I have an idea…..

I never actually think to myself “I have an idea” instead they just pop into my head and I do them. Today was a bit like that. I felt like some exercise after a day spent indoors at work and so headed out on my new steed for a quick jaunt to Marcross and then back along the cliffs ala saturday.

The wind was blowing pretty hard up top and it was quite hard going combined with the subtle hill along the clifftops. When I reached Monknash I took the secenic route down …

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For scenic route read suicidal route

Arriving at the bottom the adrenaline was flowing a little and with time on my hands and more energy to burn I figured that as the tide was out I could always take my bike on the beach couldn’t I?  I mean it’s an off road bike – a beach is offroad right?

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Not as easy to ride as they look – especially into the wind

The rocks were a pain and the steeper parts I had to carry the bike but eventually ….

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We made it to the sand!

And how much fun is riding a bike on soft wet sand?  Not a lot into the wind but on thew way back it was epic fun! Zig zagging and zag zigging all over the place, everyone should give it a go.

So although the ankle isn’t fixed and although I’d rather be running life is what you make it. I’m making it a bit o’fun!

Oh and it was also despite the wind a beautiful afternoon.

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Changing Up, Changing Down, Not falling off

Saturday mornings – How I miss running around in the sunshine with you. How I miss the views, the fresh air, the freedom, the sun, the sand, the rocks, the pain and exhaustion.

But no wallowing in ankle pity for me – I have a new toy to play with. Cheering myself up I ordered one of these through a work scheme.

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New toys make Gareth happy

I could have gone for a road bike or hybrid thingy but went for the full off road type as I figured if thats what I like running then thats what I will like cycling.

Off I went on a test run …. ride

Found myself at Marcross admiring the view…

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Marcross beach and oooh look a hill!
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And a new friend!
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And I thought …. hill sprints!  Half a dozen up here nearly killed me

So after my hill exercise I was going to turn and ride home on the road and the thought strck me … I have an offroad bike with like suspension and everything, why not ride the cliff path to Monknash and home that way. There are a few stiles to cross but how hard can it be to lift the bike over.

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No match for my powerlifting skills!
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Riding towards blue skies!
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The ride along the cliffs was beautiful and easy enough to do – I discovered why the gear ratios are so low on these bikes once I was off road
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At the Monknash end there was a tricky descent which I managed with superb braking control and a lot of luck.
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Looking back at the cliffs I rode

The route is all rocky and uphill from the beach to the road. I was about to ride the path I have run a hundred times but realised I could well do damage to the path on a bike, it might have only been slight if any at all but being a responsible adult (haha) and wanting to protect the environment I love and have the privilege to enjoy I walked the bike back up the path until I got to the road.

All in all a good mornings work-out. I came, I saw, I conquered and protected my ankle!

 

Needs Must – The Devils Driving!

Well not driving – riding!

After a visit to the doctors yesterday who reckons its a ligament strain not a fracture I decided bugger complete rest it’s impact that hurts so let’s try non impact – cycling! (For non impact I mean on the hfoot, impact may well occur into the front of a bus or over a hedge). So off I went this morning for a rummage and to dig out the old mountain bike I own.

It’s not the prettiest, in fact it’s built like some sort of bike-tank hybrid judging by the weight of it, if I do crash into any buses they may well be the ones to come off worse. I spent an hour or so fixing up the minor faults, ignoring others and smashing a few bits off it with a hammer (I reasoned it was making it lighter at least).  The gears dont work very well, if at all if I’m honest, it likes to stay between gear 7 and 12 and pretty much likes 10 best, any other and it clicks madly in protest and then slips back to 10 anyway. The brakes rub a bit as the wheels are slightly buckled – This is of course great resistance training! Every cloud has a silver lining and all that jazz.

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Here she is in all her half working glory! I’d like to get rid of the lock but don’t have the key or a hacksaw

The sun was shining, I put my new ankle supporty thing on and off I went. I found that the best way of dealing with unhappy gears is to give in, stay in 10th and when hills approach hammer up them in the same gear and pray my legs don’t buckle before the hill ends. I’m alive to write this post so my technique clearly works (I will studiously be avoiding any long hills)

First stop Marcross. It was weird cycling places where I run to normally. Almost felt like cheating.

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Marcross beach on a spring day – Opposite is the hill I train on – I’ll be back you bastard!

On my way to Llantwit I passed lots of other cyclists, they usually gave a friendly nod or greeting but I could see what they were thinking – What is that idiot riding and why doesn’t that idiot have a helmet on? Well guys you answered your own question – Idiot but an idiot with the wind blowing through his locks! Yes I may die but it will be stylish (For stylish read painful and splattered over the front of a bus)

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Llantwit beach at high tide
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LLantwit beach looking toward Atlantic College
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View of the Bristol Channel on the way home
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Awwwwwww fluffy lamb thinking “wear a helmet you dick”

Things I noticed –

Cycling uses some different muscles to running.
My foot and ankle felt fine so it seems cycling can be a substitute while I recover.
As nice as it was to exercise cycling is no substitute for running trails.
Pheasants crack me up when they run.

 

Oooh it’s all gone a bit technical

Or as technical as it will ever get with me! I was listening to a podcast earlier  and the guest was Matt Fitzgerald (who I’d never heard of before admittedly) and the subject was about motivation and percieved effort in running. How can athletes push themselves further than they thought they could. It centres (it seems to me) around the old mind over matter theory, that it’s our minds ability to endure that snaps first not the body. I really enjoyed the podcast even though I guess its principally based on elite athletes or those looking for race wins or great times.  I couldnt do it justice explaining it as I think i’ll have to give it another listen just to fully comprehend it. Its at this site anyway and called “How bad do you want it?”

This led to me thinking (not always a good thing) about what is motivating me with running right now?  I’ve done a half marathon, I’ve run up to 15 miles off road so I guess its the full trail marathon next?  I swear I never got into this “to do a marathon” it’s not a bucket list thing (I have no buckets or lists) but it seems the next natural progression. I probably haven’t really considered it before as it seemed completely impossible six months ago. But there we go, as long as I go at it all at my own pace so it doesn’t consume me or become a chore I’m happy to give it a go …. Is that enough motivation? I think it is for me, perhaps not for others. To try to do something just to see if you can seems a legitimate way to live to me.

So two days off and champing at the bit today after work. Had a few things I wanted to try, I knew the tide was in so it would have to be the cliffs – I say have to be, it’s hardly a chore to run anywhere around here.

I wanted to slightly modify my form again towards the chi running technique of leaning forward and getting away from my heel striking and had a good practice at it. It’s really hard though to change ingrained technique though because as soon as I stop concentrating my body slips back to its natural form.  However I do think it’s worth persevering with because I swear the knee ache dimmed. A further complication is that front foot striking does lead to me increasing my pace which I’m sure many would argue is no bad thing but I do know that endurance is more important to me than speed and increased pace = decreased distance at my current level of fitness.  Conclusion … I shall sleep on all this!

I did manage four and a half miles without exploding my ventricles or falling flat on my face and was surprised to see a near 10 minute pace – However this does include a mile or so of road running which is a bit like cheating in my rather weird little brain.

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Moody clouds on the cliffs
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Looking back to the cliff top from the road
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Arrghhhgh the birds!

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From one slipway to another

Saturday runs – I just love them. I was lying in bed last night and was actually excited about getting up and getting out there. Like a kid at xmas! The sun was shining and it was a beautiful morning to head out so I packed my rucksack and off I trotted.  I decided to switch it up a little and at the beach headed left towards Marcross along the cliffs.

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Today is a lovely day to run (coyright Eels)

It was a pure joy to be outside, I removed the headphones and just enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors. My legs felt good and I felt good. At Marcross I stuck to the cliff path and went past the lighthouse (this is not the lighthouse – well it’s like a mini lighthouse – I duon’t actually know what it is)

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Mini lighthouse thingy

Then I went past the foghorns

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If these go off when you’re nearby it A) makes you leap out of your skin and B) deafens you for the next five minutes. I could hear these from my house when i was growing up. The sound of them in the far distance while I lay in bed was always comforting to me as a kid.

Then the lighthouse proper!

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It doesn’t actually lean, that’s my awesome camera work shining through yet again

And onwads along the cliff path, down through the woods at Atlantic College until I reached slipway number one.

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Slipway at Atlantic College used for launching lifeboats (not sure they still do though)

I turned here and retraced my steps back towards Monknash but this time on the beach – I say beach but it’s rocks from here to back past Marcross. I noticed a few runners approaching from the other way and heading for the cliff path. Despite being on the rocks I managed to keep pace with them to Marcross – I’m not that competitive but sometimes it’s good to take your mind off the miles with a little game eh?

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I call this the “pavement” – Its a smoothish stretch of rock you can pick pace up on – though you still have to have eyes down watching for the cracks
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The lighthouse from the beach. You know what? Perhaps it does lean, surely even I can’t take two photos on the wonk of the same thing can I? (Answers on a postcard but I think the answer is yes I can)
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Now this must have been a job and a half! Below the lighthouse the cliff has been shored up with stonework – I can only imagine how hard it is to do this kind of work between the tides with nary a cement mixer in sight plus the danger of falling rocks ever present – I tip my (hard) hat to whoever managed this!

I kept going along the beach and back towards Monknash, I could have turned for home up the Cwm but decided to keep going as I felt fine.  Onwards with the sun occasionally popping out to warm me which was appreciated due to a biting headwind. By the time I reached Witches Point at Southerndown the rock hopping had taken some of the juice from my legs. Luckily I had remembered to hydrate and fuel at the right times (despite my Garmin going mental and stopping without me noticing) and I climbed up and onto the cliffs above Dunraven bay.

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From the cliff edge I could see slipway number two at Southerndown beach – Now you get the post title – See I do plan these things!

I turned here and headed back but this time along the cliffs until I reached Traeth Mawr. Normally i would keep going along the cliffs and then turn for home up the usual trail but today I headed inland across the fields and then a lane as I wanted to pop in to see my parents on the way home. They live in Wick and in fact live at the highest point in the Vale of Glamorgan (Not that its exactly a mountainous county to be fair) so the run there was all uphill from the coast which really made the legs ache. I was twinging in my ass (I think the technical term is glutes) but I made it back and when I pieced together my Garmin runs I had covered around twelve and a half miles which over all that terrain I’m very happy with!

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Bonus cloud photo for Slowrunnergirl!
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Part one of run
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Part two – the elevation gain at the end was the issue with my ass!

Pushing on a little further every day

After a good win for Wales over France last night (good not great, we seem to have difficulty crossing the line) I actually left the pub early, not that I wasn’t enjoying myself but I knew I wanted to run today. How times have changed!

I felt good today and planned to do a long run so took my pack (did I mention I love my Inov8 pack) with me. Lucky I did as I ended up doing 15 and a half miles!  Basically it was the half marathon I did before with a trip along the beach to Marcross tagged onto the end. I must admit I felt pretty damn good for all of it up to about mile 12.  At this point i came off the lovely smooth flat sandy stretch back onto rocks and found my legs were stiff and it was difficult to pick them up higher for the rocks.  This did abate after a while, I’m guessing that the low stride of the sand locked them a little.  Will have to remember this – pick those knees up on sand!

Speaking of knees I had very little trouble with them today.  I deliberately set a slower pace as I knew i’d be out longer (not that it was much slower according to the watch by the end) and concentrated on my form. I’ve been looking at chi running, as much because I try to keep an open mind and i’m currently devouring anything running related.  So I was trying to stop myself from leaning back which I tend to do on flat ground. This may have helped the knee or it might have been the slower place or the moon may be in Aquarius or something, all I know is it doesnt hurt.

I was feeling the distance in my legs by the end but I guess no pain no gain and all that malarkey. A good rest day tomorrow should help matters.  I also found a fuelling formula today that worked for me. Start fuelling 45 minutes in and every half hour after that. It seems to be about the right interval to keep me going steadily.

So all in all i’m really happy with today. The distance, the pace, my mood and it really feels like i’m progressing – albeit slowly – but at my own pace and in my own way. Enough burbling, to the photos!

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View from Witches Point – Yes I know i’ve posted similar photos before – I just love this view!
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Southerndown Beach
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Like a millpond as they say!
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Other side of the Ogmore river – Merthyr Mawr dunes – Now theres a thought ….. (Oh and pony trekking)
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I used to sit here for hours just throwing stones for Soak to fetch – She loved that game and would never tire of it.  I stopped here for a moment thinking about her today.
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And as I stopped and thought the sun poked through the smallest gap in the clouds and shone on me – I know i’m a sentimental bugger but I just get the feeling she’s letting me know she’s ok
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Decided to take the narrow route above the cliffs
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Kind of wish I hadn’t as this was the drop if I missed a step
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Twas a police helicopter hovering over the area today – Plus a few rescue boats, not sure if it was an exercise or they were actually looking for someone.
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Waterfalls on the return path home
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Not sure I can eat these….
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Aid station manned by horse – Nope shouldnt have eaten the mushrooms

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Up & Down or Rather Down & Up

Gorgeous day today that had me thinking that perhaps … just perhaps spring is here …. and therefore watch it rain tomorrow.  I pondered whether I should be taking a rest day as I had a niggle in my left ankle to go with the usual dull and faint throb in my right knee. But the weather was just so fantastic I coudn’t do it, I couldn’t resist the run and with views like this can you blame me?

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Rest day – I’ll wait for a rainy day

The tide was rapidly coming in so I hot footed it to the sand and managed to competed Traeth Mawr and back before i got cut off (sounds dramatic, I was easily back in time)

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Sun starting to set at Traeth Mawr

So ok I had run when i probably should have rested so time to go home …. but wait it’s still lovely and warm and the sun hasn’t set ….. and I’ll just go up onto the cliffs …. and run to Marcross and back adding another 3 miles or so.  I’ll rest when it rains I swear!

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Marcross lighthouse at sunset

So a really enjoyable six and a half midweek miler. I’m a bit achey in the knee right now so maybe a rest day tomorrow ….

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Sunset over the Nash sandbank

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