Of runs and rocks

Nice easy 5 miles down to and around the beach today.  As I wasn’t pushing myself at all I stopped to do some fossil hunting and found these!

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Part of an ammonite I think
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A Devils Toenail – Or Gryphaea
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It’s not a fossil but its a cool little pebble  anyway
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Also found this rock with crystals on top of it – too heavy to carry back though
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Tides out lets hunt!
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Love these rock formations lying at a 45 degree angle. Almost like natural bricks

So only 5 miles (2 of which I had to carry the rocks for extra strngth work) but a cool beach trip anyway. Plus foots not hurting! Today has been a result!

Running and Realism

Last night I was off to the beach, covered six miles and was out for over an hour and it felt great … up to a point.  My foot was aching a bit. Probably been overdoing it a little since the injury I thought …. This morning it’s more swollen and painful to walk on.

Hmmmm so this is where the realism comes in I guess. Hard to admit but i think I may have jumped the gun signing up for the ultra in Cornwall in now only 5 weeks. Being realistic instead of blindly optimistic my spidey senses tell me I can’t train hard enough without screwing my foot again and I really don’t want months off running again.

I can defer the race til next year and I’m starting to think its the only sensible option. Which does indeed make me feel a bit of a fool for getting all excited about it and then postponing it almost immediately.  It’s not in my nature to give up and this feels a bit like giving up.

I’ve read back through my blog and this stood out – I wrote it just as the injury was healing “ I’ve spent some time considering things while off injured and have come to realise I can’t hammer my body at this age (which does makes me sound old) when it’s not really used to it. If I want to run at all I need to run smarter, lower impact and run slower.

Guess I may need to be smarter ….

Anyway yesterday was a lovely run in the sun! Apologies for the poor quality but i forgot my camera.

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Rocks! This is as far as I got as the tide was coming in and my new found sensible nature decided I didn’t want to get trapped
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Heading back – Still enough sand to run on!
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But wait – I’m hot and need cooling down – Run in the waves!
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Testing the drainage qualities of Altras – They drain really well but do let a bit of sand in too
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Just a beautiful view 

Long beach & cliff run plus news!

How do you keep an idiot in suspense goes the old joke. I’ll tell you later.

Anyway today it was time to see exactly how much fitness I’d lost through injury, there was a reason for this test but first the run. As I knew I was likely to be going at least 10 miles I knew I’d need water and fuel so I cracked out the salomon squishy bottles and made myself some new fuel – I hereby announce to the running world the invention of the Honey Bomb!

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Working on the principle that you don’t eat with your eyes I present the first batch of Honey Bombs. I swear they taste so much better than they look … honest

Ingredients – all chucked in a bowl with no measuring.

Raisins, dates, flax and chia seeds and a dollop of honey all mixed together and placed carefully in scientific manner on a baking tray and then wanged in the freezer.

Result? I have discovered purest energy! Well I ate three of them on my run and they certainly kept my energy levels topped up. The only drawback being their incredible stickiosity. I wrapped them in silver foil so when unwrapping them I must have looked like the worlds healthiest junkie.

I was also glad to have taken a litre of water too as it started to get hot towards the end although I did actually hydrate myself all the way through which I’m disproportionately proud of. All this I packed away in my Inov8 race pack 4 which is just so comfortable I don’t even notice it’s there. The salomon soft flasks work great as once you’ve had a gurgle out of them they fold up and can be carried in a pocket until empty.

Anyway I managed just over 12 miles which didn’t feel like a struggle until the hill into Wick to my folks (another shout out to the folks) near the end which just felt like it was going on forever, plus it was half road and as we all know I hate roads. My body felt fine above the waist, the legs simply haven’t got the miles back in them yet but I’m sure that will come.

The beach was as usual beautiful even though I was going into a headwind on the way out and I managed to remember to breathe through my nose pretty much for the whole thing. This is becoming second nature which I’m especially pleased with as I know I’m no longer blowing myslf to bits early on.

Enough text they cry! Where are the photos?

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Outward bound – I tried to capture the headwind but failed :p
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Cliff stack – I’m waiting for this one to come down (as long as I’m not under it at the time) Also spot my superb accidental capture of a seagull
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Green! I knew I’d get some green in for CeeJayKay. This is actually a very rare phenonemon called cliff snot
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View from the cliffs again plus some green
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WARNING! Rockpool ahead!
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View running back along the cliffs (more green plus fluffy clouds for SRG)
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Foresty bit (included for its greeniosity)
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Field of unripened corn – Note colour!

Oh yeah so the news ….

I’ve signed up for a race in August. In Cornwall! It’s a trail run along the Cornish coastal path. A friend of mine and I are going to camp down there for the weekend as there is a bar and DJ and stuff to entertain him while I run on the saturday.

Thing is … the 20 miler I was originally going to do was full so I kind of ….. signed up for the 32 mile option. I have 6 weeks to prepare. I may well die (note to parents this is a lighthearted throwaway line I won’t really die)

Ultra or bust! Probably bust but I’m going to give it my best.

Running is never beige

I have a friend who refers to days when nothing happen much as beige. I was about to describe todays run as beige when I thought woah there no run is ever beige. Something is always different, something is usually learned. I think beacuse I only did a quick trip to the beach which I’ve done dozens of times it felt nothing out of the ordinary. The tide was in so no beach adventure.

So what gave this run colour?

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No matter how grey the sky and sea its still beautiful
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Driftwood (shoe for scale) – Which I ran back with (bloody heavy too) Yet another piece I have no idea what to do with.
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Random graffiti – Now normally I would abhor this but it will be completely gone by the end of the next hight tide. As for the message – Well Im presuming its by someone called bean. Mast is used as a name around here instead of mate “Alright mast we going to the pub?” and for some reason he or she didnt just write 2016.

So kids remember – Look outside the beige and you’ll always be pleasantly surprised.

A journey into nosebreathing

It had recently come to my attention through the efforts of my personal training advisors  (you know who you are) that by breathing through the nose will prevent going over the heartrate threshold (or something like that, at least it acts a a bit of a regulator) so I set off for the beach last night to try it out.

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Gratuitous beach shot

First impressions – felt a bit odd, I’m clearly an inveterate mouthbreather when I run, usually in some sort of gasping fish out of water style. After I while I got more used to it, I think I should have been counting steps and breaths or something but I’d forgotten what I was meant to count and how much I should be counting to anyway so I just made it up.

It does actually seem to work, if I was finding it hard to breathe through the nose and felt like I needed a gulp from my mouth then I knew I was pushing too hard. Mainly the uphill bits it seemed as I could happily cruise at around 10 min per mile pace on sand while nosebreathing.  In fact the hardest part was remembering to do it once I got into the zone and started enjoying the scenery and terrain.

I actually covered seven and a half miles and it didn’t feel like I was putting out too much effort. Maybe this slow/chi/noserunning technique has plenty going for it. It was kind of a definite comeback run for me. Every day as I travel to work I pass at a distance the hill of Witches Point at Southerndown and I can just make out the wall on the side of it. Throughout my injury it has teased me with its presence and every time I’ve gone past I’ve sworn my revenge on it.

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Who’s in charge now then wall?

Yesterday that time came and when I reached the wall I took a photo of my vanquished foe, gave it the two fingered salute and pranced around it just to demonstrate my return and put this completely inanimate object back in its place – I’m king of the hill again!

Instead of the beach on the way back I ran the cliff route which means lots of hills to test out the nosebreathing. I have to admit to switching to my mouth a few times before remembering why I’m doing this in the first place.  Gob shut I continued slower.

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View from the clifftop

Once again for those that reached the end of the post I give you the brave … I don’t care that you are photographing me …. lamb

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I swear if that little face doesn’t make you vegetarian then I don’t know what would

Getting back there … slowly

First run with only days rest in between yesterday but the sun was shining with a lovely breeze and the tide was out. I was a little concerned but it all worked out fine (was that a spoiler?)

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You can see why I wanted to get out – Low low low tide means big big big playground

I was determined to keep it slow and keep the heartrate below 140(ish) which isn’t as hard as it sounds if you’re not wearing a heart monitor as you can cheat a little – I think I might actually have to invest in a watch soon with one though. Any recommendations?

The hardest part at the moment is remembering that I’m keeping it slow. It’s easy on the sand and paths as I don’t have much else to think about but as soon as I hit technical sections I seem to revert back to how I used to run them – hard and taking too many risks – To be fair sometimes it’s actually necessary to take some of these at a higher pace. Doesn’t make sense? I’ll try to explain (which probably won’t make sense)

The rocks in the photo above aren’t a great example as they are more like a pavement anyway but if you imagine a long stretch like this but with fewer rocks and more gaps – ok got that?  Then at a slower pace you are limited to where you can land. You need rocks within a smaller area and when you come to a gap it halts you as you cant leap them so easily. At a quicker pace your potential landing area is larger and you can cross bigger gaps making for a smoother and less disjointed run.  Did I manage to explain?  Anyway I think I can cover rocks while keeping the heartrate reasonably low and can let it fall way back on sand.

SRG has been an invaluable source of information on slow running (It’s so much easier when someone does all the reading for you then condenses it so if you’re interested in it and for faaaar more insight from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about check her blog out)  and in a recent post talked about flow. I kind of understand what she means.  Slowing the pace down (and by slow I find thats 10.30-11 min per mile on the sand and 11-13 on technical sections (lets not talk about climbs, I need to learn to walk more)) I can feel that the running is not straining me at all, it’s easy to breathe and everything above the hips feels like it could go all day. Thats not the case for my legs at the moment which are the bit of me protesting. I think after basically 3 months out it’s going to take a while to get the conditioning back to where it was. Which is fine by me, I’m learning to take it all much more slowly.

Arghhhh wall of text – sorry guys

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More rocks!

I have finally found a flaw in the Altras – When it comes to sections with rock “steps” as in the photo above, sometimes you can’t leap the whole step and so I tend to look for a ledge half way up the step and hit that to propel myself up. Some of these ledges will be quite narrow and the width of the Altras caused me a problem yesterday. I landed on a ledge with the outer half of my foot (And i wondered how I got a foot injury) and pushed off but as the Altras are so wide there wasn’t enough of my foot on the ledge to push properly leading to me slipping down some lovely barnacles and taking the skin off my leg. Something else to remember!

Arrghhhh too much text again

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The changing seasons – In winter this is a waterfall. In summer the algae grow and it becomes quite a beautiful feature.

All in all I managed six and a half miles at around 13 minute pace. The foot felt good (though ached last night) and it felt great to be back out running the whole stetch of the beach down to witches point. I knew the conditions were perfect for a photo op of the beach so I did the climb up Witches (lets not talk about heartrate at this bit, I may have failed) as I knew just where I could get a good photo.

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Was definitely worth the climb. The far headland is my way back home.

So for anyone who has waded through this you get a bonus jellyfish!

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Altra Lone Peak 2- A coastal review

As you know I spend the vast majority of my runs on the coast or getting to and from the coast through fields and paths. As I felt my foot has improved enough and because it was low tide I felt like giving the Altras a proper test over all my favourite terrains. It turned out to be a five mile run which is the longest I’ve done since my injury so I’m really happy with that (excluding the 11 mile fell race I accidentally did)

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The Altra Lone Peak 2 – Before I got them muddy – So yellow!
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The paths are your usual dirt with various rocks, roots, mud and small streams. The Altras handle this kind of thing nicely feeling stable and the cushioning is great but you can still feel the trails nuances underfoot.
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Rocks – Its really important for me to have grip and lateral stability on the rocks as my feet are landing at different angles and gradients. I don’t want to be losing grip as often my foot lands at forty five degrees. The Altras actually surprised me with the grip, I use Adidas Kanadias if I’m planning on a lot of rock running because of the good feel on rock but I found the Altras held on just as well. I didn’t find them quite as stable laterally though, sometimes feeling that my foot was about to turn sideways. This might be something I need to adjust to due to the wider toebox and zero degree drop.
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These kind of rocks are an absolute bastard to run over as you have so few landing spots or margin for error. The Atras coped well and the extra cushioning lessened the impact thankfully.
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Sand – Awesome! Simply felt so comfortable and the cushioning felt great. Then again everything feels great on sand!
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Water – If you like dry feet then the Altras aren’t for you as they let in water easily but more importantly let it out just as easily. In this respect they tick the box for me as I don’t mind wet feet at all and would rather it drain than squish. Just as importantly they regain their yellowness (Is that even a word?) when you splash through water (Little things please little minds)

Overall I’ve been incredibly impressed by the Altra. It was a risk spending so much on a shoe I hadn’t even tried (sadly it’s hard to find stockists in the UK – Even the internet shops have limited range too) but having heard what the makes had to say and through some research I’m glad I convinced myself to take the punt. The show feels extremely comfortable and grips superbly. I think I haven’t done enough miles to really get used to them but I can safely say I’m going to enjoy learning to.

I can’t wait to do some longer runs to really test their comfort and durability. I’ll be sure to let you know.

And if you stuck it out and read this far then you get a bonus cuttlefish!

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