Monday 21 July 2014

More to life than running....

Relaxing at sunset.....
      Here in God's own county it's been another glorious week of sunshine, with some cloudless skies, warm winds and temperatures flickering towards the mid 70's. Needless to say, I've been revelling in it, running topless through lush countryside, lying among flowers in the garden with bees and butterflies for company, or sitting in my sunny corner with a chalice of choice wine and a few squares of dark chocolate to catch the last of the evening rays. What more could a man wish for in his dotage? Summer is easily my favourite time of year, the hotter, the better, when shorts and sandals become the order of the day, enjoying the luxury of ultra violet on as much skin as I dare to expose - and ah, vanity of vanities, achieving a wonderful summer tan.

      Running-wise it slows me down a bit, but I don't
One of the magical places we run...
mind that. I've no races planned at the moment, not even a Park Run, so in no serious training. Occasionally I'll do a few hill reps or put in half a dozen faster bursts just because I happen to feel like it, but in the summer heat I'm quite content to jog along at a manageable pace, enjoying the beautiful surroundings and stopping frequently to point my camera at various things that catch my eye. Running is no longer the be all and end all of my existence, though one might think so when I'm ill or injured, but an integral part of the complete outdoor picture. I don't get like this any more. It's a means to an end rather than an end in itself. It gets me out into fields and woods, hills and dales, moors and mountains, remote islands, coast paths and sea shores where I can wallow in all the magic such places hold, where I become a part of it all and experience that warm sense of belonging that draws me back to the same places time after time after time.

Barden Bridge - haunt of kingfishers....
     Clever people may already have deduced, from that lengthy preamble, I didn't do very much in the way of running last week. The previous week's 21 miles got chopped down to just 17, although one of my runs was a respectable 11 miles which is the farthest I've attempted since goodness knows when. For various reasons, taking photographs, chatting to people along the way - not to mention running out of energy in the last half mile - it took rather a long time. So long, in fact, that my wonderful partner got it into her head I must have done myself a mischief somewhere along the way and came looking for me. I'd chosen a fairly flat, easy route (though it didn't stop me falling and breaking a rib on an earlier occasion) from Hebden, following the River Wharfe as far as Barden Bridge, then back again. The temperature was up in the 70's and I daresay there were more people in the river - swimming, kayaking, paddling, tombstoning or floating around in dinghies - than actually walking on the bank.

      As I jogged along in soaking vest and dripping headband I'll admit to being more than a little envious of
Suspension bridge - that puts the fear of God into some people
those cooling off in the water. I stopped briefly for a chat with a wildlife photographer who was hoping to get a shot of kingfishers that nest at Barden Bridge but, so far, they hadn't put in an appearance. I wished him luck and jogged back along a very flat and pleasant flower-lined path to Howgill, still 4 miles from home and into the heat of the day. From Howgill the track undulates a little towards Burnsall, not much, but enough to make it harder to run in the heat. I was glad of a short rest at the narrow suspension bridge where some rather overweight walkers looked frightened out of their minds as they gingerly puffed their way across, clinging onto the wire cables for dear life. In spite of the rest I still had to walk parts of the steep hill back into the village where I was intercepted by my wonderful partner who had words with me for having taken so long.  I took the door key and ran - probably a fair bit faster than I'd run all week!  


  1. I like to think that running isn't the be all and end all in my life.... but maybe it's the getting out there, whereever there might be, and the slower we get the more we can stop to take pictures!!!

    1. In my serious racing days CD I reckon running really was the be all and end all, though I maybe didn't realise it at the time. My overriding objective was to win races and my whole lifestyle was focused upon that. I both miss it yet feel glad it's over.... You'll probably feel the same in another 40 years!

  2. My favourite seasons are Spring and Autumn, I've not got anything too bad against summer and winter but prefer the temperatures that spring and autumn give.

    I just love to have the opportunity of being out and about chatting to people, they just have more time to do this when enjoying a leisurely walk, doing some fishing, taking photographs.Sometimes it's good to slow down and sit in the shade (or sun if you'd prefer) with a glass of your favourite tipple, cup of tea or whatever......

    Like your pictures - and yes I can imagine some do not feel confident walking across the suspension bridge!

    Hope the rest of your week goes well.

    All the best Jan

    1. Don't get me wrong Jan, I love Spring and Autumn too, and I can even enjoy running in the snow, but the older I get the more my body craves the summer heat. I feel better and look better when the temperature gets to 75º - and it's a wonderful excuse for being lazy...

  3. Completely agree sir. Summer running in the moment without a care towards racing and getting a tan is right up my street :-)

    One of my favourite combos as well with Red Wine and Dark choc. Cannot beat it. Have you got a favourite brand for dark choc? Green and Black 85% for me plus chuck in some macadamia nuts on the side.

    Where is that magical place you get to run in your photo with the cliff edge?

    1. Hi Richard, great to hear from you. My chocolate is plain boring Bourneville I'm afraid, the wine usually a nice Merlot, and the chalice a smaller replica of one used for Communion in Iona Abbey around 30 years ago....
      The 'magical place' is the trail down from the Gleckstein Hutte above Grindelwald in the Swiss Alps. You'd love it...... Cheers!

    2. Duly noted on my list of places to run :-)

      Nothing wrong with Bourneville, good thing is I am the only one to eat it and along with the merlot :-).