Come Phunning!

Sign on the Anne Valley Trail, Dunhill, Co. Waterford
Sign on the Anne Valley Trail, Dunhill, Co. Waterford

You’ll have to understand that cinder paths put a spring in my step and you’ll also have to understand a few other things too.

I used to run a lot to build stamina for tennis and have a fiercely competitive streak within myself about times and distances. There’s the little issues, though, of having broken my ankle twice and banjaxed my back in the years since I was running pretty much daily.

My main running started on a wonderful cinder track at the Lourdes Stadium in Drogheda, Co. Louth, which had been built for either the European or World Student Games back in the 1960s. It was way ahead of its time and made one glide along like a true athlete.

I’ve reached a stage in my life when I feel that if I don’t get running NOW, I never will again and that thought is horrific.

Sooooooooooo, I’ve come up with the idea of ‘Phunning’ ~ that’s gentle running+walking with absolutely no emphasis on times/distances combined with taking a few photographs along the way.

The Anne Valley Trail in Dunhill here in Co. Waterford is the perfect place for this pursuit. It’s a 2.2km (each way) linear path that brings one from Dunhill Village to the magnificent elevated ruin of Dunhill Castle.

Dunhill Castle from the Anne Valley Trail
Dunhill Castle from the Anne Valley Trail

The path is the nearest thing to cinder that one could find and it twists and turns around the Anne River.

The Anne River
The Anne River

I’m setting myself the grand goal of trying to run at least one way by Christmas and have been out twice already this week, interspersing walking and running. So far, so good in terms of the creaking bones.

The Audience
The Audience

I hope that by writing about it here and declaring my intentions to the world, that I will manage to keep going.

I’d love to have some company on this little adventure so maybe some of you former runners would dust down your shoes and find a trail near you and share in my de-stressing!

De-Stressing on the Anne Valley Trail
De-Stressing on the Anne Valley Trail

and yes, my hand does fit!

Worry Tree on The Anne Valley Trail

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

37 thoughts on “Come Phunning!”

    1. Thanks Andrea. I’m not counting my chickens but I have a good feeling about this new venture. The worry tree is half way along which is interesting. It reminds me of yoga classes where we were asked to leave our bag of worries outside the door. I always had the feeling in that case that the worries were somehow waiting to be picked up after the sessions. The worry tree is a better bet as one feels divested completely.

  1. It is never to late to start running or phunning! Good for you! I have been running for almost forty years though it is more of a jog. I envy your lovely trails although I do have a view of the bay at times. I carry a cell phone and have occasionally stopped to take a photo. I will look forward to your adventures in phunning! My running was always alone and at my own pace four times a week with no special competition goals. Now my goal is just to keep moving as long as I can

    1. CC, I’m totally with you about running alone. I find keeping in step with other people very difficult.
      I just hope you’re right about it never being too late to start or re-start running/jogging. There is a price to be paid for damage done to the body over the years, especially running and playing tennis in shoes that had no support whatsoever. But, I live in hope that this new approach will prevent any major setbacks in the moving stakes.
      It’s great going to have kept it up for 40 years. Have you managed to avoid injuries?

  2. I love the name – Phunning – and it is what I am doing now. Taking the dog for a walk along with the camera just in case we see the birds up close. I had to give up running some years back when I did my knees in, but walking and cycling is good…and Dougal doggie enjoys going out immensley.

    1. Olga, thanks for writing. Sorry to hear about your knees. Running certainly adds stress on the body that walking and cycling and swimming avoid. I half wonder if I’m mad to be giving it another go now but want to feel that I, at least, gave it a reasonable shot once again.
      Love the name Dougal!

  3. I think that you are very fortunate to have such a scenic place for phunning and the company of cows, and those quirky messages that appear along the way..You already have the company only awaits for you to take it all in…We have a walking park in our town actually a footpath that goes by a lovely pond with a running fountain, goes by the playing fields and playground . It was designed by Louis Law Olmstead the famous landscape architect who also did the Public Gardens in Boston and the Central Park in New York. So you can imagine how picturesque it is. Lucky you to have the castles and their lore…

  4. I adore the photo of the calf/cow/steer/bull or whatever he or she may be! I am a firm supporter of and recommend movement of any kind–if it involves running or jogging, not so much! I recall walking with a springy step across campus last year following my hip replacement and just reveling in the joy of walking again, pain-free and without a walking stick, so you just keep it up, but don’t break any more ankles!!

    1. Suz, ‘bullock’ is the word you’re looking for ~ at least in Irish terms.
      Great to hear that you recovered so well from the hip replacement. Yes, I know that feeling of relief at being able to move ‘freely’ again.
      Trying to mind my ankles. The breaks were so stupid ~ my own fault for now looking where I was going.

  5. Cool idea Jean – phunning. That looks like an enjoyable and healthy endeavor. You even have a castle to aim for. Great trail and park. Awesome photos.

  6. What a beautiful place to be phunning ~ and I like this term very much. Nothing quite makes a day complete without getting the blood moving…especially in such a place as you’ve shown here.

  7. Looking at these pictures and reading what you wrote reminds me of a poem of which you might be familiar with..It’c called “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.
    “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry that I could not travel both…And be one traveler, long I stood…And looked down one as far as I could..To where it bent in undergrowth,
    Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim..Because it was grassy and wanted wear, Though as for that the passing there….Had worn them really about the same,
    And both that morning equally lay..In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day, Yet knowing how way leads on to way…I doubted if I should ever come back.
    I shall be telling with a sigh..Somewhere ages and ages hence; Two roads diverged in a wood and I, ….I took the one less traveled by, ..And That has made all the difference”
    I hope you enjoy this written by Robert Frost…

    1. Joni, how interesting that these photo brought you to ‘The Road Not Taken.’ It’s a poem I absolutely adore and one that always comes to me when I go to the little wood near Tramore (the place that has the wooden bridge that is my main photo on the blog). What was it about the photos that made you think of it? I’d love to know as I’m planning a return in the next day or two.

  8. The picture of the dirt road that has a curve..not knowing what lies ahead until you turn onto it…you can see the castle but the unknown lies beyond that curve…makes one want to follow it and explore.

  9. What a great idea Jean! I’ve done more or less that for my last couple of Jersey parish slideshows. Put on the runners, camera on a wrist-strap and set off, keeping one’s eyes and mind alert. It’s perfect on a fine summer’s evening.

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