I have been complaining for several weeks that my new trainers, purchased as a treat in the Boxing Day sales, were still too white. I've taken them for several wet and windy runs through the park, yet they still looked as sparkling as they did the day I brought them home from Sweat Shop. Today, however, that all changed, as I dipped a toe into the murky waters of trail running for the first time - literally.
Plymouth University offers a free trail running session every Friday morning so, bored with my usual route and at a loose end after my ice skating lesson was cancelled (but that's a story for another day), I decided to go along. There isn't any coaching involved, although the lead is there to offer guidance, but the main benefit is free transport to destinations which are slightly further afield. As much as I love running by the sea, something I'll miss hugely when the time comes to leave Devon, it's nice to change things up a little.
This week, we headed to the trails around Saltram park. Views of the beautiful Devonshire countryside lay either side of the trails but things were slightly less scenic inside the paths, as we slipped around through muddy puddles and scrambled up steps covered in hazardous leaves. After less than a mile of running, my new trainers were definitely 'worn in', so to speak.
As, I must admit, was I. Whilst I have certainly ran trails before, I've never done so in wet winter conditions, and a mile of concentrating so hard on your footfall and dodging puddles is very different to a mile on hard ground. Factor in that I was already extremely sore from a weights class at the gym earlier in the week and it's safe to say my calves were burning.
Yet, despite the trip hazards, the muddy legs and the sodden socks, trail running was the most fun I've had in a long time. It was the kind of running that makes you feel alive. I once heard a quote that was something along the lines of 'I don't enjoy running, but running makes me enjoy life', and trail running shed an awful lot of truth on that sentiment.