The run into Christmas

Posted on: 18 Dec 2016

It takes me a while sometimes to realise the blooming obvious, or rather to acknowledge it and then it can also take me a while to actually do something about it.

Back on Monday the 5th December the “Gentlemen of Hawkesbury” assembled for our annual run. This started in 2014 as the Day 5 of Jim & Rich’s Cotswold Way run, Hawkesbury to Bath. We repeated the same in 2015, without Jim, but this year he was back in the party (having avoided large welsh holes).

Along with Rich, Craig and Neil we set off from the mecca that is Sainsbury’s in Stroud the goal to reach The Beaufort in Hawkesbury for lunch. It has to be said finish lines that involve a pub definitely tick the motivation box for me, although I was slightly concerned with my previous après run form.

We broached the summit at Coaley peak , 5 miles in, I knew it was going to be a tough day. There were plenty of lumps to ascend, my legs were still carrying the miles of the Escape from two weeks earlier and Rich & Neil are pretty nippy runners (Two important lessons I’ve learnt over time, first never try to keep up with Rich on a trail; second never try to keep up with Jim in a pub). There was other reasons as well but those other excuses were good enough for now.

A lovely sight of Cam Long Down rising like a beast through the mist was certainly the best vista of the day. Jim was ticking off the big climbs “nail one Cam Long”. Rich & I discussed the others to come, but I contested his assertion that the climb up to Alderley counted, “it’s very runnable that one”. The banter was excellent and was a helpful distraction from that nagging feeling that I should be doing better (or at least feeling better) about this run.

Two more “nails” (Stinchcombe and Tyndale) and we were in Wotton, with lots of chat about the hill ahead, Blackquarries, horrible with giant steps, Conquest of Paradise & the Radio4 theme tune helped, but it once again delivered a beasting. As I ran along the flat top I was running as well as Jim & I had at this point, 72 miles into the CW102, we were really pleased with our performance then, but with only 15 miles under the belt today, I wasn’t feeling the joy.

Remembering that I’d told Rich earlier on that I didn’t count the track up to Alderley as a hill, I had a word with myself and managed to run it all, great, I’d managed to treat my ego, but my legs called me up on it and reminded me for the remaining 4 miles that it really was a pyric victory.

We reached the warmth and comfort of the Beaufort and settled down to a few pints, the obligatory Ham, Egg & Chips (with side order of cheesy potato cakes). Neil broke ranks and went for the lasagne which added to his misdemeanours for the day having early answered his mobile phone whilst running. We were pretty amazed that he’d managed to get a signal, but were stupefied when he started talking to his wrist watch – blooming gadgets!

A long hot soak in the bath gave me time to mull things over a bit. The reality of the run was that whilst I’ve been knocking out long runs, I’ve done very little else. The last few months I’ve rarely run more than once a week and so my base level of fitness just isn’t what I’ve managed to maintain in the past. Coupled with the fact that I’ve continued to eat (and drink) as though I’m running 4 times a week and thus gained a stone over the year, it is little surprise I was finding it hard.

With this self analysis complete I therefore did absolutely nothing about it. I knew the issue, but I had no plan to deal with it. The obvious solution was to run more than once a week, but I ran on Saturday the 10th (14 Miles including the PR) and that was it. I read blogs from those of you gearing up for a spring marathon, with training plans starting and thought that some structure was what I needed but with no hard plan for next year the thought trickled away.

Thankfully I found some inspiration and a solution. I’ve been reading Ira Rainey’s book, Still Not Bionic, the sequel to Fat man to Green Man. He’s local to Bristol and this book details his running since he completed the Green Man in 2013 including becoming a centurion this spring on the SDW100.

It’s a great read and there is so much that I recognise as he talks about the rollercoaster of ultra running. One of those was his need to build base fitness and fit runs in to his day, but as he says it becomes a lot easier when you decide to do a run streak, run every day for as many days as possible. The mentality then changes from “Shall I run today?” to “When will I do my run today?”.

I read that yesterday morning and instantly it chimed with me, so I am now 2 runs into my streak not much of a streak but it’s definitely the kick I needed to get myself out of the house. The bonus is I finished work on Friday so I have 17 days where work cannot get in the way, after that it’ll become harder but hopefully by then it might have become a bit more ingrained in my psyche.

I sense a review / preview blog to follow next week, but for now, I wish you and your families the very best for a peaceful and merry Christmas.

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