Thursday, 13 March 2014 22:46

Bolton and Beyond

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Has Spring arrived yet?? Well I know it has been a while, but I have had some foot issues you know! What, you hadn’t heard! Tut, tut, don’t you read my blogs.

Having taken December and the best part of January off from running, I tentatively started doing some bike work at the end of January and then stepped out into the cold and ran a mile around the block. It was so good to get out and feel the road under my feet again as it had been far too long since my last outing. Within a week I was brave enough to join in with the Ulverston Tri Club on a training night. These runs take place on a Tuesday and are varied sessions, some weeks might be a social run, another will be focused on technique and another on even pacing. Unbeknown to me, the week I was entering the fray once again was to be a hill session. OUCH

. For those that don’t know, hill sessions are basically running up a hill as fast as you can, sounds easy doesn’t? Yeah? Oh by the way did I say that you have to run up it 10 times after a few miles warming up that is. These are a really good session to run, if you are fit and not coming back from injury. By the 4th/5th rep my heart was bouncing around my chest like a drug crazed drunken buffoon, my respiratory system was nearing the point of meltdown and my thighs were in a whole world of pain. It was hard, and I struggled along at the rear of the group running as hard as I could and seemingly getting nowhere. Somebody had moved the top of the hill and then poured gallons of treacle on to the road. I was seriously glad when I managed to finally finish the set and do my warm down run. It was a bit of an eye opener to my state of fitness and reminded me of how much work lay ahead before my first planned marathon of the year.

Trudi and I normally sneak away for our holidays in mid February so I had roughly 3 weeks to get some fitness back before we left. When I’m away I normally do and hour or so every other day with swimming and maybe a bit of gym work to keep me ticking over. The aim was to get upto 20 miles before we left. I had 3 weeks. This is not recommended but I’ve been running a long time so thought I could manage it. I spent a lot of time on the bike rollers to minimise the impact that running has on my legs and then would go and run. This has the effect of getting the heart rate up and tiring the legs out a bit, in tri terms this is called a brick session, I have no idea why apart from the legs feel like bricks when you are finished.

The first week my long run was 8 miles, the second I was up to 14.5 and a few days before we went away I cracked out a 20 miler. I wasn’t particularly fast but my legs felt great and I had regained some of the confidence I had lost after the long layoff. Once we returned from our annual holidays I had 5 days to prepare for The Bolton Hill Double, two marathons run over the weekend.

Although I had been doing a bit of exercise whilst away I was under no illusions that I was going to struggle through the two days. I arrived in Bolton with plenty of time to spare knowing that I would be bumping into several friends who I hadn’t seen for a while due to my absence from running due to the foot problem. I was not disappointed and enjoyed catching up with Sally, Matt. Malcolm, Foxy, Karen, Colin, Shane, Michael, Phil and Fozzy. The weather was surprisingly nice as well for the time of year, ie no rain. I set of nice and slowly knowing that I had a long way to go on legs that would struggle and also the fact that I would be running the next day. Fozzy had said that we could run together but I was doubtful as he was fitter than I was.

We did however run the whole way together, although he did have to wait for me at gates and feed stations for me to catch up to him. As the name suggests, this is a hilly marathon, going over the top of winter hill and Rivington Pike, not once, but twice! It is a tough run, mainly off road and on very rough or muddy terrain. It is an early season marathon tests fitness levels and also a runner’s technical ability to navigate the ground before them. All in all it is a superb test, although at the time you may not think that. After a steady run with Fozzy we eventually finished and I was started to think about the following day and begin my recovery and refuelling. So, ice bath, food, stretching, foam rollering and more food. A decent nights sleep and I was up and ready for day 2.

My legs felt OK, a little heavy maybe and my foot was pain free which was excellent news. The field was smaller than Saturday as we all lined up and the weather was brighter with just a glimpse of sun. I set off and spent the first few miles on my own and finding it heavy going. The first 3 miles is all up hill and my legs were just not at the party. As I reached the top of Winter Hill my legs felt better and I started catching a few people I knew and chatted away for a few miles. Before I knew it I was at the half way point and feeling remarkably good and upbeat.

As I headed into the second part of the race I let my legs go a bit to see how far I would get before I conked out, surprisingly, all the way to the end. The next day I was paying for it though, achy legs and knees that felt like they were full nuts and bolts, but the good news was that my foot was feeling fine. Good news indeed after having problems with it for several months.

I went out for a steady ride the following day and this cleared the legs out a bit although didn’t do much for my knees. A few days later and everything is back to normal, well nearly, training is back on track, just a niggle in my left calf from a bit of cramp. Next up will be the Gin Pit Double next weekend, always a good run out and not as hilly as Bolton.

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