Running in a sweater

Yesterday I went for a run.

Nothing unusual about that. 3.5km so a bit in the short side but not unusual.

What makes it stand out was that I was wearing none of my usual kit. I didn’t have my running shoes (not even the old scruffy pair that retired last year that I keep for gardening). I didn’t have my shock absorber bra. I didn’t even have walking trousers on – I was wearing a red acrylic jumper, cotton trousers and cheap canvas shoes that I’d have called pumps at school.

I had an hour to kill and a reservoir to run round. The paths looked good so off I went.

I quickly realised my shoes had seen better days as I felt every lump in the compressed gravel track. I was both sweaty and chilly as my clothes didn’t wick as well as usual. But it was fun. It was invigorating. It was a bit hairy getting across underneath the dam when I really regretted the lack of tread on my slick soled pumps.

Two years ago I wouldn’t have gone. I didn’t have the right stuff. Last year I wouldn’t have gone because I didn’t have the right stuff.

But this year I said stuff the stuff.

If I hadn’t I wouldn’t have seen the sunset over the dam. I would have sat in the car bemoaning the fact the cafe was closed getting bored and fed up waiting for the rest of the family to finish their walk.

Take your opportunities. You never know what might happen.


How long is a long run?

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt since running it’s that effort is only measured by your efforts. What one person considers a long run another will see as a quick jog around the block.

I get this embarrassingly frequently. I run about 5K as a “normal” or “short” run. I have a few little routes of around that length and when I’m asked how far I go and answer “about 5K” or “maybe 3 miles” I get surprise and admiration that feels unwarranted. I don’t run as far or as fast as a lot of my running group who do half and full marathons or fell races.

And yet for them that’s their normal. Being able to run a 10K without really needing to train is their baseline.

Running is about being better tomorrow than you were yesterday. Not about comparing yourself to anyone else.


So how far do you need to go?

Never forget that for track athletes 5K – the length of a parkrun – is considered a long distance. How many thousands of amateurs are running that every week and considering it a reasonable distance? Not overly far. Nice to squeeze in before brunch sort of a distance.

If 1 mile is the most you’ve done so far then 2 miles is a long run. Long enough that you need to pace yourself. Long enough that you need to factor in recovery time. Even if 2 miles is barely a warm up for someone training for marathon and beyond it’s your long run.

And that’s what counts. Not how far Dave went last weekend (even if he is still hobbling on Wednesday evening). How far you need to go to push yourself. That’s how long a long run is.

Adidas Response TR Boost Shoes

toe of Adidas Response TR Boost Shoes

I have been meaning to write a review of these for quite a long time now. Actually I’ve had them over a year now so they’ve been on quite an extended test!

Response Tr Boost shoes

When the shop suggested these I was quite dubious. I’d gone in looking for trail shoes but after discussing it with the assistant, they suggested the type on on/off-road running I do meant a bit of extra padding would be worth trying.

I pulled them on and laced up. The neoprene fabric hugged my foot in a snug embrace quite unlike anything I’d felt before and the sole unit looked HUGE! They were also quite a striking blue and orange (the mud has subdued the colours somewhat).

The assistant gently urged me to try them on and suggested I try running on the treadmill. I felt very self-conscious. At least I was wearing a sports bra! But as the machine picked up speed I could feel that these were supremely comfortable shoes so I refused to look my credit card in the eye and bought them.

The next day I took them out for a 16K run. I didn’t actually intend to go that far. Behind the house I was staying in is a hill (the slope up from the housing estate is called “Killer Hill” on Strava) and I thought it would be fun to bob up to the top, take in the view, then run back in time for tea.

Getting up was pretty easy. The fancy Champion rubber compound on the soles meant they gripped even on slightly damp tarmac despite having trail lugs. The route up was mostly on gravel forest tracks with a bit of grass as I ran across the top of the hill to the viewpoint.

Getting down again was not so straightforward. But not because of any failing on the part of my shoes! They remained impressively comfortable, even when trudging round endless bramble bushes and muddy puddles looking for the way through a field (which wasn’t there – I’d taken a wrong turning and had to backtrack).

I finally made it down the hill and the last section should have been a flattish amble across fields around the base of the hill. Unfortunately I’d forgotten that, outside national parks, it can be pretty hit and miss whether or not you can actually find field paths so, after being confronted by three lines of barbed wire in a hawthorn hedge, I retraced my steps again. This meant I needed to climb over the shoulder of the hill to link up with the route I’d taken on the way up. My feet were wet and muddy from long grass, my water was running low and I was immensely grateful that some inner voice had suggested I throw a banana in my pack before setting off. This time the terrain was mossy tarmac interspersed with rocks as I followed a BOAT that had at one time been metalled but was now gradually sliding into oblivion.

I finally arrived back, had a long cool drink, a long warm shower and then ate pretty much a whole pizza.

Throughout the whole shenanigans my feet were very well cushioned and I thought to myself “If I ever get round to starting my blog I shall have to write a review of them”

400 miles later I’ve actually found time to do so. I love these shoes and I’ve actually got a second pair sitting in a box in the wardrobe that I bought in the Boxing Day sales.

white Adidas Response TR Boost Shoes

As you can see the new ones are white. Which is how you can tell that I haven’t yet worn them. Anyway, the fact that I bought a new pair ought to indicate how much I love these shoes and I’m fully intending to try a pair of road focussed Boost shoes for my next pair.  If I can get my credit card to agree that is…..

I like:

  • the snug neoprene webbing that allows the shoe to flex as I run but holds it all together. It’s like wearing slippers!
  • the sole. It grips on pretty much anything I’ve tried it on (except mossy cobbles but then people in Innov8 and Salomon trail shoes were slipping too)
  • the lifespan. If you compare the two shoes you can see that the blue ones are worn (and muddy) but they still clearly have quite a bit of life left in them. Some trail shoes only last a couple of hundred miles but not these ones – and because of the Boost cushioning they’re happy on road too.
  • the fit. I have never, ever, had one of these shoes even slightly come off my foot. Even when two feet down in a deep pool of mud. My leg returned black and my shoe – which I expected to be buried forever – came up with it (but that’s another story).

I dislike:

  • the colours. I’m not overly fussy so I got blue and orange because that’s what the shop had. And being more concerned with comfort than looks I’m not that worried about my new pair being white. But neither colour really catches me.
  • time to dry. Sometimes they get really, really soaking wet and then the thick neoprene can take a day or so to dry. But wearing them slightly damp isn’t actually a big deal as they don’t rub. Even when I’ve stuck my foot in an extremely deep mudbath and had to hose myself down before being clean enough to get to the shower.

So there you have it. My not-quite-a-review-not-quite-an-anecdote. (And needless to say these are all my own views – I’m not famous enough to endorse products)



Weekends are tricky for me to do much running. And I know that in advance so I pack my shenanigans into the week, running whilst the kids are in school.  But I still suffer pangs of envy whenever I see a runner enjoying the weekend or see your tweets about races and Parkruns. Oh well. I’ll just have to run past your office windows….

Do you get running envy when you can’t run?

Running Jealousy


Could you bare all?

Over the weekend it was brought to my attention that the City of Preston is intending to host a Nudefest 5K. In November. On the 26th. Route TBC.

I shall not be attending.

There are several reason’s why I shall not be attending, however the biggest one is simply it is in Preston. In November.

I’m not a fair weather runner. Pretty much the only weather that I avoid is icy conditions, but I do like to have a little bit of protection from the elements. The thought of stripping off (sports bras and trainers are permitted in case you were wondering) and running on what is likely to be a cold, damp, autumnal day is already bringing out goosebumps.

What about you? Are you intending to run? Have you run in a Nudefest?

Not Preston. Moscow. But it’s what I imagine running naked in Preston would be like.

Route 1 – Bramhall Park, the Golf Course and the Hall

Bramhall Hall

Running in an urban area need not be a boring slog along busy roads. As this route around Bramhall Park will show, you can spend plenty of time off-road if you choose the right route!

I prefer to avoid doing this route in the middle of the day as it does cross a golf course, and just before it dives under the railway line it crosses a fairway. If that doesn’t bother you, wear bright clothes and enjoy your run.


The run (green line) starts from the main Bramhall Park car park. If you can’t get parked there you can start from the smaller car park you passed on the way in. In this case you will need to run up towards the café and then turn right to get to the start point.

Route 1 - Sketch Map

Opposite the ticket machine is a gravel path. Follow this a short distance until it meets the corner of a fence. Follow the fence round to the right then, still following the boundary it will turn left again and head for Carrwood Road.

Once you reach the road the path across the golf course should be easily visible straight ahead. Follow the path as it winds round several holes before crossing a fairway and, slightly improbably, goes under the railway line.

When you emerge back onto a road turn left. You will cross a side road then merge with another road on the right just by a house which appears to have been built in the ruins of a castle. Keep left here to go up to Ack Lane and then turn left by the carefully hidden telephone box to go down Robins Lane and back under the railway line.

A short distance further on a cobbled path heads up on the left. Just after it kinks round to the right you go through a gate into Carr Wood. The path is clear and after most of a kilometre comes back out onto Carrwood Road not far from where you crossed it previously.

The path ahead looks tempting, and in fact will take you back to where you started, but to finish we are going to loop round the park a little, taking in the views so instead turn right then almost immediately left down the muddy path along the side of the houses on the other side of the stream.

This path winds round to the right and you need to follow it until you have no option but to turn left then take the steps a little further on your right. If you turn left too early and don’t go past the bowling green and pétanque court just turn left and head down the hill when you reach the surfaced track.

Bramhall Hall

If you’ve reached the right place you should cross a wide track and take the path along the side of the Ladybrook. As you run along this track the trees open up framing a lovely view of Bramhall Hall. Turn right over the stone bridge then run along the side of the long lake, avoiding the geese (and duck poo!) then take the path on the left when you reach the smaller lake and head up towards the entrance.

As you reach the car park you will see a white gate on your left. Go through this and when it turns right run straight across the Archery Field back towards the Hall. You can either call it a day and stop here, grabbing a coffee from the cafe, or turn right and head back to the car park to complete the loop.

Bramhall Hall

You can view the route map in mapmyrun.