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Tag Archives: trail running

Time To Empty Your Head ...

  • Posted by ruben
  • 26 July 2013
I’m sure that this state of mind and visual theatre could be priced beyond any gym membership, but no-one’s managed to make it an exclusive ‘members only’ club yet. This is a relief. It means that we can all join, any time, for free.

Words and illustration by Anna Koska

We're all defined by lots of things really, and writing a bio I could put a heap load of waffle down. But to keep it tight.. and truthful…

I'm an illustrator, and I'm a forest runner.

I started running in the forest for lots of obvious reasons, like health, no gym membership, and convenience (it's on my doorstep).

But it's become clear that it goes beyond the obvious.

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Through forest running I have rediscovered something utterly amazing that I thought I’d lost forever in my old school satchel. I have become reacquainted with a desire to know, to learn, to dream big. As each foot falls on deer carved pathway, my mind begins to loosen from the ties that bind it to the usual rhythms of work/home life. And with this uncorking of my stuffed, distracted and chattering head, there appears a space. It doesn’t really seem to matter what my feet are doing, how my ankles are adjusting to rock, mud and shale, whether my quads are aching or whether I’m picking an errant gnat out of my eye. The head space remains accessible, available. So I find my mind wandering freely through new questions, new curiosities, fresh and dewy plans.

And amongst all this cerebral stuff that’s going on, my eyes are drinking in this extraordinary and ever changing theatre of the forest. The colours range for Monet to Van Gogh, depending on season and light. This light can play tricks on the lower canopy, transforming it into the biblical burning bush. Shadow can create a moving form that seems to race a pace behind me. One late Winter's afternoon, the light dipped so quickly that I became disorientated. Flicking on my head torch I suddenly became aware that I was moving parallel with silent-running deer. 14 or more sets of eyes blinked back at me. My heart leapt with the shock, and the thrill.

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Running in the forest and through its seasons is perhaps the most extraordinary and innervating aspect of all. If I was just to talk about the changes of the scent and quality of the air (if I could write with a “scratch n sniff” app it would help): the dry bite of Winter's icy air sucked into lungs; the first whiff of pig manure, pulled across on a northeasterly breeze from a farmer’s field as Winter subsides; the punchy honeyed smell of warmed Spring bluebells; the damp earthiness of the freshly watered forest floor; the drying pine needles underfoot as we slip seamlessly (hopefully) into Summer.

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I’m sure that this state of mind and visual theatre could be priced beyond any gym membership, but no-one’s managed to make it an exclusive ‘members only’ club yet. This is a relief. It means that we can all join, any time, for free.

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You can see more of her pencilship at www.annakoskaillustration.com/ and read her tweets at @gremkoska

The Dyfi Jacket - Simple Works

  • Posted by alex
  • 10 May 2013
The Dyfi Jacket - our lightweight, windproof active shell for cycling or running.

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Complicated isn’t clever.
Complicated is just trickery... Smoke and mirrors to fool your eyes.
Bells and whistles to distract you.
Good design isn't about adding more.
Good design is about simplicity.
Every feature has a reason for being.
If it doesn’t need to be there, take it off.

This is our new Dyfi Jacket. It's a lightweight, windproof active shell for cycling or running.
With recycled polyester ripstop body and breathable, four-way stretch arm panels.
Reflective accents on the cuffs and tail keep you visible when it gets dark and a fleece
lined collar keeps out draughts. It's adjustable at the waist and has a zipped chest pocket
that the jacket packs away into.

And it's £39.

Like we always say, simple works.

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Hazel and Josh chasing each other at 6am on our photoshoot at Strumble Head.

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Local marathon runners (and lifeguards on our local beaches) Sam and Phil raced up this headland opposite our Youth Hostel at 5.30am over and over again.

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Our New Outback Jacket

  • Posted by alex
  • 11 April 2013
Schoeller 3XDRY water-resistant soft-shell with Merino wool bonded fleece inside - it keeps you dry from the outside, dry from the inside and it dries in a flash.

There's no such thing as bad weather. Just bad clothing.

Most of the weather we get in the UK is neither onething or the other. Some days it's bright and sunny, but freezing cold. Others, lovely and warm but chucking it down with rain. You can’t win.

The Outback jacket is our answer to thesedays. We've set out to design somethingthat feels and performs like a Merino wool base layer, but at the same time is wind and water-resistant.

So we've taken the same soft, itch free, anti-microbial Merino wool we use in our base layers and bonded it with a Schoeller 3XDRY softshell outer fabric. The Merino fleece wicks moisture away from your body, transporting it to the outer shell, which in turn lets it evaporate without letting any moisture in.

The result is a performance weatherproof jacket that keeps you dry from the outside, dry from the inside and dries in a flash.

Perfect for sport, the outdoors and those days when the weather just can't make up it's mind.

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howies Outback Softshell jacket - Men's Licorice

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howies Outback Softshell jacket

We've been putting the Outback through it's paces too. It's fast wicking Merino wool inner sends moisture to the 3XDRY outer really fast and in early spring downpours has kept the rain at bay on rides home.

The jacket is super-stretchy too with contoured panels making movement easier and with two zipped map-sized hand pockets a zip chest pocket with a headphone port, this jacket is perfect for sport, the outdoors and those days when the weather can't make up it's mind. Which around here is most days.

Shop Men's Outback Softshell >
Shop Women's Outback Softshell >

Weather the weather

  • Posted by ade
  • 22 March 2013

Whatever the weather this weekend, dress for it and get out in it.

When you're home and changed with a cuppa, your pulsing thawing hands,
deeply aching thighs, burning cheeks and clear bloodshot eyes will be the reward.

The words of this old nursery rhyme says it all.

Whether the weather be fine,
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!

Distance is it's own reward

  • Posted by ruben
  • 3 October 2012

On Saturday, a few of the howies office team are making a short trip down to the south of Pembrokeshire to run in the first Endurancelife Costal Trail Series of the season.

4 of us are running the 10k (It'll be Pete's first off road run.)
1 of us is running the half-marathon-and-a-bit less than a week after she ran Bristol.
Another 3 are running the 35 mile "ultra" option.

That's three different distances and eight different people but all of us will be sharing the same apprehensions and excitement before the race, and on the day each of us will try to do exactly the same thing - run the best race we can and have fun doing our thing.

Whatever your distance, the Endurancelife CTS has something for you. Why not join us at one of them?

A new summit

  • Posted by ruben
  • 24 July 2012
The format is simple, you run to the top of Snowdon then straight back down to the finish. Since the first 86 competed at the inaugural race, the event has grown to over 600 runners today.

"Running takes you places." This is my first thought as I slap my hand down on the trig point on top of the tallest mountain in Wales and glance out at the stunning views below me. The sight of the guy I've been chasing turning to vanish down the other side leads to my second thought. "Just a shame I don't get longer to enjoy them."

I'm half way through my first 'official' mountain race. In a moment I will be hurtling down the same route I just climbed to finish the race with a knee-pounding, tooth-loosening descent back into the small town of Llanberis. 5 miles away as the crow flies, and a vertical kilometre below my feet.

If I wasn't staring at the ground ahead, focusing on my footing and trying to catch the guy in front, I'd be able to see miles in every direction, including the faint outline for Cardigan Island a hundred miles to the south marking home (and howies.)

The Snowdon Race has been held every year since 1976 and is part of the Skyrunner World Series. The format is simple, you run to the top of Snowdon then straight back down to the finish. Since the first 86 competed at the inaugural race, the event has grown to over 600 runners today.

Despite this surge in popularity, the course record was last broken in 1985 when K Stuart ran to the top and back in 1 hour 2 minutes and 29 seconds. This stat passes through my mind as I turn and start the descent with the clock already passing 1 hour 10.

Still, even though I hadn't given the race leaders anything to worry about as they flew down the mountain at speeds I could barely believe and even though I had walked a few hundred meters of the steepest part of the climb, I had already decided this wouldn't be my last mountain race.

The elation I felt on reaching the top of mountain, and the sense of accomplishment that began to sink in as I descended was something I haven't felt before in running.

Not the same as the emotions that wash through during a long run, but something different. A new summit.

Doubt Vesuvius

  • Posted by ade
  • 12 April 2012

 

This weekend we run the Endurancelife coastal series at Heddon Valley on Exmoor. Sofia in the 10km, Hazel in the 1/2 marathon (both first time) and Ruben, Chris and unfortunately myself in the Ultra.

My first and last Ultra was in February. The 35 miles took a few weeks preparation 7 hours and all my will power to finish, and they I could not walk for 2 days. Then we had the Restless ride to prepare for so I switched to the bike training three times a day. Then I went away for work and the running has been a few quick 5 milers here and there. And I meant to downgrade to the marathon, but missed the deadline.

On a scale if 1 to 5, the course is rated 5 (Extreme) and thus the last 14 days and the next 39 hours will be trying to keep a lid on the self doubt.

I have all my mental race props prepared. Innov-8 shoes, smartwool socks, howies shorts boxers baselayers and Brenin jacket, my Salomon s-lab pack, Nuun rehydration tablets, Camelbak bottle, Clif bars, shots and luna bars, iPhone with 1000 running tracks, swiss army knife, chewing gum, foil blanket, first aid kit, ankle brace, £20 note and a merino beanie.  They have got me through hell and high water.

But when the gun goes, it all going to be down to keeping a lid on the pain and the doubt. And the hardest bit will be the last 6 miles of the marathon to the finish line, where they send you out again on the 10km course to do the Ultra.

That doubting bit of my mind will be nagging me stop. "Why go further? You're tired, you've already run the next bit, the car's just there and you could get changed and be home to see the family sooner. You won't be able to walk tomorrow. You just did a marathon, that's good enough. Will you even make the next bit? Just say your ankle is playing up."

If I am in genuine hell, I will just stop there. I will need to be able to depress the clutch to get home.

But I hope that the legs hold, that the music has me singing along, and the last 10km pass to a joyous finish.

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