Sunday, 19 February 2012

Running with a purpose

It's lovely just going for a run because, well, that's what you do, but it's also good to have a purpose, an aim. Whether that's to beat a time, to do some reps, or to do a set number of miles, having a target gives a run some focus. Which is why this morning, before breakfast, I set out with a key purpose in mind. Yep, I ran... to get the papers.
I did a slightly roundabout route along the back lanes in the bright morning sunshine. It was about 3 degrees, crisp and fresh. It felt great to be out. Not a car passed me. All I saw were sheep and a couple of dog walkers. Forty-odd minutes later I was back home, ready for a day's slumping in front of the cycling and FA cup on telly. Bliss.
Smileyrating 8.5/10

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Do Kenyans do Kenyan hills?

The snow is melting slowly here. Muddy green patches are appearing on the fellsides and the sledge tracks, which are everywhere there's a slope, are gradually widening. Yesterday morning I was out helping train the mountain rescue search dogs. The car park and path to the fells were smooth sheets of ice, so I was glad I had my micro-spikes with me. These are a brilliant invention: slip-on spikey chains for your feet. Walking in them is just like wearing crampons - but without the front points. Wearing them I was able to scamper with total security over the ice. Even the dogs were scrabbling for purchase as they raced around, play-fighting and bringing us lumps of ice to throw for them. Once in position, I lay on my Multimat, looking out over the misty fells and fields and was periodically jumped on by excitable dogs wearing reflective coats and bells. It's really quite a strange experience. You can hear the bell approaching, then you hear the footsteps and the dogs' panting. In a flash, they're on you and, as these were young ones, they jump all over you and lick your face, delighted to see you. When they bark (which is a very important thing for them to do as it alerts the handle that they've found a 'body'; part of the the body's task is to encourage them to bark) you can reward them by playing with them. This can entail throwing a toy for them to retrieve, or playing with a tuggy toy - which most absolutely love - together with lots of petting and stroking. It's about as fun a way to spend a couple of hours in the fresh air as you can imagine. However, there's quite a bit of lying/sitting about to do, which isn't going to make me any fitter, so in the afternoon I resolved to go for a run.
Which is why you would have found me enjoying a Kenyan Hills session yesterday afternoon. The way to the hill followed an icy path along the river before breaking out into open fell. The snow was full of dainty sheep trails - sheep footprints follow pretty much a dead straight line, giving the appearance of a line of perforations in the snow - and the ground around the sweet-smelling hay feeders was well trodden. The ewes are, of course, heavily pregnant at this time (lambing has started further south) and keeping them in good condition is a vital part of the farmer's work. My hill was free of sheep this time and I contributed to the tracks in the snow by running up and down until a combination of fatigue and 'enough already' drove me back home. It wasn't the most earth-shattering of runs. Just a good, solid, and immensely  satisfying session that made me glad to be alive.
Smileyrating  9/10

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Minus 2 and Factor 20

What a great day! Cold, crisp, bright and sparkly. Eno* take note. I just had to get out. So I did. I went up to Sadgill and did a familiar route around an area of moorland called Green Quarter. It starts just to the right of this lonely farm and wends its way up a stony path.

Well, commonly it's stony. It's a bit different after it's dropped to minus 5 overnight!

The route soon tops out and heads across beautifully runnable moorland. It was especially runnable today because it was frozen.

Along the way, there were beautiful views of the fells around Kentmere.

Dropping in towards Kentmere I got a bit tangled up with a young golden retriever called Tarka. She came bounding out of a holiday home to see me, so naturally I made a fuss of her. Big mistake. I managed to get her to 'Stay' - but not for long. A minute or so later she was back by my side, full of the joys of the day. So I ran back with her, got her to 'Stay' and set off again. Three times. Eventually I gave up, and just tried to ignore her as I ran off.  It took her half a mile to realise I wasn't playing any more and to run home!

As I turned for the final legI realised that the ice on the path formed interesting abstract shapes and, by reflecting the sky, was a striking blue. What a painting this could make:

The final leg tends gently downhill, back to the icy path near the start, down past the farm and to the car.

 An absolutely tops run. Gorgeous day, gorgeous sunshine, gorgeous terrain. Bet Eno, in her air-conditioned studio in Salford, just goes on about how cold it was!!
Smileyrating: 10/10

*Our regional TV weather presenter has the magnificent name of Eno Eruotor. Trouble is, she's fixated on the temperature to the exclusion of almost any other meteorological criterion. We had a similarly cold, sunny, utterly gorgeous day yesterday. In her report at 2225 she kept banging on about how cold it was. Never once mentioned how magnificently sunny and DRY the day was. At the weekend, it's going to warm up and, probably rain. It'll be 6 degrees, grey, wet and utterly miserable. Bet she mentions how good it is 'now it's warmer'. Eno, we love it cold and bright!