marathon time", taking in the "I'm thinking I'll stay ahead of the Grim Reaper for a bit longer" along the way. It can be a complicated thing, this running lark. But not for me today. Today I had a really simple answer to the question. I ran to get the papers. And how liberating it was. I had purpose. A destination. I was the hunter-gatherer chasing down my prey. (OK, a bit of a stretch, but you catch my drift).  
I was five strides from the front door before I realised that the baseball cap was not a good idea. It is essential to keep the drizzle off my glasses, but a liability in the warm gusting gales that were blasting in over the fields and paper factory. I ran a loop through a little hamlet called Bowston on a route that took me along quiet, rain-washed lanes alongside fields with sheep and lambs huddling snug against the stone walls for shelter. The burbling song of curlews reinforced the air of desolation. Not a person, bike, car, dog walker, cyclist or tractor did I pass.
At the paper shop, the lad behind the counter looked with some distaste at the sweaty scruffbag shoving an Observer into his rucksack, and watched with mild bemusement as I extricated my money, with some difficulty, from the zipped back pocket of my shorts. To his credit, he managed a weak smile on receiving payment. 
The final leg was just half a mile or so uphill to home. It was a shock to realise that, because of work and other commitments, I have not been able to run for a whole week. No wonder I was feeling lardy and grumpy. And that's also why I run. Because if I don't, I'm not at all the pleasant, even-tempered Smileyrunner I want to be.
Why do you run? 
Smileyrating 9/10

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Running update

I'm sure you've not been losing any sleep about it, but in case you were wondering what's happened to Hayfella, the answer lies in that 4-letter word that begins with W and ends with K. Work. And if you had another in your mind you should be ashamed of yourself.
I've been in beautiful Copenhagen and not-so-beautiful Basingstoke with ultracollie but have managed to get a couple of little bimbles in: The first was a beautiful run around a local route I call the Buzzard loop (because I was buzzed by buzzards there last year). This was memorable because it was one of the most deliciously fragrant runs I've had for a while. The hawthorn on the hedges, the cow parsley along the verges and the vanilla/banana aroma of gorse (who'd have thought that gorse, that botanical thug, would have such a delicious, heady smell. You have to be careful where you stick your nose though) were lovely.
Smileyrating 8.5/10
The other was in Ireland last Sunday and, entirely my fault, was one of the most tedious affairs I've endured for a while. We (Mrs HF and I) were staying at her sister's and I thought I'd just nip out before breakfast and simply run along the main road for 25 minutes, turn round and run back. What I hadn't realised was that the road was dead straight. There were houses and gardens on either side, but the gardens were boring. The road, being so straight, was boring. The sky was grey. Boring. The only excitement was when a red Seat Ibiza overtook another car and shot past about three feet from my left hip. If only I'd've taken advice and gone round the lanes; at least I would have had some bends to enjoy! Ah well. It was done. Another 57 minutes in the legs (I overshot my turn off on the way back) and I felt better for having done it.
Smileyrating 5/10

Monday, 16 May 2011

It's not running, but...

It's been a tragic week or so for the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs Association. One of our most experienced dog handlers and an extraordinary man, David Watt, died in a accident while piloting his own aircraft. His funeral is later this week.
Twenty four hours prior to this tragedy, search dog Beinn, a brilliant dog with many finds to his credit, died unexpectedly at home. He was only 6.
As my readers know, I help out as a 'dogsbody' for the Association (I lie about on the fells to give the dogs someone to find when they are training). Doing this I have come to appreciate the strength of the bond between handler and dog and the enormous committment the handlers make, both to the Mountain Rescue part and to the Search Dogs part.
So, if I may make a gentle plea: If you're up in the Lakes and see a Mountain Rescue Search Dogs box - do pop a coin or two in. The money goes to help train the next Beinn.
A memorial walk for David was held on Saturday along Mickleden Beck in the Langdales. If you'd been planning a quiet walk there, you'd have been disappointed. You would have met  about 65 MR people and 46 dogs! The sight of them all (dogs, not people) charging after a tennis ball was something to see.  Astonishingly, during the minute's silence, the dogs fell silent too. They are special animals.
To finish on a positive note. Roger, Beinn's handler, is planning to train another dog.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Don't you just hate...

Well, I do just at the minute. But that's because I've just got back in after doing 8x30s with 30s rests. I should have done 10, but was so jiggered, frankly, that I came home.
I'm of the opinion that intervals are like medicine. You may not like it at the time, but it'll do you good in the long term.  Provided the side-effects don't get you!
'Twas a gorgeous day for running though. Blustery, but sunny and dry with lovely springy grass to bound over.
Smileyrating 5/10

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Don't you just love ...


This time of year, seemingly whatever the weather, they erupt from the moorland trilling loudly overhead.  And so it was this morning that my laboured run up to Potter Fell was accompanied by their distinctive liquid song.

It was a classic Sunday run today. I'd watched Match of the Day, had a bowl of muesli, and headed out . It was warm and windy, but thankfully the torrential thundery downpours we'd had last night had passed through. Everywhere was wet and sparkling. The River Sprint - so dry just last week - was again rushing and roiling over the rocks. Lambs were skittish. Last night was probably the first thunderstorm they'd ever seen, so I guess it's understandable.

I was anything but skittish. It was a struggle for about 25 minutes before I got into the swing of things and relaxed into the running. In fairness, the first 35 minutes or so were pretty much all uphill, so that might explain it.
By the time I got to the top of the hill, and the land flattened out into heather-clad moorland, I was puffing and wheezing like leaky bagpipe and was grateful for the skylark's beautiful  song.

For the stat minded, I did 6.64 miles - so not huge - was out for 1hr 9minutes, averaging 10.12 minute miles, and climbed 779 feet (c.240m).  My average heart rate was 153, which is midway between my aerobic and interval target HR (147 and 160 bpm respectively). Certainly it was way above my LSS target HR of 134bpm.  I'm putting it down to the hills.

Smileyrating 9/10. It was hard, but great!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

A much-needed jaunt

There are times when you just have to go for a run. I'd had a frustrating day at work, grappling with a problem that I was struggling to solve, I had drunk too much coffee and I was anxious and fretful. "Go on, get out", urged Mrs HF, "And we'll go out and eat afterwards". So I donned shorts, top and Roclites and headed out into the evening sunshine. The air was surprisingly cool as I made my way up the lane and across the fields on a route I call the 'Buzzard Loop' because it passes close to where there are a pair of said birds nesting in an old tree.
As I bimbled round, the exercise worked its magic. I calmed down, thought nice thoughts, said hallo to the lambs and even did a couple of intervals between stiles. Even thought he grass was lush and green, the ground was bone-jarringly hard beneath it and I ran past areas that, only a few weeks ago, I was having to skirt because they were under water. It's amazing how dry it's been this Spring.
And we did go out afterwards. It was delicious.
Smileyrating 8/10