May 22nd, long run day


It’s 9:22pm on a Friday evening as I write this but I haven’t done much today so I don’t have a lot to remember which is good for me.

The morning was horrendous to say the least. I woke with a massive headache feeling tired, drained and a bit confused to say the least. I had planned to do a long run the day before and I knew I had to make a decision quickly of I would lose too much time in which to do the route I had in mind, a reverse of the Hebden 22. I weighed up the likely outcomes and the effect these would have on my mental health. Go for a long run, feel even worse but happy in the knowledge that I didn’t have to run anymore this weekend and compete in this elevation challenge I am involved with for Queensbury Running Club or go back to bed, wake up later feeling better but wishing I’d gone out for that long run and regretting it because I had a weekend of running to do because I’m so competitive and have to prove myself all the time.

So I set off to go for my long run despite not feeling up to it but doing so because I knew that at the that at the end of the day I would feel better for it and I could look forward to a long weekend of catching up on everything that my running obsession stops me doing. I knew this was the best for my mental health in the long run and I would benefit from it.

Half an hour later I parked up near the mill at Old Town and set off down the steep hill on my run. I had told my friend Claire what I was doing and she had told me to ‘do be careful’ and these words stayed in my head all the way on my run. Running a route in reverse is not as easy as you might think even if you have done the route the usual way a number of times. All the landmarks you look for are out of place, if you’ve raced the route you just follow someone else and don’t take too much notice of where you’re going. If you’ve run it on your own you might think you know the route but everything is out of place and looks different so you have to be careful and watch where you’re going and so this proved to be the case.

At first I was fine recognising where to go and not missing my paths, remembering where to go and where not to go. I made one small error but it was nothing and I carried on. Then I got to the road. I knew I had come the right way because I remembered the gate I had just gone through but I also remembered going straight over the road and when I did I didn’t recognise the large, white bungalow whose front garden I ended up in. I retraced my steps and started going up the road but I knew this was the wrong way, my instinct told me. I stopped to regather my thoughts and look at my map thinking about what Claire had said and went back down and found a small path that I didn’t recognise at the side of the white bungalow and I was back on the route. It looked so very different from the other side.

The run carried on as per planned until I got to the loop over the top of Cragg Park and encountered around 40 cows sat there staring at me. I turned back and ran on the road letting a couple of hikers know who did the same as me. You do not mess with a load of cows!

Back on course I was feeling good and made my way down a steep path with steps into the valley below Cragg Vale Road. I could feel my legs going and I had a long, long way to go. My legs where getting heavier and heavier and my progress felt like it was slowing even though my watch said otherwise. I got to the end of the trail and had a drink and something to eat while I decided what to do. Did I continue on my planned route which I knew was difficult, long and energy sapping or did I change route and run up the road to the reservoir (first time I’ve ever spelt it right straight away!) and save some miles and time? I thought about what Claire has said and wondered what she would tell me to do. I didn’t need to message her and ask her. I knew she would tell me to cut it short and save time and miles. Claire would probably have told me to do a shorted route and head straight back down into Mytholmroyd and maybe at the back of my mind this was another reason I didn’t message her because I didn’t want to hear that knowing I would do what Claire said because she has my best interests at heart and knowing how competitive I am and how I am constantly trying to prove myself to others and myself I took the middle option and chose to go my own way, my choice, my fault if it goes wrong.

I climbed up to the reservoir and found the shortcut across the moor to Stoodley Pike. It was longer and steeper than I remembered but it saved about a mile and the rest of the route was standard reverse Hebden, tough but doable.

At the end of the run I was drained mentally and physically. I had nothing left. I had done as much elevation as I thought I would but in less miles. On the downhills I was walking because I was scared of falling over and injuring myself. I was very, very careful how I went and it paid off. I keep some bottles of pineapple juice and wine gums in my car and these paid off as I had enough energy to drive home. At home I had something to eat and went to bed for a nap before popping to Tesco’s for a well earned bottle of wine.

Mentally I feel good. Yes I’m tired of course I am but I know I can lie in tomorrow morning and look forward to writing some more of my life story and having a relaxing weekend without worrying about running challenges. I feel good today in many ways.

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