2014 goal #2: go off-road

As my training gets underway to complete my primary goal of the year, it's about time I thought about my second goal for 2014:

Go off-road

I'm lucky enough to live in South Wales, where I have beaches and mountains on my doorstep. I also visit the Forest of Dean a lot, which has a strong trail running community. So it feels sad to ignore such beauty and diversity by solely pounding the tarmac.

The Forest of Dean has a maze of beautiful trails

More and more often, when I'm on a rural walk, I'm itching to fall into a run. There's something liberating about it. The air is cleaner, senses come alive and feeling close to nature is important to me. 

Even on a recent trip up Pen y Fan mountain, I was relishing the thought of one day running to the peak (this one may take some time!). 

Some people sneer at it, but I do love road running. I enjoy the rhythm you can fall into on smooth ground. Sure, sometimes rhythm can turn into monotony, but I like the mental challenge that comes with that too. I haven't had much time to sit and meditate during yoga lately, but I can get a similar fix while on a run - the principles are often the same.

Network of trails in the Brecon Beacons

Additionally, I like the return you get on a hard surface. I'm not one to ignore something that can make life a little easier: tarmac puts a spring in your step that helps when your legs really don't want to go on. 

Off-road running is a different ball game. My run on a Pembrokeshire beach a few months ago was an eye-opening experience. I was using my muscles in a different way. I was running in a different way. It felt like I was trying a new sport for the first time. 

Which is why I want to try it again. Variety is good for your body as much as it's good for your mind. I ached after that beach run. As my body tried to figure out what it had just been through, the endorphin hit was accompanied by the empowerment and joy of a new experience.

Broad Haven beach, Pembrokeshire

I use the term off-road instead of 'trail running' because I want to try it all. Grass, muddy trails, gravel trails, beaches, mountains... 

Outdoor running is one big playground. It's time to get off the roundabout and try something new.

Feeling on top of the world at Pen y Fan (c) Mark Hawkins

Read about my #1 goal for 2014 here.

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