Demons be gone!

After my injury strewn run last Monday night I was struck down by a particularly nasty strain of manflu. In fact, this baby surpassed mere manflu. This was a full blown zombie apocalypse-type virus!

As a result I hadn’t run since last Monday night … a week long break. I don’t do well after such a long gap between runs. I debated with myself about even attending tonight’s club session. I’d worried about it all day – I’ll be useless if I go. What if I’m sick? What if my leg plays up again? – the usual insecurities. Maybe I’d be better just going out by myself, so if it was a disaster then no-one would see.

But I dragged myself out. I knew as easy as it felt not to go I would have felt a lot worse if I didn’t. I could just write last week off and start afresh, whether I went with the 30s or 45s.

I decided, in the end, to go with the 45s mostly because everyone else in my group was, not because I wanted to push myself.

Remember how I said I don’t do well after a long break between runs? Not so tonight. I smashed it! Well, smashing it might be a bit strong … but I felt really strong and comfortable throughout.

We followed the same route as last week so it gave me a good chance to make a direct comparison, and the sections I struggled with last Monday presented little or no challenge tonight.

I held a bit back throughout, really fighting the temptation to open up because I wasn’t sure about how capable I’d be and didn’t want to exhaust myself before the end of the run.

Tonight was a real confidence booster. I’ve exorcised my demons and it went far better than I thought and, once again, I proved to myself I’m better at this than I thought I was. Someday I’ll actually remember that!

Relive my run

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Winter is coming

Well, that was an interesting run. I went the club 45s tonight and it turned out to be a night of highs and lows.

To start with, it was buckin’ freezin’ out. I went out with two layers on all over – well, apart from my pants and socks, but you don’t really want to know about that! Two hats (one woolly, one running cap), a base layer, my t-shirt, tights, shorts and a jacket … and I needed every last bit of it.

I even slapped a not inconsiderable amount of Deep Heat on my legs, partly for warmth and partly because I knew I’d need it.

My legs – particularly the left one – have been feeling dodgy for the past few days but I thought today I was good to go. I hadn’t experienced any niggles or twinges so I reckoned not having run since Thursday morning had done the trick.

However, as I approached the Leisure Centre, I felt the left calf really tighten up and lock. Then, as I went over the footbridge, it buckled below me. This wasn’t good.

I stood for a minute or so to see if it’d settle, which it did, so I walked on and it felt ok again. Crisis over hopefully. It also felt ok as we waited to go off on tonight’s run and, about a quarter of the way in, all was going well. The pace was quite brisk but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t cope with.

Then we stopped at the crossing to regroup, and when we set off again I maybe got 100 yards and I could feel it begin to twinge. I slowed down to see if that’d help but by the time I got to the bottom of the road I couldn’t go on any further, so stopped to do some stretches. It felt as if the calf had locked again, but by stretching I was unable to unlock it.

That was fine, I set off again, built my pace back up and ran up the Fry’s Road, a steady rise and a steady pace. I was pleased to get there in one piece, only for the leg to go again.

More stretching, more running, more niggles …. and repeat for the rest of the run. I think I stopped twice more just to reset my leg and off I went again. I was cautious, however, and slowed it right down in places before ever so gradually increasing my speed again.

I guess my fairly intensive schedule recently hasn’t helped, not to mention the change in terrain given the focus on trail running, so perhaps a couple of days resting, icing and stretching are in order.

It wasn’t painful as such, but I knew it didn’t feel right. It was strange one. The pace felt reasonable … in fact, according my Strava it was my fastest time over that exact route. Fair enough, I’ve only done that route three times but I’ll take it!

I’m not due to go out again until Thursday so hopefully all will be back in full working order again by then.

Back on the trail

So after Cultra, Glenarrif Forest and Minnowburn I found myself back at Glenarrif again this morning as my trail training continued for the New Years’ Day Race Over The Glens.

Sometimes I question my sanity.

I wasn’t particularly keen on it this morning. My legs felt a wee bit tight and heavy after intervals last night and if I had to do this on my own then I know for a fact I just wouldn’t have bothered.

But the social side of running has already come into its own for me lately, it has made it so much more fun than just pounding out solo mile after mile. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it *is* very theraputic just to take myself off somewhere to gather my thoughts, but the laughs you get running with a small group are very appealing.

So, with that in mind, Grace (thanks for the lift!) and I met with Catherine and Bronagh at the forest carpark and after a few pleasantries and route chat we set off.

The thing about the carpark and road leading from it is that it undulates a fair old bit so by the time you actually run through it and get to the trail itself you’re already knackered!

Then you turn onto the trail and you’re immediately faced with a climb, just at the time when you’re still trying to find your legs and regulate your breathing.

But, in a way, this is good. After the burn of that initial climb you’re already ‘broken in’ for the rest of the run, and whilst it’s still not easy by any stretch of the imagination you’ve already faced almost the worst the route has to offer.

Today we decided just to do a simple out and back, covering about 2.5 miles or so before turning to come back the way we came. It was quite muddy and slippy in places (I almost landed on my bum at one point!), so some caution was needed but the steep downhill sections were lots of fun – just let go, arms out for balance and try not to go arse over ….. well, you get the idea.

It’s still very early days for me, but I’ve found I’m beginning to hone my technique for going up the really steep hills. The trick for me is not to look up – just put the head down, small steps, pump the arms and keep going until I get to the top.

There’s a decent chance I’ll be there twice a week for the next six or seven weeks until race day so hopefully it’ll be almost second nature to me by then.

At the minute it’s still difficult and tough … but it’s worth it for the company, the views and the feeling of accomplishment at the end of it.

Relive my run