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

It’s like learning to walk – but worse

I was thinking about calling this post ‘Starting again, again, again’ but that’s just getting silly. After that fairly positive run on the 17th March I didn’t manage another one until yesterday. We got caught up in a horrible lambing season which you can read about at our sheep blog. Yesterday the last ewe lambed and the relief was just huge. Once everything looked ok, I slept for an hour and a half and then we decided to have a little run. We drove to the sheep, checked they were all ok and then set off from there. We started on our usual route but then instead of carrying on and down the golf course, we turned left down a little woodland trail. And when I say down, I mean down. The first little bit is a fairly steep downhill and it’s covered in leaves and little twigs and branches (and some bigger ones). I so did not like that.

That steep bit was only really short though and then it levels out more – still essentially downhill but not steep – undulating maybe. I walked a fair bit of the trail and slowly negotiated the tree roots and the streams. I nearly face planted once as a stone gave way but that was the extent of the drama. Even though I’d only done about half a mile of trail I could feel different muscles working and I felt a bit tired. It was great to be out though and once we’d pretty much completed the loop I declared that my 1 mile reboot run and sent Kath on her way for lap 2.

Today I wanted to have another go at the trail. We set off from home and ran/walked to the start of the trail. Kath set off down and I froze and panicked. I actually stood at the top of the trail crying and Kath had to come and get me. I wasn’t going to write that bit – feel a bit of an idiot about that but there we are. I made it down (obviously) and then tentatively tried to run a bit more that yesterday. I didn’t fall and managed to bounce through a couple of sections quite effectively. But wow, running on proper trails like this rather than on the fairly easy going and more even paths I have been running on is a whole new thing. It’s fascinating really. I wasn’t huffing and puffing at all. In fact I was fine with all the normal things I struggle with when running. Presumably the enforced slower pace on the trail helps with that but once we stopped my legs felt a whole different sort of tired. I definitely used slightly different muscles and much more core muscles. Also, once I got over myself I didn’t have time to worry about whether I could or couldn’t do it and whether I was or wasn’t a crap runner because I was too concentrated on where to put my foot and how best to bounce through the next series of tree roots.

Kath really helped. After every little section she’d stop and wait for me and give me a hug  when I got there and then we’d set off again. I felt more sure footed than yesterday for most of it and I am looking forward to having another go. I have to admit to finding this really hard though. I just don’t really trust myself or my feet to get this right. I don’t really know why. It really does feel like I’ve got to learn to walk but this time I don’t have the fearlessness of a toddler. I think I often make it harder for myself because I can’t get my mind to let go and commit. Then, because I go tentatively, I don’t have momentum on my side so can’t actually bounce through sections effectively which then ends up making it more technical and difficult than it really needed to be. I do think I could do it instinctively but my brain isn’t quite prepared to let me try yet. It still wants reassurance that nothing bad will happen. I’ll keep practicing.

After the trail section ended we walked a little bit, then jogged along the road and walked up the hill and then home. We did a total of 2.56 miles- no idea at what pace but I don’t care either. It was lovely to be out and this was about pushing myself in another way, not just using pace or distance