Up Up and Away

According to our training plan I was supposed to run for an hour yesterday but I felt tired, the sort of tired that starts in your bones and spreads outwards. I put it off all day and eventually decided to swap rest days and just, well, rest. So this morning I got my moomin butt out of bed and we headed out for a run. We went up. Yes, you heard, up. We ran/walked up the hill towards Ikley Moor. Wow. I am unfit. Even with lots and lots and lots of walking and just short little bits of ‘running’ (ahem – ‘waddling’ might be a more appropriate term) my legs were screaming and my lungs were protesting very early on. Still, nothing gets you fit quite like running uphill. So on we went.

We passed a very noisy jay and slowed to have a good look at it and then a little further there was a curlew circling above the fields. We saw more later on our way back down. The road is sort of undulating but relentlessly up at the same time. I tried to remember to look around and enjoy the views (which are stunning). There were some sleepy sheep just getting up and stretching and some gold finches and other small birds. Just as I was beginning to think I couldn’t go any further Kath pointed out our turn around point for this run. I made it there, turned round and then we set off on our descent. I’m scared of downhill. So really, other than on the flat, I am totally useless – too unfit to go up and too scared to go down. I suppose that makes this run really good practice for me. Anyway, we ran down. All the way, no walks needed because although there are a few undulations, it’s as relentlessly downhill as the other way was uphill (obviously). I tried to go fast – apart from the bit where we had to sort of hop our way through a load of tiny little frogs on the road that I’m sure weren’t there on the way up.

When going downhill I suddenly become terrified of slipping and falling. It doesn’t really matter what the surface is – this was road so no tricky uneven terrain or tree roots or mud to worry about. As I was running, pictures of me slipping and falling kept popping in my head. I worried about horrendously complicated breaks of my legs, that neither of us had taken a phone, how long I’d not be able to run, whether a broken ankle really ever heals right, how much it would hurt… But I kept running. I think I started to learn something on our little adventure on Saturday – trust your shoes. If you have the right shoes for the terrain you’re on you can trust your shoes. I was on a road which was wet in places and I was wearing road shoes. In fact I was wearing my trusted New Balance road shoes which carried me round the Dopey Challenge Marathon and the London Marathon last year. I could trust my shoes. So instead of slowing every time I thought of possible injuries or disasters, I went a little bit faster. It was fine. It was better than fine. I actually enjoyed the run downhill. There is something nice about learning what it feels like to go fast with the assistance of a long downhill because you can concentrate on form and balance and how it feels rather than labouring to push the pace. It feels a little bit like flying. As we turned into our road I even managed a little sprint finish to the driveway.

That 50 minute run was a great start to the day and I’ve been pretty productive since! The view from towards the top wasn’t bad either – the picture is actually one that Kath took a few days ago when she went up for a run but it looked pretty similar today – a little less cloud maybe.

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In other news – in spite of cake, booze, fish and chips and sitting on my arse for most of last week I somehow managed to lose another pound in yesterday’s Sunday Weigh-In.

Trail Slope Repeats and Planning

Ooh slightly behind on my running blogging. It’s marking season. Life sort of stops during marking season and I’ll emerge feeling a bit fuzzy and disorientated in a couple of week’s time.

Anyway, I’m sort of sorting paperwork and hanging about after lunch waiting to go for an afternoon little jog. Kath has a slightly sore knee so is sitting this one out. I’m not really sure how far I want to go or where but I’ve got a couple of hours to decide. However, I haven’t told you about Thursday morning’s run yet.

If you’ve been following this blog a while you may know that I don’t like hills. I have always ignored hill repeats if they appeared on a training plan (even if I put them on the plan). I mean, running up a hill once is bad enough, why on earth would I want to walk/jog back down just to run back up? Anyway, on Thursday morning we did hill repeats. Well, we did slope repeats. We used the slope on our sheep loop which isn’t steep but it’s uneven and very much trail territory and it’s a slope I have always struggled on. So we happily tootled along to that slope which starts just after our far field – so just about a mile away. Then we took it in turns to run up the slope as fast as we could and then jog back down. Kath went first and she went all the way up to the top. I went second and I went to where the slope levels before a final little climb. The first run took me 45 seconds exact and it was hard! I was tempted to walk back down and I was huffing and puffing like I haven’t in a long time. But I jogged.

Then Kath went again. Then me again and I think it was faster. I don’t know exactly because my watch battery gave up as I set off. The temptation to collapse in a heap was quite overwhelming but I managed to jog down. Kath went for round three. She’s too bloody fast. She was back in no time which meant I had to go. This was definitely more measured and my legs were screaming at me to stop from about half way. I got there, whimpered, turned round and sort of rolled back down. Kath went for the final time. Then she was back and off I went. I tried to keep an even fast-ish pace all the way up. My legs were a bit jelly-ish as I got to where I’d been turning round. I walked a few steps and decided I would take the last one right to the top so set off again as fast as I could (which wasn’t very fast at this point!) I made it. I jogged down and we walked a little, had a little jog and then we walked home running just a couple of hills en route. 3 miles total. It was a really good exercise actually. It was really hard work but also sort of felt doable. Choosing a slope rather than a hill was a good start to get used to it and choosing trail terrain meant I could practice going faster (rather than slowing almost to a stand still) on an uneven surface. I wouldn’t exactly say I enjoyed it but it felt good to have done it.

Yesterday was a rest day. Today we were going to run several loops with breaks in between but Kath’s knee needs a rest and I don’t fancy going out on my own repeatedly. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow but for today I will just do something which allows me to feed the sheep on the way. We’ve also been planning though. We are going to run the Dirty Double in the Lakes in October. Lakeland Trails does a 15km Helvellyn Challenge on the 14th October and a 14km Ullswater Challenge on the 15th October so we have booked onto those. I really like this idea – there is a race version with a tighter cut off time and then a challenge option with a more generous cut off so you can still do it if you’re slower or if you just want to take it easy, enjoy the scenery and not race. Given these challenges, I suspect I will be doing a few more hill repeats between now and then! The week after we’ll be off to Scarborough to do the Yorkshire Coast 10k there. It should feel lovely and flat after the hills the weekend before!

Yellow Shoes Run and a redstart

I have just got back from a brilliant little run at Bolton Abbey. We wanted to do our RunDisney Shorts virtual run somewhere nice and fun and not take it seriously at all! so after a lovely little yoga session (Morning Stretches for Back Pain from Yoga Studio) we set off and drove to Bolton Abbey. It was a little overcast but dry and actually looked like it would turn into a gorgeous morning.

So we set off from the Cavendish Pavilion and walked to the top of the first slope – we were meant to be having fun after all, not killing ourselves on the first hill!. We had changed the intervals to try running a bit longer – so running for 2.5 mins and walking for a minute. I thought I might not notice as much if we sneaked in an increase on our fun run and I was planning on stopping for pictures anyway.

The colours were fantastic and the smell of the wild garlic really strong in some places.

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The trees and ferns seemed to offer every imaginable shade of green and brown and we couldn’t help but stop and stare every now and again.

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We pootled on alongside the Wharfe and up to the Strid where this little hill thankfully coincided with a walk break and I just about had time to stop at the top, turn around and take the picture.

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Onwards and downhill a bit – I have to admit, I was scared going downhill – probably even more than usual after my fall last week but it was all fine and soon we came out of the wood and into the open with the aqueduct just ahead of us. This must be roughly half way – obligatory selfie as we crossed the river.

 

 

Just past the aqueduct on the other side of the Wharfe a group of people were standing with binoculars pointed into the trees. We asked if they could see anything good and they said they could see a male redstart and were even kind enough to let us have a look through their binoculars. I’ve never seen a redstart before so that was really exciting and we continued on our way with a spring in our step.

This stretch of the route is what you might politely call ‘undulating’. I call it fucking hilly. I managed to stick to all the intervals and just kept going lost in my own little world just letting my mind wander. And then we came to my nemesis.

Annoyingly it does not look like all that much on the photos but trust me, it’s a bastard. It has literally brought me to my knees and to tears in the past. Today we were having fun so we walked it, took a picture at the top and then headed off again. Downhill and flat from there!

We completed our 3.1miles, or 5km with lots of photo stops and stops to look at birds and the scenery in exactly 45.5 minutes. It was a slow but really lovely run and we have earned our Yellow Shoes Medal (although Valley of Desolation doesn’t sound very Disney, does it?!?)

We celebrated with coffee and breakfast at the Cavendish Pavilion sitting outside in the gorgeous sunshine.

Minus 5 plus hills

I didn’t want to run today. Not-at-all. But there is something magically pulling me towards that marathon and making me go. I needed quite a nudge to get me out the door today though and I have to say a big thanks to my friend Liz who sent me a message asking if I’d got my trainers on yet at just the right moment.

Once I got out there I actually felt better than on the last run. Because of limited daylight hours it made sense for me to feed the sheep on my run.  I ran to the field, stopped the watch and fed them and then carried on running. When I got to the point where we normally do a little ‘there and back’ thing I really couldn’t face running the same stretch twice so I turned left across the canal bridge and therefore significantly shortened the loop. I kept plodding to the next bridge and hadn’t even hit 30 minutes yet.

I kept going over the bridge and started heading for home and that way home starts with a bitch of a slope. I don’t think I’ve ever run it before but I got to the top of it  – which is also the bottom of an absolute killer of a hill. I walked up that and then started running again once I got to the top and then kept going until I got home – including running up the slope leading up to our road. I looked at my watch and it said 40 minutes. I wasn’t prepared to run round in circle for 5 minutes for the sake of it so stopped at our front door and nearly scared a woman delivering something for Kath to death as I stepped onto the drive right behind her but didn’t have enough oxygen left to announce myself.

So I didn’t run the required 45 minutes and I had a break after the first 10 minutes to feed the sheep –  but the plan said nothing about hills. So there, I’m minus 5 minutes but plus some serious slopes.

Bolton Abbey and Halloween running

We didn’t run Wednesday or Thursday. I can’t really remember why. Oh yes I do – Wednesday I went out for food and drinks with a friends from work. Thursday we were shattered and ran out of daylight. Friday I was working at home so took the opportunity to go to Bolton Abbey in the afternoon. It’s been a while since we did any sort of hills really (I’m beginning to not think of the little hills on our route from home as hills any more – that’s got to be good, right?).

Friday we ran our Bolton Abbey 45 minute loop. I’ve outlined it previosuly. Same route. I was a little apprehensive. The last time we ran at Bolton Abbey was the 11 miler and by the time we’d get to where our loop ends we’d be at the point where I was in pain and mentally shattered last time. I wasn’t looking forward to it but I was also determined to have a real positive go at the hills. So we set off.

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It was busy – really busy with kids mostly. We’d forgotten it was half term and that there would be the pumpkin trail. I thought I might feel self-conscious and I did a little bit but actually I just found people infuriating. People seemed to take up the entire path, they’d stop randomly in front of me or step out and block my path. It was a pretty horrendous obstacle course of push chairs, toddlers and dogs until we got the the Strid. I was mentally exhausted. After that it quietened down and we settled into the running more. We briefly stopped half way as we crossed the aqueduct and took a couple of pictures. The colours were stunning.

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We were slow – just under 14 minutes per mile but it was an enjoyable run once we’d left people behind and it was a first attempt at hills in a very long time. The colours were fantastic – the pictures don’t really do them justice and the wharfe was higher and faster than I have seen it in a very long time – possibly ever.

20151030_161728[1]20151030_162437Today we dressed up as runners (not really but I’m going with the Halloween theme!) and headed out for a 3 miler. We were running out of daylight which meant that I struggled. I was fine until we got onto the path past our furthest sheep field. I suddenly lost confidence in my footing and within seconds everything that has ever niggled while running niggled – my right calf, my left knee, my right ankle, my lower back… I kept plodding but freaked out on the downhill and walked most of it. Once on the canal we settled into a really nice jog and I started to relax, the niggles disappeared and I started enjoying seeing the canal in a different light. With the mist coming off it it looked a bit spooky – probably only because it is Halloween though. We passed a white duck which stands out – the others were nearly invisible. There were owls screetching their encouragement and midges just making us want to run a bit faster. The usual canal sounds were still there too but more muted in the mist and a little unfamiliar in the dark. Again we weren’t fast but it was positive in the end.

Tomorrow we are getting back to trying some distance. We’re going for flat and we’re playing mind games – we’re going to run the route to Saltaire and then turn and run home. We both felt good after our run to Saltaire last weekend and both said we could easily have kept going at the end of that. Well, we’ll find out tomorrow if that’s true! We’re aiming for 12 miles. I’m scared!