Running the same old route can be useful in terms of motivation and progress as you run past points that you struggled with in the past, but it can also become a little bit tedious after a while. That thought, along with the fact that the Brooks Brighton 10K was taking place on the seafront this morning, prompted me to try something a little bit different.
My goal for today was to do a 13K Run-Walk-Run, using a 3:1 Run:Walk ratio, but instead of running along the promenade and out towards Shoreham Power Station, I decided to mix things up a little bit and get some much needed trail and hill running in.
Knowing that this was going to be a tough run, what with the hills and the muddy trail that I planned on taking, I decided to start off with three laps of Hove Rec. The nice thing about this part of the route is that each lap is about 1 kilometre and has some nice gentle inclines, which would be a great warm up for the rest of the run. I kept the pace nice and slow, enjoying the cool breeze and drizzle, before heading down to Hove Park.
The park was pretty quiet as I jogged along the eastern side of the parkrun loop, sticking to my ratio as I took in the steep incline before descending and heading into the wooded area and the first major challenge of today’s run.
The first part of the trail wasn’t too muddy, but before long I found that the incline was a bit more than I could handle. Still, determined not to give up, I altered my ratio to 30 seconds walking, followed by 30 seconds running. This worked for a while, but proved to be pretty hard going, especially as the trail started to become a bit muddier.
The hardest part, however, was yet to come. Once I emerged from the trees, I was faced with a lovely grassy slope which, although not particularly muddy or slippery under my trail shoes, proved to be difficult to run on. The problem was that as well as running up the slope, I was also running across it, with one foot always slightly more ‘uphill’ than the other. I knew right away that any attempt to run in this way wasn’t going to do my dodgy ankle any good, so I did the sensible thing and walked until I got to the top.
After that though, the rest of the run was great. I crossed the road and ran on some nice open grassy trails, made friends with some dogs and got back into my stride. I stuck to the 3:1 ratio as much as possible, stopping only for mud, dogs and gates, before crossing back over the road and returning to reap my rewards on the run down the hill.
Funnily enough, the run back down was a breeze and didn’t feel half as muddy as on the way up. I still took it fairly slowly though as the rain on my glasses meant that I couldn’t see as well as I would have liked, but I emerged unscathed and feeling very happy having completed 9.5 kilometres of the 13 that I’d planned.
Of course, I wasn’t going to give up there, so I headed back to the park to complete a lap and two thirds before heading for the pavements and a nice jog along the roadside to bring my distance up to 13K.
In the end, it was a very slow run, what with all the extra walk breaks and having to stop to cross some roads, but it was good to do something different for a change. And, with 13K in the bag, I’m feeling pretty good about getting myself ready for my first half-marathon and marathon next year.
How’s your training going? What do you do to mix things up a bit? Have you tried something new to help pull yourself out of a slump? Please share your thoughts in the comments.