Spring into outdoor exercise
23rd March 2011
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This post is for everyone. For those who wouldn't class themselves as natural exercise lovers. And those who (like me) think that getting out and getting active is one of life’s amazing privileges. What I wanted to share with you was the story of a very recent run full of the joys of spring. To tell you what I saw, how I felt and just what a fabulous experience a midweek, late morning, 12 mile run can truly be.

Trotting slowly up Orchard Brae on rather tired legs, I did initially question my sanity on setting out on such a long run. However, starting with a deliberately steady pace, at least my heart and lungs were finding the warmup fairly gentle. By the time I crossed Queensferry Road, I was finding that the rest of my body was now much more willing and even looking forward to the experience.

One of the great benefits of living in Edinburgh are the many opportunities to get away from the roads and out into 'green' spaces. This run was certainly no exception, as I soon turned off Ravelston Dykes and zoomed down the bumpy slope to join the cycle path heading north. With mature trees on both sides and the birds singing, I was then able to tune out a little and concentrate on the joys of outdoor exercise.

With an increasing spring in my step and all soreness in my muscles forgotten, I settled into a faster 'cruising' pace as I made my way towards Silverknowes. It was at this point that I began to see more and more groups of cyclists, walkers and dogs. All were making the most of the mild weather and the hints of sunshine. Being a Tuesday, the majority were retired folks who were socialising and having a fine old time whilst getting their dose of mood and body boosting fresh air. It was really heartening to see – if anyone every tells you they're 'too old' to exercise, they're shutting themselves off from a whole load of great experiences as well as limiting their own future health!

Cruising through leafy Barnton I began to see more wildlife. Most notably a wren which popped out of a hedge to say hello. It also included a multitude of birds, squirrels, rabbits, flowers, bushes and trees of all descriptions. Waving to some golfers as I passed through the golf course (on a proper path complete with fences I must add!), I approached Cramond and the River Almond walkway.

Now this was more varied running – softer and bumpier underfoot, with a challenging flight of steps in the middle, brilliant for testing how fit you're feeling. I became really aware of the power and capabilities of my body. And felt invigorated by the sensation of fresh oxygen flowing into my chest and coursing through my veins freely, adding speed, agility and sheer zing to my movements. This is what it's like to feel truly alive and connected to the world – simply amazing!

With only a tinge of regret (it looks fantastic, but there's always another day), I continued past the Cramond Falls Cafe along the glistening river and weaved my way through the boats to reach the seafront. I resisted the temptation to point out to a man drilling under a 20ft yacht that boats generally float better without holes in them! Despite being a weekday late morning, all human and dog life was here – all out playing, relaxing and full of the joys of spring.

The Esplanade offers great views whatever the weather conditions, but this time I'd say it surpassed itself. Great visibility gave stunning views of Fife (sunnier than Edinburgh at that point) and the sea was calm and unhurried. Add in the turbo boost I gained from the wind on my back and you'll maybe be able to understand the sensation of flying which I felt as I powered along the seafront.

Of course, what goes down invariably has to go up, so there was some climbing to do up off the Esplanade, Waterfront Avenue (very interesting, if you've not been down there) and up to Crewe Toll. Far from being dreaded, I always relish the challenge and change of rhythm that a bit of climbing brings. There's dynamite in the knowledge that having to push harder is increasing my ability to 'cruise' faster and longer in the future. Tune in, listen to your body and you can actually feel it happening (well I like to think so anyway!).

With just the last 10 minutes of easy, downhill running still to go, I was able to relax still further. The cycle path was filled with Selex workers escaped for lunchtime constitutionals either strolling, or trainers on and boosting their aerobic capacity like me. There were also more cyclists, the occasional young family and even a couple of local policemen (sadly no police horses this time) out taking the air. I might've been out running by myself, but was very far from feeling lonely or unconnected from the rest of humanity.

On arriving home I felt thirsty, ready for my lunch, rather warm and very satisfied with my endeavours. My (previously foggy) thinking had cleared and I was ready to face the rest of the working day refreshed, energised and with a huge sense of achievement.

The next time you pass a runner working hard, don't automatically think that they're 'mad' for pushing themselves. They're most likely enjoying the same views, wildlife and fresh air as you are. It's just going past more quickly and they're getting tons of other benefits at the same time.

About the Author

Jenny M

Member since: 18th May 2011

I believe that exercise is for everyone - let me help you build your fitness, confidence and energy, set realistic goals and have loads of fun along the way

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