Rest Days, Planning and Mad Cyclists

No running today and my legs, hips and lower back are quite pleased about that. After the epic trail running session on Friday, yesterday we planned a roughly 10k Bolton Abbey Loop. That’s double our usual loop.

After the trail run on Friday my legs were tired and I could feel muscles I never normally feel. You definitely use your legs differently when you are running on different surfaces and uneven ground. I was looking forward to running a more familiar loop where I knew where to put my feet. We set off from the top of the first slope and I felt pretty comfortable for a little while. I did however notice that my calf muscles were quite tight, particularly on the right. Still, I was quite happy plodding along. In fact I was happy IMG_4828plodding along for most of the way round but when pushing up the hills I could feel my calf protest and towards the end there was a little niggle in my achilles. Because of those niggles we decided not to do the full 10k but finish at the bridge at the Pavilion which took me to 4.5 miles. Kath decided she wanted 5 miles so she went on a little while I bought breakfast.

It was a nice run with a number of little walk breaks and stops to watch birds. We saw several nuthatches and chaffinches, a wagtail or two and a dipper. It was a lovely run but part of me was still disappointed at the amount of walking, the slow pace and the fact that I cut it short – even though all of those things were perfectly sensible and the right things to be doing. I feel ok about it now but I do IMG_4868have to try really hard to remember that going out and doing 4.5 miles at a slow and steady pace is a perfectly respectably thing to do and nobody is laughing at me.

So today is a rest day which is nice. It’s been quite nice to not worry about exactly when to eat or work out a route and things and it was nice to not get up early and head out. As I said, my body was ready for a day off but the good news is that nothing hurts or even really aches. I’m just aware that things are a bit tired. We had a lovely lunch at the Slow Food Kitchen which has just moved into our local pub and then we walked to the end of the road to watch the cyclists on the Tour De Yorkshire zoom passed. It was quite fun to watch the huge Screenshot 2017-04-30 17.39.20number of police and support motorbikes come down the hill, some looking rather terrified and only one or two taking a hand off to wave. The cyclists themselves zoomed passed in seconds and I really do think I’ll stick to running. Given that I get scared running downhill I can’t really see myself zooming down the hill on two wheels.

Anyway, over the last few days we have been working out a training plan to take us to the Endure24 race at the beginning of July. Here is May mapped out in the lovely planner from the Too Fat To Run Clubhouse:

IMG_4875

It starts with me having another go at the 5.5 mile trail loop tomorrow. Looking forward to it. We’ve also been looking at possible races and are quite tempted by the 14km Ullswater trail run.

My Trail Running Education Continues

Well I do have a funny relationship with running at the moment. I ran on Monday and since then I haven’t quite managed to drag my butt out. I was quite looking forward to running on Wednesday and even left the office in the middle of my afternoon slump thinking that if I got home and then went for a little run, I’d actually get some stuff done later. But I never got my butt back out the door. Yesterday I was feeling crap about not having run on Wednesday so I thought I’d go to the gym at work  – even if it was just to run on the treadmill but then I got caught up with work stuff and that never happened either. Working at home today I wanted to run and didn’t want to run.

Everything about running was freaking me out a little bit. I wanted to run with Kath and didn’t. I wanted to try a bit more trail running and I didn’t. I wanted to just pack it all in and I wanted to sign up for my next half marathon – all at the same time. There were a few tears while poor Kath dusted off her crystal ball and untangled all this and then informed me that we were going to go and run the trail loop she has recently explored. It is just over 5 miles and mostly off road.

Well, what the hell I thought. So today I ran 5.5 miles and it was amazing. Amazingly hard, amazingly slow, amazingly uplifting, amazingly refreshing, amazingly mind clearing, amazingly fun and all with amazing views. It was pretty good running really. The first mile was familiar territory (and at just over 12 minutes a decent pace for me), then we turned off up into the wood and walked up the hill and made our way onto the top of the golf course. We ran along the golf course – my goodness, spongy underfoot, wet grass and uneven terrain. Apparently I looked a bit like a tentative dressage pony. Didn’t feel like one. Felt more like drunk Bambi. That was hard work followed by a bit more walking as I figured out my way through a little gate (arse didn’t really fit), across a field, and over a wall at its crossing point. Then we were in the wood I’ve often looked at from the other side of the canal and I slowly but surely plodded my way through the wood down the trail that eventually became far too steep for my liking but I kept tentatively bouncing down, well it felt like bouncing to me. It was ok. (No it wasn’t, I was terrified but I still somehow had fun).

The next section was through a series of fields. Kath opened and closed the gates and pointed me in the right direction. It was lovely to see the lambs bouncing or basking in the sun in the fields. From the fields we got onto a farm track which we walked as the farmer appeared to be moving a couple of ewes and their lambs and had blocked one section off and we didn’t want to scare them. Once through there we jogged the rest of the  track, turned left and made our way to the canal, crossed the canal and steadily plodded our way back towards home. We put in a couple of walk breaks along the canal – just to keep things nice and positive and finish strong. We walked up the hill and then had a little jog and made our way up Ilkley Road run/walking lamp post to lamp post.

5.5 miles – it took just over 1 hour 20minutes and there was a fair bit of walking as I figured out the trail but I enjoyed it so much that I can’t wait to do it again. It was also the run where Kath hit  200 miles for the year so far (I am slowly but surely closing in on 100 now that I’ve finally got going). I felt so much better after the run too so finally getting my butt out turned a rather ‘meh’ morning into a pretty productive and useful afternoon!

We’ve been plotting a running plan to cover from now until the Endure24 event. I shall share next time but tomorrow I am going for 10k at Bolton Abbey – as long as my legs are ok. Trail running uses different muscles and I can feel that my ankles and knees need strengthening to cope with it more effectively. I’ll work on that.

Happy Running

8 Year Old Me

I felt pretty good after running 8 miles yesterday. My legs were perhaps a little tired but nothing major. I therefore thought a slow recovery jog on the flat would be nice. I hit the afternoon slump about 3pm ish so that seemed like a good time to go.

We ran down to the canal and to the stone bridge and then back to the bridge and walked up the hill home. The run was 3.72 miles and it was 12.10 minutes per mile pace.

All good then

No, not really. That was mentally horrible. As soon as we got onto the canal my little black puppy got hold of me good and proper and kept telling me how crap I was at this and that I’d always been crap. Then somehow it unearthed a memory I didn’t even know I had. I was taken back to being about 8 years old ( I think, I’m note entirely sure I was 8 but in my memory that feels about right) and having, for the second time in my life, been asked to and not managed to run 800 metres in a PE lesson. That in itself wasn’t too bad. I don’t remember being that bothered. I was good at other things but then my PE teacher made a big deal out of it, telling the whole year group that once again I had failed to run 800 metres and that it really would be something special if I ever managed it – not that she gave me any tools to try and learn to run 800 metres. I never tried again, not while I was at school anyway.

That memory was most unhelpful. I spiralled further. Every step was an effort. It felt like I had to drag my feet out of setting concrete. At one point I asked for a walk break and then changed my mind. We were running into a headwind and I was struggling to breathe but actually physically I was going ok. The stone bridge finally came although I’m sure the universe kept moving it further back. We turned round and for a few seconds it felt better. I felt like maybe I was outrunning the puppy… But then it renewed its efforts. I knew I was running well physically but my mind shut me down. I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other any longer. I walked. I got cross. I got upset. I started running again. I found a rhythm  somehow and just kept moving. Slowly, slowly that memory of 8 year old me turned into something else. You see, I can run 800 metres now. I probably could at the time but nobody actually explained to me how. I made it to a point that I happen to know is 800 metres from where we were going to finish (from previous 800 metre repeats) and I ran the last 800 metres for 8 year old me. I ran them fast and I ran them strong and inside there was a little 8 year old fist pumping and jumping up and down with excitement – even as I pretty much collapsed on the bridge trying to suck in the oxygen.

Meltdown, 3 loops and 8 miles

I had a running meltdown this morning. We were going to do a long run up on Ilkley Moor this morning. A loop of about 7 miles. That’s a fair bit further than I have been for quite a while but with some walk breaks and photo stops etc perfectly within reach. It is a gorgeous morning, the sun is out, it’s not too warm or cold for running and yesterday I was really looking forward to it. In fact when I woke up this morning I was looking forward to it. Kath brought me a cup of tea and breakfast (bagel and peanut butter) in bed and went to feed the lambs. I got up, put our slow roast dinner in the oven, went to the loo, drank some water, went to the loo again…

Then, quite suddenly I had the overwhelming urge to run away and hide, to not leave the house, crawl back into bed and forget the whole running thing. I couldn’t breathe. Once the little panic attack had passed, we changed plans and Kath suggested instead doing a route we know and do several runs today to start training for the Endure24 race where we will be doing several 5 mile loops in a 24 hour period. So below is a quick review of each of our loops today written pretty much immediately after the loop.

Loop one: Home – sheep – wood trail – Scott Lane – Kiln Bank – Home

This was horrible. With every step my mind was screaming at me that it was all totally pointless because I couldn’t do it anyway. Every step was a mental battle. I never settled but I did keep going. I ran to the wood without stopping, then walked a few steps to find the start of the trail and then slowly made my way through the trail with a few little panics and stops and then we walked up the slope, jogged along Scott Lane and walked up the hill. Once up the hill we jogged to the bottom of Ilkley Road and then run/walked lamp post to lamp post home. Roughly 16 minute mile pace. Awful, just awful!

Loop two: Home – sheep – wood trail – Scott Lane – Kiln Bank – Home

This was slightly less horrible for me. We had about 2 hours between finishing loop one and starting loop 2 and I just had a coffee and water and a bit of home made chewy bar crumbs in that gap. I sat with my feet up watching the London Marathon coverage on tv. I ran until just before the slope up to the hill, walked a little and then ran up to the wood, found the trail and ran most of it. Slowly but with fewer stops and starts. Enjoyed it more this time and my feet hurt less. At the end of the trail we walked up the slope, jogged the road to the bottom of the big hill, walked up, jogged down and went post to post again up Ilkley Road. Almost a minute a mile quicker than loop 1. Poor Kath learned that coffee and fruit doesn’t work so well for her in terms of fuelling. She’s recovered now but don’t think she had a very pleasant run on loop 2.

Lap three: Sheep loop backwards (Home, down Kiln Bank, along canal, up golf course…)

After lap two I watched more Marathon coverage, made and had lunch and faffed around on Facebook and Twitter and didn’t do much other than randomly burst into tears. Lunch wasn’t the best choice but it was planned as a post run lunch not as lunch to have with more running to come. We had slow roast lamb, carrots, potatoes and spring cabbage. We ate about 12.30 and were planning to go again about 4pm ish or when we felt like it would be ok to run. We both felt ok ish to go again just before 4pm so off we set. Well, ready my body was not, not at all. I felt about a stone heavier than I had in the morning. Still on I went. I ran all the way down to the canal and most of the canal with a two little short walks because I got a stitch. Then we walked up the golf course and ran down the slope past our sheep and pushed to Kath’s mum’s house. We stopped our watches there, she made us some milk for the lambs and we fed them and all the sheep and then set off to run home from there. My legs felt tight and I had a little walk break before the Western Avenue slope, then we ran to the bottom of Ilkley Road and went home from there run/walking post to post. Again the Garmin said about a minute a mile faster than the other loops but this is obviously a different loop.

I have now uploaded the runs to Strava and Strava adjusts for moving time rather than time overall so the first loop was actually 14.51 minute mile pace when I was moving – I just had a couple of stops on the trail where I was actually standing still – a couple of hugs after tricky sections and a short stop to admire the bluebells. I also stopped ‘to admire the view’ half way up Kiln Bank. Lap two was therefore not actually much faster when I was moving – at 14.30 mile pace – I just had fewer actual stops and lap 3 was 13.40 pace.  The first two laps were 2.5 miles and then final was 3.2 so I have run 8.2 miles today (or 8.4 according to Kath’s Garmin which seems to think we went further than mine does). We learned quite a lot about hydrating and fuelling today too and I learned that using my memories from running the London Marathon is not a good way to help me on my runs. I just remember the total emptiness. Better to think of all those other amazing people running it  – that kept me going today, thoughts about last year just made me want to stop. I’ll stick to visualising the Magic Kingdom run up to the castle or running around the World Showcase in Epcot to get me through I think.

First ever parkrun

We registered for parkrun in October 2015 and we’ve never been. Until today. Finally we got our butts to parkrun. We live pretty much in the middle between Skipton and Bradford so we needed to choose. We chose Bradford on the basis that it is 3 laps rather than 4. Yes I know they are all the same distance but number of laps makes a difference!

We took the car this time, not being sure about timings and where exactly we needed to be or when for the start etc, factoring in the unreliable bus times seemed a step too far. I was unjustifiably nervous as it was! We were early but that gave us time to figure things out, look at the route map, be told how it all worked and then walk to the start. We couldn’t really hear the instructions etc given at the beginning but at pretty much bang on 9am we were off. The course is 3 laps and starts off in a flat straight line, then does a little squiggle round Cartwright Hall and then turns left downhill and left again to go flat/downhill along the length of the park. Then, after another left turn, comes what appears to be affectionately known as the teeny tiny hill. Yeah right. Then you’re back at the start.

I haven’t run with people since the abandoned half marathon in November. Running with people increases anxiety levels. Increased anxiety levels mean I worry about everything. So when I looked at my watch about 100 metres in and saw that we were running at 11 minute mile pace I panicked thinking we were going way to fast for me to be able to sustain it. I felt fine until that point and suspect I would have naturally slowed off a little and found my pace but in my little panic I then couldn’t breathe and threw everything out. I settled a bit on the downhill and flat and on lap one I ran teeny tiny hill – I just then couldn’t keep running so had a walk break at the top.

I’ve really noticed that I have got mentally tougher recently – running rather than run/walking the 3.1 and 4 miles earlier this week are examples of that but I am mentally much weaker when things are ‘different’. I suspect I didn’t really need to walk after the hill. I suspect I could have run the hill on laps 2 and 3 and I suspect I could run a bit faster but I didn’t have it in me mentally to push today. I’m not disappointed and I did enjoy it – I’m just making an observation about me and my running behaviour really. My goal was to finish in under 40 minutes. I had decided that under 40 minutes would be major success. I’d also decided that it might not be a bad idea to have a plan B and C in case plan A was, for whatever reason, not going to work today. So Plan B was to complete in under 45 minutes and Plan C was just to complete. So I am delighted, in fact a sort of happy dance warranting excited, to have come in at 39.44.

After the finish we got a coffee from the coffee van to share (I’m a coffee snob, the coffee wasn’t great but it was coffee I guess) and sat on a bench watching the remaining runners come in and a little wagtail be busy on the lawn in front of us. Then we drove back. I’m glad we went and I felt comfortable and confident enough that I think if we go again soon I’d be happy for Kath to run her own 5k and for me to plod and run mine. It was great to have her there with me today but I think it would still feel like doing parkrun together even if we didn’t actually run together! I’ll just have to try not to let her lap me!