There is something wrong with my foot, there’s not really any doubt about that. When I wake up in the morning and stumble down the steps it feels like running is the last thing that I should be doing, and even walking around is a bit of a messy, uncomfortable affair.
Except, it tends to feel better after I’ve been running. This is an acceptable compromise, although not exactly a long term solution.
However, a visit to the doctors office for a little ache in my foot considering the erm, global situation, isn’t really on the cards. So, I’m running. Running feels fine. Good, even, although the foot, in general, does not.
An acceptable compromise.
Despite this irritation I’ve had a full training week. The current plan is to keep on training with two full days off on a weekly basis. Usually I operate off just one, and sometimes on none, building up streaks beyond the seven days, but whilst there is this weird sensation in my foot, two days it is.
With the buffer of those two full rest days though, I’m free to commit myself pretty fully during the other five. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
I started the week with a 6 mile run, within which I cranked the dial a little and did 2 miles at tempo (6:03 per mile).
To follow this I spent some time in the gym, and I knocked out an easy/steady 7 on the treadmill, and put some time on the exercise bike.
Then, Thursday, I mixed things up.
Where I live is flat. Famously flat. Since I work weekends, I often find myself with random days off in the week and it can be difficult to actually make anything interesting happen on these days.
I’m not the type to get bored easily, by the time I’ve had my fill of running, reading, and writing for the day I’m usually quite satisfied, but recently I’ve felt a pull to get out of the neighbourhood.
After an intensive research session (read: google search) I decided to head to the familiar, but far enough, Norfolk. I wanted to tackle the hilly cliff trails which line the coast of my childhood.
My base was to be Sheringham Park, a beautiful National Trust centre with lovely gardens, and plenty of room to roam.
There are enough trails and walks in the park itself to fulfil any runner, but I had a sense to see the sea. So, armed with a bag of black liquorice and some close-to-expiry brioche as fuel, I headed out on the back roads drive through the rural flatlands from my house to the park. Once there and parked, I headed around and then out of the park, and out to the Norfolk Coastal Path, an 85 mile trail which runs from Hunstanton to Hopton.
I’m not quite in a place to travel the whole 85 miles on foot (maybe one day) and so instead I settled on an 11 mile route which took me up to West Runton (via some beach running) and back to Sheringham (via the quad killing Beeston Bump).
The pace was leisurely, and I was happy to stop and take pictures and soak in the locale, rather than thumping full bore through it. In any case, the way my legs are still barking at me two days after the fact suggests that the pace was more than brisk enough. A typical long run around my usual routes takes in a maximum of 200ft of ascent and descent, and my coastal sojourn took in a far meatier 1000ft plus of up and down, and over a greater variety of terrain to boot.
It was gratifying to be in that place of natural, brisk beauty. It felt great to not be running on hard concrete roads, or on the slightly un-nerving bouncing track of the treadmill, instead striding over grass and mud, on cliffs and beaches. On my return leg I bounced down onto a final bit of beach before the trail came to an end. Momentarily, I considered it to be a mistake. I knew the wind was strong, but down on the beach, caught between the cliffs and the sea, it was a violent torrent which threatened to blow me backwards. Thin sheets of water skimmed across the tightly compact sand in a shimmering wave, and the sea itself lapped closer and closer, my feet growing wet, my route getting narrower.
For a moment I thought, what a bloody idiot I am.
And perhaps if anyone saw me down there, braced and grimaced against the howling onslaught, they might agree, but in that moment it was just me and the elements and nothing else mattered, and despite how simple that joy sounds, it is something to earned, to be sought, and in that moment I had found it.
Truth was, no one would have been able to see me for a fool, as no one was there to see me. No one else was there in that moment, for it was mine and mine alone, and as I clambered back onto the Coastal Path up an eroded slide in a low segments of the cliffs I was smiling, in a great deal of physical discomfort, but smiling nonetheless, satisfied by my tad of adventure.