Monday, 19 December 2011

On The Raggedy Edge

It seems that I’m a bit shit at blogging. I know I promised to update this much more often but the truth is that when everything is going well I struggle to write it down. Now, give me something to complain about and I’ll scribble a thousand words in under an hour. When everything is going well it just seems so very boastful. I guess it’s my blog though so I can be a bit smug. So, here goes. I am fitter than I’ve ever been. I am thinner than I’ve been since I was in my teens. I feel stronger, faster than ever and dare I say it, much more content than I’ve been in a few years. That’s it. It’s all good.

There are some serious reasons for this. I have followed my training plan very consistently and have treated rest and easy runs with much greater respect. It hasn’t been perfect. I have missed some runs but most importantly I haven’t tried to play catch up with the miles I have missed. In my opinion, the reason I haven’t gotten all injured again is because of the training plan. I devised this plan with help from information in Bryon Powell’s book Relentless Forward Progress. I incorporated rest weeks and made sure that the weekly mileage increase did not exceed 10%. And I think that's the key, building up slowly.

Not so long ago I couldn’t run a mile and had to take a month off from doing any serious exercise. It was a real low point and gave me doubts that I could ever reach my dream of doing an ultra. It was a wake-up call that this was going to be different to how I had imagined it. I was not going to be a natural runner. I would not easily become one of these whippet like distance runners, bounding up mountains without breaking a sweat. This was going to require thought, planning and determined application. This was going to need a huge amount of effort just to move me from injury ridden to consistent. Above all, this was going to require time. Patience is the key.

With those thoughts I got my head down and put in the miles. I have come out of that with a renewed sense of optimism and most importantly, I still enjoy running. Of course, I’m still bloody rubbish at it but I don’t feel like I am playing catch up between where I am and where I should be.


Today, I ran eight miles over the hills around Conwy through driving rain and heavy clag. I had chosen to wear shorts which was a bit silly in December but I was alright. The coastal winds kept blowing one foot into the other and tripping me towards a precarious drop down to Dwygyfylchi. Aborting the exposed coastal path, I decided to run inland towards the shrouded bulk of Tal-y-Fan. As I climbed higher I lost myself in the thick clag and ran in a big pointless loop as I tried to look for the right path. I stopped to look at the map and compass. I was cold. It was time to go home. Any ambitious thoughts of trotting up to the summit were put to bed. I was craving lashings of hot soup and bread, not to mention a sit down. The compass was pointing me in a general down direction (which is handy when looking for an estuary) and soon I found a road I knew. With boots full of boggy water I sloshed the rest of the way back home. After bashing the sheep shit from my shoes I had a shower and ate until I couldn’t move. Lying on the sofa now, I can see hints of blue sky through the window.

Through the cold and the wet; the tiredness and genuine fear of peril, I loved every minute of it. I think it’s the ridiculousness of the situation that I enjoy. Running round aimlessly beneath a small mountain, cold, lost and practically underwater; laughing like a buffoon when I found the right path. I do this for fun. So do lots of people. I just wonder why. I hope no one finds out.