Catching up – at last

So, it’s been quite a while since I last posted a post about anything of interest – sorry about that!

And what’s been happening? Um….. some running, since I last blogged the longest day run.

It’s been a little muddled, but on the whole running has generally been OK, and knee has been behaving itself, though I have been aware of it, my runs have been short, and I’ve been trying to protect it as best I can when running the longer runs – often using a bit of the rocktape, with a method suggested by runningphysio (whose blog is very interesting and informative, both for training the mind and the body).

On one evening I laced up the speedy shoes, and decided to see what could be done. I was really pleased that I was not too far off my parkrun 5km pace as I managed a <23 minute run.

I have just about managed to maintain just 3 runs per week as I also tried to up my 'long run' totals each week having gone 7.6 – 8 – 9.4. The only exception was actually the weekend of my speedy effort where the most I managed was 4miles (mostly as I had spent the day vegging on the sofa watching the wimbledon mens final eating biscuits before I went out)

Last weekend I decided that I needed to hit some trails given that other than parkrun at Banstead I have very little trail running experience. I laced up the adidas Kanadia TR3 trainers (which are rubbish, but they're all I have) and headed out and up the hill to join the Greensand Way – a 108 mile trail that heads through Surrey and Kent. I didn’t do all 108 miles, instead I headed out 4 miles in one direction, turned around, and headed back the way I came.

A glorious day – you can almost make out St.John’s Church in Earlswood in center of picture.

On the way back from Nutfield I spotted the church in front of me and tried to capture it on film (or in pixels). The photos have a rather romanticised, soft focus effect as the camera lens on phone had fogged up a little in the armband. At this point in the run I was heading for the hill that looms behind the spire that can be just about made out in the centre of the picture.

and looking back the way I had just come

A little bit further ahead, having walked a little up the last hill I got this beautiful vista opening out in front of me which looked out across the country back in the direction I had run from. On the way back home I had a blast on the final muddy downhill section as I freewheeled down the hill through the deep, clagging, stinky puddles! And covered my legs in it :-)

mud, mud, glorious mud

It was so much fun, and assuming that the thunder run course will be wet given the rain we’d had recently I figured it was very good practice, and a comfortable 8 mile run. My knee was a little sore as a result the next day, but no worse than that and I was back running again on Tuesday this week.

Tuesday was a nice steady tempo kind of 4 mile run – it was interesting as earlier in the day I had been discussing the marathontalk magic mile challenge where last year I was going eyes-out to a single mile time of 8:26. Now I know my 5km pace is quicker than that, but it was fun to do just over 4 miles at an average pace of 8:16. Not lightning quick, but pretty please given the issues I’ve had recently and desperate lack of any real speed work in the last few months.

I also decided this week that hills had been a bit tough recently so I decided to head out and do some proper hill reps, knowing that the thunder run course has one or two sharp rises on it. With a lack of recent experience I decided to put the trail shoes back on and head back to the hill I had to walk up last week, and sprinted 100m up it before walking back down again 6 times. It felt good. It was hard work, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was that good ‘feel the burn’ sensation in the quads, which I’ve missed a bit in recent times.

As a final bit of trail practice Alma, Louise and I met up at Banstead woods at 9pm to give our new head torches a whirl in the dark and get used to running with them. I tell you what, for £15, the torches that Louise has picked up for us are immense. With a seperate battery pack on the back of the head which houses a red LED, the front light has about a million different settings including brightness options, flashing, and even red and green LEDs. The run was very pleasant, and a successful one as we were all very hapy with our purchases. Even if we did all learn the hard way – not to adjust the light with our hands infront of the beam, it reflects straight back into the eyes. We also picked up our team vests for the race. It’s all very real now and very soon!

not sure what’s wrong with my face

I also tested our group gazebo to make sure that it worked – that was like a Krypton Factor challenge as all I had was a bunch of poles with some numbers on. But I got there (with a few head-scratching moments) in the end.

I had hoped today to get to 10 miles – my longest run for a very long time, and supply me with some confidence in the run up to a double effort at 3am next weekend that will see me doing 12 miles. Alas, in the end I managed 9.5. It was hot out there, even leaving the house at 9am, and I think that after less than 12 hours, my legs were still a little tired. In addition I had a few stomach issues during a slow 7th lap, but I trudged on and managed a very enjoyable 9+miles at about 9:30pace. Oh, and at 607, I have finally passed 600 miles for this year (and have now run 70miles more than in all of 2011). It makes the 2012km target tough, but not undoable though.

With a lack of any speedwork, I am not sure I’ll be running much faster next weekend – but as we keep saying between us, we’re there to complete not compete. So as long as I am hitting our target 60-70 minutes for each loop then I think I’ll be fine.

I can’t wait!

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