After borrowing a GoPro camera from a friend and a suitable harness from another, I headed out today to film my classic running route. I was filming the route to add some additional content to an interview I gave a few weeks ago. It was an interesting run as it saw the return to running outside.
Since the birth of my second son I haven’t ran outside, this is mainly due to time constraints. In order to run outside my wife has to drop me off. With another child in the house this was proving difficult, so I had decided to conduct most of my running indoors. The result being a little over 7 months since I ran my traditional route. So there was a nagging question in my mind, could I still run the route? Had it changed? How many things would I run into? – The answers, yes, yes and none.
In order to demonstrate the first time I stepped out onto the dual carriageway I began my run at the closed road. This seemed incredibly apt, for a return to running outdoors. I would begin at the very same spot it did a few years ago. The closed road is simple, you just have to keep one foot on the line and run. It is far easier to only keep your outside foot on the line, this is because if you run central to the lines its difficult to read both feet on opposite lines. Often you can become confused and drift far more than you do with one line to follow. So I quickly breezed up and down the road and returned to the dual carriageway.
I stood on the edge of the curb, paused, then stepped down onto the line and followed the much trodden path. With yellow lines the majority of the distance, it was again easy to follow. My running of the line changes slightly for this section however. As the road is cambered heavily it is easier and safer to run the inside of the line, unlike the usual outside of the lines. It is very easy to follow and much safer as it means you are tighter into the curb, therefore further away from the cars!
The tricky bit arrives when the road meets the path, a quick transition to the path means I have to identify the camber and move towards the curb. This particular section can be tricky as the cambers are not amazingly obvious and there are a few posts. This is the bit I always found hard as both sides of the path are littered with obstacles, traffic lights, junction boxes and fences. The next section involves a slight incline and then some of the more interesting obstacles. If I follow a white line perfectly, I miss about 5 road signs. Go slightly wrong and I hit about 5 road signs. It seemed a little tricky to identify the line underfoot, mainly because its been a while! Luckily I found it and avoided all the signs. Once again its relatively simple – hug the curb for around half a mile. A sharp turn to the left results in a nice straight 0.7 mile section.
The straights can often be where it goes wrong, as there is a tendency to drift. Thankfully this section is flanked by grass on one side and bushes/trees on the other. Well at least there used to be trees! They seem to have disappeared! So in future I must be careful to stick to the grass side and avoid the dreaded drift! I made it back to the car with no bumps or bruises, so an incredibly successful return.
It was great to be back outside, I had forgotten how different it feels to be alone and outside. It takes a great deal of confidence just to keep moving forward. The mindset that there are no obstacles, nothing has changed since last time is difficult to maintain. But perhaps that difficult arrises from it being a while since it was common place. With more practice will come the confidence that running alone is easy. It will only take a couple of weeks!