Let those long runs begin!
7 days. 168 hours. 10,080 minutes. This is a summary of my running week. Ups and downs. Aches and pains. Feelings and emotions.
Distance: 38.47 miles | Time on my feet: 6:16:41 | Races: 0 | PBs: 0
Another week bites the dust…
My new hard/easy schedule is paying off and, although I still could literally sleep on a clothes line at any given time, I generally feel better for my revised plan. The only area of note physically are my sore calves – both feel like they’ve been repeatedly kicked and are tender to the probing poke. Sore enough in any case to lead me to invest in some compression socks (if they work even in the slightest they’ll be well worth their £30 price-tag. Yes, £30 for a pair of chuffing socks!).
This was also the first week of serious increased mileage and as such the first ‘long’ run I had done for quite some weeks. If I’m honest the looming 15 mile scheduled run on Sunday left me wondering how I’d fair as I fully expected it to be quite difficult.
This is the point of no return; things get serious now.
Schedule vs. Actual
|Tuesday||5 miles||6.2 miles (52:33)|
|Thursday||10 miles||10.82 miles (92:47)|
|Saturday||5 miles recovery run||4.43 miles (40:29)|
|Sunday||15 miles||17 miles (3:04:52)|
|TOTAL||35 miles||38.47 miles|
Ferriby’s antics had left my legs feeling tired but still high on my PB achievement I was spurred on to a decent run at a pleasing pace with some faster stride sections for good measure (average 08:28/mile pace, 07:12/mile peak pace). After Sunday’s race, the 6 miles on Tuesday seemed like a trot round the block; a sign which I took as being positive and I will soon be regarding the 10 mile runs in the same way as my other runs lengthen in distance. And to think that here I was, on a school night, running a 10k in 52mins without a second thought. How far I have come since my first 10k race time of 1:01:21 in 2009…
Wednesday’s rest had done me good, and Thursday’s run started strong. Having lost the niggles and aches in my hamstrings my ails were limited to my persistently sore calves and as the clock turned 8 miles they began to grow heavy. Into a head-wind and with icy sleet bouncing off our faces, the last couple of miles seemed a long way and by the time we returned to the club it felt more like midnight than 8pm. Still, the 08:35/mile average pace suggested a decent run at around my target pace – just another 15 miles on top of that and I’ll be grand! GULP!
Recovery run time. Of all the runs I’ve done recently, this one required most concentration. With a 15-miler planned the day after, the last thing I needed was a run at too fast a pace, so I had a good reason to keep things slow and steady. It was difficult, mind. I kept finding myself speeding up and were it not for regular checks of my watch and subsequent corrections to my speed I may have failed to keep the speed down to the 09:09/mile pace I eventually averaged. Again, in what I see as a positive sign, anything less than 08:30 pace seems almost no effort up to about 9 miles so it is all too easy to allow the pace to pick up to what is comfortable. Consciously checking and constantly slowing gave me something to think about if nothing else and I finished feeling like I’d walked to the end of the drive. Fantastic. Bring on tomorrow!
Sunday’s run was interesting in many ways. The weathermen had been saying all week that cold weather was on the way, but then again the weathermen usually get it wrong so the plan all week was to head out to the hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds and complete the 15 mile run by adding 5 miles on the end of the “Tough Ten” 10-mile route; the hilly nature of which would make for a satisfying and stretching session.
And then bugger me the weathermen only go and get it right…
Waking on Sunday morning to a covering of snow, thoughts turned towards the 10 mile drive on wintry roads and the prospect of a slip-related injury out in the middle of nowhere (well, not quite, but if anything happened out there it’s not the most conducive environments for awaiting the arrival of emergency services). A short game of text-tennis with Cheryl (one of the runners I’d planned all week to meet) resulted in Plan A being knocked on the head and Plan B to be quickly drafted.
It always amazes me how the UK grinds to a halt at the first sign of snow. I have friends and colleagues working out in Russia at the moment where it is currently a typical -35°C and yet one hint of the white stuff in the UK and the news are all over it like it’s The Day After Tomorrow. Won’t be long before there’s some bozo from the council on the news trying to explain how the snow has “caught them by surprise” and that the shortage of road salt was out of their control. Only in Britain..!
There was no way that snow was going to stop me running, however. Not even 3″ of it.
After a flurry of calls, texts and some furious Facebook messaging, a group of us (aptly dubbed “the hardcore few”) assembled at a regular meeting point in town before heading off for an off-road run with a twist. Whilst there was only a couple of inches in town, the fields of the surrounding area were a little more covered and “drifts” (I feel so lame calling them that!) knee-deep meant for some interesting leg-raises as we tried to make progress and forged ahead in our tights whilst a wellington-booted dog-walker looked on in disbelief as though we’d just landed from outer space.
I would not be forgiven for omitting to mention one particular section about 4 or 5 miles into the proceedings…
Accomplished trail and fell runner Leslie, who quite literally is part woman, part 4×4 vehicle, announced that although she’d run the many miles of track and trail around Cleethorpes many times before, and subsequently knew them like the back of her hand, she had not before been in the direction we were currently heading. And so it was with a sudden sense of responsibility and pride (on the basis that I’d done this route many times and was clearly the most experienced around those parts) that I puffed out my chest and with a confident “follow me” led the group through fields knee-deep in snow utilising my finest commando tracker skills which basically involved using the tufts of grass barely visible poking out of the snow as a guide where the path was. All was well until the horizon took a sudden, unexpected and rather confusing change of direction from its normally permanently-horizontal position, and I found myself face-down and fully embedded in a star shape in a cushion of cold yet surprisingly comfortable snow. Turns out I’d strayed from the path and run straight into a snow-filled ditch (around 8 feet deep). As I came to terms with what had happened, suspended face-down and looking like I was foam packed and ready for transportation overseas, I heard the muffled cursing of Leslie and Sam as they followed suit and were dealt a similar fate, disappearing up to their waists. The others, thankfully, promptly stopped upon seeing the procession of strangely disappearing people ahead of them and would have surely helped us escape were it not for the debilitating fits of laughter that had rendered them unable as we tried, floundering, to scramble back to solid ground. It wasn’t until we’d regained our feet and relocated the path that we saw just how big the ditch was and how comical is was not to have noticed its presence by the aforementioned tell-tale tufts of grass that clearly outlined its banks, not the path.
I’m sure it’ll never be mentioned again…
The rest of the run was far from ‘normal’! Such was the terrain in places that when I announced we’d just reached the half-way point, the groans and looks of disbelief said it all, yet we all ploughed on regardless of what lay under-foot (including an energy-sapping 2 mile stretch on the soft sand of the beach and an icy-cold, blister-numbing water crossing) to complete a longer-than-planned 17.02 off-road miles (or 89,865 feet in keeping with my previous post) at an overall 10:52/mile pace. Given the conditions this was very gratifying, especially, as a few of us commented, if we were able to complete the distance in those conditions we could pretty much do it anywhere.
I know one thing for sure – if I have to navigate Paris using tufts of grass we’re all in trouble!
68 days, 7 hours and 42 minutes to go…