One thing is for sure, lockdown has definitely meant that I have had to explore what lies around my local area. That means anywhere I can go running, without requiring to get in the car and drive anywhere. For someone who has lived in the same place for about 20 years, I have near enough run the same two or three routes for all these years! Sounds dull, but I never really thought about exploring. I don’t know why!
However, with the arrival of lockdown, the shutting of tracks, and the inability to drive to where I would usually do grass and hill sessions, I was forced to explore the options near to my house. So, after 20 years, I was actually forced to explore, and something that surprised me was how much there actually is on my doorstep running wise!
Regular run routes- off road
Lockdown has most definitely made me appreciate living in the countryside. I now know for sure I would never want to live permanently in the city. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by fields upon fields, as well as some good roads. As soon as lockdown was announced, my first panic was that I would have to do all my running on the road, both sessions and easy runs. Ever since my injury, I have done my best to run at least half of my runs off road. I used to just head to some grass football/rugby pitches and tick off the laps there, however I don’t have anything like that near to my house. Therefore, I decided to be adventurous (not a trait I am known to possess!) and explore around the fields and footpaths. I was so shocked that I hadn’t done this sooner, as there are loads of footpaths that I can follow to complete an entire run with only the first minute being on the road. Whilst I didn’t mind running laps and laps of a sports pitch, I don’t really have to do this. There are plenty of ways to run off-road without having to sanction myself to that level of boredom. Exploring has actually meant that only two of my weekly runs have been on the road. So, lockdown has actually made me do something I should’ve done a long time ago: find more interesting off-road routes.
Grass sessions have also been a key part of my training since I returned from my injury back in 2018. At uni, I am blessed with the amazing Surrey Sports Park pitches, which are any runner who does grass sessions' dream. They are flat with short, perfectly mown grass, but the only downside is they are always windy! But it's all good training! They have meant that I have always been able to jump out of bed and imminently be at the perfect session location. At home, the opportunities for grass places to run that aren't ridden with rabbit or badger holes are very limited. I can find a few places to go, but they all require me to drive there. So,once again, I had to do a bit of exploring. I always knew that just outside my village was an old airfield which was used by the RAF and the US airforce, which is now grassed over as a runway for gliders, but I never thought I could run there. By simply asking if I could run on it, i found out that it is a public space and anyone can walk/exercise on it! Some of it is slightly uneven, but there is a grass strip at the side which is perfect for speed sessions. These grass sessions have replaced my track sessions, and what were my grass sessions I now do on a shut off road. The grass is quite long, but if cross country is the next race, it’s perfect training!
My longer, endurance sessions, tend to be done on a shut off road within warm up distance from my house. The road is about 1.5km long, so for longer reps I have to turn around mid rep, but this happens in road races too, so again I guess I'm taking something from it. This is one of my favourite places to train as it is an avenue, surrounded by trees and horses fields.
My home is on the Essex/ Suffolk/ Cambridgeshire border, neither of which are particularly known for being hilly, but if you know where to go, you will find some gems of hills. When I am at home, all of my hill sessions are done just South of Cambridge. If you are local, you will know the exact place I am referring to. When I am at uni they are done at the Chantries in Guildford, which is full of unrelenting hills, including sand hills! However, yet again, when lockdown arrived and you weren't allowed to drive to places to exercise, my usual hill locations were off the cards. It has been difficult to replicate the same intensity of hill session, off-road, that I usually do, but I have managed to get by. There are a few steep road hills nearby, but I wanted to stick off-road. I managed to find a few hills which are on grass, and whilst they aren't as steep, I can still work hard to get a decent session banked.
Now the more recent government guidelines allow you to travel to exercise, I am able to venture to my usual locations, however I haven't really wanted to. I have returned to driving to hills, but my grass sessions and off-road runs, I am still doing from home. Why drive if I don't need to?
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!