The images above were taken on Friday of last week on a much anticipated run that lived up to and exceeded all my expectations. We had been on our annual jaunt to Purbeck Valley Folk Festival, where we work as stewards, along with a load of our mates, which I thoroughly enjoy, but the icing on the cake, for me, was this run along the beautiful ridge which is the boundary between the magical kingdom of Purbeck and ordinary old beautiful Dorset.

When I started running four years ago, it seemed like a necessary chore to try to maintain my stamina and stave off the ravages of increasing years………...I had no idea that addiction was around the corner. After graduation, new runners go off in all directions. Some love competition…...not me…...I tried one organised 10k run and all it did was confirm all my prejudices that, on the whole. I prefer to run by myself. So my running has evolved so that I do 2x 5k runs each week and a longer run, from 10 to 16k. While I live in glorious Mid Devon and am lucky enough to have some beautiful routes to run from home, my real joy is running away from home in stunning surroundings.

I am convinced that running heightens the senses, once the heart rate is increased, otherwise, why would running through such magnificent landscapes be so much more exciting than merely walking through them?

My preplanning for this run meant that I knew it was probably going to be the longest run that I have done this year, so I made sure I had 750ml of very dilute apple juice and a handful of dates for refuelling en route. I will here make a confession. This run was very likely going to exceed the 10% rule about increasing distance, which exists as a guide to keep injury risk minimal, since last week I only ran 23k in total. Knowing that the top of this ridge is the perfect gentle grassy running surface and telling myself that I could always walk back if I became exhausted, I headed out from the campsite and negotiated some shady lanes before climbing up onto Brenscombe Hill.

The top left photo shows the view Northwards over Poole Harbour from Nine Barrows Down. The one below is the view of the ridge looking West and you might just pick out Corfe Castle, the Gateway to Purbeck, standing sentinel in one of the breaks in the ridge. The other two pics were taken at the eastern end of my run, on Ballard Down, with the top one looking out over Studland beach toward Bournemouth and the other, South over Swanage.

The views are breathtaking all along this ridge and I would have liked to continue to the spectacular Old Harry Rocks, but realised that was going to be pushing things and Ballard Down was my main target. So at 8.74k I turned round to retrace my steps, still feeling pretty fresh, despite the heat, which I had not fully anticipated. There was an inadvertent detour through Ullwell, when I missed my path, but apart from that, it was back the way I had come.

I cannot convey the joy that these sorts of runs give me. The deep life affirming pleasure that life is to be lived and I am doing my damnedest to live it, exudes from every pore along with a very large amount of sweat. I was a bit concerned that 750ml was not enough fluid, considering the temperature, but bearing in mind that I don’t normally carry any fluid for a 12k run, it actually worked out well, with regular rehydrating from 5k in. Refuelling for longer runs has always been an issue, but having had breakfast beforehand, whereas normally I run 10k on a banana, the dates kept my energy levels up and I was really pleased with that aspect.

You can tell from the photos that I stopped. I also walked some very steep and loose sections of rocky path. I have no idea what my pace was, I haven’t looked, but the entire run, from start to finish was about 2 hours 22 min and I covered 17.48k, which is indeed my longest run of the year. My knees ached a bit on the 5 mile walk the following day, but apart from that my old bones and sinews stood up well. What got a real boost was my sense of being really alive, at one with my environment and my thankfulness that I can actually do this.

Where will your running take you? You may not know yet, but it will give you memories and a sense of achievement that is difficult to equal. That is my running highlight of the year…..so far……..next week I am off to the Lake District and have my eye on a pretty little run along the shores of Coniston Water……….watch this space.

Keep running, keep smiling.

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90 Replies

  • What a beautiful place and fantastic run, I think your knees did very well only having a minor ache, I think mine would have phoned Esther Rantzens little known 'Jointline'. I also love the fact that you enjoyed the run for its own sake, not the pursuit of a time. I am guessing Coniston will give you another set of memories worth savouring. Glorious. Thanks for sharing a precious run.

  • Each run is precious, Jan...........but some definitely stand out.

    It's good to be alive!!

  • Absolutely marvellous, what a wonderful outlook, and what a powerful piece of encouragement for us at the beginning of our running journey. Thank you.

  • Yay! Well done! A gorgeous part of the world indeed. I can't wait to run there! Been there often as a non runner but to see it as a runner is a whole new adventure.

    I love that we can just run now. It's all before us to be enjoyed. Have running shoes will travel 🙂

  • Purbeck is heaven for runners and walkers, with hundreds of miles of footpaths, both inland and coastal and some of the most distinctive landscapes in Britain.

  • Excellent post as always. I'm starting a journey myself this week to extend the distance and enjoy my runs. This is of great encouragement.

  • Get the miles on the legs, Damien and possibilities open up before you. It's a great big beautiful world.

  • Very well done indeed :)

  • It was all my pleasure, John.

  • Beautiful, inspiring post - gorgeous pictures! Thank you for sharing this 🌄

  • It was the landscape that provided the inspiration.........and I couldn't keep this to myself.

  • Beautiful

    Not sure you were ever going to "head back if exhausted" the run was carrying you on.

    Of course we all know that Rignold would say 750mls is not enough:p

    I'm afraid to me The Lake District still says lakes, water swim to me :)

    However, I love this post as I can feel the great to be alive feeling.

  • Thanks Nikki.

    Planning the get out from a long run is crucial, in my opinion, and on a there and back run there are few options beyond walking back.

    My biggest water bottle is 750ml, so on top of good hydration the day before, I reckon I was well covered. Longer runs will create logistical issues.

    I am a crap swimmer but had a lovely wallow at Chapman's Pool, before we came home.

  • What a fantastic run lannodatruffe 😊...

    Have fun in the Lakes... ooh.. you could run round Buttermere or Tarn Hows but that might be a bit tame for you😊lol...

  • It was glorious, Jan.

    Tarn Hows is a distinct possibility, as we are staying in Coniston and I am looking for runs from our base. Also I will not be doing any high level runs. Having seen runners on the ridges with nothing more than a camelback, I have been envious, but my experience of the area is that the weather can change almost instantaneously and I believe you should be equipped for all eventualities when on the fells. So valley runs rule.

  • Yes, boots for hiking on the fells and up top... and waterproofs at the ready😊

    Have a great time, its a favourite of ours too. x

  • You have summed it all up in your post what beautiful scenery and how fantastic to be able to run that distance and enjoy it .

  • That distance, which I was quite relaxed about beforehand, turned out to be eminently manageable, mainly because I got my fuelling and hydration sorted, which creates a problem for me, because I like to run first thing, not wait for breakfast to settle.............you just keep learning, Rockette.

  • A superbly motivational post... beautiful photographs too..I was thinking about you, only yesterday and wondering what you were up to, and there you were, running 18K!!!

    Thanks for this very opportune and inspiring post:)

    Happy Running in the Lake District too... cannot wait for the post! :)

  • Reporting for duty, Floss.

    A change of running scenery is never a rest!! But boy, does it make you feel good.

    I can't wait either...........

  • Beautiful.

    Everyone: we need MORE 'why I run' posts. Very encouraging!!!

  • Dorset or China........... I think we were both selling the same message MarkyD, based on our own experiences.......... aren't we the lucky ones.

  • sounds great, I have a few little runs in mind for the future

  • The world is your running track..........go run.

  • Beautiful photos from one of my favourite places! Sounds like your run was wonderful and your whole post is just inspiring IannodaTruffe. We all learn a thing or two reading posts like this. Thank you!🙂

  • So many people have never heard of Purbeck. I only discovered it eight years ago and now we are frequent visitors. There is nowhere quite like it.

  • Isle of Purbeck and a little further west to places like Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and Osmington, so many happy camping memories but I have yet to run there - definately on my 'to do' list!

  • There was a running festival the week before, on the same site as the folk festival..........so it is not just me has spotted the potential.

    Get those shoes to Purbeck!!

  • Stunning! Thank you for sharing. We all need to be inspired by others' 'why I run' posts.

  • I run because I can, Annie and when the environment is so inspiring it is just so easy.

  • Fab post IT and a great run! And those photos are just gorgeous. I get where you're coming from because on almost every run I feel so lucky and a bit overwhelmed I'm still doing this. We are so lucky.

    Magic moments 🤗

  • I get the overwhelming bit too, IP......... heightened senses and heightened emotions as well..............lucky, yes and all the hard work pays off when it all comes together.

  • Lovely!

  • Thanks Jacs.

  • Great post, and beautiful photos. You are so right about not knowing until you find you running feet what sort of runner you are going to be. I think that is one of the most exciting things for Graduates to find out. Enjoy your Lake District run, I am sure that will be just as beautiful.

  • So true, but the wonderful thing is that fresh new experiences keep coming and I never tire, especially of these "special" runs.

  • Marvellous stuff! Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

  • My pleasure entirely.

  • What a wonderful & inspiring post - and the views are just beautiful. Thank you for sharing your obvious enjoyment- your approach is refreshingly simple - go out & enjoy life May we all take a leaf out of your book. Enjoy the stunning Lake District. Happy running 🏃🏻😊🐒

  • There is no need for complication............a bit of planning and a sense of direction are all that are needed.

  • Lovely running report and what beautiful countryside. 🤓

  • It has a very unique, but quintessentially English charm and beauty.

  • I used to go to Studland bay years ago and remember a legendary evening at a pub in Langton matravers (Goat and Compass?) with some folkies. I never thought of a run as being 'a narrative in a landscape' but this site - and this post and others from Floss and Italian Jan (sorry I haven't got your forum name at the front of my mind) - and several others- make me want to discover this adventurous story telling side of running. IT, thanks for this lovely gentle thoughtful post!!

  • Possibly muddled memories........ The Square and Compass is at Worth Matravers........must have been legendary!

  • Two words right out of four - not bad for me after decades! Thanks again.

  • What a lovely post ... I can feel all your passion in running outside... me too but unfortunately I am not blessed with your beautiful landscape! Having said that my holiday home in Italy are round the corner ... 😊

  • Catching those opportunities will supply you with a lifetime of running memories.

  • Great post, fantastic run! This is the type of country where you could run forever and ever. Having a good run is so magic, you feel like superman or wonder woman. Invincible. You had one of those magic moment (run) lucky you. To share it with us is good motivation for us little Earthlings 😍

  • You are spot on.............. I won't say it was effortless, but I gave little thought to the physicality of running, it just happened. 17.5k on the road would have been so much harder psychologically.

  • Beautiful pictures. So envious of your run 😊

  • I am sure you will get the opportunity to do something similar. Put in the ground work and the world opens up for you.

  • A lovely post, thank you for sharing it with us.

  • It would be rude not to share! Thank you.

  • Brilliant.... and I am so with you there on everything you've said. Beautiful pics and a joy to read....

  • What amazed me, ultra lady, was how easy that distance was. I think the last four years have consolidated my legs to the extent that I wasn't actually pushing way beyond my capabilities, despite the fact that my longest runs over the last few months were only 13k.

  • Thank you for posting such lovely pictures, and inspiring words. We are lucky in Britain to have wonderful countryside with public rights of way where we can run and walk. And also a climate that allows us to run without collapsing in the heat 😉.

  • When you get such a glorious bank holiday weekend, Britain equals anywhere on the planet.............. especially, as you say with our rights of way and access land.

  • One day I am going to be able to run like you 🤞 Truly inspirational post.

  • Of course you will!!!

    I decided fairly early on that I wasn't interested in marathon distances, mainly because of all the the training involved. I have only ever done one run longer than this one, a couple of years ago, but I got up to 10miles (16k) in only five months from starting C25K. In retrospect, that was maybe a bit too fast and I had to do a lot of core strength work to eradicate lower back pain. Others have gone on to run marathons within their first running year.

    So, there is nothing to stop you doing what you want, but slow and steady progress is certainly the safest way forward.

  • Thanks. Patience is key. I'm just so looking forward to going out 3 times a week and running for half an hour. Just me, my thoughts and my world. Like you I enjoy the solitude. My husband suggested yesterday that he could join me once I've got fitter....he's been politely told maybe occasionally but in reality I mean no 😀

  • My wife told me that I would never get her running, she had never liked running...........I said nothing.........before I completed C25k she had started. We ran a gentle 5k together today and it was a joy, although most of the time we run separately. Don't be too tough on him. Those occasional runs are a delight and sometimes our son joins us too.

    Running is a very personal thing. Go your own way.

  • Always receptive to a change of mind as only a month ago I'd have said you'd never have seen me get into running either. It's evolutionary and I'm sure I will enjoy being accompanied at some point in the future. Happy running.

  • Have just spotted this ... what a glorious place and a memorable run.

    I'm interested in your hypothesis that a raised heart rate perhaps heightens the senses. I've been running round some of the ancient sites here in Rome and have been enthralled by them in an entirely new way. I walk a lot in Rome and always love it, but the emotional impact is different when running. The same thing happened in Puglia during the holidays. It seems that an unexpected side effect of starting running has been to fall in love all over again with places I had maybe started to take for granted. I feel far more intimately linked to my surroundings.

  • My theory is based purely on my own experiences.

    The brain is definitely sharper when well oxygenated and senses and emotional responses both seem to be stronger, probably because of the endorphins rushing around our bodies. We are just a bunch of chemicals and our interactions with the world are bound to be affected by the changed brain chemistry.

    In short, I am a junkie

  • As a mentor I imagine that makes you a pusher to boot?! Though as far as addictions go, I think it's a fairly innocuous one. :)

    I imagine you're right about endorphins being the cause. Recently I was reflecting that the sensation of being "hyperalive" (I hope that doesn't sound ridiculous) reminds me a bit of certain moments during childbirth and obviously that's also moment when endorphins go bonkers.

    In short, I've been far more surprised by this part of starting to run, rather than any physical aspect, and haven't noticed it to the same extent with other physical activities like swimming or cycling.

  • The mental and psychological aspects of running were a total and very pleasant surprise to me. It does provide those "hyper alive" moments which make it so worthwhile.

  • Oh I certainly get it with cycling! Maybe that's why some people have such a strong preference to one or the other? It's where you derive most endorphins?

  • That's very interesting - maybe you have to do it to a certain extent or level to derive more endorphins, or maybe the levels are just different for different people in certain activities. I enjoy cycling but have never done it in a 'serious' way, seeing it instead as just a fun way to get around.

  • Yes, it's interesting. I always got more buzz from swimming then running.

  • Wonderful scenery and yet another inspirational post. The pre graduation app work was hard but fun but it's only on the post graduate make it up as I go along runs that my eyes have been truly opened to what's around us. Even running through a market town at 5:30 in the morning brings new joys, the mist over the river plain, the lights shining up the church tower etc are things I've not truly appreciated before! I think a small bag of running clobber will be stowed in my car in future, the wall is our running track!

  • Thanks.

    Although I thought I knew my locale pretty well, running it in all seasons enhanced my appreciation and I discovered new routes. That Purbeck run has inspired me to explore some slightly longer routes from home.........so the discovery will go on.

    C25K is a stepping stone to a whole new world...... so glad you are discovering it too.

  • I missed this post Iannoda...sometimes the forum moves too quick (unlike me!)

    What a wonderful run and fabulous post. I am glad that you had such a life affirming experience. Some runs are special :) Enjoy the next one.

  • Coniston Water 7k done and dusted.

    As a self confessed wimp, who rarely starts a run in the rain, the typical Lakes weather is creating difficulties, along with the need to preserve enough energy for daily walks.

    .........and I thought Devon was hilly...........

  • I grew up in Devon but having lived up North for many years have become very fond of our hilly, windswept landscapes. The lakes are beautiful (if the murk clears for long enough!) Vive La Difference !

  • Wow such an inspiring post - I can only dream of being like you one day in the future . Stunning scenery and must have felt like you were running on the top of the world 🌎

  • I have only been running for four years and I have never run much further than this run, so it will not take long before you can emulate me. You will get there surprisingly soon.

  • Just found this post - I know those views well having lived in Dorset for many years (now in Scotland). I wish I had discovered running when I lived there - lots of beautiful places to explore. What a fantastic run, phew, a long way especially in warm weather. Lovely post and photos, thank you 😊

  • Purbeck has such a distinctive series of landscapes that are truly breathtaking...........the Lakes were great, but Purbeck is going to carry the crown this year........... I can't wait to go back and run a bit further.

  • That looks just fab, like running on top of the world...

  • If you ever get the chance to run there Curly, you just have to do it. It is a magical place.

  • Wonderful post and beautiful pics. Great inspiration for all!

  • We all run for different reasons, but I would defy any runner not to be in their element running in this wonderful environment.

  • Wowzer. Fantastic achievement, beautiful photos and a wonderful post. Thanks for always being so inspiring.

  • Thank you for kind words. It has remained the highlight. The Lake District was just a bit too wet to top a sunny August bank holiday weekend.

  • Wonderful post 'Truffe. Makes me know that completing this plan is definitely for me. I want to be able to go for a run when I'm away and have a similar experience. Much better than a plod along the main road avoiding the pedestrians!

  • The feeling of freedom that running can provide, even in familiar places, is amazing, but when you get on new ground it all intensifies.

  • Beautifully said and written IannodaTruffe.

  • Hi Ian - I live in Dorset. Great to see these pics

  • It is a beautiful county.........you are a lucky lady.

  • Fabulous inspiring post. Love the photos as well xx

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