The Running Blog is open

Hi all, you’re no doubt wondering why Jake and I have added a running category to our hiking/trekking blog. To be honest, this was always the intention as we want to build a community that is open to pretty everyone who loves the great outdoors (we’ll take a long hard look before we let nudists in… err, you know what I mean).

Alongside some hard rucking routes, running is one of the foundations of my fitness. I find this type of exercise and excellent way to build up my cardiovascular fitness in a way few other training methods can match. Running also keeps me trim(ish).

I can’t make any comment on Jake’s eating habits, but let’s just say that I’m a food monster.

I snack.

I eat junk.

I overeat.

And, at one stage in my life I was overweight (and still running. Or should that be ‘hauling my bloated body around the trails and tracks near my home’?) As you can imagine, I wasn’t running far. 3k max. Then I was gorging on high fat, low protein meals.

I was Gutzilla. Although I could still run a decent distance without suffering from those ominous chest pains.

What changed?

As I meditate and see myself as a relatively calm person (don’t ask the neighbour whose recent late night antics upset my daughters and annoyed me as he’ll disagree with that last statement), I like to think that a moment of clarity settled in my mind as I centred on my breath and allowed myself to descend into that place of serenity from which the truths of life emerge from their fleshy chrysalis.

And that would be a lie.

Here’s the hard truth:

“Hey James, how you are you? Still running?” (snigger)

“Yeah, just got back from one now.”

“Oh, really? How far did you run?”

“5 kilometres. I’m building back up to 10 k runs.”

“You should probably lose weight first, or you’re going to die of a heart attack!”

Now you might think these barbed comments might have come from one of my enemies. Nope. This person was, and still is, my best friend and he was concerned about me.

For some of you, his words might seem hurtful or counter-productive, but they spurred me on. This is not to say that I’m a callous person who enjoys taking and giving out perceived insults. No, I am a former soldier and understand all too well the virtues of simple language.

Anyhow, that was a tipping point for me, my training plan, and my eating habits.

I still eat a lot of junk, but planet-size tubs of ice cream and now off the lunch dessert menu (but still on the supper dessert menu – you gotta have a treat every now and then. Or day.)

Over the next few years, I turned my shambling 5km efforts into first 10km runs, half-marathons, a Spartan Beast and, most recently, a 30 mile run. For fun. And I still carry a little more weight that I should. And that is fine with me.

My running routine

Most weeks, I run 5 days with two days off. The first run, on a Tuesday, starts with an easy 8/10km circular route around the village I live in (Chinnor, Oxfordshire). Over the course of the next four days the distances increase up to Saturday when I run at least 20km.

This routine isn’t set in stone. I’ve read a few books on the art of running and all suggest taking time off when your body tells you it needs a rest. You know the signs: poor sleep, lethargy and that look of, ‘death warmed up’.

Some weeks I might run as few as three days. One of those training sessions will be a longer distance only if my body and mind feel up to it.

And on that last point, let’s move on to…

For the love of running

Oakley hill, Chinnor. 1 mile uphill with a 14% gradient.

Now that you can see the evolution of fat guy to fit guy, you probably want to know the why. You might be wondering why I love running so much that I cover sometimes huge distances alone. Is it the thrill of notching up miles, or feeling the ground under my feet? No.

Is it the sense of elation when I finally crest the hill that has attempted to crush my quads to pulp? No.

It’s not for the love of running either. I can take it or leave it. In fact, I’m pretty happy using most forms of exercise to get, and stary, fit.

Running is my go-to form of exercise as it’s one in which I can zone out. Most of my routes are cross-country, on trails and in places where I almost never have to run on roads. Which is perfect as I can put aside any considerations of the inconsiderate drivers who curse and ‘gesture’ at you through the windscreen because you shouldn’t be on THEIR road.

It’s not Zen. Nor mindful running. It is simply null.

With music, or a good audio-book.

Let’s pause for a moment. I have an admission to make. Hills are my thing and every peak that I conquer excites me. My most recent run – a 10 km circular route on Saturday 29th May 2021 – took me through a 170m climb over the length of a mile, which is about an 11% gradient. Cheeky little hill.

Each time I hit the peak of a hill, I give a little fist pump and get on with running. Although, the pace is normally quite slow for a time as my heart and lungs have taken a beating.

What’s in it for you?

Plenty. Jake and I have covered many miles in our running shoes. Jake has completed a number of marathons and my regular running routine has seen me cover multiple ultra-marathon distances over the past few years. All those miles without once suffering from the misery of shin splints or broken bones. We are rather lucky.

Here’s what we have in store for you:

Running gear reviews

Following our roots, we going to bring you all the running gear reviews we can:

  1. afford (buying kit is an expensive game)
  2. find time to write about (we’ll be looking for contributors soon, so watch this space)

We like being happy when we’re running and having the right equipment can make or break your run.

forest running
Plus some running in the forest, delightful

Training plans

As you can imagine we have learned a lot over the years. Countless injuries have forced Jake and I to find better, less intensive ways to train whilst still drawing maximum benefit from each training session. From painful experience, I’ve learned the right way to run (for me, of course and it may well work for you too).

Our training plans will range from 5km to a50km in distance. Each will be tailored to either:

  • beginner
  • intermediate
  • advanced

Running routes

Most of our running routes and in the UK. Jake has travelled a to a number of places in teh US, as have I, but we don’t have detailed records of any of our training sessions, or routes. If you’re in the USA and feeling like adding something to mix – routes that your fellow runners can benefit from – email us with the details and we’ll add them one of our posts.

A bit of humour… we hope

Running should be fun and every one of the moments of hilarity, or even the ridiculous, need to be captured and replayed for posterity. Simple tales like how I managed to find the only patch of nettles on the whole of an 8 mile run, the slipped buttock first into their embrace. Cue a few hours of discomfort and laughter.

And we invite you to share your stories with us, and all your fellow hikers/runners/trekking mates.

Now over to you. Let us know what kind of content you enjoy reading – use the comments section below or email us (you’ll find our bios and emails on the About page).

First and forermost, this is a running blog. So let’s get running.

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