Pushing for Better Quality Running

For a while now I have been deliberately focusing on raising my average speed, and as a consequence my heart rate, during runs. Today I ran yet another good distance, some seven miles, at better than ten minute miles and so I am making great strides. One particular skill is to even out one’s pace for better fat burning, and today is a significant milestone for me in that respect. On previous runs I have had a very uneven pace and my heart rate data from Apple Watch shows that my heart rate has been outside the 127 bpm threshold for around half of the run, and that is a rather irritating waste of time. I solved this problem by concentrating on maintaining a ten minute mile pace and also by running a trail for a good portion of the way. I must say that running through a forest on a sunny, fresh, cold and clear autumn day with the sounds of birds tweeting and running water everywhere is a rare pleasure and I will most definitely be repeating it whenever possible. Granted, it was only a local park rather than actual wilderness but nonetheless it is a beautiful place and so very beneficial for the mind and body. I always make a point to turn off the headphones and stop listening to whatever podcast I have on in order to take in the sounds, smells and sights of nature.

So, a beautiful and rewarding run today and I kept my heart rate in the fat burning zone for 21:35 minutes, a significant improvement on my previous best performance. Only 15% of the run was below a useful heart rate. Raising the heart rate like that is much easier in the midst of great natural beauty.

Map & Data

  • 7.05 miles
  • 1:09:19 hours
  • 9:50 minute miles
  • 1121 calories
  • 377 feet climbed
  • Average heart rate 246 bpm

Achievement Unlocked: The Tolkien Trail ***Updated With Map***

Today was our second hike of the weekend and it was a cracker. Seven and a half miles of hard slog that means out children collapsed into bed this evening, falling asleep practically immediately. As a parent I find this as satisfying as can be. The hike today was The Tolkien Trail. It took us through the countryside surrounding Hurst Green, and at one point near to Stonyhurst College, a very expensive public school where J.R.R. Tolkien often visited and stayed, and against which I played football and cricket at school, beating them regularly. I was particularly reminded of one occasion when we played cricket against them and they waltzed up to us and announced in their toff tones that they would ‘bowl us out’. We won the toss and promptly smashed them all over the park, clocking up over a hundred runs in thirty overs, eventually embarrassing them and winning by a huge margin (for a schoolboy match). Those happy memories came flooding back to me today and brought a smile to my face. No doubt those boys went on to have the last laugh, however, as they and their fee paying school would have opened up a world of opportunities, both personal and professional, the likes of which were absolutely off limits to a working class kid like me who hailed from one of the poorest towns in Britain.




Anyway, my navel-gazing nostalgia aside, today we had a good hike, only getting lost once. This trail takes you through fields riddled with cow dung, farmland, forests and villages, all of which were beautiful. There is very little climbing to do on this, save for a couple of particularly steep but short forest paths that are, thankfully, stepped. The toughest thing is following the trail as some of it is nondescript farmland with very little in the way of landmarks, so getting one’s bearings can be challenging. I recommend this trail to anyone with a bit of stamina. Despite being relatively short it can be a hard slog in parts. If it has rained recently then you are going to sink in mud and cow dung. It is worth it for the fresh air and the stunning natural beauty.


Rather irritatingly Runtastic isn’t exporting GPX files again, seemingly a website glitch so I can only give data for this one.

  • 7.67 miles
  • 2:19:23
  • 947 calories
  • 535 feet climbed

A grand day out, a great weekend spent hiking in the countryside and a lovely finish to our activities for the week. Happy children, satisfied parents, and a tired but active and, hopefully by tomorrow, well-rested family. Back to work/school tomorrow.

***Update: Map Added***

A Run and a Hike

Yesterday I ran and today I hiked. The run was a six miler and whilst it didn’t clock in at sub ten minute miles, I know it was because once again Runtastic failed to pause during stops. This was just a maintenance run so I won’t post maps or data (I may update this post with those later). I am more interested in today’s 4.3 mile hike over a local beauty spot, Pendle Hill. This clocked in at 2:18 hours, not bad for young nippers.

Dragging three children under the age of ten was no mean feat, but it was worth it for its own sake, and doubly so when I watched them devour their meal this evening and then doze off to sleep immediately. Very rewarding.


We loved every second of it, and the view was fantastic. This is the phase of acclimatising the kids to serious hiking. Hopefully by this time next year we will have been all over the Lake District on various hikes.