Sunday, 25 July 2010

Up hill, down dale!

OK, I’ve been laid up again with a muscle strain, so getting back into running is coming in fits and starts. When I was younger I would probably have just run through such an injury, but it’s surprising (or maybe not!) how much it focuses your mind on recovering fully when your femur once snapped at mile 23 of a marathon. I think the problem stemmed from the fact that I have a big nail going through my leg from front to back, about three inches above my knee – this has created a lot of internal scar tissue and altered the physiology of the leg somewhat.

Anyway, excuses over! I have been feeling a little jaded with running through the park – beautiful though it is – and fancied tackling something a little different today. A couple of days ago I was walking down one of the steep local hills, of which there are many around where I live, and I saw a girl running up on the other side. I was impressed. I don’t know what the actual gradient is, but it is steep, and it reminded me of my time in the Peak District when I too could run up such a precipitous climb! So, in an attempt to recapture my youth (that’s early-30s!) I decided I would go on a tour of the hills in the neighbourhood.

Starting from home, the first half mile was entirely, and heart-thumpingly, uphill. I had no preconceived notion of how I might cope, just concentrated on managing my breathing and running at the edge of my aerobic capacity. I knew it would be slow, but hey – this was my first such run in a while, and a course I had not previously tackled. I didn’t want to be a heaving, panting wreck after the first five minutes! Surprisingly, I managed to reach the first turn without too much distress, and suddenly I was descending quickly down a road whose steepness on the opposite direction impacted a completely different set of muscles and joints, or so it seemed! A pretty road with trees and large houses, nicely shaded and peaceful.

Eventually emerging at the bottom I took a short turn right, then right again to run upwards again, not quite achieving the ascent of the first climb, but not far off. A left turn down as I broached the brow of the hill, then another left and back down a road running parallel to the one I had just wheezed my way up. I was impressed I was still moving at this point, but decided to finish off the run with a little roundabout run to extend the route a little further and finally reaching home and blessed sanctuary for my bursting lungs and heavy legs.

Slow, and not that far, but not bad for a first attempt, so I’ll definitely be adding (and probably extending) it to my repertoire of routes, with every intention of stepping up the pace in future and smashing my rather embarrassing current personal best! After a shower and a short rest I then repeated the entire route, this time with my camera to record for posterity!

Distance: 2.09 miles (followed by a walk of the same distance!)
Time: 23’ 07”
Weather: warm and cloudy.
BG before: 10.4
BG after: 9.8
Ascent: 429ft
Descent: 386ft

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