As you may know, I’ve recently moved to Bristol, and as any sensible fitty in a new city would, I’ve decided to lace up my trainers and learn my way around via some new running routes.
And I’ll be honest. It’s been pretty dismal to date. So far, so lost. I’ve been blessed with many things, but a sense of direction is definitely not one of them. I can go into a shop, and when I come out of said shop, have absolutely no concept of the direction I was walking when I went into that shop. It’s pretty frustrating, although things have been alleviated in recent years with the emergence of Google Maps.
Anyway, I’m writing this because today, I attempted Run Number 2. Now, I’ve been here almost a fortnight, and I’d have expected to get at least four or five runs in by now. Unfortunately, the first was such a sh*t show, that I needed almost a week to psych myself up for today’s attempt. And on reflection of today’s run, I’ll be honest: I’ve scared myself off another one until the Earth experiences nuclear winter.
It looked so simple. Find the river, and run along it. The beauty of a river means that, as long as you keep it on one side of you, then you can’t go wrong (provided you stop when you hit the sea, I guess). Well, I found the river, so was already feeling like I’d achieved something more than the first run, which consisted of me running around a roundabout, into an estate, and sheepishly walking back along a dual carriageway I didn’t anticipate.
There it was, river to my left, feet slap-slapping, sun gleaming through the trees and a nice pace stretching ahead of me. Just as long as I could hug that river, I’d reach the bridge I was trying to reach across the other side of the city in no time. Life felt good.
And then, something happened. Roadworks. Diversion. Underpass and a woodland road. I kept my head cool. Google Maps would save me. There I was, a little blue dot among the trees. It was going to be ok.
Except, try as I might, that blue dot would not, could not navigate its way around the diversion, because Google Maps hadn’t been updated to explain a tiny, winding path on the outskirts of Somerset to this confused Londoner. To navigate this bright orange plastic fencing ahead of me, would have meant I had to rely solely on my sense of direction. Which, as we’ve already established, pretty much meant it was game over.
I watched that blue dot wonder off to a country house estate. It got stuck on the wrong side of an A-road that was impossible to cross. It stopped jogging. It started walking, like a lost cat trying to retrace its steps, but getting confused by the smell of bacon in the distance.
I eventually reached the bridge I’d been aiming for, only to look up at it, soaring 150 feet above my head, and wondering whether it was too desperate a measure to scale the cliff face up onto it. I was on the wrong side of the river. It looked fast flowing, but pretty shallow. Could I swim it? As these thoughts genuinely entered my head, I realised the last time I’d eaten anything was 15 hours ago, and my brain had probably started to digest itself.
Two and a half hours that 5 mile run took me. I pretty much mapped out the whole of South west England, although you and I both know doesn’t necessarily mean I could tell you one correct turning.
I arrived back home with 5% battery, dehydrated and starving. And it’s this sorry tale that has lead me to put together…
Five Basic Tips for Morons: How to Survive a Run in a New City:
- Charge your phone, because you name’s not Garmin.
- Take water, because humans need to drink.
- Eat before you go, because humans need energy.
- Take a bank card. Because then at least they’ll be able to identify you when your body is found, pecked to death by seagulls in six months time.
- Tell someone where you’re going. (In my case, I decided my Instagram followers were probably going to be my best bet for being saved, and so I uploaded my sorry tale on my feed in real time… Which is probably why my battery was too low for Google Maps to navigate me back to my house… And I’ve probably got myself and only myself to blame).
It’s that simple really. Don’t set off with no money, no energy, no water and no clue. Don’t waste your battery on getting a cheap laugh from your social media followers, when, y’know, YOU NEED IT TO GET BACK HOME. The fact I’m writing the above simple suggestions is lunacy, but today has proved that even those of us with plenty of fitness experience sometimes fail to engage their brain.
And if you’re ever in Bristol, hit me up, because I know a great little running route…