Janathon day twenty: group

Well I only went and faced my fears didn’t I? Skating across the car park made me realise that an off-road run was a good idea, so what the heck I might as well join the beginners trail running group I had seen on facebook. It was being run by a well-known running shop who are based at a posh gym a few miles away. I say gym, when I was shown around it, I was told repeatedly that “it’s not a gym, it’s a lifestyle centre…for people like you…”. Clearly the man had been misinformed about what I am like and certainly hadn’t seen my car outside (whenever I visit, I am acutely aware of the risk of it being towed away as an abandoned vehicle).


The group was led by the same woman who ran the beginners group (via the now defunct Women’s Running Network) that got me started all those years ago. I have long since abandoned running a group as I seem to prefer to get on with ploughing my own furrow and this is one reason why I was nervous about going along, what if I looked as if I haven’t run in the two years since I turned up last?


I went. I didn’t embarrass myself, I didn’t fall over (despite continually over-estimating the length of my legs whenever I went over stiles) and I didn’t injure myself. I did see people I knew from the old club and it was nice to say hello, I did enjoy myself and I did enjoy the biscuit at the end.


I’m not sure what it is about my pace, but I always seem to end up between 2 groups of runners – Not fast enough to be with the long-legged gazelles at the front, slightly faster than the group at the back. Even if I hang around the middle, I find myself on my own. Oh. Wait a minute… Anyway, regardless of the reason for this, it always makes me think I may as well be out on my own, however reading about other people’s club running has made me aware that I would benefit from sessions for speed and hills (which I will not do on my own).


If I remain brave, I suspect that this will end up being painful…


In which I end up caked in mud to review my new trail shoes

Today’s run wouldn’t win any prizes for speed, but it was bloody good fun! We’re lucky enough to have a lot of fields, woodland and nature reserves round our way, and today seemed like a good opportunity to make my shiny new New Balance trail shoes a little less shiny and new.

I’ve only ever run through the fields when it’s been dry (I don’t think that I went through them at all this summer) and with the company of Ginge (due to fears about a. getting lost and b. men with dishonourable intentions). With the new shoes, the previous night’s rain wasn’t going to be a problem. I took Ginge because he knew where we should go (having spent his formative years climbing trees and causing mischief in these parts) and is excellent company (so you can rest assured that I don’t just take him as a bodyguard/satnav).


We have to do about half a mile on the road, to reach the fields and while we both missed the cushioning of our usual trainers, it was surprisingly comfortable. Especially as I had expected to be clattering along like a goat across a tea tray.

Low cloud over Rivington, there's a telly mast under all of that.

As we hit the mud (almost immediately after leaving the pavement), the next adjustment was learning to trust the grip of my shoes. I have never had a problem getting wet or muddy when I run, I just worry about the potential embarassment/A&E attendance involved with falling on my arse. Apart from one incredibly squelchy and slidey bit of field, where it all went a bit Bambi on ice, I felt pretty confident that I was going to stay upright throughout the run.

That way to London

Ginge’s local knowledge took us into one of the nature reserves (where our planned loop was blocked by the presence of great crested newts), across the railway, through some fields, back through a bit of woodland, through some more fields, along a lane, back into the original fields and then home. It was a mix of paths, nearly paths and mud. There were quite a few stops to look at things, a few to marvel at how much more knackered we both felt (Ginge’s official verdict was that 4 miles off road felt like 10 on pavement) and a couple for me to question whether Ginge’s 25 year old mental maps were correct (they were). The running bits in between felt fantastic.

Ginge takes me to the nicest places.......

When we were nearly home, we passed two girls walking their dogs. They were wearing wellies and carefully picking their way through the field, occasionally squealing at the drama of being surrounded by mud. As we splashed past, I overheard one of them say “uuurgh, look at them”, but I think that she was just jealous.

This bridge is deemed a danger to the public. Health and Safety gone mad.

Shoe-wise, my 749s felt comfy and supportive. When I’d tried other shoes on, my ankles had immediately felt precarious but after this first trial I would heartily recommend these to any fellow over-pronator looking for a trail shoe.

Ginge's feet post-run. Note the whiteness of the Gortex clad socks.

Ginge (who’s more of a neutral to under-pronator) also loved his 573s. When we bought them, he was offered versions with or without Gortex and only went for the Gortex because he had no choice (they didn’t have his size in the others). With hindsight, he is extremely happy about this and says they’re really good because you can “run through what you want; the deepest puddle, the muddiest puddle – your feet will be dry, even if they seem as if they shouldn’t be”. Apparently the Gortex sock inside the shoe makes it a bit more snug and takes some getting used to, but it’s definitely worth the extra money. I wouldn’t know…

Compare and contrast the above with my non-Gortexed feet.

I’m struggling to convey the utter joy that I felt in just pelting along, not caring about anything (especially not pace or distance). I felt free and happy and childishly giddy. Even hills didn’t seem so bad. I honestly don’t think that I have ever grinned so much whilst out running.

Marvel at the amazing over pronating lady! Gasp at the fact that she ended up even muddier than this by the end of the run!