Here’s what I’ve been up to since last Sunday in my bid to keep up with the trail marathon training plan. It’s been a mixture of triumph and failure!
Sunday – Tuesday: After Saturday’s 11 mile trail run in Arrochar, I had picked up a calf niggle and sore shins so I stayed away from exercise.
Wednesday: The running club steady run! The last few Wednesday runs I’ve done have honestly been the hardest, outside of competitive races, that I’ve experienced. A half hour before the club meet, the skies opened up and emptied a couple of inches of rain on Renfrewshire. I guess the rain put off many club runners as only five of us turned up for the Wednesday steady run. Unfortunately for me, the other four were from the “fast” group. Gulp!
I tried to sheepishly explain that I had a dodgy calf muscle. “A bad calf? Hills are what you need then!” came the reply from Dave. Dave is a 4 times Ben Nevis hill race competitor. Dave outruns me every week, and chats away as he powers by, nowhere near his VO2 max. Dave is 60.
So hills is what I got. Eight bastard miles of up and up and up at a punishing pace for me. After a while I couldn’t feel my legs. I only ever saw the other four runners from the back, but I knew their faces were not as red as mine. Average of 8 mins per mile tho!
Thursday: Exhausted. The tank was empty, the engine stressed.
Friday: Felt a little better, and with the decent weather I tentatively cycled the 6.5 miles home from work. Calf muscles tight, but my thighs felt rock solid. On the cycle track my mind started to think about tomorrow’s long run…
Saturday: The morning brought the sun, and slowly I convinced myself that 15 miles was doable. I hit the computer and plotted a few potential routes. My running club had suggested I take part in the Dave Cummings 7 mile handicap in a couple of weeks time, so I thought I could incorporate that route into this Saturday run.
The Dave Cummings route has two sets of mile-long steep inclines, so would be perfect for my trail marathon training. I would have to bolt on a further 8 miles onto the route. Here’s a Google Earth screenshot of my intended 15 mile run…
The first stretch of 5-6 miles (which incorporated part of the Dave Cummings route) was hard going. Heading from Kilbarchan up Burntshields Road, out past Clochoderick Stone you then tackle a relentless push up past Crossflats farm before heading out and up to the golf course at Bridge of Weir. Not for the faint of heart!
After that, it was a boring crappy slog on the cycle track to Kilmalcolm (I won’t be doing that bit again – flat and featureless). And then an eventful run along the A761 back towards Bridge of Weir. It’s a fast road with no pavement, so you are at the mercy of oncoming traffic.
I reckon at least 50 vehicles were kind enough to swing out and give me a car’s-breadth of room, but there’s always one driver who reckons you have absolutely no right to be on the road.
If you were driving a the A761 leaving Bridge of Weir for Kilmacolm (female 35-40, burgundy hatchback) and passed a runner just before the road widens by Strathgryffe Crescent, the reason I threw my hands up is you should slow the fuck down if you can’t pass me safely!
And on that note, drivers PLEASE if you need to pass a cyclist or a runner and find you can’t safely overtake, say, because of on-coming traffic. Just slow down until it IS safe to overtake. The cost if hitting the breaks and adding just a few seconds onto your journey time is a lot less than the cost of hitting someone. OK, rant over!
After Bridge of Weir I was on the home straight & I was going to make distance record for this year. At 14.5 miles, I was almost home and pushing up my very last hill (Branscroft) when my right calf went to pieces. I had had no indication it was going to go. But it went – it was like somebody cutting an elastic band. I knew I had done something that would require repair.
Back at the house I got on the foam roller for a wee cry. And then ran a cold shower on my legs. But I could tell from the “wooden leg walk” that I might not be running for a few days.
I had done a hard 15 mile run inside of 9’30″/mi pace. It had been my longest run so far of 2012, and I had done it without stopping. But the result was a damaged calf. Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory!
Even so, as I write this, I’m wondering if there’s an outside chance I could manage a short Fartlek on Monday. Patience is a virtue I hold in short supply.