Monthly Archives: March 2012

E Wok

That’ll be an obscure track reference for any hard house afficionados to appreciate, and as good a place as any to start…short of simply titling a post “Back To The Old School”.

For today I ran from my new site for the first time. And it was almost literally an old school run.

Tuesday saw a bit more than a hint of pain in my leg, so I opted for a 35 minute cycle instead of a 35 minute run. And it was lovely. Around my local figure of eight loop in the sunshine with only a gentle breeze to upset my rhythm. But it wasn’t a run. And I like running almost as much as I like counting.

The last two planned runs have coincided with days on the old Rye site, so my hilly output has been there. But Thursday was going to be for speed work. But not when I’m not running consistently (fewer than 30 miles still for March). So today, finishing work in Hawkinge, I headed out from site for my first outing.

I knew a route ish, I wanted to head for the hills (the start of the North Downs, “local” slopes from my childhood) and I wanted some off road action.

And it went swimmingly. The road to the hills is swooping to say the least. Nothing flat, all steep. Then it spat me out at a stile and onto the trail along the top of the hill. So I ran along this, enjoying how fucked-up the image of attractive natural grassland hills is when juxtaposed against the Cheriton and Folkestone industrial estates and the Channel Tunnel terminals, before deciding I was going to face my demons and run downhill.

Proper downhill. So proper that my downhill speed (including a section traversing the white horse on the hill that’s visible from motorway, EuroStar and most of West Folkestone) was down to 8.30/mile, simply caused by holding myself back to remain on my feet. And at the bottom of the descent I found myself on the old school cross country route, normally done in winter but the scene of my best athletic result when I secured 14th place in the Kent Schools Under 15 Cross Country Championship one spring. That’ll be 28 years ago, then. Since I was 13 and tiny at the time I was well chuffed. It was a real trip down memory lane.

Swiftly followed by an assault on the following uphill. Which, for quarter of a mile, reduced my split speed to 10.33 per mile. It really is quite steep!

Feeling puffed out and not wanting to punish my leg I opted for the road to aim me for home and sidled onto the return stretch to face the undulations once more. Feeling my leg was tight, I think the 4 mile distance (1.5 off road) was about right. And ripe for modification as my familiarity with the routes increases.

A superb outing and something to drive me onto more enjoyable runs as the season progresses.

104 runs, 81 exercises and 42 cycles to go.

Repaired, healthy and improving

My couple of weeks away from running seem to have assisted my improvement no end. I ran my normal mid-week runs with little ill effect and only minor “erring on the side of caution” alteration of the outings. The 4 miles of hills was slower and only included two hill repeats, my thinking being I’ll build up if I don’t break down. But the miracle was a decently fast half mile split on the longest, steepest of the hills. And I felt fine, if a little twinge did set in on the Wednesday afternoon. My flat fast evening was along the same lines; I held off on outright sprinting, instead concentrating on swift but easy (ish) breathing, focusing on my footfall and keeping my feet steady and stable on the ground. A reasonable first mile was built on with all subsequent miles coming faster, culminating in an out-of-breath me but with legs still intact and a hope for “proper” training next week.

And then my weekend plans were to up the mileage to a decent weekend distance without going mad and again hurting myself. I fancied 8 slow miles but reduced this to 7 as a promise to slowly increase. I set a target of 8 minutes per mile and a promise to not run ahead of myself. I almost succeeded at this, too.

And everything is ticking along just fine for a change. The longer run has tightened my calves a touch and I think this may be partly brought on by my focusing on keeping a steady, flat, full foot-fall. At these slower speeds I can focus on each stride and correct myself before I’ve put in half a mile of bad running. And I already find myself having to twist and twitch my wrists less than last week to keep my feet in the right direction, so hopefully I’m curing myself as I progress.

The proof of the pudding will be as I head out again next week and see how things go. Healthy, decent running form and the optimism of spring? Wonderful.

Running man

It’s been a bit of a rubbish month, March. Well, for running, anyway.

A lingering pain in my left shin from Janathon wasn’t getting any better and after my last outing (a gentle 4 miles around Rye on my last day on site down there, two Tuesdays ago), the pain was clearly becoming a worry. It was simply always present. Any pressure on my leg (walking up stairs particularly) brought on a stab of soreness followed by a dull ache that lingered for several minutes. By the end of a normal day (walking around site and the like) I didn’t feel good at all.

And Cathy was getting bored of my moaning to say the least.

So a week and a half of being office bound gave me the resolution to rest. Properly. With a promise not to put repeated impacts through it until it felt ok.

Impatience kept seeing me bounce on the spot on occasion, which consistently revealed the source of the pain to still be there. The late part of last week brought the first rays of hope for proper recovery. Friday brought with it a test of willpower to not go out and jog since only a little ache was evident. I wanted pain free.

Two short cycles convinced me to have a go today, though, and I’m a happy man.

I set about my shortest 2.6 mile loop with my Garmin set to 8 minute miles and a promise to stick to it, come what may. I found myself concentrating on each and every footfall. I picked up an odd “tick” that had me twisting my wrists inadvertantly to ensure my feet planted down squarely, truly, gently and painlessly. And, despite feeling like a Joey and knowing anyone who saw me (thankfully no-one, I think) would wonder what running had to do with making odd wrist throws and why I was staring at my feet, it all worked.

Not a wince of pain, not an ache. And now I’ve stopped for an hour, not a hint of residual soreness.

I believe I’m cured of whatever it was and have hope I’ll be able to get race fit this year yet. Or race fast, at least. I don’t think I’ve lost much fitness between rowing machining and cycling and weight training and gardening and that, but am sure my endurance and pace will reveal themselves to be pathetic when I test myself when I’m sure I can run properly again, hopefully without the wrist movements.

Which will have to be soon, it seems.

For in the forge of stupidity and in an effort to find motivation in place of races, Viceathon has been born.

Not as stupid as the other “athons”, but a challenge nonetheless. Thankfully the timetable is easy. No “run everyday” or even a blog. Merely decide on a vice you’re unhappy about or others criticise and do some exercise to offset/justify it, just as Cathy explains. And make sure there’s some float in the bank in case of relapse…the thought of a massive exercise catch-up on the last day doesn’t bear thinking about.

Cathy’s selected a mile run or two miles cycled for each “unit” of alcohol (not a normal unit, though – one tin/one pint/one glass of alcohol counts the same…but not pints of vodka, as I pointed out!). I believe we also have a brave soul promising a mile to run per baked product (cake or roll or slice of bread); I might try a mile per swearword but am unsure I’ll be able to run a million miles a day to honour it…and am also unsure I can contain my sweary vocabulary sufficiently to make it at all viable!

I’ve a few days to decide on a vice and an offset, though, and will use all of them, I think. Now…what will you do?

Let Jog-Blog know and we’ll add you to the list, or head over to Facebook any time after tomorrow morning and I’m sure there’ll be a page to sign up to in honour of honesty…