Sometimes planning a run in advance seems like a good idea. The whole “Yeah, let’s do this! It’s going to be good!” vibe … until you wake up, hear the rain, look out the window, feel the cold and think, “Ugh! WTF am I doing?”

That was my mood this morning. I’d been asked by Bronagh, one of my running buddies, to help her run up to 10k. She’s a lot faster than me but hadn’t gone as far as that distance wise before and therefore lacked the belief that she could do it.

It was nice to be asked, and I was only too happy to help although I did warn her it’d be a lot slower than if she’d gone on her own, or with someone else. Nothing like having a bit of faith in myself, is there?

It’s been raining a lot lately so, in our wisdom, we decided to tackle the local parkrun route which is based in a nature park/conservation area on the edge of the town centre through which the River Braid flows. I mean, it’d never floods here, would it?

In theory, a couple of laps of the route would bring us up nicely to the desired 10k but, given the layout, we decided to start backwards and do the second part first. Hey, it made sense at the time!

Anyway, not long after starting we encountered this woman out walking her dog who stopped us to tell us that parts of the course were flooded and whilst it wasn’t deep we would get our feet wet. My trainers needed a good wash anyway so, after thanking her, we continued on our merry way.

Pretty soon we encountered the first flooded part, a good 20-30 yards of it … brrrr, the water was cold. Not long after that came the next one, and the next and the one after that – you get the idea – each one seeming deeper than the one before it. By this stage my feet were soaked through and I was squelching as I ran but it was fun.

Surprisingly, the second part of the parkrun course – the section we expected to be flooded – was clear so we finally got going for an uninterrupted spell, eventually getting up to 5k.

Given the flooding we elected not to bother with a second lap so decided, instead, to head out of the park and into the town, running part of the course covered by the club on Monday night … this meant going up the Fry’s Road, down the Cushendall Road and then the Broughshane Road before bringing us back to our starting point.

This would take us away from the park, and would mean no more flooding. But, as if we weren’t already wet enough, the heavens decided to open. Yeah, thanks for that. I’m sure we looked more than a bit bonkers running along in the torrential rain!

Unfortunately, the fluid in my legs began to flare up around the 5k mark and, much to my frustration, this continued for the next couple of kilometres or so. I had to stop to shake them out a few times which wasn’t in my plan. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason to it, if it’s going to happen it’s going to happen. I kept apologising to Bronagh but, bless her, she was fine with it and stressed the distance was the important thing today.

Happily, my legs began to settle again so the run for ‘home’ wasn’t too bad. Getting back into the park we reached the car just 400 metres short of 10k so there was only one thing for it – a couple of laps of the car park in time honoured runners tradition!

Timewise I would have really liked to have gone quicker but – on reflection – given the conditions, which I’m sure didn’t help my legs, I’m not too disappointed. It was within my target 10k time range even if I would liked to have been faster for Bronagh’s sake.

But I enjoyed myself and I enjoyed the company (thanks!) … more than that, I’m pleased to have shown Bronagh she can run 10k and that was the objective at the end of the day.

Relive my run


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

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.