Holiday Randomness

St. Andrews fog(running near St. Andrews in the fog)

One of the best aspects of being off work for the holidays is that much of the structure and routine in my life get swept away by a wonderful sense of randomness. I get up when I like, go to bed when I like, I eat when I’m hungry, and I run and ride my horse whenever I feel like it. I’ve been baking cakes, hung out with friends and have contemplated writing my next novel.

Unfortunately, in the midst of this controlled chaos, I have yet to find the time to write a coherent blog post. Therefore, rather than yielding to blogging silence, the least I can do is to share the randomness with you. In that spirit, here are some of the running things I’ve been up to:

  1. I’ve added a new pair of running shoes to my repertoire: the Asics Hyperspeed 5. As I’ve pointed out in an earlier post, one of my main running goals for 2014 is to get serious about my speed workouts. I was so excited when they arrived that I decided to take them for a spin straight away…
  2. I’ve discovered that early morning runs are not for me. Seriously, half of the time I don’t know my own name before breakfast, so why I thought it was a good idea to go for a run after rolling out of bed (new shoes or not) eludes me. While my first run in my racing flats wasn’t terribly fast, I was still very impressed by them – they are insanely light and definitely keep me on my toes (no pun intended). However, the absence of cushioning is also very noticeable, and I know that I’ll have to work my way up the miles with them carefully before I can comfortably race half-marathons in these shoes.
  3. Eating a curry the night before going for a long run is not a good idea. Actually, it’s an exceedingly terrible idea. Just thought you’d like to know.
  4. Try as I might, I just can’t convince my friends that running in the hills in December is good fun. Most of them think that my hill runs are crazy (regardless of the time of year) and some even think that any form of running is a dreadful idea. I have, however, been able to convince some very important friends to come hiking in the mountains with me. It’s also good fun (just slower fun) and means that I can scout new trails for running. I’ve been getting very excited about sneaking back to some of the places we have visited; just me and my running shoes.
  5. While I’m on the topic of scouting new areas: I’ve started reccing the route I’ll run in June as part of the Great British Relay. I’ve almost got the route it finalised; I’m staying off the main roads, which makes the route slightly longer, meaning that I’ll have to run faster. It’s a careful balancing act between safety, fun, speed and time. While I know that the event is still months and months away, I’m getting pretty excited about it already.
  6. Last but certainly not least, my experimentation with the Nike Running Dri-fit Toe Socks has begun. So far, I can report that they are a bit tricky to put on but feel quite nice to run in. They also make my feet look kinda cute (now there’s something I never thought I’d say). I will keep using them for a few weeks and see if they make any difference to the state of my toenails. Certainly after my long run this morning, my toes felt marginally less battered than normal, so my hopes for these socks remain high!

I hope you’re all having a very merry holiday time!

Baring all…


I have a confession to make: I love to run in shoes with lots of cushioning. The softer, the better; I just love it when my feet feel as though they are cuddled by cotton-candy clouds.

My love of cushioned shoes is so intense that my preferred road running shoe is basically viewed as the embodiment of all evil by the disciples of the barefoot running movement.

Barefoot runners would, at best, argue that my cushioned devil shoes are overkill and at worst would suggest that the shoes themselves would tempt me towards a fiendishly sloppy running form and summon an array injuries upon me.

My own thoughts on this matter are twofold: first of all, as I have pointed out above, I simply feel great in cushioned shoes. And if I’m going to pounce on concrete for 42.2 kilometres, I think that I would be a complete mug if I didn’t choose the most comfortable attire for the job. Secondly, while I am certainly a devotee to good running form, I don’t think that this is directly related to the shoes I wear.

I certainly don’t wear my demonic running shoes in an attempt to prevent injuries. In fact, in ten years of running in diabolical trainers, I have never once experienced a running related injury – bruised toenails aside. (Excuse me for a moment while I do a swift lap of my house, touching anything wooden in the process).

Having said all that, I am always interested in taking a fresh look at my running form and I am open to the possibility that an odd bout of barefoot running could, potentially be somewhat revealing. Besides, I am curious by nature and yes, I may have read Born to Run.

Therefore, last week, I decided to embrace the lingering summer feeling and temporarily hung up my trainers to conduct a personal case study on barefoot running. For my first attempt I ventured into the relative safety of the local park and its extensive fields of green.

I’ll come straight to the point here: the main outcome of my barefoot running experience is that I had heaps of fun. It genuinely took me back to my childhood and I relished the feeling of the dewy summer grass beneath the soles of my feet. Oh boy, I even enjoyed tiptoeing along the road and gravel paths and flashed a sheepish schoolgirl grin at the gardeners who were commenting on my seemingly forgotten attire. In no time at all, the wind had robbed me of all my caution and I was running wild as though it was the most natural thing in the world.

Perhaps it was easy for me. I often walk barefoot around the house. Moreover, I have always been a midfoot-striker, irrespective of the footwear.

Once I managed to tear myself away from my latest “au natural” adventure, I have come to the following conclusion: perhaps humans were born to run barefoot, but surely not on such unnatural surfaces as asphalt or even concrete surfaces. Also, I suspect that extensive barefoot running requires some pretty tough feet in the first place. And given that I have no intention of wandering through my everyday life without shoes (I’m not that alternative!), why would I expect my feet to put up with the most extreme battering I inflict upon them without the protection they enjoy for the rest of their lives?

Personally, I will stay loyal to my beloved and insanely comfy trainers. However, when the sun is out on a beautiful summer’s day, don’t be surprised if you catch a glimpse of a 32-going-on-11 year old skipping around your local park with piggy tails and unashamedly nude below the knee.

After all…

“I only do this because I’m having fun. The day I stop having fun, I’ll just walk away.”

– Heath Ledger