Champing At The Bit

17 Oct

I seem to be settling into a fortnightly blog pattern at the moment: I guess when the news is limited, and a bit up and down, the incentive to blog diminishes a bit!

Two weeks ago I started with a rest day, and then did an easy 5 miles on the Tuesday. My calves felt ok, but not great, which was a bit surprising after they’d felt pretty good during my ‘long’ run on the Sunday, and had then had a day’s rest. On the Wednesday I did 5 miles with strides in lightweight trainers, which can fairly be described as a mistake. Although the adrenaline rush of doing some faster running meant I wasn’t aware of any significant pain during the run, my calves were definitely grumbly after, and my 7 mile run to my sports massage appointment on the Thursday was a bit painful. My ever-honest masseuse pointed out that if, after nearly 3 weeks of active recovery (and trying to continue to run most days), things weren’t improving, I needed to ease back. I was told to rest for a couple of days after the massage, which was pretty intensive (read: painful). It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear. So I rested on Friday and Saturday (although rehearsals and then a fantastic concert took my mind off my frustrations at another setback).

On the Sunday T and I were off Champing (church camping) in Herefordshire. Church camping is what the name would suggest: you are camping in a church. It’s organised by the Churches Conservation Trust and you get exclusive use of the church overnight, plus camp beds, a kettle, tea, coffee and (yay!) a toilet with a security code. You’ll note there is no mention of a shower in that list, so I’d already decided I wasn’t going to attempt to run, and that meant another 3 days of rest, but with lovely walks in between. We were in rural Herefordshire, and the stars were stunning. It’s the best view I have ever had of the Milky Way, and shows quite how much light pollution alters our view of what the night sky should look like. Lying in bed (tucked up warm in thermals and a decent sleeping bag), the only sounds were the cows lowing and the owls hooting. It was just what we both needed.

The church at Holme Lacy where we stayed, bathed in late afternoon sun
As you can see, during an explore around Hereford, we came upon a very musical spot!
The River Wye was a beautiful backdrop to 3 days’ walking
The churchyard at Holme Lacy

After 5 days’ rest from running, on Wednesday it was time to try running again. I knew my calves were a lot better, as there was none of the stiffness I had been feeling some mornings. Nonetheless, having learned that being greedy simply saw me crocked again, I opted for a gentle 3 miles at a steady pace.

On Thursday, I did a strength and conditioning session in the morning and then went swimming in the evening. The pool was pretty quiet, which always helps me not find the experience too annoying!

On Friday, I tried 4.5 miles at a slightly less cautious pace. Everything still seemed ok.

On Saturday, I did a strength and conditioning session in the morning, and went to the gym in the evening. I split my hour into 3 blocks of 20 minutes (bike, rowing machine and cross-trainer) to make it a bit more tolerable, although my back-up plan of listening to music failed, because I hadn’t realised there was no 4G/5G reception in the gym. Oops! I will download something next time.

This morning I finished the week with 6 miles steady.

So, a grand total of 13.5 miles (just over a half marathon…!) for the whole week, plus 90 minutes of other cardio (and a decent amount of walking, in my defence, but I definitely don’t fall into the category of people who have to record their leisure strolls on their Garmin) and some additional strength and conditioning (I don’t count my daily maintenance session of core and glute work as S&C: it’s just what stops me falling apart if I run at all!). Realistically, I’ll need a few more weeks of alternating gym-based cardio and running, but as long as the length of the runs can gradually increase, and the gym-based sessions are a decent length I can probably get up to 6 or 7 hours of cardio a week pretty quickly, which will be enough to stop the fitness deteriorating much further.


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