I Love Explorunning

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:

  1. New trails, new fun. Running means I can cover more ground in one go than I ever could while walking. Win!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Badass Lost

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?

27 thoughts on “I Love Explorunning

  1. TartanJogger says:

    Lol! I hear ya!

    • Hey, we should go explorunning together soon! 😉

      • TartanJogger says:


      • I promise I can get us lost, if you like! 😉 I’m deep into my half-marathon training, so I’m doing long runs every Sunday at the moment. If we meet somewhere half-way-ish I’m sure we could run together one of these days if you like. Perhaps a section of the WHW?

      • TartanJogger says:

        Sounds great, I’m deep in wedding prep at the moment…. In many ways I’m looking forward to just getting that DONE so that I can get back to running properly at weekends!
        WHW sounds perfick… Maybe plan something for late spring/early summer? Just remember I’m slow! 😀

      • Absolutely, I’ll be around – get the wedding out of the way first 😀 This reminds me that I’ll most likely be in Argyll for a week with in the summer (on holiday with my horse). Last time I stayed near Ardrishaig, so that might open up all sorts of possibilities…?

      • TartanJogger says:

        Definitely!! Too handy! 🙂

  2. Angie says:

    Your trail running choices/options sound truly amazing!

  3. Trail running is the best! Exploring new territory always makes me smile.

    • Yes, me too – it’s really great fun and has many benefits. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m getting much braver with it. The other day I did a 25km long run of which I only knew the first 2km of trail!

  4. Trails and Ultras says:

    That’s it. If you’re going to keep going on about how awesome it is up there I’m going to have to come up and check it out. I want to run in those mountains!

    • You should! Give me a few months though and I’ll have a MUCH better idea of the wider area. 😉

      • Trails and Ultras says:

        Hopefully will try and do it during a less freezing time of year 🙂

      • We could run the Glencoe Marathon together in the autumn, that looks like a lot of fun!

      • Trails and Ultras says:

        Oh no! It does look cool but I’m signing up for the Cotswolds Way 100 the week before 😦 I have googled Scottish trail races though…there’s the Devil O’ the Highlands footrace in August, and the Glen Ogle 33m ultra in november. There’s probably more but I haven’t looked properly yet. What do you think?

      • Both of these are certainly set in fantastic locations! If you want to do either of them, I’d be more than happy to support you in whatever way I can – a shame that neither allows pacers, but I’d gladly volunteer and meet you with chocolate bars at regular intervals! I live about 2.5 hours away from the start of either, so it would be easy to get there with an early start. I might be convinced to enter the Glen Ogle 33 mile race myself (although I really have no idea how I’d get on with that distance!), but the Devil o’ the Highlands is definitely too far for me to run this year. However, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t/shouldn’t come up and run it – I’d be delighted to support you and run with you up here! The West Highland Way is really beautiful, you’d love it!

        For other Scottish Ultras, there’s this site: http://scottishultramarathonseries.org/ to have a look at.

      • Trails and Ultras says:

        Ooh I’ll have to check out that link. I think Vince would actually just like a normal holiday in Scotland (without standing around watching me run races!) so it could even be just a nice relaxed run in the hills 🙂

      • That would be really cool too! If I can help at all with the planning or such, please just let me know. You’re welcome to come to my place for a while too, although I’m in Central Scotland – it’s still a bit of a drive to the proper Highlands from here, but absolutely doable. We could go and “runbomb” TartanJogger too! 😉

  5. Pieces of 8 says:

    Love ‘explorunner!’ I’ve just joined a running group near me called Runsplorers – the same principle I think, but we are a lot less dedicated! And a lot more city-bound, but we try to find the best bits to see. I envy your luscious location.

    • I’m really lucky, I completely agree… but I think it doesn’t matter all that much where you are, the point is, you have to make the best of it! Don’t be apologetic about your running, just do it and have fun!

  6. Lily says:

    Explorunning is a great word! It’s pretty much the theme of 2014 for me, I’m pretty excited.

    • It’s a noble goal – I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun! Best of luck, I look forward to reading all about how you get on. I’m planning more of it myself, but my main explicit goal for 2014 is to get serious about speedwork, which is much less fun… =(

  7. Jim Brennan says:

    Your post made me want to lace up and hit the trail. Spoken like a true at heart trail runner!

    • It’s funny, because I love running on the trails, but for races I enjoy the big city races the most… But I agree, I’m definitely a trail runner at heart… It’ll be great when you can run again!

  8. Reece says:

    This is one of the great joys of running

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