Sixty Thousand Steps

A few weeks ago I tried to run a half marathon.  That didn’t go so well. So, now would be a good time to regroup and think carefully about setting appropriate goals for myself, taking into account my fitness levels, my time, my propensity towards knee pains and so on.

I’ve done that, and I’ve come up with a new goal for next year.

I’m going to run an ultramarathon.

Specifically, I want to target a 50k race next year.  Now, this might sound a little crazy given that I’ve never gone beyond 21k, but there actually is method to my madness.  I figure that I’m at a point in my training where I can go one of two ways.  I can carry on running, take time off every time legs complain, and maybe do the odd 5k or 10k race.

Or I set myself what they call in the business world a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

The thing is, at the moment I can’t possibly run that kind of distance, for some very specific reasons.  My gait isn’t right, and I have very tight hip and thigh muscles, specifically my ITB and TFL.   These aren’t big problems when I’m only running 5k, but are serious limiters when I go out long.  If I stick to shorter runs, then I’ll never have to address these underlying limiters, and I could probably even train out to half marathon reasonably well.

But if I want to go really long, then I can’t fake it.  I have to rebuild my gait properly, and I have to put in the hard work with stretching and foam rollers to work out my problem muscles.  Indeed, I expect I’ll probably spend more time doing this kind of rehab over the winter than actually running.

So, if you live in the neighborhood and see a crazy guy running barefoot on gravel trails, it’s me re-teaching my ankles and calves to run lightly and fluidly.  And my long-suffering family will have to put up with me grunting through hours of foam roller work.

But I’m going to make this work.  I’m fed up with having my legs give up when I still have fuel in the tank.

And if anyone is looking for a training partner willing to put in some serious mileage, give me a shout.


Mine Over Matter

This is how I spent yesterday morning: jumping in a lake, mountain biking over rocks, roots and gravel, and running the trails around Kelso Quarry.  All in all a complete blast!


Marathon Pains

In theory, running should be the most undramatic of sports.  The requirements are simple; you turn up at the start line, and when the horn sounds you run the allotted distance to the finish, at whatever pace you are capable of maintaining.

However yesterday’s inaugural Barrie Half Marathon drove home the point to me that even a simple half-marathon can be a dramatic event.

It started well, with the course taking us around Kempenfelt Bay on trails that I train on regularly.  This was home ground, and kept my breathing steady and my body loose.

The course brought us back past the start/finish line about half-way through the race.  I crossed the 10k marker enjoying the cheering crowds, running well and on pace to finish close to my personal best time.

A few minutes later I passed the 11k marker limping on knees that had suddenly refused to work.  My quads had tightened up and I my legs would only allow me to run a hundred metres or so before requiring me to stop, stretch, and walk.

So, I walked, limped and hobbled the next ten kilometers. This was a humbling experience for me – I’m used to experiencing races if not from the front, then at least from well up into the ‘business end’.  This time, first I watched the guys I’d been pacing out with vanish into the distance, and then most of the rest of the pack run past me.  At about 17k I was dropped by a guy with only one leg.

Now, this being running, everyone was supportive.  Practically every runner and volunteer called out encouragement or checked if I was OK.  And so, despite running probably the slowest race of my life, and crossing the line at two hours and five minutes, I finished.

And it was worth it.