Training for: CTS Dorset Ultra (53k)
Runs: 6, Total Distance: 47.8km, Total Time: 4:13
I’m back. Thankfully I am able to run again! It turns out that my soleus muscle was as hard as a golf ball so my physio worked intensively on it on Thursday afternoon. Prior to that I had already managed a 7.2km effort, on trail at my aerobic pace and it was comfortable with no pain or discomfort around my ankle or achilles.
Earlier in the week I decided to get out and try run/hiking so on Tuesday I hiked out at a decent clip for 3km before turning around and running back the way I came at my aerobic pace. Both sections felt good and I began to feel positive about getting back into the swing of things with training sooner rather than later. So, on Wednesday I hiked out 4km at a race pace (8:20pkm avg.) and then turned on my heel and ran back the way I came at my aerobic pace. I was so pleased when I got home because I had put together two run/hikes in two days and I just knew that the following day, before seeing my physio, I would attempt and likely succeed at running a fair distance with no hiking involved!
On Friday I decided I would risk a tempo/threshold on the roads and laced up my Hokas to do so. My physio and I deduced that the tightness in my soleus had arisen from running too many miles, too quickly in these particular shoes so I was slightly apprehensive about it when I set out. Fortunately, there was no need for the apprehension and I found this out to my delight after a few hundred metres. I pushed hard for the whole run and managed to clock a fairly respectable 24:39 for 6km – I did go off far too quickly and paid for it about half way through but I kept on pushing and didn’t drop too much pace as the run went on. It felt good to feel the burn of lactic acid as I haven’t felt that outside of speed workouts for many a month!
Following my successful Friday speed effort I decided that Saturday’s progression long run would involve running a route that matches quite closely, in terms of surface and elevation, the Thames Meander Marathon which I’ll be running on November 7th. My plan was to run an out and back 12km effort with the first 9km run at an aerobic pace and the last three klicks kicking from tempo into threshold (I even managed to hit anaerobic pace for a while too)! The run was beautiful, it was so nice to see autumn taking hold of one of my local trails and it was also beautiful as it felt pretty easy to kick into tempo and threshold paces, and to hold them. It’s good to know that I’ve got the kick when or if I feel the need for it at Thames Meander.
My progression run was commented on shortly after I uploaded it to Strava by a friend from my old running club, Harrow AC. Steve enquired whether I would like to run cross country this season but for another club as he’d moved on from Harrow. After an e-mail exchange I quickly decided that, yes, I would like to run for a new club in a new league and promptly signed up, paid my dues and became a member of Watford Joggers within a couple of hours: ‘Serious about running, but not a serious running club’. What a great motto for a club and one that sits well with my ultrarunning and ‘running community’ philosophies! On Sunday morning Steve picked me up and we drove over to the first race of the Hertfordshire Sunday League XC meet at Cheshunt. I did not sleep well on Saturday night as pre-race nerves showed up from nowhere but I woke up in the morning feeling glad I’d put some speedier efforts in throughout the week!
I was welcomed into the fold with smiles, a small but hearty applause and then some friendly chatter whilst we warmed up together as a club. It couldn’t have been a more different atmosphere from what I experienced with Harrow and I loved it from the get go. I lined up towards the front of the pack with Steve and had in my mind that I would like to run a controlled race for the first 5km or so and then to see what I had in me over the final 3km – kind of like a progression run or even an ultra. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way! I haven’t run any short distance this year so I was quickly taken in by the fast pace and carried it for the first 2km. I slowed a little for the next 3km and could feel that I was going to find the final lap of the three lap course tough going!
During the race I had the same group of runners around me from start to finish and we jostled and battled for position – it was competitive but amiable and I loved it. I sprinted in over the last 200m or so and as I walked through after finishing I realised I could have run just that little bit faster…that is definitely what I plan to do at the next meet! I finished in 104th place, covering 8km in 33:42 which is really not at all bad. Lessons learned this time around: there’s always more in the tank than you think, it’s not pain – it’s effort and next time I’ll be wearing my spikes as they are so much lighter than the Scott Kinabalu Supertrac I went with for Round 1.
All in all a very good week and one that has filled me with confidence for the next 3 weeks of training before Thames Meander. Next week I’ll be looking to get back into my usual pattern of training. I have made a few adjustments though because I will now be doing 15 to 20 minutes of core and strength circuits on Saturdays and Sundays and 25 to 30 minutes of yoga on a Monday.
I hope the roads, trails and treadmills treat you well in the week ahead dear reader.
Peace & Blessings