I’m not much of a fan of running on the road. Sure, I can if I need to. And it’s much easier to run fast if you don’t need to worry about where you put your feet. But road running is, how shall I say – a little in the boring side. Each step is very much like the one before and the one after. Running off road, however, is much more my cup of tea. Because you never know what the hell is going to happen next.
The other good thing about running off road is that I can take Molly, my Labrador dog, with me without worrying about her being clipped by a car or dragging us both into the path of the oncoming traffic. This doesn’t mean that she’s a complete angel running by my side at all times, of course. But she’s usually within a couple of hundred metres or so, doesn’t cause any trouble and always comes back when I call her. She also makes my runs much more entertaining.
Take our morning run last Monday for example. We started at one end of the ridge that runs alongside the valley we live in and worked our way up the ridge, along the top (fantastic views) and to the far end. We then turned around and came back the same way, but this time enjoying the views in the other direction, to the coast and out to sea. We were running for about an hour and in this time we:
- met a lady walking her dog;
- chased a squirrel (Molly);
- met a lady riding her horse (it’s all ‘go’ around here);
- took a detour through some brambles to avoid the world’s largest puddle;
- disappeared into a massive pile of leaves and came out with a huge grin on our face (Molly)
- wrestled with an old crisp packet (Molly again);
- retrieved an old crisp packet from a Labrador’s mouth (me);
- jumped over a five foot dry-stone wall (Molly);
- quickly repaired the top of a dry-stone wall where someone’s Labrador had knocked some of the stones off (me);
- nearly knocked over a runner (me) with the huge stick we had decided to carry (Molly);
- jumped gleefully onto a runner (me again) from an earth bank running alongside the track (Molly);
- took a detour through some brambles (again) to avoid the world’s largest puddle (again) on the way back;
- took a couple of minutes to enjoy the stunning 360 degree view from the top of the ridge (me); and
- got absolutely covered in mud (both).
To be honest, this might not sound like your idea of fun. You might relish the thought of a brisk and predictable trot along the road, with the cars and the fumes. And it’s certainly not for me to judge you. But for me, there’s nothing that can beat running through the great and wild outdoors with my dog. Even if I do have bramble scratches all down both of my legs and a pair of socks that are never going to come clean ever again.