Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why run?

Since my brief trip to the Alps a month or so ago I've been unable to climb due to nerve pain in my left hand. I think it's been brought on by the battering it got holding the hammer head of my axe for 10 hours across the Midi-Plan Traverse so I'm christening it 'plunger's palm'
In the mean time I've been running even more than ever. Running is one of those activities that divides opinion in a love-hate way, so I thought I'd explain a little of why I'm I love it so much.

The first and main reason for me is that it is that it keeps me sane - running is a guaranteed safety valve for surviving modern life. I'm sure there is a complex physiological reason involving various chemicals being released in the brain as to why it works, but the simple act of heading out for even a short run seems to de-clutter the mind. I suspect the rhythm of running helps and of course the fact that you can concentrate on one thing without having to be distracted by the bleeps and buzzes of the daily grind.
Secondly there's the health benefits - my family has a history of genetic heart disease with many of my relatives dying from heart attacks, so anything I can do to delay that is obviously great. You could argue there are health problems from running too - my knees definitely aren't wild about my return to running and most of my mates have opted for road biking as their middle aged fitness escape route. However biking doesn't have that.......direct connection with the land. There is something magical about moving on foot at 'speed' over the land. I'm sure it's a deep rooted memory of the great travels our ancient ancestors must have undertaken. But (particularly as you get fitter) naturally right about sweeping across interesting terrain. As well as the rhythms and contours of the land there's the simple little discoveries I come across my early morning runs. I'm lucky enough to have my local wood within a couple of minutes from my front door. 6.30 runs have brought the glittering crystals of snow highlighted in my head torch, the echoes of woodpeckers, racing squirrels and Spring's carpets of wild garlic and bluebells.
I think most impotantly running more than any other activity gives me a sense of 'freedom' A sensation of release, limitless possibilities and a reminder of the simple joy of being alive.

Friday, April 1, 2011

More Alps

A few more pics here from The West face of the Plan. The line of the route.
Me setting off the first pitch - a rather savage crack with some full blown laybacking and minimal feet - luckily its only about 15ft long, nevertheless I spent longer recovering at its top with hot aches than actually climbing it!

Since getting back from Chamonix I've been getting stuck into my running, managing 6 runs this week. I'm never going to be a brilliant runner, but I love the feeling of freedom it gives. At the moment it's much more manageable time-wise than climbing, plus I've got what feels like tendon pain in my left palm from all the plunging into unconsolidated snow heading through the night back to the midi. Still I've a chance to head back to the Alps in a couple of weeks - an even slimmer window this time but fingers crossed I can sneek in another quick route, and the running might pay off and I won't be limping along the snow-plodding bits so much.