After taking four days off running with just some biking to keep fresh in order to let my body recover from the efforts of last week (Yes Sergei I showed common sense!) I waited today until a very low tide to get back out for a 9 mile run. Was out for around two hours but managed to do some rock scrambling at Witches Point and took a look around at the different features which can only be seen at the lowest tides.
Seagulls, Rain and Mr Darcy
To be fair i’m amazed after a looooong weekend I got out at all today but fancied a qick trot – Which turned into 9 and a half miles and two and a quarter hours.
At the beach I went right …. view below. Cloudy but warm enough to run without a shirt which is always nice.
I got divebombed by the seagulls again – I thought I had gone far enough out to avoid them but I think rather than defending their turf this is just a game to them now.
Got to the end of that section of the beach and felt fantastic – So I kept going, up over witches point and down to Southerdown beach.
I crossed the beach and found some quite cool rocks which were fun and challenging to run on.
And of course at the furthest point from home it started to rain and the wind picked up – A headwind of course. You know what though? Any day trailrunning is good no matter the weather so despite being wet and cold I wasn’t miserable. Especially as next up I met Mr Darcy!
Covered the remaining 3 miles back home in record time and now it’s feet up recovery time!
Testing Route Mapping
Playing with maps
I did this route in google maps a while ago (and I think posted it agggges ago) and wanted to play around with it and see if it could be embedded in WP – which I think it can be it seems!
Might start doing a few more of there to geographically locate runs and things I come across … until I get bored of it :p
A journey into nosebreathing
It had recently come to my attention through the efforts of my personal training advisors (you know who you are) that by breathing through the nose will prevent going over the heartrate threshold (or something like that, at least it acts a a bit of a regulator) so I set off for the beach last night to try it out.
First impressions – felt a bit odd, I’m clearly an inveterate mouthbreather when I run, usually in some sort of gasping fish out of water style. After I while I got more used to it, I think I should have been counting steps and breaths or something but I’d forgotten what I was meant to count and how much I should be counting to anyway so I just made it up.
It does actually seem to work, if I was finding it hard to breathe through the nose and felt like I needed a gulp from my mouth then I knew I was pushing too hard. Mainly the uphill bits it seemed as I could happily cruise at around 10 min per mile pace on sand while nosebreathing. In fact the hardest part was remembering to do it once I got into the zone and started enjoying the scenery and terrain.
I actually covered seven and a half miles and it didn’t feel like I was putting out too much effort. Maybe this slow/chi/noserunning technique has plenty going for it. It was kind of a definite comeback run for me. Every day as I travel to work I pass at a distance the hill of Witches Point at Southerndown and I can just make out the wall on the side of it. Throughout my injury it has teased me with its presence and every time I’ve gone past I’ve sworn my revenge on it.
Yesterday that time came and when I reached the wall I took a photo of my vanquished foe, gave it the two fingered salute and pranced around it just to demonstrate my return and put this completely inanimate object back in its place – I’m king of the hill again!
Instead of the beach on the way back I ran the cliff route which means lots of hills to test out the nosebreathing. I have to admit to switching to my mouth a few times before remembering why I’m doing this in the first place. Gob shut I continued slower.
Once again for those that reached the end of the post I give you the brave … I don’t care that you are photographing me …. lamb
Voyages of Discovery
I like discovering things. Hence my beachcombing sorties. This mornings run turned out to be one of discovery although it never gets planned that way. I was up early – well half seven is early for me on a weekend – and decided today was the day to crack out my “new” running shoes. Why the “? Because technically they aren’t new. I’ve had them months but have never worn them as I’ve been waiting for better weather as they’re minimal – Inov8 Flite 240 – Which arent really trail shoes but I wanted to have a go with less cushioning.
Also they technically aren’t new because – And serious runner types look away now in horror – I do buy shoes on ebay. Yes I have a scheme. People often sell nearly new trail shoes on ebay which have been worn only once or a few times as they didnt fit. Now I’m not fussy, I’ll wear other barely used shoes once they’re disinfected and washed. And in this way I’ve picked up good bargains – These inov8s had been used once and the guy didnt like them- I picked them up for £12 – A quick google tells me they’re around £60 new.
Ok I hear you cry, but the fit – the fit is crucial! Well yes I agree and as they say you have to kiss a lot of frogs. The shoes I buy (And I set low limits to what I’ll spend – I’m looking for bargains and a way of testing as many brands and styles as I can cheaply) if they dont fit or they aren’t right I simply resell them – The most I lose is a few quid on shipping and I’ve turned over a profit on some. I’m honest in my ebaying, I say I bought them and they don’t fit and I say what the previous owner told me – as in they’ve done 10 miles or been worn twice.
It might be unusual and not to some peoples taste but in this way I’m learning what’s good for me and getting to try out different styles. Just like today. I had no idea what to expect from a more minimal shoe but I really enjoyed it. The first thing I noticed was that you can really feel the trail underfoot – Not ideal on rocky patches or trails with pokey up stones (technical term there) but on grass and dirt track it was truly lovely to really feel the trail. Every small undulation was apparent, every foothold felt good. I came to hills – I was a little worried about this as the soles didn’t look grippy – Bugger how they look – These things grip like a gorilla holding the last banana! I was like a mountain goat – no a bloody ibex!
I did 10 miles in them this morning and felt comfortable all the way. I can’t wait to see how they perform on the beach and on rocks. I can’t say I’ll definitely switch to more minimalist for good until I’ve done more testing but they aren’t being sold that’s for sure.
Back to the discoveries though. At the top of this valley something caught my eye – rubbish. Who would drop litter here? My anger turned to curiousity though, the litter looked like a book in a bag and it turned out to be a geocache!
Next up was the top of the waterfall I go past on the beach, it’s a bit tricky to get to the top of it and there’s an easier route that I always take but today something made me scramble down to the cliff edge and I was delighted to find a pond
I kept going, enjoying the feel of the shoes, past Southerndown and turned at 5 miles to begin the journey back detouring slightly to take in Dunraven castle – I have run past this loads but never through it. I don’t know why as it’s so pretty and peaceful – I had the place to myself as I was so early.
I also discovered that my knee still hurts no matter what shoes I’m in. However I then discovered after 8 miles it hurts no more than the rest of me at that point so I don’t care!
Final discovery wasn’t really mine – It was these two discovering the world for the first time. I’m kinda glad I’ve moved to a plant based diet these days. Enjoy your weekends everyone!
From one slipway to another
Saturday runs – I just love them. I was lying in bed last night and was actually excited about getting up and getting out there. Like a kid at xmas! The sun was shining and it was a beautiful morning to head out so I packed my rucksack and off I trotted. I decided to switch it up a little and at the beach headed left towards Marcross along the cliffs.
It was a pure joy to be outside, I removed the headphones and just enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors. My legs felt good and I felt good. At Marcross I stuck to the cliff path and went past the lighthouse (this is not the lighthouse – well it’s like a mini lighthouse – I duon’t actually know what it is)
Then I went past the foghorns
Then the lighthouse proper!
And onwads along the cliff path, down through the woods at Atlantic College until I reached slipway number one.
I turned here and retraced my steps back towards Monknash but this time on the beach – I say beach but it’s rocks from here to back past Marcross. I noticed a few runners approaching from the other way and heading for the cliff path. Despite being on the rocks I managed to keep pace with them to Marcross – I’m not that competitive but sometimes it’s good to take your mind off the miles with a little game eh?
I kept going along the beach and back towards Monknash, I could have turned for home up the Cwm but decided to keep going as I felt fine. Onwards with the sun occasionally popping out to warm me which was appreciated due to a biting headwind. By the time I reached Witches Point at Southerndown the rock hopping had taken some of the juice from my legs. Luckily I had remembered to hydrate and fuel at the right times (despite my Garmin going mental and stopping without me noticing) and I climbed up and onto the cliffs above Dunraven bay.
I turned here and headed back but this time along the cliffs until I reached Traeth Mawr. Normally i would keep going along the cliffs and then turn for home up the usual trail but today I headed inland across the fields and then a lane as I wanted to pop in to see my parents on the way home. They live in Wick and in fact live at the highest point in the Vale of Glamorgan (Not that its exactly a mountainous county to be fair) so the run there was all uphill from the coast which really made the legs ache. I was twinging in my ass (I think the technical term is glutes) but I made it back and when I pieced together my Garmin runs I had covered around twelve and a half miles which over all that terrain I’m very happy with!
Pushing on a little further every day
After a good win for Wales over France last night (good not great, we seem to have difficulty crossing the line) I actually left the pub early, not that I wasn’t enjoying myself but I knew I wanted to run today. How times have changed!
I felt good today and planned to do a long run so took my pack (did I mention I love my Inov8 pack) with me. Lucky I did as I ended up doing 15 and a half miles! Basically it was the half marathon I did before with a trip along the beach to Marcross tagged onto the end. I must admit I felt pretty damn good for all of it up to about mile 12. At this point i came off the lovely smooth flat sandy stretch back onto rocks and found my legs were stiff and it was difficult to pick them up higher for the rocks. This did abate after a while, I’m guessing that the low stride of the sand locked them a little. Will have to remember this – pick those knees up on sand!
Speaking of knees I had very little trouble with them today. I deliberately set a slower pace as I knew i’d be out longer (not that it was much slower according to the watch by the end) and concentrated on my form. I’ve been looking at chi running, as much because I try to keep an open mind and i’m currently devouring anything running related. So I was trying to stop myself from leaning back which I tend to do on flat ground. This may have helped the knee or it might have been the slower place or the moon may be in Aquarius or something, all I know is it doesnt hurt.
I was feeling the distance in my legs by the end but I guess no pain no gain and all that malarkey. A good rest day tomorrow should help matters. I also found a fuelling formula today that worked for me. Start fuelling 45 minutes in and every half hour after that. It seems to be about the right interval to keep me going steadily.
So all in all i’m really happy with today. The distance, the pace, my mood and it really feels like i’m progressing – albeit slowly – but at my own pace and in my own way. Enough burbling, to the photos!
Mapping a half marathon trail route
I’ve spent a lot of time running along the beaches and cliffs of the Heritage Coast in South Wales – At least the part I live near which has given me the idea to map a half marathon route from Marcross beach to the river mouth at Ogmore by Sea and back. Mainly as I wanted to see if I could – I find this a pretty good reason for doing anything.
About the route
This is a half marathon trail course I have run myself in sections plenty of times. As it is a trail the exact distance run may me over or under 13 miles by a significant amount so bear this in mind.
The route takes in both beach and field/grassland running and the beauty of it is that you can run these in different combinations according to taste.
The overall route runs from the carpark at Marcross beach (next to the lighthouse) and along the Heritage Coast to the rivermouth at Ogmore by Sea and back.
If the route on the google map is followed then you will first traverse the rocks and sand of coast as far as Witches Point in Southerndown before climbing up to the top of the point before following the trail to along the cliffs and then the pathway to Ogmore Beach. You will then return along Ogmore Beach and along the same path back to Witches Point where you will, instead of running the beach path run along the top of the cliffs all the way back to Marcross.
Of course if you wish to run the beach on the return journey or indeed the cliffs on the outward journey you can mix and match according to taste. You can reverse the whole thing starting at Ogmore by Sea, running to Marcross and then returning.
Much of the beach part of this run is dependent on tide times. It cannot be run at high tide and I would recommend running it an hour or so before low tide if you wish to maximise time on the beach. You can run the whole route along the cliffs never touching the beach at high tide.
Warnings – The tides here are the second highest in the world and can catch the unwary out. Always know the tide times before you set off and give yourself plenty of time to get off the beach before the tide comes in.
The route takes you over rocky beaches and care must be taken, slow down on the rocks, although loose rocks and pebbles look solid they often shift underfoot. Some of the smoother paved looking rocks are great to run on when dry but when wet or covered in weed they are treacherous, no matter the grip on your trainers you will slide and fall so slow down. My general rule of thumb is that the darker the colour of the rock the more slippery it is. Stay clear of the cliffs as rockfalls are common.
Part of the route has you running along cliff tops – show common sense and stay away from the edge. The cliffs are unstable at the best of times and rockfalls happen frequently. Be aware of your surroundings and watch for changes in the path direction as it does come within a few feet of the edge in places.
There is often livestock in the fields, give it a wide berth, especially when new born and young animals are present.
You will be a fair distance from help if you suffer an injury so carry a mobile phone. The weather changes quickly at times and extra clothing is recommended for the cliffs section as the wind is much stronger up top.
The sun was out as was the tide and off to the beach I went. I felt brilliant today, in my head and body. I loved running the fields, I loved running the woods, the rocks, the sand, the cliffs. I did it all, I did it with a smile and I did it without feeling tired at any point. It was slow but it was to be savoured. Ok i’ll stop gushing! I ran to Cwm Nash then across to Witches Point, up the cliff path and back along the clifftops all the way to Marcross then back down to the beach and back to Cwm Nash and then the mile back home through the woods and fields.
I must admit I love my pack, I really don’t notice it and it’s great to have water and fuels with me. When I felt too hot I could easily stash my jacket, on top of the cliffs where the wind was cold I simply popped it back on again. I took it quite slowly today, my toe was recovered and wore the Adidas Kanadia which are the easiest on my feet. I also stopped multiple times to take photos for a project i’m working on. So all in all a nice relaxed run of around 10 miles and felt like I could have done more. But why overdo today when there’s always tomorrow!
What a difference a week makes
Proud to say I ran another 13 miles today, from home to Monknash beach to Ogmore by Sea and back. It’s a mixed route, maybe a quarter beach and the rest is coastal path with lots of undulations and hills. The route (runkeeper says just less than 13 which is odd as it got the data from my Garmin watch which said over 13)
Sun setting around mile 11 and feeling good =)
The difference from last week? I didn’t crash near the end, in fact I felt pretty damn good for most of it. I had a wobble around 8 or 9 miles – I noticed this last week too. But I think the big difference today was that I was prepared. After last weeks wall slam I bought one of these Inov8 Race Pak 4
I wanted to ensure that if i’m running for longer I need to stay hydrated, carry nutrition with me and also extra gear in case I get too cold and wet again. This seemed a good way to do it. There’s only so much you can get in a flipbelt afterall!
I was a little concerned about running with a pack but I have to admit this was brilliant, its only 4L capacity but it seems more than that and I honestly didn’t even notice I was carrying it after a short while. It stayed snug and didn’t bounce around which was a concern. So a thumbs up for this idea!
As well as physically helping out by carrying my bottle and gels etc I found it gave me confidence too. I didn’t feel so isolated miles from home or people as I had supplies and clothing with me so even if the worst came to the worst I could always walk back in (relative) comfort. So a nice psychological crutch too.
I felt so good on the way back I kept up the same pace for the last few miles that I would on a 4 or 5 mile jaunt. I decided to start fuelling around an hour in and take it from there with gels or chews if I started to flag but ensuring not to overdo them. As I said earlier I felt a bit ropey around 8 miles in but whacked some sugars into me and felt ok again after a while.
The run itself was beautiful today.
Sunset and little fluffy clouds (for cloud lovers out there!)
I’ll never get tired of running this beach – Witches Point at Southerndown looking to Cwm Nash in background
The deeps at Ogmore by Sea
The hill at Witches Point – Yep I run up that by choice (about 4 miles in)
New cliffslide at Witches (good subject bad photo)
Alone and loving it