Five things that inspire me to run

Even if you love to run, sometimes you need a bit of a kick, a push, something to inspire you.

Here are the five things that motivate me to get out running:

The sight of the hills. Driving through the hills, with their tracks, trails, heather, woods, steep climbs and descents, and low lying cloud – it makes you want to just get out and run. If I’m feeling tired of running, just seeing the hills just makes me want to run.

Other runners. It could be reading a book like Richard Askwith’s Feet in the Clouds, seeing from a distance a runner out on the hills, or talking to running pals; other runners inspire me to run.

Great weather. Not just sun, but soft snow, crisp autumn days and long evenings all make me want to stop lazing and enjoy the natural weather.

Strava. Quite specific, but Strava – an app for friends to log, share and compare their running and cycling – is a brilliant motivator. Just seeing how much others are doing makes me realise I can do more.

Watching others be active. Whether it’s sport or action movies, the sight of other people out there, doing something active, makes me want to get off the couch and head to the hills.

Sunday dash

I had a rare Sunday morning run at the weekend.

There were lots of races which club mates were running in, but with only a little time all I could manage was a dash out on to the hills.

I headed out quickly and immediately ran through the woods, with the tree roots and rocks slimy from the morning’s rain and fallen leaves.

I headed up from the woods though some increasingly boggy fields. For the last few weeks they’ve been full of cows angrily protecting their calves. Thankfully today all that was left of them was wet muddy imprints of hooves.

After slogging up a small road for a few minutes, I was finally on the tops, running up a thin trail that wound it’s way around bogs, heather and rock to the summit of High Brown Knoll.

That’s roughly half an hour of climbing and the hardest ascent of the run complete; always a good feeling.

Strangely, I stopped here to chat to another fell runner who, it turned out, lived across the road from me; yet we met at the top of a windy moor. Says a lot about the area.

After that it was down and down: down across the moor on stone, peat and heather: down through a wet field; down a very thin rutted track, with large hidden bricks and bits of pipe; down a really greasy stone track – the kind that makes me nervous – until finally reaching the valley bottom.

From there it’s along a great sheep-clipped grassy hillside that’s more Yorkshire Dales than South Pennines, through bracken; then into the beautiful woods of Hardcastle Craggs, until emerging at Midgeholes.

Not quite ready to head home, only an hour in, I headed up the track from Midgeholes to Heptonstall (a bit of a pull up but easier when you know the run’s nearly over), through the cobbles of the village and then plummeted down Hell Hole Woods, a tiny steep track that drops down into Hebden Bridge.

Good running.

1 hour 20 mins, 13.5K, 458 metres of climbing.

Last week’s training

An odd week last week. Not much regularity which ultimately meant not much training and not much variety.

Monday – nothing
Tuesday – 12K bike ride, 1 hour 30 mins fell run
Wednesday – nothing
Thursday – 1 hour / 13.5K road / trail run
Friday – nothing
Saturday – nothing
Sunday – 1 hour 20 min fell run

See what I mean?

Up at Arthur’s Seat, at dawn

I found myself in Edinburgh with work this weekend. So decided to make the most of it and run up the iconic and closest hill, Arthur’s Seat.

I set the alarm for 6, headed through the middle of Edinburgh, passing more than a handful of people just on the way home after a night out.

Running down the Royal Mile, with no people, just the remains of Friday night, was a joy.

I’d slightly overestimated the time it would take to reach Holyrood Park where Arthur’s Seat is, so as I hit the foot of the hill it was still dark.

No matter, I kept going, and I guess the creeping light plus the glow coming from the city of Edinburgh lit the way a little. It wasn’t like the darkness of the countryside anyway.

I ran first up a clearly marked path, then up rocks that formed some rough steps, then along a rock and grass climb, eventually leading to a choice – a clear path that wound round and up, or the direct route up a steep grassy climb towards the summit of Arthur’s Seat.

Obviously, I took the climb.

And it didn’t take long to reach the top. It’s strange that Arthur’s Seat seems to loom when you’re below, but the climb is actually quite short, about 13 minutes, even in the dark with no idea of the best route or line.

At the top, Arthur’s Seat is rocky, kind of like the rocks on a beach. The rain had even left little rock pools.

And there’s a panoramic view: sea, city, hills – everything really.

It was just turning into day when I reached the summit, but the street lights were still on.

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After that I bolted down the steep side of Arthur’s Seat, running and sliding down wet grass, trying to keep my feet on the longer knottier clumps rather than the smoother, slippier path.

Getting down took just a few minutes. There are so many trails and tracks on the surrounding hills it was tempting to stay and just run.

But no. Work called, so it was back along the Royal Mile and through a now-waking-up Edinburgh, ready for the rest of the day.

It turns out I am a runner

This is about not just wanting to run, but having to run.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. But, even though I write regularly, I’m not.

A writer, as I’ve often heard from writers, is someone who just has to write, for whom writing is not a choice but something they need to do to, regularly, as part of their life.

I like to write, but I’m no writer in this sense.

It turns out, though, that I am a runner. I need to run regularly. Running makes me feel alive, fitter, gives me time out, helps me think.

In fact, I can’t exactly put my finger on what running gives me. But I do know that when I don’t run I feel like something is missing.

Being a runner doesn’t mean I’m ahead of others. It means that I’m someone who just has to run regularly.