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Monday 25th July 2011

Yesterday’s run was a cracker.

We’re on holiday in Poland, staying in a town called Sopot on the Baltic coast. After a very early start and a day of travelling on Saturday neither of us felt like running that day but I managed to get out on Sunday morning. I don’t know the area, so Stephanie planned a route out for me involving a 5 mile out-and-back followed by a 6 mile out and back, all on coastal footpaths. It doesn’t sound like the most thrilling run but it was beautiful.

The first 5 mile section felt hard. This tends to be the case when I’m doing a long run. I knew I was looking for a pier 2.5 miles away but it just didn’t seem to be appearing despite me feeling like I was working quite hard. It took nearly 20 minutes and I was relieved to turn around and head back to where I started. 37 minutes. After the first 5 miles I started to loosen up a bit and started getting close to six minutes per mile, which is what I was aiming for. Just over half an hour for the next 5 miles.

This is when it started getting really hot. The sun was pretty high in the sky, and as any runner knows, running in the heat isn’t easy. The coastal path in Sopot is lined with trees but still has several open stretches where you are very exposed to the sun. I decided to keep running hard and then allow myself to run the last 6 miles easy as the temperature was getting high. The path was getting busy too. It seems that you either go to church or go for a walk on a Sunday morning in Poland. Or both.

There’s nothing quite like hammering it as fast as you can with nothing but straight path in front of you. Knowing I only had a couple of miles left before the easy part of my run I pushed hard, using walkers and cyclists as targets. Rollerblading seems to be popular here too and at one point I tried to keep pace with a man on skates. Not easy. He realised what I was doing and smiled before turning off the path to go elsewhere. He was clearly trying to avoid the humiliation of being beaten by someone without wheels. Or just going somewhere else. I prefer to think the former.

I did the next 5 mile section in a shade under 29 minutes.

The real fun bit of the run was the last six miles. The route took me through the town and past the hotels and gardens that line the seafront. Stunning. As the path became less busy it became greener and I was back in the shade. It also became narrower and harder to choose which route to take. I clearly chose the wrong one and ended up running on the beach. Soon enough, though, I found a very steep path back into the woods.

I love running on narrow winding trails, and doing so with a sun-drenched beach below me is such a great experience. I want to do it again. I felt like I could have run forever, but I was also looking forward to breakfast, so turned back and headed towards the town.

Going back a slightly different way down the coastal path I was overcome with a sudden urge to cool down. A few beach turn-offs passed before I had what most sports scientists refer to as a ‘sod it’ moment. I took my shoes and vest off, ran down the sand and jumped in the water. Nothing quite soothes the run-induced sensation of burning calves like cool sea water. I stood in the water for some time, sunning myself and cooling down. Amazing. Why can’t all runs be like this?

The sun was intense. I was thirsty. Time to head back. I put my shoes back on and jogged the short distance back to where we’re staying. In doing so, I also passed the 2000 mile mark for the year. The first 1000 took me 3 months; the next 1000 took me nearly 4. I wonder when I will hit 3000. Can’t wait to find out.

I’m going running.