Let me start by saying that I’m a fully paid up subscriber to road running and have my card fully stamped, you know the ones they give out in coffee shops but there’s something about this time of year that makes me prefer to hit the trails and I’m loving every minute of it.
In the last week or more, the temperature has dropped and hardly a day has gone by without having to scrape my windscreen in the morning and the roads have been slippy so it’s been easier to get off-road where that’s less of an issue. That and the fact that we have a pretty good trail almost 2 minutes from the house makes it easier.
My inspiration to get back on the trails this year has largely come from introducing Allison to them to help her hip movement/knee drive and hopefully help her avoid injury in the build up to Paris in April. We started out a couple of weeks ago with a run in an area just minutes from our house and this has extended to a much longer run on another hill close to where I grew up. My runs with Allison which, now totalling 3 in the last 3 weeks, have now surpassed our usual annual total of runs together, which have typically been on Christmas Day and at the Breakfast Run in Paris.
I think it’s the variation of the routes, the different challenges and the downright fun of the runs and the downhills that the trails have to offer. I’ll hold my hand up and say that I struggle to go out in the dark and I’m actually enjoying going out at lunchtime instead and today was a fine example of this. I had finished with a client and went straight home, got changed and headed straight out. The first couple of miles are mostly uphill with the first mile taking us uphill and across next to a field between a golf course and the motorway and the next mile takes us uphill, across the motorway and uphill to a telecoms mast. Normally, I would head back the way I came from the mast for a 4 mile run but today, I decided to follow another path to see where it would take me and it took me downhill to a road which is part of one of my favourite marathon training routes.
As I made my way downhill, I noticed a sign for a path that would take me over the hill and finish up just further up the road from the house so I thought I might try that route on my way back. It was a pretty good downhill stretch I had as I made my way down to the road but when you get to the bottom, you have still got to come back up again and this stretch is not for the faint hearted. It’s almost vertical!
It was a very slow jog back uphill until I got to the path where I had come from to get on this one and was able to relax as I was starting to head back downhill on the path I had come up on. This was a great run although my legs knew they’d had a good workout so weren’t quite so keen on going for it downhill as they normally are. I got all the way down and got back to the house to finish at 5.6 miles. I was more than happy to finish at that and had no desire to run up and down the road a few times to round things up to 6 miles.
That extra path I mentioned about taking on my way back? That’ll be for another time when I decide I want to do a crazier run than the one today!
Do you run off-road during the winter?