Running and sketching.

I’ve had this idea in my head for a couple of months of combining my running with my drawing, runsketching.  I’ve been slowly building my long runs back up (injury set me back a year or so), and I’m keen to keep adding in the miles, but whilst doing something else I love too. Making the run have more of a purpose, exploring new places, and running to places that I’ve been wanting to sketch for ages.

I’m signed up to the Trail Running Magazines #run1000miles in 2017 challenge, that means running 20 miles per week to keep on track.  So realising that I had 11 miles to make up this week, and a good weather day, I decided to go for it.

I bought a new backpack for running with before Christmas, an Osprey Talon 9, with the thought that I could do longer runs with spare clothes etc.  So I decided it was time to try it out as I haven’t yet run in it.

So I got my kit on, light jacket, my #run1000miles buff, packed my sketchbook, watercolours, pencils, couple of Clif bars and salted cashew nuts.  Then I stood there in my bedroom and the doubts and the ‘Fraud Police‘ began in my head, ‘What was I thinking?’, ‘I can’t do this’, ‘ I look like a tit’, ‘ it’s too far’, ‘I can’t run that far, along that path on my own’, ‘I’ll look stupid sat drawing in my running gear’.  So I procrastinated, and faffed, put stuff in and out of my bag, put my backpack on and off, thought ‘nah!, I’ll just do an 8 miler on the road’.

Then a voice in my head said ‘Don’t be so bloody stupid, not a single one of those excuses is valid, no-one will care, and you can do it’.    Why do we listen to that little devil of doubt, it’s really hard to switch that off, and think ‘screw it, I can do this’.  All those podcasts and awesome athletes I’ve been following have started to rub off though,  and my thoughts altered ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’.

So I set off, and within a mile all those stupid thoughts had disappeared, and my mind was on the path and my breathing and jumping through the mud and puddles.

The whole run turned out to be a learning curve, my backpack was annoying, I’d taken my insulated jacket out, which left my watercolours and sketchbook crashing around in the bottom of a 9 litre bag.  But I carried on and tuned into the sounds of the birds, the change in light on the ground, new buds, and moss on the trees, the sound and smell of the water crashing over the weir.

And before I knew it, I’d reached the spot that I’d wanted to sketch at, Lemonroyd Lock. I’m lucky enough to live near an old railway line and can run from my house, off road, along trails, through a nature reserve and onto the Leeds/Liverpool canal. So I ran over the lock gates with a big smile on my face and found somewhere to sit, have a snack, soak up the view, and after a little while ‘the guts’ to get my drawing stuff out (the self conscious doubts entered my head again, ‘there was a man sat in his canal boat, he could see me!!…).

It was lovely, the sun came out for a bit, the smell of woodsmoke from the barges, a couple of swans passing by, and me, sat sketching in my running gear.

Unfortunately, that learning curve again, I couldn’t sit around for too long.  It’s March, when you sit still in March in sweaty running gear it gets cold.  If I’d have left my insulated jacket in my bag, all would have fine.  I also made the mistake of not taking water for painting, I’d thought I could use my drinking water, but then realised I wouldn’t have enough to run back with. I’d gotten too cold to paint anyway, but with hindsight I’m sure the guy in the canal boat would have topped my water bottle up.

So with my sketch done, it was time to warm up and get running.  I’d spotted a big roll of fencing along the shores one of the lakes on the nature reserve on my way past, and thought it would be a great place to sit and sketch.  So I headed back along the canal and headed for the lake. It’s been rainy, a lot rainy, it’s by a lake, it was very muddy and boggy.

The journey to the fencing roll was squelchy, but fun!, and I made it to my seat.

I could have sat all day listening to the oyster catchers and lapwings, watching the sunlight and clouds pass over the hillside. I sketched a little until I got chilly again.

Time to warm up again and head back home.  I loved it, loved every minute, the annoying, uncomfortable backpack, the noisy rattling watercolours in my bag, soggy, muddy feet, cold hands and legs.  Loved it all.  I did it, I took the first step, my first #runsketch.

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