Major rethink on the running front

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I innocently bought Trail Runner magazine and found this virtually recommended “run” featuring at No.38! What will these Europeans get up to next? I’m half expecting Gove or Johnson to inform us that we’ll have to submit to an EU edict requiring each household to enter a team if we remain in Europe. I can think of worse outcomes : a rolling back of workers and human rights, an increase in the pace of attack on the NHS and unrelenting xenophobia if we vote out.

Anyway, back to normal running (cue question : what is normal?). I’ve decided to drastically cut back on maximum effort running because I increasingly think this is not doing my health any favours. Research is indicating that running long distances, too hard and over a long period of time seems to stress the heart unduly. I had a heart attack nearly seven years ago and recovered very well with no obvious deficits. In fact I’m probably running better now than before my heart attack. Nevertheless, the effort to run as fast as you can must surely have consequences for a person like me who has heart disease and takes cardiac medication to slow and strengthen the heartbeat. So, I’ll stop doing half marathons (with the possible exception of Cambridge half marathon at a slower pace), I won’t renew my subscription to my running club which expires at the end of this month and I’ll run 10Ks at a more relaxed pace. The good news is that I don’t have to run much slower to feel much more comfortable. Less is more! No future Junathons or Janathons.

The other spur to change my syle of running is that I know about five experienced runners who have either had heart attacks or have heart related problems.

I’m also taking it easier at 5k parkruns. Putting  just a little less effort into the distance only decreases my time by about 45 seconds and I feel better for it. I’m still interested in fell running as long as its down hill. I’m still working on this one.

On last thing. I borrowed a Fitbit today when I ran 7.3k and had an average heart rate of 150. Is this good, bad or indifferent? I don’t know. It took me 47 minutes and I felt good.

 

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Janathon Day 21 It’s all about the image, man

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In the spring or summer I hope to do a bit of trail or fell running somewhere in the UK. Never done it before. I’ve only taken in occasional steep hills or undulating countryside. We’ll probably try to identify a race that’s manageable for an inexperienced fell runner rather than opting to run up and down something that should be tackled with ropes, crampons and ice axes. Nor do I want to be in a race with ultra tough looking fell men that eat ice when they need a drink and run up as fast as they run down. There must be something suitable for a soft Southerner (living in the East).

I’m currently doing a screen printing course for complete beginners, during the daytime, in a local college. It’s in a large art room/studio full of much used art equipment, paint stained sinks, racks, screen print benches of varying sizes and everything to support multi media. Second session tomorrow. It’s a bit like being back at school but more relaxed and with a benign teacher.

Another night time run. Didn’t really feel like it initially. After 5 minutes I came alive and felt much more alert and energetic. That’s the thing with running – it wakes you up!

Parkrun on the weekend. We’ll do Wimpole Hall Estate. It’ll be muddy and slow but we’ll be with friends, have a nice mug of coffee post run and the bookshop will beckon. Heaven.

 

Aliveandrunning May 10 2014

Dobo  fellrunner.net Scarfell Pike 20134        Dobo fellrunner.net

                                                                                                                Photos courtesy of Paul Dobson (Dobo@fellrunning.net)

Fell running looks a lot of fun but where I live in Cambridgeshire, it’s as flat as a chapati (Indian flatbread for UKIP supporters who don’t get out much). We’ve got a few very minor hills which might be a few feet above sea level but nothing approaching a fell. I would have to travel to the Peak National Park, just over 2 hours drive away to encounter some real hills and further North to the Lake District and Cumbria to be spoilt for choice (I’m not even sure the Northern tribes allow soft Southerners to run up and down their hills without permission or a permit. Anyway, let’s suppose I’m free to run and the North-South divide is not held against me, I’d love to do it.

I’m currently reading Richard Askwith’s Feet in the Clouds 2004 book on fell running and also bought his recent book, Running Free. It’s enjoyable and I find it motivational. The problem I have with descriptive writing of this kind is the unremitting focus on superlative performance and shock and awe at the level these runners are performing. And, so far, it’s mainly about men – their courage, stamina, strength, devil may care attitude, seeming indifference to risk, unbelievable descent speed, affinity with the rugged terrain blah, blah. They are all legends which we mortals can never  join but only adore from afar. That’s the problem with most books on sports activities ( I am presuming this because I don’t generally read them). The focus is on the fastest and the the winners, the dramatic stories, the poignancy and the pathos. It’s not on the also rans, the runners in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and older who are still tackling the hills albeit much slower or running less distance or less demanding courses.

Cambridge parkrun (5k) today. I did it in under 24 minutes again but I thought I ran faster than my actual time. Perhaps I had earlier  disrespected the Gods and they took their revenge by manipulating the passage of time to ensure I took longer to complete the distance. Two days ago I ran a club members only 5k (with four other clubs competing) and did less well. Over 200 took part and I was hemmed in at the back resulting in a slow start. Additionally, it was an evening race and I am a morning runner by choice, a flock of black crows crossed my path and to top it all, the goddess Aphrodite whispered in my ear “This isn’t your race, Steve” just prior to the start.

After parkrun today, I rested for a couple of hours and then I went for a 13.2 mile run along the river Cam. I haven’t been for a long run for weeks. Instead I’ve been doing lots of short runs and races. I took a chance and ran 13 miles straight off and it went OK. As usual the water nymphs along the banks of the Cam tried to lure me into the water and I had to call on my reserves of willpower to resist their blandishments. They were very alluring and it was probably the fact that I was wearing Lorna’s Garmin that swayed my decision not to jump in (note to self : are Garmins waterproof or only showerproof ?).