A Run Along The Canal

(Note: you can click on the pictures to see a bigger version)

One thing I have discovered about running as a hobby is that…. well… it’s not always about the running.  Take today, for example.

Don’t walk on the ice!

My plan was to run along the Union Canal.  This is a great place to run as it is comparatively soft underfoot (it’s not concrete), and it’s flat.  The Union Canal is a so-called “contour canal”, which means that it stays the same height above sea level from start to finish.

I joined the canal where it meets Nicolton Road.  The first thing I noticed was that the canal was partially iced over, and the way the thin ice had frozen resulted in a really interesting pattern of cracks.

But now for the dilemma.  I’m running, right?  That means I should be concentrating on times, on splits, on keeping the effort level up and the heart rate in a certain zone, no?

Well, for some training, sure.  For the marathon itself, undoubtedly.  But for a long, slow run where you are seeing beauty you don’t normally take the chance to see?  Sorry, no… So I stopped and took a picture.

Then came the big challenge.  The stop had obviously affected my average pace, so should I run a bit faster to catch up?  Well, I was on a long, slow run.  The idea is that you run quite slowly, a full minute per mile slower than your projected marathon pace, to get used to spending lots of time on your feet but without damaging your muscles.

Two swans a-swimming – just!

Let me say, running a minute per mile slower than you want to – slower than your natural pace – is really, really difficult.  And of course I ran faster to try to get the average pace back to where it should be!

The next thing I saw was these two swans.  When I arrived, they were walking on this thin ice, and beating it with their feet.  By the time I got the picture taken, they had broken through and were sitting in the water itself.  They must have had cold behinds!

Again I tried to catch up with the average time, but there was significantly more tree cover by this point and Runkeeper and my phone were having a very difficult time giving me an accurate position, and hence an accurate time.  So I had little real idea how fast I actually was going.  One quarter mile gave me a pace of eleven minutes thirty per mile, the next seven fifteen, with no feeling of a change of effort level on my part.


The next point of interest is one that will be my Photo of the Day today.  We had some pretty severe storms recently in Central Scotland, and the evidence is still widely visible in the form of fallen trees, or trees whose branches have been ripped off by the wind.

Well, it turns out that the canal didn’t escape either, and it is in fact blocked by a fallen tree.  I don’t know how long the canal has been blocked, and how long it will remain this way.  But it’s quite a sight to see!

The canal enters a tunnel at the south-west of Falkirk, and that was the point at which I chose to turn round and head for home.  My aim had been to run for seventy-five minutes, by the time I got home it had been closer to ninety!

Next week I hope to run a similar route, but going a bit further east before joining the canal.  I hope to stop and take pictures again!