Free range

Posted: 04/03/2012 in Uncategorized

Now that I’ve finished the 13 week beginner’s programme, I’m free to run as I please; distance, time, pace, all can be decided on a whim. Which is nice.

But that gives me a problem – what to do? I like the coast, I like the country park, I’d like to try other stuff, which first?

Luckily, it’s a little while since I’ve run the country park, so I that was an easy choice – a touch of the trail and a generous dollop of mud sounded like a fine reward for getting through the 13 weeks.

I also didn’t take my headphones – I’ve never listened to music, so they’ve only served to pass on the messages from the robot woman who lives in my phone and whose stern tones are more often used counting down to impending doom. “Three… life support systems have failed… two… artificial gravity has failed… one… prepare to crash into the heart of the sun…”. That kind of thing. On the plus side, at least if I’m ever about to crash into the heart of the sun, I’ll feel vaguely as though I’m among friends.

So, no headphones, no targets, no voices in my head. I figured a jaunty two-rounds of the park, up and down the hill would be about right. No idea how the run/walk situation would pan out, in the past I’ve felt like my lungs were trying to overtake me by leaping out of my mouth when I’ve got most of the way up the hill. Gently does it, then.

It was drizzling, but nothing too serious, with grey skies looking like they intended to be more serious…

When I start running, I usually feel like one leg or the other is about to come off, or that a kneecap may eject if I keep going, but that soon passes, and the aches and pains are replaced with the warming effect of endorphins and movement. I plodded along the track, along past the stables and up onto the hill for the first time. No walking as yet; it’s all flat, after all. Turned onto the hill and plugged along a little way, then a bit further, then broke out of the trees and up the last long incline to the top. Summit is a bit of a posh word for it, but I think it’s the highest point in the borough (though it’s quite a flat borough). All well and good, now for the downhill. Taking my cue from the fell-runners of yore, I let fly down the hill (kind of), going as fast as my legs and gravity felt was appropriate. It was faster than I thought, but I think I’m improving on the whole “engage legs, disengage brain” downhill thing, and nothing went “clunk” part way down. My only disappointment was the relative lack of mud on the hill today – usually it’s good for a plodge, but the recent dry weather had evaporated all but the stickiest and deepest gunk.

One lap down, and I wasn’t feeling like death – and hadn’t stopped to walk at all. Pretty chuffed with myself, I started lap two and went along the trail, past the stables, and back towards the hill – at which point a positively satanic growling was followed by a dog-from-hell that sprinted up to me.

I stopped. I may have whimpered.

The dog was followed by an apologetic lady with another three dogs on leads. They all seemed quite placid, so I was a little bemused as to why it was the hell-dog she’d chosen to let run free. I made calming noises, and generally kept my arm between the dog and the rest of me – what I really don’t need is a chewed on leg. I think the dog was frightened by the sight of a fat lad running, and I had to agree with the dog that it could be a bit of a shock. The lady put the dog back on a lead (explaining that if he doesn’t have a ball in his mouth, then he goes looking for something else to put in it’s place – so no worries there then…) and off I went again.

I reckon, rather than gels and bars and jelly babies, I should arrange for a hell-dog at various points of a run, as the surge of adrenaline got me up the hill before I even noticed it – OK, soit may have also risked an unplanned bowel movement as part of the fight-or-flight reflex, but I certainly felt like I was tanking it after that. Back down the hill, mentalist-style, and then a switchback along the trails to get up to my 5 mile goal.  On the last bit, given that I was still feeling pretty good, I tried out a few pushes, not quite sprinting, but figuring I’d run a bit faster to that bush, or to the next gate. I think that could be the way forward in training, distance runs with a bit of speed to get the old body used to it – might come in handy if I ever find myself in the unlikely event of overtaking someone.

By the time I finished, the rain had properly come on, so I was ready to go, and got treated to another sight of the stag – this time being fed by the horse-keeper man. He puts the feed for the horses in one place, and another little bit for the stag a bit away – one of the horses was trying to hoover this bit of extra food up, but the man was shoo-ing it away. At first, I thought he was shoo-ing the stag, which seemed a bit mean, but luckily all was right in the world and he was trying to make sure the frankly otherworldly beasty got its breakfast.

Still haven’t seen a pixie having it’s breakfast in the woods yet.

  1. J says:

    The “gels replaced with hell dogs” idea might take off. Would certainly make water stations at races a bit livelier. And 85% bitier.

    Infernal pooches or not, it looks like the transition from 5k to 10k will be a quick one for you. And still maintaining a good pace there. Keep it up Mr Bees.

  2. Thanks J – I reckon I may turn it into another of those “run with obstacles / run through a bog / tougher than the hardest thing ever” runs..

    “The Hell-Dog” – have you got what it takes not to wet yourself when a mastiff lunges for your groin? Thinking of names of the obstacles already, how about “Oodles of Poodles”?

  3. Helen Liz says:

    To answer the “what next” question, you may want to look at the race training plans on the RW site. In general, they’ll have one longer run each week, then others that vary in length and effort.
    Depends if you like the structure that a plan gives you or are happy with the free-form thing. I find it easy to be lazy without a plan in place, but maybe that’s me…

    And dogs looking to eat you instead of the ball are a occupational hazard. You shouldn’t be needing gels or fuel for the distances you’re currently running though.

  4. Hey Helen – that sounds like a good plan – think I need a bit of structure. Saying that, I enjoyed today’s impromtu visit to the beach without my shoes, so maybe I’ll go for two structured, one random run each week. I reckon I’ll be fitting in a barefoot beach-run quite often, it was groovy!

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