Sunday, May 13, 2007

Soaked to the skin and cold, but happy.

Before this weekends training, a few words about the training in the week. My last post detailed Tuesdays run.

I had a blister from Sunday that wasn't too bad, but instead of leaving it to dry out I ripped it off on Tuesday night. Fool. I then could hardly walk for two days, let alone run, so I lost Wednesday and Thursday.

On Friday I did my usual gym strengthening session, with some core muscle exercises again.

I decided I needed to do two reasonable distances this weekend, as it would be my last opportunity to put some serious mileage in, before I have to taper to gather my strength for La Trans Aq in 3 weeks.

On Saturday I planned a 14.5 mile route, once again heading into Swynnerton Old Forest; similar terrain to what I expect meet in France. The route map is shown below, along with the hill profile.

As you can see, it's an undulating route; plenty of long hills. Using the knowledge I have gained over the last couple of weeks I decided that I would make a good attempt to run the whole distance (and not run/walk in a 20:5 minute ratio). I knew that this would not always be possible as I would be hedge and stile hopping, ad well as have some steep hills to tackle. I set a pace of just over 5mph and was loaded with 6kg of weight. I didn't carry any food, and just 800ml of SIS Go electrolyte.

No sooner had I left the house, and it started to rain. It started to rain heavily. I was wearing a long sleeve Railriders Ecomesh shirt and shorts. Pretty rapidly I looked like a drowned rat. The rain persisted for 80% of the run. I was thoroughly soaked to the bone. After the first 6 miles, I exit the forest and for the next 3 miles it's uphill into Swynnerton village itself. It isn't steep, but a long slow incline for that long takes it toll. I had to stop whilst in the forest quite a few times, and I also slowed to a walk for very steep short sections. Once out of the forest the terrain picks up and I could resume my target pace. At 9 miles there should have been a welcome downhill past Beech Caves but the route was a small section of road. Both knees ached at this point. It's amazing the difference the tarmac roads have on my joints. I am so used to running off-road that my legs really complain when I hit a hard surface. This is probably also because my current New Balance 1100MDS shoes are nearing the end of their life. I have almost clocked up 300 miles on this pair. I think the softer ground is offset by the pack weight, so the cushioning is starting to fail.

Once past Beech, there is another undulating woodland section that sadly runs parallel to the M6 so it's a little noisy. Climbing out of beech was hard work as I was back on the tarmac, and so it stayed for the remainder of the route. I finished in a respectable time, averaging 4.6mph for the 14.5 miles. I was happy enough with that, as I had run where I could and carried 6kg.

The following day, I was planning to run a little further, but the weather forecast was worse. Instead I planned a route just over 12 miles, and thought I would play it by ear. If it was dry I would add some more on. I packed the same weight 6kg, and once again carried 800ml of electrolyte. The route and hill profile are below.

Once again, I planned an undulating route. I knees were feeling fine after Saturdays efforts, so I set off at the same pace. A steep hill opens for the first 1.5 miles, followed by the same downhill. 30 minutes into the run the heavens opened. It really poured down and just didn't stop. In fact its 6 hours later now, and it is still raining.
I pretty quickly became cold and wet, my shirt stuck to me and a biting wind freezing me. I was half tempted to call it a day half way around and head back, but I knew I had to do the 12 miles I had planned. I had to do it for 2 reasons. First, this would be my last opportunity for a tough 12 mile run before taper. Second, it's good to finish a run despite adversity. It's character building!

After the first 3 miles the terrain improved as I picked up an abandoned railway line that used to service some of the local mines in Audley and Bignall End. After that I headed into a country park. Well I say country park because that is what the map says, but actually it's just an old opencast mine area that has been reclaimed by nature and spruced up by the local council. Still it was nice enough, what little I could see through the deluge of rain. A mile of slow incline tarmac followed. My knees did ache, but less than yesterday. I then went down into Silverdale and through into the site of the old dismantled Silverdale Colliery. It closed in 1998, and there is little left of it, but building foundations now. The pit entrance is still there, but huge boards seal it off.

Whenever I run around my area over the fields near me I always half wonder if I will end up falling down an old shaft or the ground will open up beneath my feet. The entire area is riddled with mines and they extend for miles underground in every direction. However, on this occasion I was spared and managed to join another disused railway line in the colliery grounds which lead right into Newcastle-under-Lyme and past my old high school. My legs were bearing up fine, but I had run out of electrolyte. I cut back along yet another old railway line, and then headed into Apedale (another old mine, surprise surprise). The last 2 miles were all on the road and I started to feel a little tired at this point. My left leg I could feel just start to tighten, so I popped three Endurolyte capsules to fend off any cramp. I managed to maintain my pace all the way home, and stepped into the door wet and cold, but happy. I had averaged 5mph, just under 2.5 hours for the distance.

So, I did 35 miles this week. A little less than I should, but the blister put pay to that. However, just a week after completing the 35 mile route it shows I can recovery quickly enough to put in strong endurance performances.

My taper begins this week. I will use the extra time to plan all the fine detail for La Trans Aq - I have almost finalised my week’s nutrition, and my packing list. I will post both when I have.

No lasting knee pain to speak of this week. I have continued to use the cho-pat strap, and so far so good. It's nice to be running again, virtually pain free. We take it for granted until we get injured. As long as I keep on stretching, and spend plenty of time on warm up and cool down, as well as stretching when needed during the routes, I hope I will stay pain free. Touch wood.

That's it for now, more next week.

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