Sunday, 30 August 2009

It's the Wowgills

Well hello again. I hope you're all enjoying your running.

Much to report from the Hayfella camp, so if you're in a hurry, here are the edited highlights: Whoopee, new camera! Good 5 mile blast in London. Dales Way jaunt with unexpectedly great view of the Howgills.

For those kindly taking the time to read further:
It was my birthday recently. And my utterly brilliant wife bought me a digital camera to replace the one I so foolishly lost earlier in the year. I'm over the moon! It's a Nikon Coolpix. It's tiny, so I can take it in a (secure this time) bumbag on my trots out and , once I've cracked how to upload shots onto this blog, I can make it more pretty. Won't that be lovely.

On the running front, things are picking up again after my recent hiatus which started with an Achille/calf tweak and continued with a spell of working a lot and an attack of 'I can't be a***ed to get out as often as I should'. Nonetheless, last week in London I did another 5 miler along Regents Canal - only 4 minutes quicker this time, which was great in that 'I don't know if I can keep this pace up' way that leaves you buzzing at the end of it.
Yesterday, some of the family came to visit and we did a nice lazy 10 mile walk to Windermere, westwards along the Dales Way, and got the train back. This morning my brother-in-law and I went out for a lovely exploratory run eastwards along the Dales Way. This was a great, if extremely boggy, run with plenty of up and down, done at a positively leisurely pace* but one that felt fairly even. The highlight was cresting a ridge and being rewarded with stunning view of the Howgill Fells in the misty sunshine. I like the Howgills; I like their rounded massiveness that's so different to the more jagged outline of the Lakeland Fells, even if they are just t'other side of the M6.
My plan is to continue pushing eastwards along the Dales Way as I gradually lengthen my training runs. It won't take long before I'll be running to the M6 and back as my long run, which sounds pretty good as a plan to me.

This week coming I'm hoping to do a speed/interval session earlyish in the week, and then a mid length run towards the end, because I have the Lakeland Trail race at Derwentwater next Sunday. I've not done this event before, so don't know the course, but am looking forward to it.

*12.55 min/mile. Very slow but, in a book I'm reading at the moment I came across this: "We tend to do our slow runs too fast, and out fast runs too slow". This struck a chord, so I'm going to redress the balance in my own running to see what difference it makes.

Smile rating 7/10 (the 5 miler) 8.5/10 (the Wowgills)

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Of unexpected marinas

Bit of a belated blog, this. On my London jaunt last week a couple of guys in the agency I was working in took me on a fantastic 5 miler along Regent's Canal. This was a great surprise. We were running along a canal path, past some very trendy apartments, watching swans and ducks. Then, before we knew it we were in the middle of Camden Market all a-heave with people.
And did you know there's a place in the heart of North London called 'St Pancras Marina'? Neither did I. But there is and it's full of canal boats.
The whole run was tremendous; like running along a hidden thoroughfare reasonably briskly.
Next week I'm back in the smoke. Hopefully we'll run it the other way, eastwards, which is apparently more rustic. I'll let you know if it happens.
Today's run is meant to be a long slow job, but I'm not sure it's going to happen. I'm working, I'm listening to the Oval Test on TMS and it's relentlessly, grimly, chucking it down with rain. I may just take a rain cheque. Feeble I know. But sometimes running just has to fit in where it can.
I think life will calm down a bit soon, so I can concentrate on some more serious training. In the meantime I'm just concentrating on not losing all my conditioning.
Smile rating 8/10

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

I discovered something wonderful this morning. I actually like running in London in the early morning. Once I dredged myself up out of bed and into my kit I was out the door and into the quiet coolness of Islington borough where I had the streets pretty much to myself.
I went exploring towards the City today. Just half an hour, but it was great. I saw one other runner - but they don't smile, nod or even grunt acknowledgement down here, so the cheery 'Morning' that left my lips probably turned into 'NUTTER ALERT' by the time it entered his head. Ah well. 
Smile rating 8/10

Sunday, 16 August 2009

On rambling

I'm finding it really hard to work my way back into serious training at the moment and I think the fundamental problem is that I'm a bloke. Not a blokey, beery, boorish bloke, just the possessor of a Y chromosome. And this affects my brain in a peculiar way.
I'm one of nature's filers. I like compartments. Everything in its rightful box. So, when I'm in the 'training' box, I train. But when I'm in a different box, it's hard. At the moment I'm in a 'working' box, which involves travel and hotels and meetings and stuff. I'm not in a 'training' box. So it's hard. Wrong box, you see. Y chromosomes don't make things easy.

Nonetheless, I was in the training box today and went out for 7 miles over the local fells. It was, at the same time, fantastic and horrible. Fantastic because I was roaming around a familiar place, threading bits of different routes together; horrible because I was deadly slow and felt really heavy and ploddy.
My route took me up and over Potter Fell which involves a grim climb but rewards the effort with a great canter along the tops. I came down off the side of the fell towards the buzzard tree (see an earlier blog) where I saw again these magnificent birds as they soared above and around me.
It was one of those runs where it took 4 miles before I realised that it wasn't as awful as it was a bit earlier and I began to enjoy it.
I was reminded of something I read in Haruki Murakami's book 'Things I talk about when I talk about running' which is: "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional" which sounds great when you realise that he was talking about running along the gentle roads of Hawaii in the summer sunshine; come and try it matey when you're flogging your way up Potter Fell under grey skies and wind with bearing the first hint of autumn!

To conclude this rambly blog, it's my 24th wedding anniversary today and my lovely Mags bought me Christopher McDougal's book "Born to Run" about a tribe of Mexican Indians who are ultrarunning supermen. I'm going to take it to London with me next week. Then, when I'm in my 'work' box, it'll transport me to my 'training' box and help me get out and do the miles I need to do. It'll be like an X chromosome with pages.
Smile rating 6/10

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Lowther Trail travails

I don't know what the bloke was on when he measured the course of the Lowther Trail race. '12.5 miles, 1,300 feet' said the race details: 13.3 miles 2,300 feet said my Garmin! Now I know that Garmin's can sometimes be a bit suspect, but even so....
Still, it was a cracking run and my legs are still feeling it 2 days later. After registration and meeting up with ucollie and Charlie (he is a fantastic dog, full of character) we joined the motley assortment of runners for the understated start.
The route beganwith a longish, gentle descent along ankle-twanging rutted grass followed by a long, draggy climb to the first checkpoint up Heughscar hill. The climb was one of those where every time you looked up you thought the summit was just there, only for the climb to continue. For me it was about 26 minutes of continuous uphill. Still, it was runnable. This was followed by a lovely section over moorland, with a stunning view of Ullswater below, following tape markers that were tied to clumps of rushes (possibly Juncus effusus but I didn't stop to make sure). Eventually this led down to a river crossing - knee deep, not too cold, great fun - and then a really nasty steep uphill that seemed to go on for ever especially as the sun was really hot and we were out of the breeze. I struggled here and, from here on in, was accompanied with painful knees, groin, hips and back. There was a final downhill section on road which was pretty hard, then another sting-in-the-tail uphill section before the course broke out onto grass for the finish. Here I did my usual trick of losing my way - I couldn't find the finishing line - and I don't think I was the only one.
My time was 2:09:56 which worked out at 9.48min/mile which I was pleased with, considering the recent faltering in training.
Mind you, my effort paled into insignificance compared to Running Fox who I was delighted to meet afterwards; he finished many minutes ahead of me - well done RF. You're an inspiration to us all. I only hope that when I'm 77 I can do half as well!
Next up for me is the Derwentwater Lakeland Trail race in early September. Unfortunately, once again I'm working in London the week before, so my training will have to be around the streets. Not good, but it'll have to do.
Smile rating 7/10

Saturday, 1 August 2009


Last seen dribbling away two weeks ago on 4 mile road run accompanied by throbbing left Achilles. Rediscovered on humble 2.7 mile River Loop, witnessed by sheep.

Isn't it horrifying how quickly any semblance of form disappears with any lay-off? I've done 3 gym sessions since being laid up, so my core strength should have improved, but my lungs and heart and legs and stamina and speed and climbing ability have all disappeared over the hill I can't run up and into the great blue yonder I can hardly imagine ever being able to reach.
And in the meantime ucollie is off doing double training at his Portugese training camp, crafty ol' Runningfox is doing altitude training and hill reps the like of which you'd dream of and runningbear's out busily winning everything in sight like some electrified gazelle (only more gracefully I'm sure). And, in a final flourish to this rant on the iniquity of injury, I've got to spend my final week before Lowther working in London, so my only running will be pounding the hard pavements of Finchley in order to stand a chance of getting round next Sunday. Perhaps I shouldn't worry about 'racing' at Lowther. Maybe I should take a picnic and think of it as a nice day out!!
Still. Today was great. Rubbish time. Rubbish heart and lungs. Rubbish leg strength. But no calf twinges, a half hour spent under the beautiful open Lakeland skies and the comforting feel of a returning Mojo.
Smiley rating: 3/10 for the performance, 10/10 for its significance