Monday 8 October 2012

Autumn of my life

Cotoneaster - lighting up the ghyll
With hindsight four races on the track, and all in the space of three hours, wasn't one of my better ideas, especially at my time of life. A week has passed and my resting heart rate still hasn't returned to it's normal 42bpm. It's dropping, slowly, but not sufficiently for me to resume an average weekly mileage. Two of my runs got drastically curtailed last week. A six mile recovery run on Wednesday just didn't feel right and I jogged home after only four. A planned ten miler on Saturday, in beautiful weather, got cut down to six as my old legs struggled to maintain any sort of decent pace or rhythm. Nothing niggles me more than failing to achieve what I set out to do.
The Scar, bright in Autumn sunshine....
Maybe tiredness or staleness has something to do with it. Yesterday evening I happened to mention to my wonderful partner that, except for one or two enforced lay-offs due to injury, I haven't had a real break from running or racing in all the 26 years I've been doing it. I pointed out that in his book, 'Running for Fitness', Seb Coe mentions that after his racing season finished in September he'd often spend October by the sea, preferably somewhere sunny and warm, for a complete break from running, when only walking and swimming interrupted his relaxation. In his words "Mental refreshment is more important than the physical relief from hard training". My wonderful partner had a very short answer to this idea. Over another sip of wine she replied "You're not Seb Coe".
Up onto the moor - with its remnants of lead mining
Anyhow, after Church on Sunday I lowered my sites a little and set off on one of my favourite seven mile runs onto Grassington Moor. It was a glorious morning with a slight frost silvering the grass, limestone outcrops shining white under a cloudless sky, bright red berries lighting up the ghyll and leaves turning yellow and russet in the crisp Autumn air. My legs felt recharged as I sprinted up a steep and narrow cutting where a car had stopped at the top to let me by. I passed a  mixed bunch of 'Duke of Edinburgh' award scheme teenagers strung out ahead of me, toiling and sweating under their heavy loads. They must have felt envious of me jogging past with just a miniscule bumbag.
Scattering grouse on Bycliffe Hill
After a couple of miles civilization was left far behind as I climbed onto high open moorland with mainly wild red grouse and grazing sheep for company. A raven circled and cronked a greeting and I wondered whether it was the same bird that had shadowed me for almost a mile on one of my previous runs in that area. It was good to know it had so far been clever enough to escape being shot, trapped, or possibly poisoned by our over-zealous gamekeeper who aims to keep his grouse moor totally free of predators and vermin.
Back down by the river.....
An old sheep trod through whispering grass led me to the high point on Bycliffe Hill before descending to Howgill Nick and a wonderful fast run down the long wall on springy turf, back into Hebden Ghyll. A group of walkers were purposefully plying pairs of trekking poles up the Yarnbury zig-zags while others were picnicking in warm sunshine beside the beck. It's naughty of me, I know, but my old brain invariably feels a little superior at the sight of younger people with trekking poles who, to my mind, have succumbed to a brilliant marketing ploy that persuaded them they needed sticks long before such aids actually become necessary. Or have I just been lucky?
.....and early Autumn tints
Back in the busy village of Hebden I wasn't even panting which suggests either the old body is getting back to form or I hadn't run hard enough, or far enough. So, after a bite to eat and a couple of mugs of tea, I spent the afternoon walking by the river looking for big fish, feeling the sun on my face, feasting my eyes on early Autumn tints - and casting silent aspersions at people with trekking poles!


  1. The feeling of cutting a run short is an extremely frustrating one. Your 7-miler looks stunning though - beautiful pictures!

  2. Love your partner's reply on the Seb Coe quote! Glad your body's starting to recover from your track races. Beautiful pics!

  3. You're listening to your body, so that's ALWAYS good! I love running but have a tiny lazy streak that pops out every now and then ... so I always take a week off once or twice a year. Seems to help:) Good luck getting your groove back ... which you will!
    My Running Shortz