Sunday, 20 September 2015

Skyline vs 5K training....

(This photo is of another morning...but isn't it pink? I thought I'd include it anyway.)

All year I have veered around with things, not sure quite which direction to go in. Maybe it's natural, coming off the back of 4 fairly intense years of studying and having to knuckle down to stuff. The veering has gone on in other areas of my life too...signing up for courses and then cancelling them, booking flights but then not getting on them, signing up for races and then not making it. I don't like the waste involved...I hate wasting money. It's not that long ago that I was absolutely scraping just to get by. Still, if you don't know what direction to go in, then you just don't, until you do...sorry for the truism. One way to find out what you want is just to try things out.

So I was thinking, I think I said, of falling out with running...referring to it as 'cardio' and keeping it to a minimum and doing other stuff instead. I even hatched a plan to do some 5K training. I've never truly trained for any distance under a marathon, so I thought it might be a novelty to target a 5K and try and get fit for it. Since there's a parkrun every single week, there are plenty to target. Still I never really followed through on this plan because the Pentland Skyline started calling out to me. I started running in the hills again and found I really liked it...the high vantage point and the peacefulness and even the hard, head down effort of getting up a hill. Peter and I had some good runs around Arthur's Seat and then a corker of a run out in the Lammermuirs. Despite being tired, once I had the bit between my teeth for the long uphill I was really enjoying it. The hard uphill effort just strikes some kind of chord in me. It was hellish and I was delighting in it.

So this weekend I thought I'd put it to the test. The last thing I want to do is a miserable Skyline that I hate and come trailing in in a really bad time. I've never gone over the 4 hours for it and I never want to. I've already done a considerable PW for the marathon and for the half-marathon this year and I tell you I had to take it on the chin but it's not a good experience. It's enough to put you off...'cardio'.

On Saturday, my plan was to get out into the hills first thing and try and knock out a Skyline, or at least a considerable portion of a Skyline, and see how it felt.

First thing turned into midday or so. Peter and I were both tired from our separate weeks. We arrived at Hillend and set off uphill. Things went fine until Turnhouse, but at Turnhouse I just really knew that there was no way I was going any further. We'd already run over 5 miles which meant at least a 10 mile run and I was tired and I wasn't enjoying it. We came off the far side of Turnhouse on a track that I knew from one of Graham Henry's boxing day runs and then went diagonally up a path that took us back towards Allermuir. There was some event going on in the hills, the Pentland Push. We rather took advantage of their marked path on the way back. It was a great way to cut out Harbour Hill and the one after that with the metal poles on the top. The last push up Allermuir and the smaller hills to the finish was on stiff and sore calves, feet and achilles. We ran 11.65miles in all. It wasn't a bad effort but I'd found out what I'd set out to find out. I wasn't fit for a Skyline. It was disappointing. I had hoped it would go the other way. Still, I have had several years of not really being in the hills much and I just don't have it. I'd rather leave my Skyline times as they are. I think I've done it 5 times, ranging in time from 3.40 - 3.59 and twice winning a bottle of wine in the lady vet prizes. (They're generous with their vet prizes, it's not that I did that well.)

So today was meant to be a recovery run...and then maybe a swim. We took the car out to Gullane. I thought I'd take it easy today and then maybe try to do a speed session tomorrow, pick up the 5K plan where I'd left it.
But then we were running well, and I started telling Peter about a HIIT session I'd read about and tried out once and we decided to give it a go on the beach. The tide was way out at Aberlady bay, so we went out beyond the mini-subs to start. The session is...30seconds at moderate pace, 20 seconds at a harder pace and then 10 seconds at a full out sprint...repeated 5 times in a row, with two minutes standing rest...repeating the whole thing 3 times...I know, it's a bit confusing to 3 X 5 minute efforts with 2 minute recoveries. It's a hard session and fills up your senses. I enjoyed seeing Buchanan gallop off into the distance like a horse broken loose from its field. I was going at more moderate pace but it was good for me. All out is all out. We had to head back up the beach for the 2nd 5 minute effort (we were running out of beach) and then had the wind behind us again for the 3rd effort. It was just as well. We were both in that brain-dead condition you get from hard running. We could have been anywhere and hardly knew our own names by the time we stopped. It was great.

We had an easy run, then, back to the car, stopping to take pictures of hairy caterpillars (we called these "Hairy Columbuses" when we were little. I don't know why.)  and then went in for a swim. Nice to get back into the water and get reacquainted with Harry the Crab.

So tomorrow will decisively not be a speed session. It will be an easy recovery run which will free me up to get on with some other stuff. Once again, and this seems to happen more often than once a week, it is Sunday night, the dishes are not done, the tea is not made, I still have to have a shower. I better get moving...

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Where have I been?


Where have I been? I'm not sure. I got my first cold in more than 2 years somehow. I think I got it from a counter assistant in Marks and Spencers although that's difficult to prove. And then I got a cough.
Like most runners, I have been trying to cure my cough by going out and getting some air in and about my lungs. I've actually been drawn to doing more hill running than I have in a while, despite this being stressful on my poor old bellows.
I skipped Craggy Island as I didn't want to choke to death on the swim. I didn't want to camp in Oban either if I'm honest. The sun shined over here more than over there which made us glad we'd stayed put. Peter could have gone if he liked but he couldn't be bothered. He actually missed two races simultaneously, being signed up for the Tiree Ultra and Craggy Island on the same day.
What a skiver.
We had an amazingly nice run in the Lammermuirs and then the next day, in an extra surprise day of sun, we went out in the blazing heat in the middle of the day and had a stonker of a hill run on Arthur's Seat.

Wednesday was a flat run. On Thursday Peter and Mike Lynch had arranged to go for an evening run in the Pentlands. The weather was looking good again and I had the feeling that this was the last chance - it's the end of summer. Instead of cycling to work I took the car instead so I could drive to the hills after work. I found out why it's good to cycle to work - it took me 1hrs 20 minutes to drive 8 miles.
I didn't get to Hillend until 7pm, I hadn't eaten since noon and sunset was in 45 minutes. It didn't seem the most promising start to things, but actually it was good. I came across the Penicuik Harriers doing  a club run parallel to the ski slope - and saw some faces I know from the Borders XC and else-where. Cheery hellos made up for all the ill-tempered grid-lock on the bypass. Further up, at Allermuir, just when I thought I was tout seul in the hills, some Carnethies appeared out of nowhere for a summer series race they were doing. I phoned Peter and Mike at this point and they were just about at Castlelaw, so I ran down to meet them and then ran back with (behind) them. We made it to the van just before full dark.
In a way it wasn't ideal as I had a 5.30am start the next day and I hadn't had my tea yet...but it was nice being out in the hills in the evening, and the air and space helped my mind even though I was a bit more ragged at work the next day...

So Saturday and the forecast said "clouds and rain". We'd thought about going down the coast but it seemed like it might be a waste of time to go anywhere. Peter has unaccountably started running every day. I don't know why. I don't think he knows why. He just feels he has to. So his attitude was kind of "take me out for a run, anywhere, I don't care, you do the thinking and I'll follow". I quite like this. A flatter run would have made more sense but it didn't appeal. We headed for Arthur's seat without much of an agenda and then just dotted about the place whimsically. Some fool was releasing helium balloons and we ended up on quite a chase to retrieve one, which ended in brambles and failure. The heather is just turning from purple to orange and some of the leaves are just turning now too. That autumnal thing is happening. Despite the lowering skies the sun was shining through quite brightly at times, making for atmospheric scenery. Heavy skies and bright grasses.

On our last run down Hunters Bog, we ran into Michael Geoghegan who has been missing in action for some time. So we've arranged a catch up run for tomorrow - which won't help my musty lungs or his sore knee either probably...