Our move to France, no time for running and getting back into it…

I haven’t posted for about four months, if you have already read the title of this post then you’ll have probably guessed already that this has been due to our move to France.  Its been about 5 years in the planning, and we’ve tried to make the move before, but every time we were about to do it, something came along and put our plans on hold.  The first time it was called Leo, the second time it was called Zelie.

After two months of travelling all over France last year we decided on the Ariège department of the Pyrénées.  A number of things attracted us; it’s still cheap, very underdeveloped  and it attracts an alternative crowd.  And, not to mention a few 3000 metre peaks and a couple of okay ski resorts.

the view from over the hill

To help with costs whilst we were looking around the Ariege  we decided to do WWOOFing (which stands for World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms) and ended up in a town called Pamiers with a very nice English-Cezch family.  We stayed with them for a couple of months, helping with their veggie plot and fixing up their house before finding a lovely place to rent near the beautiful town of Foix, the gateway to the Pyrénées.  We’re somewhat up the hill, at about 500 metres and very close to a trail head that opens up to the foothills of the Pyrénées, our nearest mountain is Picou at about 1600 metres (more about that later).

le Picou on the right 1602 metres Rocher de Batail on the left 1716 metres.

So as you can imagine it’s been a very hectic few months and running has taken a back seat.  I did manage the odd foray during our stay in Pamiers and managed to find a good trail through some woods with some nice undulating terrain.   I had  picked up a few problems with my left foot, which I believe was due to overtraining for the Wye Valley Ultra (which I didn’t do in the end).  At first I thought it was the remnants of an ankle twist from last years trail running in the French mountains, because the pain centred around the outside of the ankle.  This pain gradually got better after a few months and I was left with an achy feeling on the top of my foot.  So I’ve been a bit off and on, my original plan to run the Marathon du Montcalm will have to wait till next year, at the moment I’m managing about one run a month which is mainly an uphill slog followed by a fast descent – perhaps not the best form of re-hab but I like to say to the body – look no pussyfooting about, this is what you have to expect so you better get used to it.

With this in mind I finally hit the trail yesterday and managed to complete the local loop, from Ganac to Picou and back via the hamlet of Micou a total climb of 1093 metres and about 17-18 km in total.  I was quite pleased with the effort after about a month of resting up.  Although I didn’t run this all out, I power hiked most of the climb and ran the easy bits, stopping several time to take pictures and to  appreciate life and the sense of freedom and space that is mountain running.  I’ll save the details for the next post.

I plan to document a few of my new runs on my blog, I think the terrain around here is very interesting and I want to see just how far I can push minimal running when I go further into the mountains.  And hopefully at the same time do my bit to promote this beautiful and exciting area.   I’m planning on experimenting with running crampons such as micro-spikes this winter, and to venture beyond the snow-line a little.   The thought had crossed my mind that it maybe possible to use the Merrell Trail Gloves with some snow shoes if I could get a warm enough sock into them.

I have a little tick list in my head, starting with next years Marathon du Montcalm and a niggling yearning to bag all the peaks over 2000 metres (which could take a very long time, but at least it will keep me going)