Monthly Archives: October 2011

End of summer running

I have run out of time in my quest to find pleasant, interesting and motivating summer runs. Tonight was my final run of the season up Dumb Womans Lane for my hill repeats owing to the volume of traffic up Udimore Road combined with the lack of footpath or streetlights which takes the risk of injury through traffic beyond the increase in fitness offered by the hill.

So dullness awaits until the spring.

That said, I guess in a way I won’t miss it. Pushing myself up a steep hill for a third of a mile isn’t exactly pleasant, even if the strength felt in my legs and lungs over the longer term is. A winter of gradually decreasing fitness might just be good for my motivation. Unless the hill on site (which now has full streetlighting along with a mere 70 occupied houses to date, thus light traffic) does enough to motivate me to push harder for longer and maintain stamina.

Time will tell.

Other than that, this evening went with a flourish. I did the usual slow run out, pushed hard first run up then a bit less second run (that’s wrong, really – I pushed just as hard but my pace was slower due to the burning in my lungs and lactic acid in my legs. It seems hard to explain that my brain relates pace to effort rather than heart rate but there you go) which was disrupted by having to stop to let a car pass two thirds of the way up. But before I set off I decided to see if I could get the overall pace for the 3 miles down to 7.45/mile. Bearing in mind the 0.75 mile gradual uphill from site followed by what is the steepest hill I know (waaaay harder than the Folkestone half marathon slope and a bit longer) repeated twice, I wasn’t sure I’d make it without compromising the effort I put into the uphills. And as I returned onto the return to site, I was convinced I wouldn’t. But didn’t give up, which has been my guiding principle throughout the summer.

Wheezing like a wheezing thing, I recovered my breath while pushing on along the flat-ish top bit of the slope to site, recovering almost completely with half a mile to go which equalled the downhill-ish start of the descent home. So I pushed hard again, opened my strides and put in a silly fast half mile which resulted in gaining the 45 seconds I needed to achieve target, the result being…exactly 7.45/mile average for the 3.06 miles I covered.

A good result – end of a season and a little target achieved.

Just hope to stay injury free and motivated through the winter now and all will be good.

71.08 miles to go.

Researching a winter route. Continued.

Remembering the boredom that engulfs many a winter run, the brain cells have been flexed recently trying to come up with illuminated and illuminating winter alternatives.

5 years ago a plod from my site in Maddox Street, along Bond Street, around the American Embassy (occasionally along the top of the concrete Jersey barriers protecting it when I was feeling particularly frisky), a loop of Hyde Park and a varied route back to site kept the brain cells fizzing throughout the dark months. The people and general buzz did for me what the varied country routes do for me now – ie. motivate and maintain freshness.

The wilds of Rye and the estates of Ashford simply aren’t quite there. Hastings was good a couple of years ago – options of a brightly illuminated seafront or hilly road routes gave varied runs up to any distance or challenge. Ashford for Janathon wore out my patience and I’m not looking forward to the dark at all.

So today’s challenge included finding a loop that did away with the end (completely unlit) section of last weeks 4 miler while not introducing a repetitive lap nor another hill.

I failed in that I merely ran out around the town centre bypass bit and realised that the corners I added made heading for Playden Hill a fruitless task since I’d barely start on it before being due to head back. So instead I ran out of the town until I ran out of streetlights and saw how far it was.

The answer was 4 miles on the dot.

So I’ve another un-thrilling, un-rewarding 4 miler which will mix things up a bit by way of a different route, but still haven’t got anything I love like a country lane. At this rate it’s going to be a long few dark months.

But at least it was warm and the rain that flooded the site at 4.30 stopped for my entire run and only started again as I was locking the second site gate.

Thankful for small mercies, I seem to have only 74.14 miles to go.

Odd outings and varied timings

The last week seems to have been rubbish as far as settling into a rhythm has been concerned – three late evenings at work messed up the evening running a bit but I still got out – Tuesday searching a new 4 mile route (three nasty hills in 4 miles might not be the easiest mid-week outing to look forward to), Friday just plodding around the hilly route through Udimore for 3 miles to keep the legs working. I don’t think I got much out of either of them, but hey.

Yesterday saw me pop out on the push-bike for 13 miles of windy weather, completely overdressed as I was expecting a chill in the air that wasn’t there and this afternoon ended much the same, but with a run.

Cathy is looking to find some non-road marathon training routes and I lead her to the one that links the new bit of Park Farm with the new bit of Willesborough. Passing under the by-pass and skirting the industrial estate as it does, peace and solitude it isn’t. But it is quiet in the fact that very few people use it. And with the added bonus of being able to arrive at the opposite side of Ashford without crossing a road, longer runs are made of just such a path.

The pace was erratic, however. The pink Pashley was decided on – not the ideal steed for an off-road (albeit gentle) foray, so on the rougher bits and into the wind, I ran quicker. Which resulted in slower miles as I looped around to close the gaps. Explaining which areas of the town went where also interrupted proceedings but, as soon as the road towards Tesco was arrived on, there was no stopping her. I was left for dead despite upping the pace for a mile to my fastest comfortable speed without sounding like I’m dying, but at least I saw her to say goodbye as she went in for provisions forgotten yesterday as I plodded home.

I think I could call the session Fartlek or something if I cared to. Instead I’ll describe it as varied in pace and length – ending, as it did, at just over 7 miles, I was surprised at the freshness I felt upon return.

Maybe properly mixing it up is the way to happy mileage after all.

78.20 miles to go.

And I felt good

Something strange happened yesterday morning. I intended going for a run on Saturday but time ran out alongside enthusiasm but I did at least get in a fantastic motorbike ride which involved a cheeky race with a BMW M3 and a Mitsubishi Evo V111 around the Ashford ring road interchange (the Evo was like a missile from 45 to 90mph – I could have used 2nd gear instead of the 3rd I found myself in and only barely stayed in touch, only gaining ground when the BMW proved a bit wet on the long left exit from the bypass where I was able to overtake the Evo around the outside before cutting in to do the BMW on the inside before some devilishly late braking for the upcoming roundabout enabled me to get the line for a lap before our directions parted. Very good. Indeed.).

So Sunday morning was it. Up at a reasonable time, I cleaned both the motorbike and car while it was cold before drinking a cup of coffee and heading out for a plod.

My mindset was to attempt my favourite Gill Lane 6 mile route (3 slopes that count as hills, three non-hill classification inclines) at my new “7.30/mile is the new 8.05” steady run pace. I don’t know where my pace increased to the degree where 7.30 per mile is properly, sustainably achievable without panting on a long run but somewhere it seems to have occurred without my permission. The run didn’t go according to plan, though, despite me not clockwatching but just enjoying the ride.

I eased up the slope away from the house at a sensible pace and then kept my breathing up as I maintained pace before recovering over the rest of the first mile. And things went well from there.

Plenty of energy and a warm morning had me stretching my strides out easily, the hill up Gill Lane flying by in the shade of the trees but the best was all to come. The final 3 miles, despite not really going for it (I’ll admit I did focus on running cleanly and efficiently without allowing myself to become a breathless wreck), all came in below 7 minutes a mile. Which, frankly, is ridiculous for a training run. I simply felt good so ran freely on what may well be the last warm, pleasant run of the year.

3 lady runners made me a bit self aware just before I got home by laughing just as I came around a corner they were approaching but I didn’t have time to stop and think why; I just ploughed on and got home.

And today my legs felt superb. Oddly for the day after a quick run, they felt strong and springy all day. I must, surely, be about to get either hugely ill or massively injured to allow everything to come crashing down around me!

Until then, 105.97 miles to go. The miles have eased as I’ve become lazy recording bicycle mileage; maybe I should really keep it up to allow proper comparison next year.

Back at it

Following the disappointment of the Folkestone Half I haven’t been not running but neither have I felt enthused enough to properly go for it and blog about it.

Odd how a motivational breakdown happens sometimes. But normally a resurgence is felt and I feel I’m some way towards that state now.

A couple of short outings freed my legs but the blisters from the race made my left sole hurt like something was embedded in it at anything over a mile. A 20 mile cycle sorted the last of the aches in my legs and Monday saw me pop out for a crisp 4 miles which was pleasing enough to see me head for the hills today.

Maybe some inspiration came from the frustration of heading to London to see friends taking part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon which I didn’t enter; maybe from missing the Ashford 10k on Sunday (which, by all accounts, seemed to throw out some quick times amongst the people I looked for in the results). Whatever the reason, I fancy running again and my fitness seems to have maintained a reasonable level.

Which is lucky, really, since I didn’t want to have to rediscover all the pace I’ve found over the summer. Today’s hill was a slightly different session to those I was doing around a month ago. I didn’t want to go all out for the same lung bursting killer. Not straight from the off, anyway. So I modified the usual hilly repeat to an out and back, with an extended bottom leg to bring the overall run up to 3 miles.

The lack of a daunting hill repeat made it a really decent outing. I was thinking I’d put it off for a couple of days but the temptation of heading out in what might well be one of the last dry, warm evenings was too much. The current hill will also be pretty much out of action throughout the dark evenings, too, being unlit as it is, so I guess the idea was haymaking while the sun shone.

No races planned means just running for fun, too, so I’ll continue with it while I decide what I want to do. 3 runs a week alongside a couple of gentle cycle rides seems tempting to stay on top of fitness until Janathon challenges me again. Just hope the mojo remains.

111.93 miles to go.