Lately, my response to virtually any natural scenery on TV has been embarrassingly predictable. Whenever I find myself staring at an image of a beautiful field, rugged mountain, endless beach, old forest, or a wide open desert, my mind gets all bouncy and screams: “I want to run there!”
I am aware that this is due to a combination of my serious, chronic affliction of wanderlust washed down with a good old case of the grass being greener on the other side mentality. The truth is that I already live in a truly beautiful corner of the world. A whopping two minutes from my doorstep lies the sea, where I only have to decide whether to turn east or west, for forty kilometres of coastal trails await me in either direction. A short drive takes me to run on mountain trails, up the famous Glens, under waterfalls and to award winning beaches that have even featured in movies about running.
But still, that lust for new adventures remains as strong as ever. It’s a bottomless pit really. I hope to travel and run for a long time yet, but naturally and for all the right reasons I can’t do this all the time.
In the meantime, there is really no reason why I can’t at least partially satisfy my hunger for new adventures in the beautiful part of the world that I happen to live in. (When life hands you awesome trails, you’ve got to run them!) I’ve had some of best fun while running new routes, and here’s why:
- New trails, new fun. Running means I can cover more ground in one go than I ever could while walking. Win!
- It widens my horizons. I love adding to my ever growing repertoire of stomping grounds. Even on the rare occasions when the whole route turned out to be terrible (for running or otherwise), at least the run gave me some new knowledge that I didn’t have before. But no matter what happens, it’s always a new adventure.
- I tend to focus much more on the surroundings and orienteering aspect of the run, rather than the run itself when I recce a new trail. This can be great on long runs, as I tend to eat up the miles without my mind noticing what’s happening and hence it never proceeds to moan about it or tries to convince me to stop.
- Running new trails invites me to let go of any plans and just enjoy every moment of the outing itself. It’s impossible to fully plan how the run will pan out in terms of distance and pace when running on new ground. I have lost count of the number of times I had to double back on myself when trying to find new routes. On a recent run I took a trail up a mountain so steep I could reach the top only by climbing up on all fours. While this was a workout that would make even a Navy Seal break a sweat, my recorded pace was somewhere in the laughable region of 20 minutes per kilometre for that part of my so-called run. But oh, the views!
- Running new trails is great for building my confidence and challenges me to be ready for anything. I’ve come across obstacles and paths that I would never have contemplated traversing if I had known about them beforehand. I’ve come up against streams, hills, and piles of fallen trees that would make me turn around on my heels if I had encountered them on my home turf. However, after running for 15 kilometres, I usually find the prospects of conquering these obstacles much more tempting than turning around. As a result, I’ve found myself up to the hip in icy waters, knee deep in the mud, clinging to walls and climbing over as well as under numerous trees. I’m growing increasingly comfortable and skilled at running in the mud and through water, jumping over logs and climbing over fences.
- It gets me lost. At first, the idea of being lost was a bit scary, but with each time the fear got less while the the fun factor grew. I like getting a little lost now and know how to deal with it. I have come to the conclusion that being lost (within reason) is good for me, because it really pushes me into the unknown.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise then when I confess that I have just bought detailed maps covering virtually all of central Scotland, and I will be most disappointed if they don’t lead me to even steeper hills, deeper rivers, greater views and bigger adventures in 2014.
However, should I fail to update this blog for a week or so, please assume that I’ve taken the getting lost part a little too far and kindly organise a search party or two, okay?