A note from the trail: Manly beach

Adding to the list of glorious places I have been lucky enough to run, this week I have been staying next to Manly beach and have made it out a few times for a run. It has been important for me to do so, so I wanted to share something of the experience.

Returning to nature

After spending much of the last while in the US, specifically urban environments, it has been very beneficial to return to a more natural environment. Anyone who has visited Manly, or Sydney more generally, will know that it offers access to beautiful coastal environment, while the urban environment begins the moment you step off the beach.

Compared to somewhere like Byron Bay, Manly is far more built up and wouldn’t jump to my mind as an obvious place to go back to nature. However, compared to the urban spaces we recently inhabited in the US, this strip of beach has been all the nature I’ve needed to provoke something wonderful.

Why the beach rekindled my run

I barely ran in the US – save the odd trip like to Yosemite National Park. Work schedule and a lack of motivation to run around another identical block led me to a point where I arrived here without much running in my legs.

Four things helped me here:

• The lower impact of running on sand

• Being able to run barefoot

• The view of ocean stretching out to the side

• The invitation that at the end of the run there was an ocean to dive into

Low impact and bare feet

With my body not feeling at it’s fittest, the invitation to run on a surface which required my attention, (sand is unstable so asks you to work harder in keeping the body safe), but which was much more forgiving, (have you ever fallen on the road?!), got me back running and motivated.

It made running seem more fun again too. Bare feet helped this, taking me back to how running was when I was a child and wasn’t concerned with technique, monitoring my progress and all that. This was vital to remember. The main reason I run is because I love it. The goals I set matter to my motivation but if I miss them my life doesn’t change for the worse. Not running however deprives me of a passion, and this does have a negative impact on me.

Ah, the ocean!

Who can resist a view – especially one you can dive into afterwards! Having the invitation that awaited me at the end of the beach, after however many laps duly completed, to dive straight in the ocean is reason enough to get up and straight out to the beach.

That was my reality this morning, one I am truly grateful for. 6.30am I watched the sun rise through pink skies and as it emerged as a perfect circle over the horizon I dived under a crashing wave. What better warm down could one ask for!

Get out to the beach or countryside regularly, particularly if, like me, you find urban running can leave you demotivated in its repetition. A little bit of nature will change all that!

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