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The beauty of a journey in elevation…

There is much joy to be discovered in traversing a landscape and in traveling a great distance, but here in the Alps there is another language also in play:

What is the total ascent? The elevation profile?

Over the past years I have been circling the track and running the length of the valleys surrounding St Moritz, whilst gazing up at the steep sided mountains, hearing the cowbells ringing from pastures high up above and spotting hikers and mountain bikers exploring the sometimes rugged terrain.

On this occasion it is about using these inviting inclines to build deep cardiovascular and physical strength whilst relishing the journey and experiences that ensue.

When leaving the bustling activity of the town, the path changes, not just in size but also in surface. First pavement, then gravel track, often to be followed by (my favourite) soft pine needle matted path. The wildflower meadows give way to shady forest where red and black squirrels scurry about not used to being disturbed; the shade of the trees in turn lifts to reveal open pastures with cows enjoying the lush and fertile grasses.

Continue running higher and the array of mountain flowers changes, layer on layer, as pastures lead to rocky paths and scree, whilst the air temperature slowly drops. Marmots are heard whistling their distinctive ‘runner coming’ alarm or seen lolloping across the path to the safety of their burrow; high mountain lakes reveal a whole further ecosystem.

Every view from up top is different and having earned them makes it all the more special!

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In den Bergen bin ich zuhause…

The random melody of cowbells provides the soundtrack to my twice daily run routine here in St Moritz; it is always an uplifting clatter as I skip past with increasing grace and harmony, slowly adapting to the nature of the mountain trails.

Having travelled extensively, viewing vast African vistas to exploring far reaching National Parks in the US, it is here in these Alps that I feel most at home.

Maybe it is the familiarity and scent of the pine forest and fresh alpine meadows from my childhood summers spent at the family’s homely farmhouse retreat in the Austrian Alps. There, as far back as I can remember, I would explore the lush rolling fields on the hillsides, often to be found surrounded by wild flowers, raking up the drying hay and helping to herd the cows across the pastures in the friendly shadow of snow capped peaks.

My parents met at the top of the Habicht (3,277m) in the Stubai Alps of Austria and my grandparents and great-grandparents were all active in the mountains, so perhaps it is quite simply ingrained in the soul.

Mountains bestow a very special solace in which normal references to time and distance are no longer perceived as relative to one another. Running becomes woven directly into the landscape. Tracks and trails lead onward to the lakes, rivers and waterfalls. Valleys traverse to peaceful cols whilst passing majestic rocky summits.

It is here that I am working to develop deep muscular and cardiovascular strength. Both this strength and the vitality of immersing myself in the very essence of my running will provide the foundation to my build towards the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as well as to the adventures and challenges beyond!

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All set for a new running adventure

On many an occasion I have wished to write what I have been up to as well as document my musings, but somehow I have hardly paused for a breath and the past month has flown by, with an additionally strong tail-wind!

This week sees me travel to my altitude training base in St Moritz, Switzerland; the image above shows one of the regions wonderful lakes on a glorious summer’s morning! I believe it will be the tail end of spring there at present with numerous rain showers forecast, but I always relish being in the mountains and look forward to spring turning to summer as well as the focused training block ahead.

More to follow shortly…