The first in a series on blog posts on coastal running in Cornwall. Challenging trails. Spectacular coastline. And no iPod. Why you’ll turn your back on road running for ever.
“You only have to look at the scenery here to see the appeal of running along the coast path,” says keen trail runner Helen Clare as we lace up our running shoes.
We’re on the North Cornish coast about to tackle a 30-minute circular route for my first foray into coastal running, and I’m a little nervous.
The 3.6 mile round trip is rated easy to moderate on the South West Coast Path’s website, but I’m not convinced. My 20-minute jogs around the flat local park seem like little preparation.
Starting from our holiday home at Watergate Bay, the plan is to follow the two-mile stretch of golden sand southwards to Porth Beach, before climbing up onto Trevelgue head and back along the coastal path to where we started off.
From a physical point of view, coastal running can be more challenging on your legs, core and cardiovascular system, but the softer surfaces are a lot easier on your feet. And as we step as step out the door, my fears are immediately diminished by a cool sea breeze. I’m confronted with a vista of endless blue skies, a beautiful expanse of beach, and barely another soul around.
“It’s about making most the most of the landscape on your doorstep,” says Helen as we start off. I notice there’s no iPod strapped to her body. “Why, when you can absorb the natural surroundings – listening to the birds, the wind and waves?”
I can see Helen’s yoga background coming into play. There are other reasons too which remove coastal running far away from its tarmacked counterpart. “Coastal running is more about freedom, being relaxed and not running against a clock.”
My mind starts clears as we reach the half way point – an almost meditative state. Wondering where that split in the path leads? There’s nothing stopping you to change your route and go exploring. Feeling tired? Then walk for a stretch, or turn around and head back home. No one’s judging.
The terrain along the coastal paths in Cornwall is so varied that you can choose how challenging you want your run to be. And god. Those views. I’m so engaged the whole way that I barely notice how long we’ve been running for when I find myself back where we started.
Later, after we’ve showered the sand and salt out of our hair, we make our way to dinner overlooking the beach and fall into our seats. Exhausted, happy, and exhilarated.
And the best thing? It didn’t really feel like exercise at all.
We stayed at The Village with Beach Retreats, a development of eco-houses built into the hill above the beach at Watergate Bay.
We joined professional yoga instructor and trail runner Helen Clare at www.helenclareyoga.com