This weekend I had a tough run. But instead of calling it a tough run, i’m calling it a milestone run. Let me set the scene: I was invited along on a group trail run through the North Downs, by some friends at running club, one of whom was training for an ultra on that trail.
Despite assurances that the pace would be slow and conversational, I may have misjudged the whole event. Here’s a few reasons why:
- The group I went with consisted of two guys who were a week out from their ultras; a buddy who’d placed first female in her first ever (69 mile) ultra, and another who’d placed first female at Hackney Half in the sweltering heat. Essentially- four of the toughest and strongest runners my club has to offer.
- A “conversational” 10-minute mile pace isn’t really an easy pace- it’s merely reflective of the fact that you have to hike the uphills, and then try to regain speed on the downhills and flats.
- The elevation on this run was insane. See the course profile below…
- I had either a strained hamstring, or high hamstring tendonitis. I self-diagnosed on the train on the way there after waking up in pain that morning- let’s just say, a 17 mile run probably wasn’t the best idea. Honestly, I think if I tell my physiotherapist what I did (which I’ll eventually have to), he might hang his head in disbelief. Oops.
So yeah. In hindsight this was always going to be a tough one. And frankly, i realised this before we’d even finished the first mile. And so I resolved to cling on for dear life, and hope it was over as quickly and as pain-freely as possible. And in a way, that worked. So here are some highlights:
- The scenery was amazing- the woods would open up suddenly into gorgeous panoramas over the Kent countryside.
- We stopped halfway through at a visitor centre, absolutely soaked through, to have a cup of tea and (in some cases) a sarnie. Sweet sweet carbs.
- There were plenty of photo ops, all of which we took full advantage of.
- The second half was much better than the first- mainly psychologically, but also because I simply changed my running style to a slightly more efficient (and less painful) mid-foot strike. I’m paying the price for that now, with my quads burning- but that’s simply because 17 miles in any variation on your usual gait is going to cause you some problems!
- Doing a long run on a Saturday morning really suits me- although I don’t do it often- because you get so much more from the rest of the weekend!
Three days later, and my embarrassment and disappointment with the run has mostly dissipated- I’m happy to have survived and, frankly, I didn’t do all that badly. I decided to turn this negative into a positive, and learn all I can from it. Learnings to come!
What’s the toughest run you’ve done recently? Do you run trail often?
Lots of love,