Monthly Archives: April 2012

Friday wasn’t meant for running

The day at work started positively in as much as my new assistant had the day off so I was able to look forward to 10 productive hours without having to bite my lip to prevent me sacking the fuckwit.

Following the success of a weekend with two runs and no pain last week I popped out on Tuesday for my hill session but only after a close call with the weather. I wasn’t going to head out, what with the new site being heat, power and facility-less at the moment and the wind and rain making me less than positive in outlook. But a 4.30 turnaround in conditions (to lovely, warm sunshine, albeit with wind but knowing my route would be as sheltered as it’s possible to get outside) and some encouragement from my groundworker made me head away for a jog. Or more accurately an easy sprint down the hill from site followed by a laboured crawl back up to it. 4.2 miles, pretty much 2.1 miles downhill and 2.1 up. Including the bit up Castle Hill past the waterworks which is now shut to vehicles and smacks of dogging venue/murder scene if ever anywhere did.

Good for getting the thighs burning and the lungs bursting from the chest, though.

But a plan to run last night was scuppered by my desire to do a bit to the roof of the conservatory. And tomorrow has become a bit of a heavily loaded day. And I didn’t want to leave the run until Sunday in case I drink enough tomorrow night to make me feel rough and want to execute a shorter run again. And I fancied a run before I left work. And Cathy wasn’t hungry when I got in from work, so everything was aligned to allow a plod this evening.

Heading out from the house with the intention of 8 miles after a day at work wasn’t on my list of targets as I awoke 12 hours earlier, it must be said. And my legs felt badly weary. The first mile was pure slog just to get myself going despite the motivation of an hour previous.

The fact that it was sunny, warm, bright and only mildly breezy helped no end and by mile two I was feeling fresh and happy. Plenty of traffic heading home after the week was apparent even on the lanes to begin, but when I headed up Gill Lane, everything came together. 4 miles in, not a chance of any traffic, legs feeling fresh, fully warmed up and happy in the knowledge that even the shortest shortcut home would see me over 6.5 miles made my legs sing happily. I maintained a steady, slow, even pace and was happy that the initial lethargy was purely in the head.

Each footfall felt great. I don’t know how much I’ll gain from the run since I didn’t push anywhere to tax my lungs or legs, but as pleasant outings go in the quest to cheer the soul, this ranks as one of my happiest runs.

Returning home to a quick stretch and a quick ice of my lower limbs rounded things out, so now I’m ready for the weekend. Next run will probably be hills on Monday again. And I’m looking forward to it already.

96 runs, 71 exercises and 38 cycles to go.

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Three runs and a race

Indeed. A race. One of those things where you put your abilities on the line and try to go as fast as you can and beat other people in the process.

Ahem.

So Wednesday revealed a foul-weathered evening which wasn’t going to stop me going out after a relatively hectic Tuesday stopped the action I had planned. And out I went. A 4 mile route around a few lanes and the local housing estate (never far from one of those in Ashford) in case I had problems and needed a shortcut.

And I didn’t. No looking at my Garmin at all produced a set of mile splits that were fantastically encouraging in that they were quicker than I imagined as well as being within 4 seconds over any half mile consistent.

So I got changed and iced my leg again to make sure that if the ice works it gets a chance to and waited for Thursday morning.

Which arrived with no pain at all. Marvellous.

So a plan to run on Friday also evapourated, which I thought might be a truly bad thing for my plans. I was being encouraged to jog around the Stelling Minnis 10k with a few lads from work but didn’t know if I’d be safe for 6 miles. Despite a wish to do it (it’s my favourite race route) in the knowledge that if I stuck with them it would be a nice slow pace.

So instead I headed out early  Saturday (I say early. It was for me. I hate morning runs, so it was really around 10.30) on the pushbike for a paper, did the 6 mile extended route as a warm up and headed out for a test run pretty much immediately after.

My 4.7 mile loop around the lanes with no pressure on pace but a desire to run cleanly and assess leg health. And with a bit of ice on my return again, all seemed perfect.

So I committed to the race.

And arrived on the startline this morning intending to plod around with the boys and assess things at mile 5 to see if a spirited mile was going to be done to put the leg to the test.

Well the course is undulating to say the least. There are 3 significant hills. None of them mountain climbs, but they are a test. So the boys were a bit slow but I was delighted to be running a race, probably annoying plenty of people by chatting well and making a pig of the fact that I could enjoy the weather (sunny spells, little breeze), chat to the marshalls (had to explain to one why I looked so fresh and not trying!) and encourage Michael and Aaron (Geoff was already, at 8.15 per mile, dropping back) on.

It wasn’t so much a race as a test. But the big hill at 4 miles slowed everyone around to a walk. Michael got around two thirds of the way up and stopped, which made me think again about the last mile. I jogged up to two girls at the top of the hill, had a chat, let them know it was flat from there, glanced at my Garmin to see 4.85 miles and started running.

I had one tiny twinge from the shin at 3 miles but otherwise it was perfect which was what spurred me on to going for a decent finish. I made a point of not looking at the Garmin again, simply running a pace I could maintain all the way home while focusing on clean footstrikes and structured running.

I relatively flew, it must be said. The quarter mile splits improved the one where I got going to an 8 minute dead followed by 6.40; 6.44; 6.33; 6.48 and 6.37. A last whole mile average of 6.41 after 11 miles of running this weekend and without feeling puffed.

Superb.

I think, if I never allow myself to give running advice, I may well offer advice on how to stay fit during injury.

It was an odd last mile, pacing past people, but almost enjoyable. At the finish the chairman of my employer was waiting with his son in law who won overall in a little under 35 minutes (his first 5k split was 17.17) which was humbling but I was delighted to be pain free. And accelerating when I did saw my average pace tumble to 7.59/mile which flatters the other slow ones but isn’t a disgrace, especially considering it’s 20 seconds better than the same race last time I ran it after injury.

A little ice on returning to the car seems to have freshened things up and I really don’t feel like I’ve run more this weekend than I have since January at all.

Time to start proper training again and see if I can convert some sub-6 minute miles into consistent times for a race or two.

A little test

Since my last outing I’ve mostly been on holiday.

Not a holiday away or anything exotic like that, merely a break from work to allow me to install a new dining room floor, upgrade (temporary style) the bedroom floor and carry out loads of gardening which has had little visual impact at all.

But the change has been nice. Only my leg hasn’t been perfect.

I decided that each day I had pain from it I’d stay away from running. It’s not been really bad, but only in a “not getting much worse” way. Which won’t allow me to pursue any goals for the year if I fear it’s going to hold me back.

So days have passed. Cycles have been used and fitness roughly maintained (endurance will doubtless be pathetic, but tough!) but leg healing has progressed.

I considered a run yesterday but again postponed it until this morning. A roundabout trip to the local farm shop created a 3.5 mile target route to be carried out sensibly slowly. I started off a bit quicker than planned but addressed this as I went along, got home and have tried something different. Bearing in mind everything else seems to be letting me down I tried icing my leg as soon as I had cooled down. An old gel bag thing held onto the shin, calf and anywhere I thought it might assist, basically.

And so far all seems good. I don’t know if the ice has helped, not being in pain before I applied it, but hopefully I’ll wake up tomorrow and feel like I want to run again. In which case I might. Short, gentle, flat, non taxing runs for a few outings to assess if I’m ok to kill myself again.

Looking forward to it. If not the return to work tomorrow.

A spot of mis-placed rage

I’m getting slow in my old age.

Since the run around the hills on Thursday I’ve been mostly complaining that my left leg is hurting again. All below the knee, all a bit bloody frustrating. The run was fine and the recovery seemed reasonable but a pain each time I put my foot down isn’t something I can put up with for long.

So running took a back seat. Each morning the pain has stayed away slightly longer – from putting my sock on it eased out until I got in the car. But it’s always present.

Today was the day to get my motorbike serviced, however. Which meant either a load of faffing about driving there, cycling back, riding there, driving back and then doing the same again (it’s just over 4 miles away) to collect it. Or simply wearing a pair of shorts under my leathers and carrying some trainers in a rucksack and running home, leaving leathers helmet and boots at the workshop.

But that’s not an option on damaged legs.

So with some caution I left there this morning with dreams of a run, knowing I might have to stop if pain revealed itself.

So I kept the pace down (good job, since I’m a tad unfit after not enough running lately combined with floorlaying and gardening instead of cycling as a fitness offset) and eased out onto the road. And felt ok. I opted for the flat direct route which brought me onto the Greensand Way for about a mile of footpath through fields. A splash of rain last night softened the top but hasn’t begun to make puddles or close cracks in the soil (in April. We need rain. Lots of it. And fewer new houses to increase our demands on the resource. But there you go….hypocrisy at peak…maybe I should stop building them!) so a low impact mile was experienced. And very pleasant, too. Many stiles, a farmer fertilising his crop but not another soul for a few minutes made me feel good to be out.

And all too soon I was back home.

A continuation on making my floor trims was interrupted by JB demanding we go and see lambs so the closer lamb field was chosen just in case it had a few. They’re late around here, though – 10 miles away there are millions of them – all our local fields are sheep free areas at the moment. Probably waiting to build houses on them.

We saw a few far-away lambs and then returned. Whereupon my knowledge of road construction and traffic control technology demanded to be shared by a fellow who wasn’t too keen on the option. Arriving at the newly placed lights erected on a corner to allow more houses to mess up the countryside, I proceeded through a red light. Very bad, admittedly, but fair. The lights are controlled for priority by strips which detect metal; basically a detector recognises a lump of metal passing over it and lets the light control know there’s something waiting. Only a largely alloy pedal cycle doesn’t contain enough metallic element to trigger the system so common sense prevails and encourages caution to head around the corner and hope drivers can. Drive, that is. The road wasn’t light controlled until a few years ago, so all used to be fine. But today a prick in an 02 reg dark blue Rover 75 (I’ll probably find it next time I head into the new estate where he clearly came from) decided we were an obstacle he couldn’t avoid, so he chose to use his horn (to let us know he was there as is the horn’s use as identified by the highway code? I feel not since I made eye contact to make sure he was aware of me..and yes, I am aware of slight irony referencing the highway coed when I’ve run a red light!), then slowed and shouted at Cathy before swerving in towards me and shouting that I need to learn to obey the lights.

I am getting slow.

I opted for sensible-ness for a millisecond which was a millisecond too long with hindsight. I should have reacted as I used to in such a situation and eased right as he slewed left, placing my pedal through his door (DMR V12’s are great, pointy objects for such a purpose). Or reached into his open window as he passed amd shouted. Instead, having decided to avoid the risk of injury, I simply shouted for him to pull over. My intention was to educate him as to the vagaries of the traffic light detection system and ask if the delay he didn’t experience on a road plenty wide enough for a car to pass a pedal cycle justified being a knob. But instead he chose to speed off. Despite my best efforts my fully suspended knobbly tyred cycle wasn’t going to catch him without traffic intervention and he got onto the bypass before I could catch him. I’ll have to find his house and leave a note under his windscreen wiper.

And some dogshit all around his doorhandles and filler cap.

Upon returning home I headed back for the return leg of the 4 miler to collect my bike.

A little apprehensive with a slight ache in my shin, I once again took it easy. A gentle plod along the off-road bit again tied in well with my lack of fitness and keeping things steady was great for morale as the traffic of rush hour kept me diving for the verge to avoid vans and trucks.

Home again after a quick ride around and my legs feel fresher than I feared. A lawnmowing session has hopefully kept things free. I’ll see for sure tomorrow when a haircut might be the highlight of my activities.

Birthdays aren’t what they used to be!