Four of the twelve half marathons are done. So what next?
Our April half – in Paddock Wood was right at the beginning of the month. Our May half is not until the very end of the month. Which means that we have an eight week gap between the two. How do we keep the momentum going and balance this with some rest and recovery? And – in addition – our May half marathon is going to demand something rather different of us to our first four road races. So Sunday 28th May will see us running the Weald Challenge Trail Half Marathon which follows the long distance paths of the Wealdway and the Vanguard Way starting and finishing in the village of Chiddingly and taking in the beauty of the Sussex countryside. The route is about three quarters off-road, and is described undulating (a runner’s euphemism for hilly and hard routes).
I have done a few trail races in the past – having taken part in the South Downs marathon relay and run three of the four legs. Although I have not done anything different to prepare in the past – I do remember how hard these runs were and the feeling that I could have prepared better. I need to be able to get up some of those hills – and it would be good to get used to running on that uneven ground – so much for beautiful views – I need to keep my eye on the path to avoid any unexpected thrills and spills!
At this time of the year it is possible to run off-road in road shoes – but I find that having a bit of extra tread underfoot adds to my confidence. As always a visit to see Alan (Cheeky) Cheek at the Running Hub in Southborough has set me up with a pair of trail shoes that are also comfortable to run on road for the bits in between. And as everyone knows it is not possible to have too many pairs of running shoes! Gill has some good routes around Heathfield to get us out there – strengthening and building the stability that we will need. We even get to practice a bit of yoga along the way – what better than focusing on our balance and stability amongst the bluebells? And as if to remind us how important the practise is – Gill manages to go completely A over T whilst heading downhill on a woodland path. Horrible to watch (and I suspect even worse to do!) – but nothing worse in the end than bruises and a bit of skin left en route! Gill has even got the relaxed group of Heathfield Road Runners training off-road on our Monday evening runs – she has promised us that she DOES now know the route and that we will not be the last group back in future……………..
Julie and I don’t live as near to each other as we used to – so from time to time we get to meet up somewhere between Hythe and Heathfield to get a run in and put the world to rights. This time we searched the internet and found a lovely walk in Tenterden that we turned into a trail run.
Neither Julie nor I are great at following walk instructions – and this one proved no different although we did make it in the end. Honestly! – “walk to the corner of the field” is just not good enough – which corner? Especially when field in question has at least seven corners………. And instructions such as “keeping the gardens to your left” and “walk to the right of the pond” are just plain confusing to simple folk, without their reading glasses – trying to read instructions at a steady 10.5 minute mile pace…….. But the bluebells and wild garlic are spectacular and if only the instructions had mentioned the field of baby lambs (turn right here) or the meadow that was being mowed (keep straight ahead to the stile on the other side) we would have been round in half the time (haha!).
At least pausing to climb over the stiles lets you get your breath back……. And as a special reward there is the cream tea at the Lemon Tree Restaurant on the High Street – it looks rather old fashioned as you walk in – but the scones are delicious. All-in-all this trail running training has a lot to recommend it!
Which is more than can be said for the hill training! But I’m doing it – or trying to – at least once a week. No excuse really – we have plenty of hills in Heathfield and I even live on one of the hills that HRRs use to train on! So a gentle 15 minute warm up and then 20 mins of hill repeats (30 second up – 1 minute down) – good to know that I can still get my heart rate up to 175 without dying………………… I know it will help………………….. really it will……………….
Keeping up with the yoga – for strength and stability – and walking and the gym – Weald Challenge? Bring it on!!