Monday 27 July 2009

more salt and pepper in my hair....

After an enforced lay-off from all exercise that stretched out in the end to 13 days, I was naturally very keen to get my trainers back on and to resume my training for September's half marathon. It was extremely frustrating to be flat out on my back for two weekends when I should by rights have been out hill interval training and taking my longest run up to 75 minutes. Even when it was pouring with rain and C came home from her long run looking like a drowned rat, I was still seethingly envious.

As soon as the consultant gave me the go-ahead then, I was out for a run.... I was strictly limited to a half mile at first, but that first few minutes back on the road and it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders and that I was finally back. Needless to say, the next day's mile became two, and the mile-and-a-half the following day became three, but I wasn't feeling any ill-effects from the exertion, and was simply glorying in being back on my feet (even though I seem to have lost something like 6kg in the week or so I was off my feet. I was still eating as normal, so I don't know how that happened. Perhaps I could sell it as a diet plan?) This Saturday, I felt sufficiently well to resume my interval training: twenty minutes on a fairly steep hill near here. One minute up the hill and then another minute down the hill. Repeat ten times. It's a lot harder than it sounds, and apparently it's good at building up your speed.

The next day, I felt strong enough to really stretch my legs out and to go for a longer run.

5.38 miles in a little over 55 minutes is not quite the 8 or 9 miles I should be doing by now, but it felt like enough to me.... I wouldn't want to overdo it now, would I? I was quite pleased with myself, and besides, my body was telling me that it wasn't quite ready to do much further. I spent much of the rest of the day staggering around on nicely stiffened legs, but with that warm glow of self-satisfaction that almost makes all that pain worthwhile. Almost.

So, clearly the obvious thing to do on the very next day would be to go running again.

I'd got home from my half day at work (which finished at about 14:30, but you get the general idea), finished off "Goldfinger" and then promptly fallen asleep. By the time I woke up, the late evening sunshine was out and I was determined to wake myself up and to make the most of the rest of the glorious day by dragging myself around a "short" run of 4.02 miles.

This one hurt (although I see I apparently ran faster than on Sunday's run, it certainly didn't feel like it). I could feel the numbness in the soles of my feet and in the muscles of my legs with each stride, and the stiffness from the weekend's running meant that I felt as though I was fighting against my body every step of the way. As I was suffering through my entirely self-inflicted misery, the presence of time's winged chariot was made even more abundantly clear to me when, at two separate points on my route, I ran past two young runners going in the opposite direction. The first one could not have been much older than twenty, and he loped past me at something like twice my pace without a bead of sweat on his brow and looking as though he hadn't got a care in the world. I generally run in sunglasses - at least partly to hide the pain in my eyes from passers-by.... A couple of miles further on, I ran past another kid, this one no more than eighteen. This one was even worse: not only was he even younger than the first one, but he was running so quickly and so easily that it didn't look as though his feet were actually touching the ground as he moved. I was having one of those difficult runs, when everything feels harder, but somehow watching these kids run effortlessly past me made my legs feel even heavier and made me feel as old as the hills.


The half marathon is in just under 7 week's time. Plenty of time, yet.... but I need to remember the old adage that the rest is as important as the training if I'm not going to kill myself before I get to the starting line - never mind the finish.

I'll have a day off tomorrow, I think.


  1. Ah, but dropping that weight will make it so much easier for you in the Mountain stages!

    You (and I for that matter) will never be 18 again, but you know those 18 years olds have got no appreciation of just how wonderful it is to be their age - they'll look back in 20 years time and wonder - Why did I ever think I was ugly, or too fat, or too skinny, or slow?

    Your recent posts have been brilliant by the way, I marvel at your acuity in the face of great personal difficulty.

  2. Thanks Tina - it's good to know that my theoretical performance up Ventoux will have improved (although I'm sure the whispers about my drug use will also have started by now)!

    Actually, fitness is all relative, isn't it? I popped home last weekend and made a fleeting appearance at the church open day to take the opportunity to climb up the impressive steeple (not because I'm a God botherer, naturally.... that doesn't seem to run in the family, thank the non-existent Lord). The stairs up the tower are steep and very narrow, and there are several stopping points along the way: in the bell-ringer's bit, on the floor above where the bell mechanisms are, in the bell tower itself, and so on. At the first stop, which is not all that high up, I was watching the bell ringers in action and waiting for a window of opportunity to get further up the tower (only room for people to travel in one direction). I therefore had a front row view of quite how out-of-condition some people are. One lady in particular appeared to be on the point of death, so heavily was she breathing, that she had to sit down for several minutes before she could continue. We were, what, maybe 20 steps up from the ground? I imagine she doesn't climb many steps in her normal day-to-day life, but was appallingly unfit. By comparison, I'm not so bad.

  3. The Tour was brilliant wasn't it? Good to have some British interst as well.

    I know what you mean about general fitness levels - I'm quite a lot fitter now in my 50s than I was in my 30s, I could hardly walk up our hill from the pub without panting then. I don't do anything like you do but a bit of gentle regular walking, cycling, swimming, tai chi and pilates makes an awful lot of difference.