Fresh air. I love it. It is the first thing I need to feel in a morning, which is why I loathed living in a flat with windows that only opened at the top and inadequately. If I stay in overheated houses, I have to fling the door open and breathe. If I am in my little house with my little garden but in cold winter weather, it can wait for a while. But if I have no run scheduled until later, then I pretend I’m a smoker only my cigarette is a cup of coffee, and I wrap up and sit outside. The Victorians called it taking the air. I take the air.

Today I took a lot of air. I needed to do an eight mile run from my training plan that I’d skipped on Monday. I had things to do today, such as clear out my office so I can think straight, but the run had to be done. I thought about driving to Meanwood Park and running up and down the Valley Trail, but there is something much more satisfying about opening the door and setting off. Except that that is never quite true. I open the door, I point my Garmin to the skies, I wait, and then I wait. And meanwhile I do a dynamic warm up so that people walking past wonder why I’m swinging my hips like a deranged ape. And then I set off. And I was happy, because I was heading for Eccup reservoir. I love this place. I took Elliot there last week, but he had run too much the week before and his legs were not behaving. It was stop-start. Still we got to Eccup and he liked it though I will never, sadly, forget his description of my mojito energy gel as tasting “like you’re eating a cold.” Getting to Eccup means running nearly two miles up Harrogate Road, which is not beautiful, but nor is it troublesome, because it is the road that leads to Eccup. Then through a couple of golf courses, waving hopefully at golfers about to swing in your direction, ducking if necessary, and there is Eccup Reservoir.


IMG_2272What a beautiful place to have as my near-back-yard. I’ve done early morning runs there, and the water is busy with birds, just sitting and gossiping. Sometimes they take off, still talking. Passing the time of day. Taking the air.

For a while I ran listening to music. My friend Andrew makes exceptionally good running mixes, and I don’t often dedicate time to listening to music as an end in itself, so a run can be a musical treat. And if a run gets hard, or my energy flags, music helps to distract me. Even the beats per minute help. But I never run with music in a group. I am baffled by people at races who run with music, or the girl who came to a club run and ran with an MP3 player. I thought the point of club runs was that they are sociable. Anyway my iPhone died and I’m glad it did, because I paid attention to everything. I saw:

Sheep in the field

Kestrels in the air

Cows in their pen

Walkers in mud


The colour of the sky

The sun (so dazzling that I nearly ran straight into an iron bar that I couldn’t see)

Mud. So much mud.

Of course there was more than that. I ran, and I looked, and I ran and I looked. The time didn’t pass slowly, and I didn’t need music, because I had the fresh air. It was so captivating, I ran 11 miles instead of 8. And now I can’t move.


  • MILEAGE: 11:09
  • TIME: 1:51:07
  • PACE: 10 minute miles

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