Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A different direction

I thought I knew where I wanted to go with this running malarkey…

Chester Marathon was to be my goal this year – ‘unfinished business.’ Then dozens of people on Twitter seemed to create a kind of snowball effect and before I knew it everyone was signing up for it, which was great! Inspired, on my way to bed one night after a couple of glasses of red, I entered!! Then the next morning I put my name in the ballot for VLM 2013 too. Why not? Great. My goals were set, let’s get training…

Rewind a little – last month I moved to a new house in a slightly different area, so on returning from injury at the start of May I started discovering what the area had to offer. In the immediate vicinity, it’s full-on hill-running. To begin with this was a new and interesting challenge, but after a week or so I found myself getting frustrated running on the pavement and I was really struggling to get to any trails by running straight from my front door.

Looking back, when I started running last spring I mostly did trail running – nothing too exciting just bridle paths and canals etc. but always enjoyed it more than pounding the pavements -- but then I only entered road races! It doesn’t really make sense. I think maybe I’ve always thought of trail running (and especially fell running) as too hard-core for little old me. But since coming back from injury last month I’ve been feeling a lot stronger and my confidence has soared. The last few weeks have simply been like an explosion of discovery.

So I started getting in the car and going off to find new and interesting off-road routes in the area. I’ve been discovering all the possible trails in the Saddleworth and Mossley area and then trying to string them together into longer runs. I’ve also started a “run-streak” inspired by others I follow on Twitter. Simply put, I now run every day (today being day 22) and this keeps me focussed and motivated even more. I’m not going to let it become the be all and end all, but at the moment I’m enjoying it.

Then came the ‘Dovestone Diamond’. Mentioned by someone on Twitter who lives not too far from me, it was a midweek 10k multi-terrain race and I decided I had to do it. I’ve been running around Dovestone Reservoir since the start, early last year, but just a short 3 or so miles on the track that runs immediately around the water. This race was completely different, it shot up into the surrounding hills – approx. 500ft of assent right at the start then it was kind of undulating hills for the rest of the run, but tough terrain, lots of rocks, mud, streams etc. The best bit though – the views. The weather was gorgeous and the views running along the tops, through pine trees and out into open stretches of winding paths with views out over more of the Pennine hills and the reservoir down below were simply breath-taking. I really enjoyed it. That was this time last week.

I did it again tonight and it was better still!! From parking my car at the mill in Greenfield until arriving back 6.35 miles later, I hardly saw a soul. On my own, and taking it nice and steady I was able to really take in the surroundings and of course I had the path to myself so I could really enjoy concentrating on my foot placement without having to worry about someone in front or behind.  When I got back to the car, I wanted to carry on. I kind of did. I got in the car and drove down the road a bit, pulled over and shot off down a footpath. There was method in my madness. I wanted to see if I could link the run up with another nearby route and I could. The excitement. At some point it’s now going to be just the start of a really awesome long run.

I’ve given a lot of thought to where I’m going with this running of mine; this week in particular. And I’ve had some fantastic support off one person in particular in deciding what I want to do (you know who you are!).

Chester is off I’m afraid. Sorry Team Chester!

I’ve sent my application form off today to join the local fell-running club and its trail/fell races for me from now on. I still want to do a marathon, but I’m thinking a trail marathon now, maybe Kielder Marathon in October – it’s the same day as Chester! Maybe even something sooner. And an Ultra next year. There, I’ve said it. I want to be an Ultra-runner! But one step at a time – I do have a propensity to get ahead of myself. Right now I’m just loving running the trails and keeping my run-streak going.

Happy days 

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Feeling Good Again!

My plan was to write a blog every couple of weeks to chart my running progress, but it’s been 8 weeks since my last one – I’ve just not felt like writing. I’ve just been a bit too down-in-the-doldrums. Oh yeah, and I’ve not actually been running….

Firstly, I picked up an injury – every runners worst nightmare. I think I over did it, increasing my weekly and long-run mileage too quickly in order to be ready for a half marathon at short notice. My last long run, 2 weeks prior to Wilmslow half on 25th March, I did 15 miles (hardly the right mileage 2 weeks before a Half) and felt a *niggle* in my left groin during the first few miles. The two weeks that followed, I really struggled. I attempted a couple of short runs, but my groin was really troubling me. Then race day:

After 7 days of no running at all, I had hoped I’d be OK and I sort of was. I set off at the back of the pack as I was with a guy doing his first race and he didn’t have the confidence to start further up the field. It was a slow start, so much traffic to get through. I think I spent the first half of the race weaving in and out of people and running up grass verges! I felt really good though and so I kept pushing the pace, leaving my race partner behind. The end was tough, but I finished my third half marathon with a new PB (by about a minute) of 1:52 –I’m sure I could have done better with a better start!

The groin didn’t bother me too much whilst running the race, but as soon as I crossed the finish line I was in trouble. I could hardly put my foot down and certainly I couldn’t put any real weight on my left side, and so it was a long limp back to the car park.

This was the start of 5 ½ weeks of no running. Oh. My. Goodness. I would never have thought not running could be so hard. Now I know what a running junkie I am. It was hell. I’ve only been running properly a year and this was my first injury so I didn’t know what to expect, but now I sympathise with anyone who is out of the game. It’s tough.

But now I’m running again…..and it feels great!

I’ve lost a bit of fitness, and the position of my new house is making running harder, but I think I’ll thrive off it going forward. This morning I did my third run this week and felt completely injury-free J

It was glorious sunshine as I headed out my door and turned left up the hill. It’s about 0.3 miles of lung-busting ascent right from the off, but when it levels off on top of the hill its absolutely sublime! It’s then downhill for a bit, then uphill for a bit, then a long gradual downhill…..I think you get the idea!

Anyway, all new running routes to look forward to. I can’t wait.

So, I’ve done what I said I’d do in my first blog. I’ve entered Chester Marathon – my first full marathon. I entered last year and didn’t make it, so this is unfinished business. There’s dozens of us in Twitterland doing it, so I know the support will be amazing. It will be a tough challenge for me – particularly training in the hills for a marathon on the flat, but as someone said to me recently, put very simply: *hills make you stronger*. That they do. What can I say……..

Bring. It. On!

This blog was brought to you by a Berberana Reserva 2007 Rioja … hic!