Thursday, 25 August 2011

Lessons from the Peak District

Mam Tor trail running
This post focuses on what I learnt from a few days walking and running in the Peaks. I'm splitting it into lessons for ease of reading.


Realising I have done the same sort of daily and weekly routine for too long it was time for a change of some sort. What do I enjoy doing? Where do I enjoy being? Needing time to think for myself and get away I remembered a quiet and beautiful place I once visited years ago.

Edale valley and village is one of my favourite places I have ever been. Situated in the heart of the Peak District National Park in a stunning valley shadowed by the famous Kinder Scout and Mam Tor Landscapes, it made for a great place to escape for a few days.

But what to do? Well that was an easy choice. I love to be outside in beautiful and quiet places. With a marathon fast approaching, a love for camping and the desire to try a mountain marathon in the future I decided to trial my new fast-packing gear in preparation for more serious events and adventures in the future. (My next post will be an example of my kit list for anyone interested in running, wild camping, mountain marathon and fast-packing/adventure racing) So here it goes, a few things I realised while out camping and running in the hills. Enjoy, I hope it helps.

Lesson 1: Competition

I'm not the competitive type. Competition is a destructive motivation that results in damage to your own personal development. My fitness and lifestyle is about working out how I can improve myself and help others to improve through my own experiences. Sod beating others. As my Grandad once said, "How ever good you are, there is always someone better." Competition is a false sense of security. Personal development and improvement and spending time helping others is what matters long term. So don't worry what times and distances others run or walk. Focus on building up your own levels at your own pace.

Lesson 2: Injury

Following my last post my ITB seemed up to the challenge, or so I thought! It wasn't. The inclines and declines proved otherwise. On the first day running the weather was atrocious. Wind drove rain horizontally right through you. Running from Edale to Castleton via Mam Tor was OK. Stopping for lunch, getting cold and running back led to tightening in my right leg. Disappointed I hobbled along in pain. Then I realised. Don't damage yourself, walk and check out the scenery. Realising I could walk OK and headed on still enjoying the experience. I hoped instead for a time when I can return and run the route pain free. On I went.

Lesson 3: Inclines and declines

Simple; if it's too steep to comfortably run with good form, walk the inclines, run the flats and declines! Don't be a hero, you suffer later, especially when carrying all your gear to survive in a rucksack on your back.

Lesson 4: Navigation

The clouds came in, visibility was down to 10m or so (that’s meters not miles!!!). The rain lashed down so hard the trails became streams, making it exceptionally hard to distinguish between stream and trail. I got lost. At first I thought, “Hey this is ok, I’ll find my way back”. Half an hour later and not a sign of another human being or a clue where I was I could feel the rise of panic from deep within the pit of my stomach. Good time to pray for help I thought. “Dear God, please help me get off this mountain safely.” At that moment I rounded a bend in the trail, and there before me like Angels sent to help were two young walkers. “Do you know where you are?” I asked.

“Sort of I think” was the reply.

“Do you mind if we stick together?” I asked.

“That would be fine mate!” Music to my ears and a sigh of relief!

Together we took a bearing and headed cross-country down, down, down, until an hour and a half later Edale was within our sights.

What have I learned from this experience? Well, basically, touch up on navigation or go in a group when the weather turns bad. Also, make sure you have sufficient survival gear with you (more on this in my next blog soon)

Easy to get lost in bad weather
Lesson 5: People are great

I met so many great and kind hearted people whilst walking and running on my own I cannot even begin to explain how refreshing it was to experience the love and kindness of a stranger. Love all those you meet. Treat people with the words, help and care you, yourself would like to be treated with. Go out of your way to smile, offer assistance and help those in need everywhere you go. I promise, a smile and a helping hand from a stranger in a time of need is never forgotten.

God Bless all those who helped, talked and smiled at me in my time in the Peaks x

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