Well, I feel like I haven’t updated recently enough here. After today I’ve got heaps to say, but I’m going to break it up into a number of posts.
I’ve spent the week watching a high pressure building and really wanted to get out for a run in the hills. Before my calf strain I’d been doing lots of training sessions but not really enjoying my running. I’ve decided it was more important to enjoy the run.
So this morning I woke early and headed out. From the house I look at a sky line of the Cader Idris range, and this morning I’m heading for that skyline. The ascent profile looks like thisIt’s an old friend, this route, views opening, paths unwinding without the need to think too hard. Technically challenging running, my favourite romp across a moorland plateau and enough climb and distance to really clear my lungs and legs.
The sun is low and warm giving beautiful relief on the hills.
Climbing out of a shaded Dolgellau is lovely, racing up the contours as the sun comes rushing down the hillsides quickly letting me chase my own long shadow.
I love that this end of Cader is hardly ever visited, it means that I often see mountain wildlife that is harder to spot on the Western end. This morning is no different. Just on the final pull onto Gau Craig I spotted a couple of Black Grouse scuttling into the heater and minutes later a Hare bounds across my path, zig zagging to confuse me. No chance I am going to catch it though.
Then onto the long plateau towards the base of Mynydd Moel, a stunning place, the Tarrens close, Plymlimon in the distance to the South. The Arrans behind, The Rhinogs just to the North, Rhobell Fawr alone. A great place.
Into the hardest climb of the route, the steep path onto Mynydd Moel. Lungs definitely working hard, my heart thumping in my ears and my legs running along the pleasure/pain barrier of lactic production. The gradient eases as 820m passes, a quick glance over your shoulder as you cross the summit shows you Llyn Cynwch (Precipice Walk) at an unusual angle. Behind this is the square blocks of Trawsfynnydd power station reflecting sun off its flat sides. Then moving west, suddenly Pencoed Pillar appears, then Penygadair, the main peak of Cader Idris appears. Frost and icy puddles still sit in the shadows behind rocks and ridges. This morning whisps of cloud are being blown South over the lowest part of this ridge and in my shorts and light shirt I’m keen to keep moving.
This crossing from Mynydd Moel to Penygadair is quick, I pass the summit hut just before 0700, quickly recalibrate my watch for altitude, and then off the other side. This bit is a bridleway and I unusually spot a mountain bike tyre print. I think about work momentarily, the white paper on the change in definition of Rights of Way. My mind wanders to memories of Pete Burnsall for a few seconds before edging over to Cyfwry and the beautiful lollop down to join the Pony Path at Rhiw Gwerdydd. I have mixed feelings about the path improvements here, but I follow them to try and do my bit to prevent any further degradation of the hill side through heavy use.
The terrain gets easier, the pace increases and quickly you arrive at Ty Nant. From here I head through the car park that most people access the hill from and follow a footpath that goes round the back of Llyn Gwernan, through some woodland and then rejoin the Cader Road for a nicely sloped run into Dolgellau.
Dolgellau, now bathed in sun, is slowly waking up, I run through the small back lanes down to the main bridge. Now feeling hungry and a bit tired but still quite springy. Time to go home, have breakfast and spend time with the kids.
My soul truly fed.
I haven’t enjoyed the last month when its come to training. All my stuff has been looking at the hills and missing getting out.
I’ve spent a bunch of time using the foam roller and doing bits of strength training, but nothing that has got my heart racing. A great family trip to Ireland, relaxed, caught up with family, drank Guiness, visited new places, and met some new people- well done to Aisling Schmidt for winning the Sligo Rose last weekend and good luck on the road to Tralee (in a Toyota Prius!).
Not knowing whether I’d healed made me nervous about putting stress on my calf, I really didn’t want to go backwards.
I tentatively went for a short run in the middle of last week and felt no pain. I’ve been wanting to put a little video together of trail running. Firstly to promote the opportunities and also as a bit of a show reel to use when getting sponsorship for Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund. So, Saturday morning I went to walk the trail I wanted to capture. The dog had a great walk, and I looked at the trail in a way I hadn’t before. Sunday morning came and I laced my trail shoes on for the first time in a while and set off with a small video camera and a tripod. Then for the next two and a half hours I ran, stopped set up the camera, ran back or ran on, ran back to the camera, packed up and ran on. I’ve not done much film making, but I am really happy with the results.
I’ve had a few comments about my Benny Hill moments and trying to push the van over, it’s good feedback. I actually really enjoyed making the clips and so will try and take on the comments and do some more. There are so many varied trail/hill runs around Dolgellau, all with a different feel, I’m going to try and catch some more of why I run.
A week of rest and rehab has paid off. After following advice from Matt I’m back on the low impact cardio.
After 10 very frustrating days before talking to a physio, perhaps there is some science I should get to know.
The foam roller is definitely still breaking down some weird muscle damage in my right calf, but stretches are definitely looser than 3 weeks ago.
The rowing machine is absolutely not my favourite way if getting a sweat on. The sound the fan makes reminds me of the 3 hour sessions I did prior to rowing a little boat from Lands End up to Wales. But, it feels so nice to extend my lungs. I know I’m supposed to ease into it but that little voice on my shoulder doesn’t like slacking -8017m in 30 mins. The yoof would say “boom”, I think.
I’m sure the family are chuffed to have reeking kit back in the wash bin!
I still want to be running the hills above the inversions we’ve been having in Meirionydd since Saturday, but I can beat that little voice, at least for now.
A bit of a disappointing week, my training has been going really well, until Tuesday. I’d been suffering with tight calves for a while, but thought that massaging and stretching was keeping on top of it. On Tuesday night run, I thought it was warm enough for shorts, don’t know whether it made a difference or not. I’d been out for about an hour when I finish with a little 100m height gain climb to finish before warming down. About two thirds of the way up this, I ended up with a real tightness in my calf which ended up being pain by the time I got home.
After a good massage, icing and compression the following day the pain was still enough to knock training on the head for the week. My 4th fortnight on 2012 miles in 2012 ended up being only 9 days training. I still managed to log 85.3 miles but I’m pretty dispirited with my training for Trail Marathon Wales. I know it’ll come back, quickly, but I hate being injured. Little bruises of honour under toe nails I don’t mind, but good reasons not to train I do.
Katie turned 2 on the 23rd, we had a party the Saturday before, and her Birthday was a pretty low key affair. Just presents and cards on the day. Michaela is sewing hard to make a rag quilt for her, turns out to be quite a few more seams than you’d first think.
Without training it has meant more time to do slow things, playing with apertures with Ciara so she can spell her name with a torch, leisurely family trips to Whittington Castle (a bit of an anti-climax apart from the doves!) and some hill trips that my dog, Casey (now nearly 12) can enjoy. I miss Casey on my long hill runs, as a younger dog she’d be bounding along all day, now 5-6 hill miles makes her sleep all day. I guess we’re all the same.
One of the most exciting messages I got this week was from a potential equipment sponsor who are fairly positive about supporting me through to the Marathon des Sable. I can’t say any more at the moment, but their support would make an enormous difference!
Been a bit of a battle getting 63.9 miles in the last fortnight. Work has been keeping long hours, and my cousins weding-which was brilliant meant swapping a few dates around for long runs. I really don’t want to pick up an injury at the moment so I dropped my daily miles as I hadn’t the chance of getting a rest day in for 8 days.
Pretty happy to be 288.1 miles year to date 56 miles ahead of target. Hoping the weather will warm up a bit and that I can start banging in lots of bike miles too.
I feel pretty confident that the volume of training going in is having descent results and I think my head game is getting stronger all the time too.
My cousin got married this weekend. The wedding was beautiful, and I’m sure Mr and Mrs Cole will be very happy. The venue was stunning – One Great George Street which is the HQ for the Institue of Chartered Engineers. It was cool to have a look around at some of the displays, and to learn that Isambard Kngdom Brunel was the son of an Engineer who was fairly talented in his own right. I’m guessing he had pretty high hopes of his Son, having Kingdom in your name must pile the pressure on.
The ceilings all had massively different styles, vaulted, painted, fresco and panneled. I particularly liked the one with great British designs on it with a (I think) Sopwith Camel in it.
A contrast of Engineering design to all the traditional was staying in the shadow of the Wembley Stadium and the arch which is the longest single span roof staructure in the world.