Friday, 15 July 2011

Getting Back At It

This week is officially the first week of my marathon training for Snowdonia at the end of October. The last few weeks have been pretty quiet. After the short but sprinty races of June and July I decided to go easy on the training for a bit. I took some time to go on holiday and to get ill. I am refreshed but feel like I lost a bit more fitness than I bargained for. Still, there's nowt I can do about that and it's just a matter of slowly rebuilding.

That's not to say that I stopped running completely. How could I ever do that? A notable highlight was going up Foel Grach. This nine mile, mountainous loop took me the best part of two hours and was actually one of the more challenging runs I have done. The run started along a wide valley over the village of Dolgarrog. This flat expanse was interrupted by the broken ruins of a dam and its grey walls loomed above me as I passed. It seemed to me like I was running through an ancient battlefield where giants once hurled bits of mountain at each other. It was an awesome and peculiarly haunting place.

I soon started to ascend the boggy ground up to the top. I knew this would take me a while as the gradient was far too steep to even contemplate running. Hands pushing on my knees I slowly made my way up and up. This three mile slog was only interrupted by meeting a group of hikers who were on their way down and looking quite smug for it. We exchanged pleasantries and they unwittingly informed me that the top was still much further away than I had hoped. I can't really complain though as the views were stunning and just got better and better the higher I got.

I finally reached the top and sheltered behind some shards of rock. The wind was blowing hard and I knew that I wouldn't be able to stop for long before I would start to chill. I ate some sweets and prepared myself for what I thought was going to be the easy descent back to the car. Unfortunately, the path which I had eyed up on the map didn't materialise. Which was very annoying. Now, I enjoy a good, technical descent. I love bombing it down mountains at a breakneck speed with little regard for the serious injury that almost certainly would occur if I put a foot wrong. I even take a little pride in being good at it. It is certainly the only time when I can reach a good clip without wheezing along like the fat asthmatic that I am. However, running on this descent was not an option. The knee high heather and boggy ground made it like moving through porridge. I was sure I was on the path. I even got out the trusty GPS thingy just to make sure. I then decided to ignore the none existent path and make my own way which didn't work as I then got lost. Well, not so much lost as pointing in the wrong direction. It took me a while to get my bearings back and I soon found a real, tangible path that would lead me back to the car. I was a bit cross by this point and took out my anger by walking lots. I soon got back to the car park and bumped into the walkers I had met earlier. I think they were a bit confused as to how they had got down first. But, as I clambered into the car and shut the door I was filled with the familiar glow of satisfaction, a feeling that whilst I hadn't achieved anything spectacular, I had persevered. And that is enough.

Now, in the present, I am ready to start working towards the Snowdonia Marathon. And I am going to do it differently. When I trained for the same marathon last year I wanted to organise and plan everything down to the tiniest detail. I think this got in the way. I put too much emphasis on planning my training and then get annoyed when it doesn't go exactly right. This has been the way I have done things since I started running. I make an in detail training plan, something goes wrong a few weeks down the line then I make a new one. Repeat. Boring. From now on, the emphasis is going to be on enjoying running. The Garmin is going in the draw and I'm going to bin the boring spreadsheet training plan. I will now run for the pleasure of running rather than to fill my quota of miles for the week. I will run by feel and not worry about my average pace or mile splits. There is only one training requirement and that is that I get out there and enjoy. I have no idea whether this approach will work but that's rather the point. I'm already quite looking forward to it.


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