After recently travelling north for The Edinburgh Festival and then south for a Norfolk wedding, something strange has happened to me. Against the odds, I have inadvertently fallen hopelessly in love with the Scottish countryside. That one snuck up on me unexpectedly. I always thought it was nice in a, ‘Ooh look at the pretty view’ sort of way. I even liked it enough to move here. But the strange, passionate, all-consuming love affair type feelings didn’t kick in until I actually left my little Scottish retreat for a few days.
I’ve always been a die-hard city girl and the move to Scotland was a huge leap of faith. Although the stint in Edinburgh city and fun weekend in the fens were certainly enjoyable, they had an odd effect on me (and not just because I drank my body weight in booze). Being away for a bit really made me appreciate what I have at home, and I’ve since gone and fallen madly in love with Scotland.
I could just sit and gaze lovingly at the hills all day long. I love the way the beautiful fields change colour hourly, and the trees hold stories in their leaves. I feel like I could spend a thousand years wandering through the woods and never get bored. I would even go out the back door and give the view a big fat hug if I could fit the fuck-off great big volcano in my arms. I must remember this next time I’m out of milk and can’t face the six-mile round trip cycle ride to the shops.
The upside to my newfound love affair is it makes enjoying country life that little bit easier. For the first few weeks I felt a bit lost and out of place. But I now have the urge to be outdoors all the time, lapping up the lovely country air (sunshine helps). This fits in quite nicely with my next goal, to master the art of forefoot running.
I say forefoot as opposed to barefoot running because I have no desire to wear those funny finger toe shoes (they give me the willies) plus there’s way too much cow shit around here to actually run barefoot. My grandmother was a sprint champion in the 50s and my Dad was also a keen sprinter in his youth, and both advocated the forefoot running technique long before it became fashionable. Although I’m no sprinter, I’ve always liked the idea, but up until now it just seemed like one more thing to think about in a sea of obstacles trying to stop me getting out the door. If I just plod mindlessly without thinking or worrying, I can (or could, pre-injury) keep going for miles. The idea of focusing on form detracted from the fun of running. But then a few months ago I went and fucked my knee up and my attitude has since changed.
Although I’ve been doing bits and pieces in the hills, I haven’t had a decent run since May. (I’m almost at the spontaneous combustion/mass killing spree phase). It occurred to me that as I have to effectively start from scratch, now is also a great time to try out a whole new style. And frankly, my plodding method may have got me there eventually, but I was still erring on the side of tortoise.
As luck would have it, I still have a couple of pairs of minimal trainers from my days at Women’s Running magazine that I never got around to testing, so I’m well-equipped for my new venture. And curiously, despite a slow start, I’ve found the forefoot running technique certainly takes the pressure off the offending knee. It hurts my calves like hell afterwards and I feel like a daft fairy when I’m doing it, but we all have to start somewhere.
The bad news is despite being back on my feet I’m just not race ready, so I’ve had to drop out of The Great Scottish Run. I’m a bit gutted about this as it’s the anniversary run of my first date with Ultraboy, but there’s no point in irrevocably buggering up my knee for sentimental purposes, so I’m doing the sensible thing and dropping out.
Maybe he’ll take pity on me and whisk me off to Paris instead like he did for our second date (oh those halcyon days). But considering Ultraboy’s off to Chamonix this Friday to take on the TDS, I doubt it. 60-odd miles in The Alps will probably put him off France for life. Fortunately I have another lover to keep me occupied while he’s away, my beloved Scotland…