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I’m NOT on a journey! by Stephen

I just thought I’d put that statement out there! 

There a lot of runners out there that are running for various reasons. Me? I’ve been there …..chasing PB’s and times in road races and giving myself a hard time if I do not achieve the “perfect run” 

Now……I run to enjoy the run. That’s not to say that I don’t push myself, because believe me, when I’m hitting those long miles on the trails, I’m pushing, truly I am!! 

First and foremost, that’s what I am – a trail runner. But you can still find me training  on road etc when the need arises, but my focus is on the trails. It’s a different running experience, like no other in the sport of running. Rarely will you hear the question ……” what was your time”? when your having a conversation about the 20-mile trail run you’ve just completed. It’ll be more of a “Wow” or a “Are you mad”? kind of comment. 

Having been a runner – then not a runner – and now a runner again, I’m enjoying my running like never before. 

I ran as a teenager, then as so often happens life got in the way, and I didn’t pick up running again for another 35 years. So now at the sprightly age of 52 I find myself running up hills, down dale, over fences, through streams, and anything else that the trails can throw at me – and I love it. 

No two trails are the same – regardless of whether they have the same distance or even if it’s the same course – it will be different each time it’s run There is something exciting about just not knowing what is round the next bend, or over the next ridge – and making decisions at speed, about how to handle these unknowns are what adds to the “fun” of the event.  

In my road running days it was all about doing the training and running the race – the training giving a pretty good indicator as to how your race would pan out on the day. With the trails, for us mid pack runners the main goal is to complete the run in one piece (the odd trip/stumble is still regarded as being in one piece). The feeling of knowing you have successfully navigated and negotiated what ever the RD has thrown at you is amazing, and usually, for most of us, timing and placings are secondary to the actually getting back over that finish line. 

Learning to enjoy a run, to truly take in the experience and views and scenery can take time to master – I know it did for me. For the first few trail races I would be so fixed on bashing on I would fail to take in the splendour of the area I would be running in, only to see great pictures on social media later and actually think it was a different race. Now, if I’m climbing a steep incline or even when I get to the top, I’ll fine 30 seconds to take a picture, even a sneaky selfie! 

The longer the run the more chances there are to enjoy the run, both physically and socially. 

There is something about trail running that brings a very close community of like-minded people together. Runners are a social bunch anyway, but in trail running in just seems that little bit of a tighter bunch – as if we all know and respect what each other is about to achieve or has already run. 

This year has been a strange year for everyone, and runners are no different. Races cancelled; club training not able to go ahead for months. Not great for the social aspect that is so important in the running world. 

I myself have been lucky as my two training partners have always been exempt from social distancing rules.  

Bramble and Riley have been pacers for my training miles since Christmas. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say my perfect training partners – little or no moaning about early mornings, no back chat if I change the route or if the route is too muddy (seems muddier the better). They have helped me push up my mileage in training and I’m definitely seeing the benefit – both in my running as a whole and definitely in my racing – which is slowly starting to get back to some form of new normality. 

Going forward this year has seen me going for longer, ultra-type of runs and I have a few more lined up before the year is out – and next year promises to be more of the same with I dare say a few more miles added on for good measure. 

I’m enjoying my running and the people I’m meeting as a result of that. I’m looking forward to meeting more and clocking up the miles on this running journey of mine! 

Damn – I’m NOT on a journey!!! 

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Thanks to Stephen for sharing his story.
  
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