July 20th, feeling the benefits of changes

7:14pm on a gorgeous, sunny, Monday evening. Last night when I came home from the club I didn’t have any more alcohol a home as I usually do I had some water instead as I wanted to be feeling fresh and ready this morning for a run. The result? I did feel fresh and ready. I woke around 4am to the night sky trying to get through my curtains. It got to 5:15am and I decided to have a couple more hours in bed instead of getting up early so I put the radio on low, turned over and went back to sleep. I got up just before 7am feeling ready for a nice long run round the Calder Valley.

I was feeling apprehensive and nervous about this run from the off. I’ve been struggling recently not just with pace but with how I feel during a run. It’s a horrible feeling when every run you do feels harder than you remember it being. I’m not saying it should feel easy and some runs will be a struggle but when you have that feeling every run and you can feel the energy draining from you mile after mile and even the easier trails feel like you’re running through treacle running becomes a chore and you feel demoralised and begin to wonder if it’s worth running anymore. Your outlet for your mental health issues becomes your biggest mental health issue. So it was that this morning I was wondering if I would be struggling and wondering if running was worth the effort or if I would start to feel like I did in May when I was flying effortlessly everywhere and I felt strong and confident and most importantly I was enjoying running.

I arrived at the little layby not far from Lumb Waterfalls just after 10am, changed my top and got embarrassed by another runner when they caught me peeing at the side of the road! Luckily they were going fast and looked to be on a mission so they didn’t stop to gawp. I tidied myself up, got my pack on and set off up the slope towards Sheep Shit House. And…I felt good! I felt strong and confident fairly bouncing up the slope towards the house. I’m still getting used to my Altras and the zero drop and at first both my knees were aching and I did think ‘here we go’ but the aching went as I got nearer the house and by the time I was at the bottom of the short climb to Shackleton Knoll I was warmed up and ready. I ran all the way up to the knoll the first time ever I can remember doing it and at the top I stopped at the knoll to take a few photos.

I packed up and set off on my run down the slope and onto Walshaw. It’s pretty much all downhill to Walshaw and I felt good running at a comfortable pace but most importantly I didn’t feel like it was a struggle and I was enjoying running again. Through Walshaw and down the short hill that takes you into Hardcastle Crags. At the crags instead of my usual route down to the beck and over the bridge I chose to run on the path past the house in the woods and down into Blake Dean. At the house a small dog came out and barked at me putting me off for a split second and I took the wrong path from the house. It wasn’t a massive error but instead of taking the easier, more runnable and direct path I took one that headed back down into the crags instead of going along the top. I soon realised my mistake and got back on the path I wanted to be on and carried on to Blake Dean.

Running down into Blake Dean I came across what I hate most during a run, stone steps. I’ve no confidence going down them and today was no different. I slowed right down and went down them as carefully as I could imagining what it must e like to fly down these with no fear at all. At the bottom of the dean I made my way along the bank of the beck and up onto the road for a short while before taking the stile and onto the final part of the Widdop fell race route. I followed this route taking a sharp left at the waymarker down to Graining Water and back up the other side towards Gorple Cottages.

At the first intersection I thought about going round the Gorple reservoirs but decided against it as I’m leading a run on Thursday round Haworth moor and I want fresh legs for it not tired legs. This turned out to be a good move. I carried on this part of the Pennine Bridleway before taking a sharp left up to Standing Stone Hill. I was running well now the best I’ve felt running for weeks and I thought I would stop at Standing Stone trig point, have something to eat and take some photos. Then as I crested the hill I saw 4 walkers at the trig point! I couldn’t believe it! I’ve never seen anyone at the trig point in all the time I’ve been running there. I carried straight on past the trig point over the moor and down towards Slack.

I came off the moor just above Slack and found the path that takes you down to Colden Cough. I wasn’t sure if this was the path for some reason, it just didn’t look right even though on OS maps it said it was a path. I went back up to the main road and found a sign saying footpath and decided to take this path down to the clough. I ran past a very old but impressive looking house for sale and ended up between two more modern but equally impressive houses. I got a bit lost here. I was looking for the yellow arrow to point me in the right direction and after a few seconds I found it on the side of one of the houses. I followed it and ended up in the corner of a field of nettles. I’m sure the owners of the houses were watching me laughing at my poor attempt to find a way out of the field. I then noticed a gate on the other side of the wall and found the path that got me there.

Once on the right path I descended down into the clough and picked up the path that takes you onto the Hebden route although I was doing it in reverse. I carried on this path until it diverged one way the Hebden the other down to the bottom of the clough and the climb up Lumb Bank. I decided to drop down into the clough as I hadn’t been in this part of it. I was struggling now but in a good way. The Altras alter how you un because they are zero drop and you run in a more natural style but this takes time to adapt to because you are used to running in an unnatural way due to the heel drop in most shoes these days. My calves were aching but my hamstrings were on fire! I expected this as it can take weeks to adjust to running in them and I knew the aching was from this and not from an injury.

I made my way through the clough and picked up the Lumb Bank climb and soon arrived at Heptonstall.

I ran round the back of Heptonstall and dropped down to Midgehole before the short climb up to Crimsworth Dean and the run through the dean itself. I love running through here as it has a bit of everything and it’s so quiet and peaceful. I know the way through here too after a few mistakes on previous runs and today didn’t disappoint. It was as beautiful as ever and a pleasure and a privilege to run through. Unfortunately Lumb Waterfalls is out of bounds at the moment because drunken hordes have been going down there causing damage and leaving litter everywhere. Whether it is private land and they can prevent you from going on signposted footpaths is debateable but I understand why they have put the signs up and hopefully this will put off any morons from going down and causing more damage. I went along the trial towards the falls but took the left up to Sheep Shit House before the falls.

Back on the trail I was soon back at my car although it felt as if I’d left my legs somewhere on the moors! It was a good run though. I struggled over the last couple of miles but this is a run that will do me good in the long run. I’m getting used to the Altras and my legs are starting to feel stronger already. I felt strong and confident today and I was able to keep going to the end a good 13.28 miles over some of the best terrain around the Calder Valley. Now is the time for a rest maybe a short run tomorrow but I need to listen to my body and do what it says. I’m looking forward to Thursday now, a couple of days rest will allow me to be stronger and ready to lead a run over Haworth Moor.

Home and something to eat, a shower and some washing, anything but studying but I can do that tomorrow as I’m not planning on running or doing any exercising. I’ll have a couple of wines tonight but all I’ve drunk so far today is water and I feel so much better for it. Weirdly I did get some headaches today. Maybe drinking too much alcohol masks the headaches and without the alcohol I get to experience them as they really are. Time will tell.

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