Summer has started at last

After many months of wondering if we’ll ever get a spring this year, let alone a summer, I am pleased to report that we have had several days of warm, sunny weather. And I’ve been taking maximum advantage of it.

On Saturday I took my usual barefoot trip to Murlough Beach and Newcastle. On Sunday I went to Tyrella Beach where I played on the sand dunes and in the surf. And today I went back to Murlough Beach and explored the sand dunes and the caravan park.

I also discovered that although I’m on the wrong side of forty I can still sprint.

Yes, I’ve discovered something here that I could never have discovered in Belfast or London: barefoot running. I never had much interest in running when I was growing up in Belfast and the only sport I actually attended in London was the Marathon. Not only that, I never liked wearing gutties (that’s the Belfast word for sneakers or trainers). They made my feet sweat and they’re not my style anyway. And London and Belfast are no places for a barefooter. London is swarming with cars, and in many of Belfast’s streets there’s broken glass and dog dirt everywhere.

And that’s why I’m so glad I live within walking distance of not one but two beaches where all I have to worry about is the weather and the tides and I’m not encumbered by such a petty and distasteful thing as footwear.

So now I’ve discovered the advantages of barefoot running, I’ve decided to put in a short burst of running whenever I visit a beach. Nothing too strenuous, you know, not more than a minute or so.

This is my favourite time of year and this year in particular I’m really coming alive!


2 responses to “Summer has started at last

  1. Stephanie: My favourite ultra so far was actually my worst in terms of my placing. Normally when I enter a race, I’m trying to do my best (and sometimes that means aiming to win, if I’m lucky!). But with RacingThePlanet’s 250 km race across the Namibian desert in 2009, even attempting to win was not an option. A few months before the race, I suffered a pelvic stress fracture during a 50 km training race. It was incredibly painful – I could barely walk or move for weeks and it was months before I could attempt running again. And as soon as I resumed training, I suffered another stress fracture in my tibia as well as tendonitis. It was a nightmare! I decided that I was just going to do the race no matter what and take each day, each kilometer as it came. I was wearing an aircast up until the day I left for the airport, so I was definitely taking a bit of a risk, but it turned out better than I could have hoped. I began day one of the seven day race intending to walk over the sand dunes and see what my legs could handle… but my brain took over and I started to run. After four months of almost no exercise, I ended up running the entire race. Without the pressure of having to compete, I could simply enjoy the scenery and end every day grateful for what I had been able to accomplish. It was perhaps my toughest race, but that is what made it the best. It is in our most humbling moments that we learn the most about ourselves, no?

  2. Yes, when I started taking it seriously. As a teenager racing cross-country, I became a fan of Australian Herb Elliott [1960 Olympic 1500-meter champ] and his coach, Percy Cerutty, who advocated training on sand dunes. Up until that point, everyone had done interval training. He freed Herb Elliot of doing that boring training on the track to running up and down the sand dunes, which I greatly approved of. Interacting with nature seemed to be what running was about. I latched onto that through my teen years.

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