Hey legs guess what? Its hurty time again

Saturday morning and the sun is shining so time to uncreak the legs and go and look for some hills. Ok I knew where they were but the spirot of exploration sounds so much more exciting.

The beach was of course beautiful (but had no hills)

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Just enough room to squeeze through
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At the top of the ladders is the Cwm – Just what I was looking for
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Up here and down to over there
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And then back over there again …. repeat

Rinse, repeat, flail about helplessly when the legs go wobbly and then speed off home quads hurting again – Which I think is leftovers from last weekends jaunt.

So I have short sharp hills – now I need long, long long hills to build up the quads.

Bonus photos!

Taken at the Preseli Beast by Robert at www.beerrunner.co.uk

Hop over and take a read!

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Rob caught me in the slate quarries around Rosebush. Guess which I am?
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Short sharp climbs
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Loved the different terrain here

Cheers for sending them Rob, thanks for not capturing my anguished expression!

 

A return to waterworld

After even more torrential rain yesterday and overnight it was time to don the flippers and get back out there to explore the new maritime environment and I for one welcome our new aquatic overlords.

Considering the road leading to the fields looked like this I was pretty sure I was gonna get soooo wet

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To the left is the stream ….
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Yep waterlogged fields ahoy

Thing is that once your feet and legs are wet and the initial shock is done and dusted you’re fine. In fact the water acts as an insulator once it’s up to body temperature. This is my theory and I’m sticking to it. So my advice to any budding trail runners is that you can’t avoid getting wet so don’t tiptoe around it just bang straight on in there at speed and embrace it!

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The waterfalls by the ruined mill were looking impressive today
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As were the ones running onto the beach itself

I was gonna make this a short run but was enjoying myself so much I went off to do some more water hunting

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But first I had to get past aggro cow and his “You looking at me?” expression
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And “Orangucow” Part Orangutan part cow
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A few miles on and the viws from the clifftops are great, especially when the sun breaks through. Thats one of the beaches I pebbleran yesterday
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Thar she blows!  This stream was more of a trickle yesterday – Now to slide down to it
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Clear as mud and quite strong but luckily jumpable
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Stream 2 is the source of the waterfall from yesterdays post
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And heres the top of it
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The sun was still giving me some beautiful views
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On a whim I detoured as it was still high tide and came across the old Watch House thingy in Derval Woods

The last 3 or 4 miles home were an uphill slog through completely waterlogged fields. I’m sure it’s building up strength in my legs but its a bloody killer at the time.

Even the cabbage field was a veritable stream, ankle deep freezing cabbage water anyone?

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They even smell cabbagey despite being tiny

I leave you with another photo of the cliffs in sunlight. Always remember that any run can be a bit of an adventure. Just let your mind go wild and the body will follow. Invent and imagine and nothings a chore.

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(Barely) Human Guinea Pig

First day back in work and I promised myself a run. If I promised myself anything in the past it would have been a pint or a takeaway – no more lol

Anyway off I went and it was beautiful at the beach but sadly the tide was on its way in so I sped around the rocks for a while and took some photos.

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Tide = In
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Sea = Beautiful

I was thinking this week about sunday and the start of the half marathon which – even though I hung around at the back still made me start off faster than I usually would alone and why when I pride myself in doing things my way (for better or worse I admit) I would change my pace just because others were doing different.

Although it was only a few minutes a mile faster than i would normally have run I definitely felt it throughout the morning. So today as I mentioned the tide was in so I decided to do hill sprints for a while … until I could no longer do hill sprints and basically deliberately set out to blow myself up.  I think I read or heard it somewhere about once you’ve gone too far into the red there’s no recovery. Not even if you rest for a long while it just doesn’t come back that easy. So today I donned my best lab coat and took one for science.

I sprinted this hill repeatedly.

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Ouch

Until I could run no more. Jelly legs – check.  Heaving chest and desire to heave in general – check.  Then I took a rest until everything felt back under control and normal. And ran home. And wow was I buggered. Even after the rest I was instantly back in trouble without doing anything more than a gentle jog.

I know you will all say – Ummm we knew this anyway so what did you do that for?

Well I knew it too, I’d heard it enough but now I will REMEMBER it. I’m going to call it Runners Pandoras Box. Burying yourself = opening the box  and once its open youre screwed because you cant shove it all back in.

PS I’m also a trained idiot. DO NOT try this at home

 

Snowdonia day 2

Sadly for you lot day 2 wasn’t as exciting as day 1 – mainly because I’d already run up Snowdon itself – see post here

However I got up bright and early (I was also touched to get an email from Sergei checking I was still alive as I hadn’t posted in a while – We have a great community going here and this nice touch brought that home to me – thanks SRG) and the legs needed a quick run to get moving so I did a bit of local exploring before going back for some food. Then drove up the Llanberis pass looking for likely spots to run.  The best thing about this area is that there are so many trails you can follow – spoilt for choice! I pulled up at a junction of three valleys and decided to just run a path and see where it led.

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At first it led up again! Oh my legs were loving me this morning – They protested for the first few miles – Hadn’t they been beaten eenough yesterday? As with yesterday the views made it all worthwhile.
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Then near the peak a path led back off downwards in another direction – It looked narrow, technical and fun – Of course I took it =)
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There were some fantastic drystone walls – Not sure why they are in this shape – Wall builders on the local mushrooms maybe?
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Crossed a babbling brook
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The valley bottomed out and eventually i reached this beautiful lake – Note the seagulls – Everywhere I go it’s seagulls – These weren’t attack seagulls like the ones at home though
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As we all know in this game what goes down must go back up and I crossed to the other side of the valley for a good few miles of constant ascent – Now my legs were really really loving me. What was great was that I wasn’t breathing hard or really putting out much effort – Just grinding happily along
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I did of course see “wildlife” #spotted the sheep
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Its sunny! Then cloudy …. then sunny!

I would thoroughly recommend coming to Snowdonia to run. There are just so many places you can go.  I hardly saw another soul for the whole of the second day and the views like the ones above were fantastic. There are a lot of walkers on the more popular routes so if you feel more comfortable in numbers around it’s ideal.  If you just want to get out on your own and challenge yourself – it’s ideal – win/win!  I did pack a whistle, foil blanket, phone, food and water too – I wouldn’t recommend running light up here on your own. There were a few rescues made by helicopter while I was up here and this happened on the other side of the mountain I was on

I saw the smoke but wasn’t aware of the situation, I see random smoke all the time in the countryside and assumed there was controlled burning going on. At least they all got out ok =)

I had a great few days, I could have happily spent another day running but I knew I couldn’t really do much more hard milage without risking injury. The foot was hurting and my toe wasn’t happy at being rebroke on Snowdon. My quads were trashed from the descents and my calves extremely tight from the climbs. At least I’ve learned to listen to my body and it was saying enough for now. I’ll be back!

Not lost …. Just misguided (with added beavers)

On Tuesday afternoons I work up in the valleys and I always look at the surrounding hills and wonder what it’s like to run them. This morning I actually remembered to throw some kit and shoes in the trailmobile(tm) so after work it was time to get some elevation!

Elevation, pace, breathing blah blah blah lets get on with the photos

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Starting point – Pontycymmer, home of houses hanging off 45 degree gradients
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Ok not so steep I can handle this
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Jesus H Christ in a chickenbasker did I just run up that?
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Which led to another dirtroad – Which climbed up and up and up and up forever. Still it was sooooo peaceful, not a single soul anywhere to be seen.
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Purty flowers (Any excuse to stop to take a photo while going uphill)
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Reached the top and the views were stunning – sadly my camera and skills do not reflect the mountainous majesty at all
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More hills with annoying tree right in shot
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Believe it or not this is not the same road as before …. By now I had passed lots of turnoffs and every road looked similar and the identical trees were giving nothing away ….
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After even more climbing a clue – However the little yellow arrow is clearly pointing to the treacherous path of death while the nice smooth track leads away upwards ….hmmmm
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Of course I took the treacherous path of certain death and found it led to …. Valley of the Beaver. Well maybe not but I like to imagine our furry woodchipping friends doing all this deforestation.
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In a not very surprising twist of events the Path of Ultimate Treachery led into the Spooky Forest of Doom
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Which had the worlds tallest and straightest trees
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And apparently the worlds tidiest beavers who stack logs in neat piles everywhere
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Emerging from the forest and by now wildly guessing at the way to go by just heading downhill I realised I was actually running on the old spoilheaps created by the coal mining industry years ago
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I also found some very tasty looking mushrooms disguising themselves as Cornish Pasties (note kids DO NOT eat random fungi no matter how well baked they look – you will die or at least go on a trip you are unlikely to forget for many years)
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I “think” the identical roads run through that forest … maybe.
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Aha! Saved – A trail marker …… of utterly no use whatsoever seeing as you could indeed go three directions from here not two.

In fact I just kept heading down down down until I found my bearings. It was close though! I didn’t fancy spending the night in the woods with the roaming OCD beavers

Actually it was only five and a half miles but a fun and challenging run

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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

Foolish, stubbornish, happyish

Woke up, the suns shining, the tides out – and i’m injured…. Sod it, the ankles been improving and recovery has hit a flat spot. I’m on my feet every day and there’s been no pain, more of an ache when I get home.

So off I went on an exploratory run to see where I’m at.  I didn’t run the quarter mile of road to get to the fields and started on grass – There was no pain just slight discomfort although I was running at a very low intensity with a very low stride height to minimise impact.  The fields felt fine and I was enjoying just being back out on the trail.

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Loving the morning sun

I sensibly didnt run the rocky path to the beach – go me for resisting!

And this is what I was looking for – low tide and wet sand – destination soft!

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Traeth Mawr – Let’s get on that sand!

Picked up the stride height and pace on the sand and it felt comfortable, I was experiencing what I believe they call in sporting circles – a niggle. Niggle away I thought, I’m enjoying this!  I got to the far end of the sand but went no further – I didn’t want to push too hard on my test run – Have I really learned patience?

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Worth it for views like this!

On the way back I had a thought – If the pain is in the ankle when the rear of my foot impacts – I could do hill repeats on my toes couldn’t I? Well it makes sense to me.

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So I did hill repeats up this little monkey! Full on hill sprints in fact and I was right being done completely on my toes meant no pain whatsoever If the worst comes to the worst I can at least do these!

After my hill test I ambled back up the path and across the fields. Admittedly I was limping slightly at this point and if not in pain then discomfort.  I may have pushed too far for today but I felt I needed to see where I was at with a few races approaching. I think next sunday is too soon to do an offroad half so sadly I’m letting the Offas Dyke half go but still hope to get down to West Wales in three weeks for the Preseli Beast (though the name is scaring the ankle already)

I’m writing this with my feet in a foot spa thingy I discovered in my spare room which I vaguely remember borrowing from someone years ago and never returned – I may be suffering karmic rebounds!

So far so good but the real test is now how it feels for the rest of the day and tomorrow morning (Which is my birthday! Best present I could have is an improving ankle)

And finally – Spring is here!

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Never forget to stop to breathe and enjoy the world

Sunday Update – No pain at all this morning – ankle feels good, resisting temptation to run today though, sense prevails!