Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The hills are alive...

...with the sound of puffing.
After a great 6 hour walk in the local snowy hills on Sunday - and therefore no long steady run this weekend - I felt that today I should make some effort and have a more intensive session. Admittedly, after sitting at a computer all morning, it was a joy to be out in weather like this...

which is why I'm grinning like an idiot (whilst squinting into the very bright sun)

Anyway, to business. Time for some Kenyan hills. And I know just the hill. It goes from the nearer tree on the right, up and round the corner to the upper tree on the right. It takes (me) about a minute to do, and gets my heart up to about 172bpm, which'll do nicely.

So I did 6 reps, which was about 12 minutes of continuous up and down running. It was fun putting fresh prints into the snow. After I'd done a couple I had the bright idea of using fresh snow for each uphill bit...

Photographic evidence of having done my hills! It was as knackering as Kenyan hills always are, but I have to say it was fantastic too!
Smileyrating 9/10

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Round and round...

...the sheep field
like a lumbering bear
one rep, two reps,
Less than half-way there.

Three reps, four reps
Only one to go
5! thank god I'm done
'Cos I am knackered so.

Round and round the sheep field
in the chilly sun
intervals are such hard work
A masochist's idea of fun

Smileyrating 9/10 for doing it at all

Saturday, 20 November 2010

An Apology...

I'd like to apologise to the Lakeland fells, particularly those between Sadgill, in the Longsleddale Valley, and Kentmere.
You, dear fells, stand there, magnificent in your altitude and isolation, your flanks combed by the wind, your marshy depressions dark and mysterious and your stony tracks washed clean by tumbling streams.
And how do I repay you? By stumbling up and down your stony tracks, by disturbing your stones and muddying your crystal streams, by plotching deep into your dark marshes, by polluting your wild windswept tranquillity with groans and wheezing.
You give me an hour and a half of fantastic cardiac workout, in glorious sunshine, leaving me happily knackered and glowing with a sense of returning hill fitness. And I give you water-filled footprints, flattened rushes, muddy scars and stony scrapes.

I'm sorry.

Umm. Will you be OK by next week?

Smileyrating 8/10

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Of squirrels, bears and breakfast

Busy, busy, busy. I've been working in Chester so haven't blogged. Sorry. I must tell you about my Sunday run. It was early, before breakfast and it was cold. In a Three Bears kind of way, the cloud was really low on the hills above me and the mist lay wet and heavy in the valley below me, but where I was it was just right!
I stayed on the road because everywhere was knee-deep in mud because of the recent rains. I ran up the hill, into the cloud - where the temperature dropped noticeably -  then contoured along a hill high above Kendal. The lane was running with water and it was littered with stony debris that had been washed from the fells and verges. The lane is bounded by moss-covered stone walls about shoulder-high. As I plodded along my eye was caught by a flash of movement. It was a grey squirrel, that ran alongside me for about 20m until the wall snaked round a tree, at which point it decided it had had enough of my wheezing and it disappeared up the tree. I tottered on. The lane steepened downwards and the air was full of the sound of streams rushing off the fell.
As I turned for home, the low, brassy, sun finally emerged from behind the cloud and backlit the mist, turning it into into sheets of gold. Beautiful.
As for the run? Well, I did it. It wasn't fast, my backside muscle still hasn't settled down and was aching a bit, but it is just such a delight to be out that I didn't really mind. I felt I'd earned my bacon and eggs!
Smileyrating: 7/10

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Bread and butter

Here's the scene: I've got a bottle of Pinot Grigio chilling, a brace of pollack fillets in the fridge awaiting Mrs HF's gastronomic genius (I could do a whole other blog devoted to this subject; SmileyEater?, SmileyGuts? Smileystuffyerface?), The Jam's 'Sound Affects' on the CD. And I did my River Loop run for the first time in many, many months.
Life's good.
After Sunday's mighty Kentmere Horseshoe, it took until today for my solidified quads to decide to flex enough to allow me to bend my legs sufficiently to permit running. So at lunchtime I tottered out. And it was shocking. I wheezed and huffed my way round. I plodded glacially up the hills. I creaked my way down. And I thought... this is what it's all about. This sort of run. When you struggle and groan and revel in the sunshine, the cool air, the beauty of the hills - anything that takes your mind off the fact that you are so not running-fit. The sort of run you do because you know that by doing it you'll feel better next time. This is training.
And, of course, once I'd twigged this, I relaxed into it and enjoyed it enormously. And probably got faster because of it.
So if Sunday was the Mrs HF gastronomic- de-luxe cake-with-cherries-on-top run, today was the bread and butter run.
And I reckon bread and butter makes the cake taste better.

Smileyrating: 4/10 for the performance, 9/10 for the weather 

Monday, 8 November 2010

A Happy Horsehoe

All the training books say that, on your long steady run, you should extend your mileage by, say, 10% a week. On Saturday I didn't quite do that. My longest run until then had been about 1.5 miles. On Saturday I did 13 with c.3600 ft of ascent. That's about a 767% increase! And it was utterly fantastic.
 Ultracollie (and Charlie) were up for a recce before his Lakeland 100 in July and fancied the Kentmere Horseshoe. So we met in a layby and set off in the most glorious cool, sunny weather. Three hours 39 minutes later we were back, necking strawberry milkshakes and stuffing our faces with flapjack.
 It was, as I've said, fantastic. After my miserable time since January, it was such a joy to be running again, and I couldn't have had better companions. DD and I chatted companionably the whole way round, and Charlie is just a delight, chasing sticks, trotting along the path, looking back to check where we were, and making friends with everyone he meets.

DD and Charlie making their way up Froswick. Charlie strolling.

A few seconds later - Charlie's got bored with strolling and has shot off somewhere!

As can be expected I struggled on the uphills, but managed to run on the flats and downs. But to be honest, I didn't care about 'performance'. I was just elated to be out, and I got round with nary a twinge from the operation scars. As I said, it was fantastic.
Thanks guys.

PS. I could hardly walk on Sunday and today (Monday) my quads are still sore enough to make creeping downstairs a right pain. But who cares. Hayfella's back!
Smileyrating: 10/10 doesn't do it justice somehow

Monday, 1 November 2010

Sunday worship

I'm very excited. I managed to get out yesterday (Sunday) morning, before breakfast, for my half-hour walk/run. This may not sound much but it had two things going for it: 1) It reintroduced the idea of getting out for 'The Sunday Run' a familiar ritual cherished by all runners and 2) I walked for 5 minutes, then ran for 10, then walked for 5 and ran for 10. So, wow, I ran for 20 whole minutes!
It was a bit gloomy, but deliciously cool with not too much wind as I made my way up the lane. On this route, about 15 minutes in, there's a beautiful white house that looks down the valley. It is home to a collie dog that sits on the cattle grid at the entrance to the drive and barks at everyone and everything that goes past. It's given me many a fright on a pitch black night when I'm running past. Anyway, she was out loose yesterday. She saw me, barked and came lolloping up. 'Uh-oh', I thought, 'savage beast alert'. So I stood quietly. And she promptly sat on my foot and leaned on my leg, chin upraised ready for it to be tickled. So I obliged and made friends with a real softie of a dog. Mind you, I think she'd rolled around in something ripe so it was a bit of a smelly experience, but there's a country dog for you.
All in all, a terrific run. I hope it's the start of regular Sunday runs. I've got a long, long way to go, but hope to get there, one run at a time.
Smileyrating 8/10