Why a cold, wet and dark night run can feel so good in the end
I set out for today’s run feeling like I really, really could not be bothered. I have been struggling with motivation for about two weeks and I seem to find any excuse to stay at home or do something else instead.
Except, I know that running makes me feel better. And running is easy, accessible, mood enhancing and good for my physical health.
However, by the time I was finally on my way to the start on the trail route it was already getting dark. Wispa the Wonder Whippet wasn’t too sure either because it seemed to be too cold and wet.
I was determined to give it a go though and I told myself I’d run as far as I could be bothered and then just turn back.
But you know what happens sometimes?
The more you run, the better it feels
You start out and it feels so bloody freeing. I knew I would be running into the dark night and on an off-road trail that would be wet, muddy and, at times, rather remote.
I had my head torch with me so I wasn’t afraid. Actually, I like running at night because it feels different. I like the challenge and the view of the trail by head torch.
To start with I tried to run without a light. However, the puddles had turned to mini rivers and I was worried I would slip and fall.
I switched on the headtorch – I am testing the Petzl Aktik Core just now – and that offered a great beam. But less than halfway into the run the torch battery started to fail. I suspected before I set out that I would not have enough charge in the battery but for some reason I thought it would be fine.
It wasn’t! I struggled on and just slowed a bit to cope with the darkness. Running through woodland and trails was pretty dark and I had to feel my way with my feet. This gave me something more to think about than “just running”.
I faced hailstones, torrential rain, deep mud, slippery rocks and strong winds in places. The trees moved and creaked and I could spot the yes of wildlife on several occasions. I would have been afraid if I had stopped to think about it for too long but afraid of what? Afraid of the dark, the weather, the wildlife?
Actually, it felt good to be out in the winter elements. It felt like I had an amazing freedom.
Then came a natural light
As the trail rose higher and the path opened up on to moorland, a sliver of moon came out from behind the clouds and suddenly I cold see my way ahead a lot better. It was quite magical.
The lights of wider Glasgow shone below in the distance but they also seemed to offer a brightness that meant I could see where I was running. I still needed to watch my feet quite carefully and I did trip on a couple of boulders but I was fine in general.
The deepest puddle was at the highest point, strangely. All the snowmelt has left the ground very soggy and I ran though a puddle that reached almost to my knees. Wispa found a way around this!
As I descended back towards my campervan the trees closed in again above my head and I needed more light. I switched on the headtorch and it allowed me another 10 minutes of half-light. This was enough to see my way safely down a winding trail and along a section of board-walk.
I imagined I would be the only person running in the dark at Mugdock Park tonight but as I headed on to the West Highland Way I saw another person with a headtorch. I couldn’t catch them (maybe it would have been dangerous to do so?!) but I liked that there was another nutter willing to brave the winter elements tonight on their own.
As soon as I finished the run I felt immediately upbeat. I wish I could bottle this feeling to remind myself how I will react each time I get off my lazy arse to run.