Saturday, 7 December 2013

Running in Stevenage

Here I am looking slightly knackered after a post work run around Stevenage in Hertfordshire.  I did this through the last winter and I'm in the habit of doing it through this winter.  I can tell you, it's a life saver for me.

My employer transferred me to a different office in 2012 and found myself based in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.  Stevenage is a 'new town' and most of it is around 50 years old now.  While it is full of controversy in terms of whether its a nice place or not, it was designed with considerable foresight in my opinion.

All of the main roads are dual carriage ways which generally have roundabouts making sure crossroads work smoothly.  Running alongside these main roads is a network of cycle paths which I use for running.

My Stevenage running
A normal run in Stevenage for me is about 45 minutes and enough to easily do at least 5 miles.  From my office it's easy to get onto the cycle paths and there are a number of different routes I can take.  If there is enough daylight I normally head through Fairlands Valley; an extensive green space, complete with a yachting lake but these days I simply stick to the familiar cycle paths.

Running at rush hour time means there's plenty of cars on the roads and a handful of cyclists and other runners on the cycle paths, which is nice.  Why? I like seeing other runners and cyclists as I feel encouraged and there's a feeling of safety too - not that I feel particularly unsafe at all.

While Stevenage has some very socially deprived areas with the usual issues, I don't feel unsafe at all.  In fact the biggest worry is tripping up over the odd paving slab (this is something I do from time to time).

What the runs mean to me
After a day in the office I often feel a certain level of stress, for a variety of reasons.  I don't like that at all but the plus side is that I know a good run deal with it.  As I have said so many times before running melts away all of those stresses.

My last run was an interesting one.  It was dark when I set out and cold, at around 2 or 3C.  There was a little bit of drizzle in the air, so not the nicest of conditions.  As I ran I recalled it was the same route as  one from last December when I was seriously stressed out with a number of work-related worries.  The conditions then were awful and yet that made it so amazing.  Sometimes I need to run in challenging conditions with freezing conditions or heavy rain, snow or even blizzards to really make me feel ALIVE!  So on my last run I was almost disappointed the weather wasn't extreme or even more unpleasant - does that make sense?  The harder the run, the more I have to over come and the higher I feel afterwards.  I got back to the office and jumped into my car to drive home.  Felt good with those Runner's High helping me to feel on top of the issues.

Only runners will understand?
I hope that makes sense.  I suspect it will to fellow runners.  I remember someone once told me "….if they don't run, they won't understand what running is about".

So while some people might knock Stevenage for its awful architecture, drug dealers and roundabouts, I think its a great place to work and run to blow away all those stresses and strains.

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