Monday, 6 June 2016

An ode to the seasons


Borne of the summer, I'm inextricably drawn to the fairer months. The sun feeds my soul and the light lifts my mood. It's these times I find motivation to get outdoors and run is effortless. There is no question I will find joy and comfort in exploring my natural playground. Satisfaction is guaranteed in this paradise of picture postcard blue skies and greenery.
The caveat to this is my inherent negativity towards the other seasons. I fear the impending arrival of the dark nights drawing in. Our damp British climate bringing weeks of dank and wet days to my doorstep. Rain a seemingly constant stream of drizzle and darkness lasting what feels never ending.
Yet I often harp on about a love of nature and all it brings. It's in recent times, maybe through a new found maturity, I find myself contemplating the seasons and all they can offer. Rejuvenation, a fresh start, a cleansing of the landscape. Everything in nature has purpose and I feel I need to embrace what joys it can bring to not just my running, but life in general... as a proud Father, it's the unbridled pleasure seen in my children who naturally embrace the seasons that instructs and teaches me. My daughter Ava Mai, as an avid fan of fairies (in particular Tinkerbell) is able to inspire me to contemplate the positives of the changes in nature. Ava frequently asks me which season is my favourite...... 


'Silvermist' The Water Fairy - 'Have you ever wondered how nature gets its glow?....'

Natural drew, wet soggy feet and the start of longer days.  Long winter months peel back to give way to new life, I smell the first signs of the warmth, spring and flowers. It's not just a steady arrival though, but an explosion of new fauna. Flashes of rain reinvigorate the landscape with a cacophony of colours that dazzle the eyes. As I run through the trails of fresh woodland, beds of natural bluebells break the ever impressive greenery. Streams flow in fast, dramatic torrents, tearing their way through the line of least resistance. Despite the incessant rain, a warmth often tries to penetrate, giving promise for the summer ahead. The evenings slowly creeping back to allow running to continue late on without being encumbered with head torches. The joy of drying trails giving a sure footedness on roots and rocks. For all the rain and inclement weather of Spring it brings the promise of summer.  The start of the running season true....


'Iridessa' - she looks to the bright side of things but is a natural worrier, yet she's a glow of sunshine.

Minimal running in it's prime, equipment stripped back to the bare essentials - running shorts, trainers and at the most a bottle of water.   For me, a run in the heat is passion personified, enjoying the dance over the roots of the trees, stones on the floor, dodging and ducking under the tree branches and the newly grown brambles sprouting through onto the paths. An awesome experience that I wait year round to savour every second. Sweat running down my body, a tangible product of the effort, breathing hard, feeling every breath, enjoying every moment.  The race season in full swing, its time to test the winter training, pushing the leg speed and using the strength of every muscle in my legs. A season of achievements waiting to be seized. Exhilarating experiences drawn from long days in the mountains. 

Seeking out natural springs to leapfrog across the wilderness, using the natural sustenance of the land. It's a time I'm at most peace, the world a cheerier and brighter place. Inspired to run for hours, not measuring distance, but travelling to the beat of my heart, letting myself navigate wherever I please. Endless days of play to saviour. The only issue the impending end that draws ever nearer with every passing day.


'Fawn' - A rough and tumble tomboy; she loves animals and has a benison as a tree house

My favourite season, summer draws to its natural conclusion, but warm days sporadically make a welcome appearance. Many a times we've walked to the local reservoir to collect not only pine cones but also holly and pine needles, ready for winter.  The sky takes on a bluer quality.  A feeling of fatigue often lingering in the legs through a summer of racing at full effort.  A time to recover, or maybe a last late race to seal off the season before winter sets in true to form. Trees turn golden yellow, dropping a soft bed of golden leaves onto the trail, creating a carpet that's a pleasure to pad along during long runs. The crispness of the leaves as the foot touches the ground one of the best sounds.  The views in this period are enhanced with the colours and breathing in the crisp, cold air.


'Peri-Winkle' - A frost talent fairy 

Winter arrives and so does the short days and longer nights, running is restricted. Running later on the trails becomes a hazardous pastime if travelling alone. Routes have to be considered based on the prevailing conditions. Too windy, wet or cold and I stick to lower ground, compromising the happiness sought in gaining elevation. The constant disappointment in the weather and the ever churning trails bombarded by permanently damp conditions depress me. Then a change. The cold dips low and snow falls. The land is transformed in an endless white carpet. Even hard surfaces become soft and forgiving underfoot. Exploring even the most familiar trails is exciting, discovering a Narnia like environment. Icicles hang from tree branches precariously like glass daggers. Descents are pure primal fun, encouraging childlike play when glissading down the mountains. Yes even this darkest and most depressing of seasons can be refreshing and rewarding, with its own unique magic.


My message, be less like me and embrace all the seasons for their merits, much like a child who hasn't yet adopted our cynicism of the World. Each has its own individual joys, even with the compromise in light and conditions. Running is an all weather pursuit. Sometimes it's just a little easier than others. Of course there's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong kit

Thanks to Salomon, Suunto and (sports nutrition) for the support - and most importantly helping me with the right kit.

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