Wednesday, 30 January 2013

On hawthorns

I feel like one of those hawthorn bushes you see on the hills.Windblasted to an angle of about 45 degrees to the ground. I've just got in from doing 8 x 500m intervals (with 90 sec rests and 2 miles warm up/cool down) and the ferocious wind was scouring the fields. Even the sheep were lying down, like creamy-grey boulders, noses flat to the ground. In the copse I ran by, trees were lying at all angles, some propped up on those few that remained upright. Some had flattened the perimeter wire fences. It was certainly bracing. The intervals went fine and I covered about 7 miles in all.
Smileyrating 8/10. Deeply satisfying

Sunday, 27 January 2013

A not so easy 'easy'

"7 miles, easy" said the schedule. 63 minutes later, 7 miles had passed beneath my feet. Job done. And it felt like one of those 'duty' runs; where you get out and do it because you have to, but it's not really ticking the 'fun' box.
Yesterday we had three inches of snow. Today it had pretty much all gone apart from some stranded lumps of icy snow adrift in the puddles like mini icebergs. The lanes are all flooded. The fields are flooded again. Those on higher ground are all striped brown where the muck-spreaders have been. The field entrances are scarred by deep tractor ruts where the loaded spreaders have been manoeuvred through the gates. I saw no birds other than chickens, but I heard some twittering as I passed woodland. It was really windy, but at least the sun had some warmth in it.
So, after a week where the weather has precluded running, I finished the week with a reasonable trot out. Mustn't grumble.
Smileyrating 5/10

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Tip-toeing onwards

I'm not sure that the following is quite what athletics coaches would suggest as the ideal pre-run fuelling - peat-smoked haddock and Morecambe Bay shrimps with sautee potatoes and green beans with a small glass of Chilean sauvignon blanc - but Mrs HF and I just happened to be passing the excellent 'George and Dragon' at Clifton, near Penrith, at lunch time and, well, it would have been silly to drive on past. It was delicious.

An hour and a half later I was lacing up my Salomons and heading out for what the training schedule calls '5 miles, easy' around the lanes near home. The wind was scything across the snow-covered fields and seemed determined to lance straight through my two thermal layers and Pertex top as I started up the hills. In places there were runnels of ice across the road which meant slowing right down and going very carefully, but I got into it and felt good enough to push on in the second half of the route - which was a lot flatter and along gritted roads.

The Garmin data showed I did 4.92 miles, at an average of 9.32 mins/mile, with a best pace of 6.27 min/mile. Not great, but not too bad. I'm a sufficiently old hand at this running lark not to obsess about times; I know in my bones that this was a good run. I felt strong at the end, and capable of pushing on further. I wonder if the interval sessions are beginning to have an effect or if peat-smoked haddock etc. should feature more often in my diet?
Smileyrating 8/10

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Of frost, collies and dodgy backs

After a good week of training last week, this past week has not been great. On Monday I was taking some tree stumps to the tip (as you do) when I felt my lower back begin to ache. On Tuesday I was undertaking a drainage project at Holehird gardens, which involved digging trenches and manhandling 20kg bags of limestone chippings. That didn't help. Then on Wednesday I did a bit of feeble compost shovelling and decided I really ought to rest my back. So I went swimming on Wednesday afternoon. Incredibly, that really helped. I guess the movement, support by the water and strengthening of the core and back muscles must have eased the spine a bit.

The upshot was that I hadn't run all week, until this morning.

The thermometer showed 0.1 deg C as I left HF Towers and frost still rimed the fence rails and grass. The sun gleamed feebly white and there was a hint of pink in the sky. My plan called for me to run 2 miles easy and then do 8 x 400m intervals with 400m jog recovery, and then 2 miles easy to finish. And that is what I did. It must have looked very odd to the family out walking their lovely marl collie as I kept plodding past one way and running back the other, but, as runners know, when you're doing an interval session you just block everything out and get on with it. I wasn't going flat out on the intervals, partly because I didn't want to risk my back, and partly because it was very frosty underfoot, so I was moving a little gingerly. It all went well. The back held up well, with only a minor ache on the uphill sections, and my heart rate was roughly where it should be. And it felt very satisfying to have done it. On top of all that - it didn't rain. And it's not often I've been able to say that for the last 7 months.
Smileyrating 8/10

Sunday, 6 January 2013

A wet plod

Yesterday I put another tick on the training plan. "4-6 miles easy" was the requirement. So, after a morning spent lying in the mist on the fells at Red Screes waiting to be found by the gorgeous Lake District Mountain Rescue Search dogs,  I headed out towards Staveley village for 3 miles, turned round and ran back again. It was a damp, dank, dreary, gloomy afternoon. It just didn't seem to get light at all all day. For the first mile I accompanied Mrs HF who was out doing her own training and then I headed off past dripping trees and ancient, moss-covered stone walls. Needless to say, everything was wet; road, fields, sheep. Even the free-range chickens were scratching about with sodden, matted feathers.
The run itself was fine. It's a good undulating route and I eased along very gently with an average pace of 10:36 min miles and a best pace of 7:18. My average heart rate was 126, which is a touch low, and a max of 152. It's been a long time since I've run 6 miles on road, so my legs feel a bit battered this morning, but they'll recover.
Smileyrating  6/10

Thursday, 3 January 2013

What a difference 40 minutes makes

My programme for today specified "30-40 minutes, relaxed. Include hills". To be honest, this describes pretty much all the runs I've done over the last two decades, so I was actually quite looking forward to it! The only downside was that I had to do it before breakfast because the rest of the day was booked with housework (I needed to take the Christmas tree down) and a hospital appointment.
So, having donned a headtorch and as much reflective clothing as I could, I set off at 0755  for a nice relaxed run up the hills towards Potter Fell. It was cloudy and really dark, though with a lightening sky to the east and the promise of clearer weather. The sheep on the near fields were grey shadows, rim-lit paler white by the reluctant sun. The lane was running with rivulets of water and covered in run-off debris. It was a touch misty, which made the flashing orange lights of the dustcart (sorry, waste reduction and recycling vehicle) eerily huge and diffuse. The run was straightforward; one of those bog standard, 'let's just go for a run' - type runs. 20 minutes out, turn round and 20 minutes back. What was interesting was that, by the time I got home, I didn't need the headtorch, but I can't remember actually precisely when it became light enough to not need it.
It was certainly relaxed. My max heart rate was only 151 and the average 125. Must have been slower than I thought!
Oh, the hospital appointment confirmed I've got tilted optical discs with a bit of peripheral vision loss in the left eye, but normal intra-ocular pressure. I wonder if the running helps keep it down?

Smileyrating 7/10. As I said, bog standard.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Hello everyone and Happy New Year to you all. Mrs HF and I have started the new year as we hope to continue - with a nice training run. My programme said I had to run 2.5 miles easy, then do 4 x 3 minute intervals with 3 mins rest between each. I think of this as "3 on / 3 off" because it's easier to remember!
I spoke to my Dad before we went out. He was in West Sussex, right on the south coast. He had wall to wall sunshine. He'd spoken to some friends in Norfolk; wall to wall sunshine. Same for my Mum in Devon. We set off in cold, cloudy, conditions with spots of rain in the air! The roads were wet, wet, wet, with puddles stretching right across which necessitated tip toeing along the crown of the lane with a nice high knee lift.
The run itself was quite enjoyable except that all the "on" intervals seemed to occur on all the uphill sections! But I got the job done with an average pace of 9.08 mins/mile which isn't great, but the fastest interval was 5.40 which wasn't too bad.  I'm following Runner's World's 10k programme because we're off to Club La Santa for a training camp/holiday in February and I want to get some fitness before I go!

Smileyrating  6/10