Blistering Height

I won’t be running this week, I think. Shame, as I’d hoped to start building up from my recent 10K practice run towards the Bristol Half Marathon, which is rushing towards me very quickly.

On the plus side, the reason is because I walked up Snowdon for the first time. My friend Chris loves the hills, so for his stag do there was lots of walking, wild camping, and all sorts of outdoor stuff. Because I’m a not-as-fit city boy, I only nipped along for one of the hills, and even then I got the train down from the top. However, Snowdon is the highest peak in England and Wales, second only to Ben Nevis in the UK, so I don’t feel too ashamed of copping out only once I’d walked from the bottom to the top. 1049 metres total climb, according to RunKeeper. I don’t normally do my kilometres upwards

One of the reasons I didn’t join the rest of the gang for the downhill trot was blisters. A post-mortem on my walking shoes shows that I should probably have replaced them six months ago; the insoles were worn through to the underlying rubber in the instep, which is where my blisters appeared. Ah well. Live and learn. Or limp and learn, perhaps.

So, I’ve had some very enjoyable exercise, but now I’m going to have to stick some blister plasters on (these Compeed things are bloody brilliant, by the way) and not do too much walking or running for a few days. Hopefully things will clear up soon…

Woodland Jog

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It was, again, really very sunny and warm today. I didn’t get up early enough to avoid it, so instead of heading for the Downs like usual, I went for a little jog around Leigh Woods, which has a lot more shade, instead.

I didn’t take it too seriously, stopping off in a few different places to take photos. Just a nice gentle jog in the sunshine, really, about 7.5K, all told. It feels like enough, on a day like today 🙂

Distance

Like I said in my last update, I fancied getting out for a nice long run this weekend, and this morning I made good on that.

I ran from home, out along the towpath under the Suspension Bridge, all the way to the far entrance to Leigh Woods, then up into the forest. I did a fairly big loop of the forest, then came out to head back across the Suspension Bridge into Clifton, then all the way around Clifton Down and Durdham Down, and back to Clifton Village.

All told, it was just over 15km, although I lost GPS signal for the last kilometre and a bit, so I can’t be certain. I manually fixed the route in RunKeeper, and it came out at 15.59km, which can’t be far out.

I also took out two new things: First, The Indelicates’ new album, Songs for Swinging Lovers, available right now for download — for the price of your choice, including “free” — from the Corporate Records website.

Second, my shiny new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP3 camera. So, I took a load of photos, too 🙂 They’re all here in this set on Flickr, but there were two I particularly wanted to post here, because they say quite a lot about my route. They’re both photos of the same place, the “Sea Wall” railings at the top of the Avon Gorge, at the edge of Clifton Down.

Here’s the first one, taken on my way out, about 2.5km into the jog. The railings are just about invisible on the skyline, at the top of the cliff:

Sea Wall I

And here’s one taken of the same railings, at the 10.5km mark, up close and personal:

Sea Wall II

So, yeah, think that gives some idea of the vertical height involved in my jog today, as well as the overall distance!

I reckon I can declare myself ready for the Bristol 10K. And it’s nice to have done roughly three quarters of a half-marathon, too 🙂 I don’t, on the whole, feel too bad, although I’m not entirely convinced I’ll be able to move tomorrow! I might give myself a few days off and not do a mid-week run until Thursday, this week. I think I deserve it!

I Don’t Feel Too Steady on My Feet

I don’t feel too steady on my feet…
“…I feel hollow I feel weak”

Well, I did a bit. And just as that line in the Stone Roses She Bangs the Drums came around, too. But I had just powered up Bridge Valley Road deliberately a bit faster than normal, to see if I could improve on my uphill pace without actually dying.

And I did. Although the pleasant benches that are scattered around the Downs looked a lot more attractive than normal by the time I got up there. But I resisted, and ploughed on with a 6.75km route.

It was hard work; it did take me about three kilometres before my legs didn’t feel quite so heavy and uncooperative after the hill, but I came in with an average pace of 7:49 per kilometre, which is significantly faster than I normally manage when I include that bloody hill in my runs. The last time, a few weeks ago, I did it in a leisurely 8:14, so it’s not surprising it took a lot more out of me…

Still, good workout, and I feel fine now, especially after the large Boston latte from Boston Tea Party 🙂 They’re lovely in there, and have now taken to keeping a loyalty card for me under the counter, so I don’t even have to remember to carry it around with me when I’m running.

Less than a month to the Bristol 10K now. Can’t see it being a problem, really. I shall probably do at least one more 10K pretty soon, then go back to my normal routine for a week or two, then take a week off before the race itself…

Simple Seven

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I went to a cocktail party last night. Even though I don’t drink, it meant I was up until about 2am, so I didn’t drag myself out for a jog until about half past one today. Bit of a contrast from last week’s 7am enthusiasm!

Anyway, to get myself going, I downloaded Lady Gaga’s album The Fame Monster — currently on Amazon UK at the bargain price of £3 — and got out into the spring sunshine.

As I was tired and a bit headachey — must have been the guava juice — I kept it slow and steady and didn’t go too far. It felt pretty good, though, once I’d got up Bridge Valley Road and got going, and I decided to do a bit more than I’d planned, looping around Durdham Down to finish at just a smidge over 7km.

This makes up a bit for not running on Friday, I suppose. Looking at my stats over the last six months, Friday is the day of the week on which I tend to run least, coming in just below Monday. I think I should therefore be a bit more realistic about planning to run on Fridays, and maybe try heading out on Tuesday and Thursday if I want to go out twice during the week…

Anyway. Finished my 7K, went and got some lunch from Boston Tea Party, who are always lovely and friendly and do great coffee, and then wandered home along Royal York Crescent, which is today’s picture. This came straight from the iPhone, put together in camera from three shots, using Debacle Software’s Pano App.

10K. Again.

PerchYup, went out and did another 10K today. Wasn’t entirely sure I was going to — if I’d not felt good I’d have cut it short — but it was fine. Nice and slow, up Bridge Valley Road, around the edge of Clifton Down to the Water Tower, a loop around Durdham Down, then back the way I came, in a kind of lasso-shape. As you can see on the RunKeeper map, if you want 🙂

About the only bad thing was that I finished off at my normal lamp post in Clifton Village at 9.85K, so I had to run a bit extra. I ended up on Royal York Crescent, which at least has a nice view!

On the way I passed this crow, hanging out by Sea Wall, who looked vaguely photogenic. Looks better bigger.

Anyway, that’s all for today! It’ll probably be another fairly quiet week, this week, as I’m sure I’ll need a few days to recover!

Recovery Run

I think it’s quite fortuitous that this is the week I’ve been reading the chapter on avoiding injuries in John Bingham’s No Need for Speed.

One of the things he talks about is how to pay attention to your body; how to listen to those early, gentle aches and pains that mean you should back off for a day or so, instead of pressing on and turning the ache into a pain and then into something more serious.

So, seeing as my thighs have been aching quite a lot since Sunday’s run — not surprising, as it’s the most hill I’ve ever climbed — I left an extra day, and tried to do a pretty minimal run tonight.

And I’m glad I did, because even the slow 4K was quite a slog, and my right hamstring did whinge a bit at me. Nothing serious, but I’m going to take the advice in the book — otherwise there wasn’t much point in me buying it! — and take another couple of days off, and then go out for something on Saturday and see how I feel.

If I feel good, I’ll do the normal weekend around-the-Downs run. If I don’t, I’ll cut it shorter.

Still, really enjoyed the 8K in the woods on Sunday, and it’s good to open up another longer, hilly route that goes through greenery and ends up at a café!

Craziness

Hotwells

Well, turns out I’m actually crazy. Crazy like those weirdos who go out running when they’re ill and tell you that it actually helps.

Because it helped. Not only did it help, but in some ways, the illness seemed to help the running, too. My lack of concentration made me a bit forgetful. I forgot I was thinking of limiting myself to 5K max, I forgot I was going to stick to a flat route, and at one point I forgot about having a stitch so successfully that ten minutes later I thought, “Oh! Hang on, wasn’t I worrying about a stitch? Where did that go, then?”

I went out along the towpath where I started all this running malarkey. I figured it was flat, and more pleasant in the daylight than the boring old A4. Only I didn’t actually turn around at my halfway point, because I’d not really figured out where my halfway point was going to be.

So I ended up at the far entrance to Leigh Woods, a lovely little area of forest on the other side of the Avon Gorge. I used to do a walking route through these woods every weekend, so I figured I’d just follow that, despite it being a bit hilly.

When I say “a bit hilly”, according to the RunKeeper log and map, the middle of my route through the woods maxes out at about 100m higher up than when I started. RunKeeper reckons I climbed 147m overall, including the undulations here and there.

My run ended up with me crossing the Suspension Bridge — for the first time, while jogging — and that’s today’s picture; the view from the Bridge down toward Hotwells, where I live.

And it also turned out a bit longer than I figured, at 8.23km. Not bad for someone who was so tired he didn’t get dressed until about 2pm.

Mind you, I’m knackered now, and while the run seemed to make me forget about being ill for a few hours, I can feel my nose starting to clog up and I’m sneezing again, so I reckon it was only a temporary respite.

Still, at least it’s eased the I’m-not-running guilt, and that should last a couple of days, anyway!

Slow Build-Up

Evening Bridge

I’m still not feeling fab, but sleeping in very late today seemed to leave me with some energy, so I decided to go spend it on another post-Christmas momentum-building run. It seemed fitting for the first day of the year — start as you mean to go on, and all. And it was a lovely day, with a distinct lack of rain, at least.

I’ve noticed a few people bemoaning the lack of personal jet-packs as we enter 2010. I could certainly have used one today. At the last minute, I decided I was feeling okay enough to clamber up into Clifton instead of staying on the flat.

I just about coped with it. I was a lot slower than normal — the RunKeeper stats show my average pace being eight-and-a-half minutes per kilometre, which is seriously slow even by the standard of my normal uphill-into-Clifton runs. But hey, I figured it was psychologically more important to do 5K rather than to run quickly, and it felt like an either-or choice today.

My run ended up looking out over the Clifton Suspension Bridge at sunset, which is today’s picture.

So, that’s my second run of the week. As long as I get out this weekend, that’s three in a week, and back to my usual routine. All I have to do is keep that up…