Getting high

I love trails!

I’m a total newbie to off-road running, but already a convert. Apart from a Runners World trail half in 2015 I had never really had the opportunity to head off the pavement and into the woods, but since joining Cani-sports Edinburgh with Archie, my little cocker spaniel, I’ve been dipping my toe in the joys of trail running (canicross club runs are always off-road to protect our dogs paws and joints).

In May I went on my first run with the amazing Foxy Trail Runners, a friendly social group set up in Edinburgh to encourage runners to try all the amazing trails that we have in our backyard. My first run with them was going brilliantly for the first three miles, until I tripped over a tree root and splatted myself across the path, bashing up my knee, shoulder and face and sending me hobbling back to the start, holding back the tears and feeling very sorry for myself. Undeterred, after a week of no running, and of entertaining myself instead by watching as my scabbed and bruised knee turned an interesting variety of colours, I was back for the next run a month later. The second run went much better than the first (in that I stayed fully upright all the way round) so I was super excited, if a little nervous, to join the third run this week, a much more challenging hill route in the Pentlands.

I nearly didn’t make it after a late running work meeting, and was tempted to pull out, but had been super organised and sorted out all my kit the night before, so jumped in my car and sped off to the Flotterstone visitor centre, just a 25 minute drive from Edinburgh. I was definitely anxious about being able to make it up all the hills, what with not being a ‘proper’ trail runner and nowhere near as fit as some of the amazing mountain-goat style racers I’d been watching on TV, but the group is super friendly with runners of all paces, and thankfully there was a lot of walking on the uphills, and lots of stops to admire the amazing views and take group selfies.

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Not bad for a Tuesday night
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Breathtaking views

It was a glorious sunny evening and felt amazing to be so close to the city, but out in breathtaking scenery with only the sound of our footfalls and the baaing of sheep. We did a big loop from the Flotterstone car park, up and over the hills and then down a long downhill route that felt like flying. I can totally see why so many people love trail running – the gorgeous views, the solitude and the freedom from worrying about paces, splits and the tyranny of the Garmin. My pace is so slow on the trails, and so affected by the weather, gradient, obstacles and other factors that I stop worrying about speed and just run by feel. It’s such unadulterated joy.

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The sheep were supremely unimpressed

After my 9 miler on Sunday, and the high of Tuesday’s trail, the rest of the week was a bit of a disaster. I lost my voice, and have had a sore and croaky throat and an irritating cough for most of the week. I switch between thinking I’ve picked up a summer cold, and thinking that just my hay fever being particularly rubbish; I think it’s the latter so will beg the doctor for some stronger prescription hay fever drugs and see if that helps. While I was convinced it was a cold I thought I’d better skip my hard Thursday threshold run so that I didn’t make myself any worse, and swapped Saturday’s morning’s rainy canicross session for a lie in, but felt great on my Sunday 10 miler so pretty sure I’m not actually ill, which is a relief.

Anyone else struggle to run with hay fever?

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