Cycle Map Run

Smile and wave, boys.

Hands up who ran! Also known as me in emoji form

Hands up who ran today?

Hands up who smiled/nodded/waved/spoke at a fellow runner?

I hope that if I was on a stage asking all of you this then I’d see an audience full of waving hands. It seems pretty simple to say hello or even just a quick nod to someone you pass by but apparently some people find this quite difficult. Today I ran 10 miles along the Exe Estuary so decided to carry out a little experiment in which I said hello to every runner (as well as most cyclists/walkers coming from the opposite direction). It was raining so I don’t think I had a very large population under investigation but I think I could still discuss some of the outcomes.

Waiting at Lympstone train ‘station’ at the end of my run today. No one to smile at here!

I did initiate most of the greetings although as I approached my finish point I was in a bit of a daydream thinking about how much time I had before my train back that I nearly ignored a lady passing me, thankfully I managed a quick hello! I think there were 2 or 3 people who didn’t respond with one lady keeping her gaze at the path in front of her. It made me think; maybe this is her first run ever and just wants to get it over with? Maybe she was in the zone and didn’t register that I was close, which is a bit strange considering the path is probably wide enough to have no more than 3 people run side by side. A man I passed at the very beginning did look at me (I think) but no acknowledgement. I’m going to assume he was nearly finished his run and was concentrating on a sprint finish.

A lot of people go out for a run to escape from what’s bothering them and clear their heads. That’s definitely true for me some days and I’ll put my earphones in and try not to think about anything at all. Perhaps, some people like to zone out completely and in doing so they don’t notice or care to acknowledge others? I would like those people to know that there are lots of us out there who also feel the same and a little smile or nod is a good way to show support.

Of course, most people did say hello or good morning and I got the odd wave from some. Last year, I got a high five from a fellow runner and that made my day. It definitely made me run a bit harder and put a smile on my face for a mile or two. If I was running along the main streets of Exeter I wouldn’t be saying hello to every single person I saw, that is definitely a step too far but when you’re along the estuary you aren’t usually surrounded by crowds of people and a cheerful “good morning!” can help you feel a little less alone. Even cyclists gave me a smile this morning and I was hoping that people were really saying “Hello! You’re all the way out here? You must have ran far, well done!

I do not advise waving like this.

Due to the weather today, I think a lot of the good mornings also had an alternative message of “Are we wise?!”. When you are running in the rain, early in the morning or perhaps on a special holiday e.g Christmas Day (no experience of that one) then you make an even greater connection with fellow runners. You are both out there at a ridiculous time for who knows what reason so therefore you must say hello. That hello actually means “we are both equally as insane because we are outside before the streetlights turn off but also we are fantastic and can both feel smug for the rest of the day”. I don’t often have that kind of hello but when I do, I feel great, like I have been accepted in to some sort of special club for people who can get out of bed when it’s still dark and freezing outside.

I wonder if location has an impact on this and I don’t just mean urban v rural routes, I mean your region or country that you live in. I have only lived in the UK but my experiences in Northern Ireland, Scotland and now England are slightly different (I’m not going to say where I think is the friendliest but you can guess!).

I think it comes down to showing a bit of solidarity to other runners that are clearly working hard & doing their best. I don’t get annoyed when someone doesn’t smile back but rather I wonder what they could be thinking about that means they don’t even look at me. Next time you’re out running, see if you notice any trends in how people greet you. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to interact with others that is fine but why not give a nod and see if the response from the other runner makes you feel good. I can almost guarantee that it will.

In the words of the clever penguins from the film Madagascar, if you see a fellow runner just
smile and wave boys, smile and wave!

Have a great week everyone,
Happy running!

Words of wisdom

Hello 2018

We are a week into 2018 and I am just getting round to finishing a blog post I started on New Year’s Day. I am hoping it isn’t too late to reflect on 2017 and the novelty of New Year’s Resolutions hasn’t worn off just yet. First of all, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and weren’t too hungover on NYD. I spent NYE with my family, introducing them to the UK Run Chat hour on twitter and planning races for the upcoming months. 2018 is set to be the year of new challenges and hopefully smashing some PBs but before I get into all that, I will take a look back at 2017…


After the GWR smiling because I surprised myself with a new PB.

I wasn’t running too much at the start of the year as I was finishing my Masters dissertation alongside my full-time job. Looking back, I don’t know how I fitted it in but I completed it, presented a poster on my work at a conference in Vienna, passed with distinction and had a lovely graduation back home. Having free time again in summer meant I could really enjoy getting out running again! The first race of the year was the Jurassic Coast 10K in August, memorable for the hills, heat and my first insight to off-road running. The Great North Run in September was a fantastic experience. I will never forget running across the Tyne Bridge just as the Red Arrows flew overhead and I definitely won’t forget the pain in my quads which forced me to walk a bit at around mile 9 (tip: don’t cycle 50 miles the weekend before a half marathon). With a half marathon PB of 1:56 gained at GNR, I felt relaxed as I lined up for the start of the Great West Run in October. Clearly having a carefree attitude is the way to go as I powered up those hills and achieved a new PB of 1:52! Lastly, I took part in Run Up 2 Christmas with my club UKRC Exeter and collectively we ran nearly 1000km (that’s the target for this year!) and despite having a cold and all the usual Christmas distractions, it was good to have motivation to get outside.

New Year, New Me?

 I like throwing that phrase around to wind people up when discussing resolutions, however I did tweet recently that I am very much pro resolutions because why not try to make some positive changes in your life? Sure you can decide to eat healthier in June or try spin classes in September but the start of the year seems like a good time to start afresh. I do have some personal goals to achieve this year but I know you just want to hear about running so I will get to it!

2018 is the year of the marathon.

I am just a bit terrified. I tell people that I am now officially in marathon training and it tends to sound quite casual and generally in a calm tone. Then this happens:

Friend: Oh a marathon, how far is that again?

Me: twenty six point two miles


Me: twenty six POINT TWO

Friend: WHAT! That is so far, how on earth can you run that?!

I know it will be ok. I have very supportive friends and family, no other major commitments (outside of work) and plenty of shorter races to run between now and the end of May including a few 10K races in Exeter and a half marathon in Taunton.

Of course, I will then be running the marathon at the end of May. That’s ages! Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Currently I feel quite motivated and ready to tackle the training but I’m sure that will change over time. I am sure you will all agree that the best thing to do is not get too worried, keep up consistent training and enjoy the challenge. I will try to listen to that (plus any other advice) over the upcoming months.

Before my first run of the year! Smiling on the outside, crying on the inside.

I guess now (finally at time of writing and posting) I have finished week 1. My first run was on New Year’s Day and it was horrific in the rain & hail at a hilly forest at home. Since then, I have been back to my running club (@UKRCExeter), been to the new Exmouth park run & completed everyone’s favourite – the long Sunday run! I ran a total of 38.8km this week (I do not like leaving it so unrounded but I’ll live) and not had a drop of alcohol or a bite of chocolate (chocolate ban only started on the 2nd) so I am feeling pretty pleased.

Just in case you’re a bit nosy like me, my other goals/thoughts for the year ahead are:

  • Read more books. It takes me forever to read a book unless I am lying on a beach in 25 degree heat. I want to read/listen to more this year to stop myself looking at a screen all the time and maybe it will give me something else to talk about other than PBs and negative splits.
  • Drink less alcohol. I am taking part in Dry January just to give myself a bit of a boost and yes I probably will have a glass of wine as soon as February hits but I am going to try to not drink so much this year. I can tell this one might not go to plan…
  • Work hard. I’m currently listening to What Happened by Hillary Clinton (she even reads it herself, it’s fab!) and it has filled me with motivation in nearly all aspects of life but especially my working life. They key thing here is to not doubt yourself and what you can achieve.
  • Save money. Yes another typical one but to be fair this already happens, I just need to maintain it and that’s what direct debits are for.

I’m sure I will come back to these in a few months time and think “How did I think I could give up alcohol, are you mad?!” but at least it’s all written down and that means I will at least try to focus on the list above. I’m going to go drink a nice cup of tea now and read my book (see, I am already a better person).

I hope you all have a productive and successful week ahead!

Here’s to 2018!

Rach x

Exmouth Park Run. It was freezing!!!
Post-long run selfie today. I managed 8 miles in the freezing cold after helping at Junior Park Run.