With five months to go until my next Ultra, I figured it was time I started getting some miles beneath my feet.
At the moment I am trying to get back into running again but it’s a slow process, so I figured that the least I could do was go for a nice long walk today, and maybe jog a bit if I felt like it – the key was to spend time outdoors and get the old legs moving again.
My plan for today was to go out for an hour and a half, using a route that included a variety of surfaces as well as some decent inclines. Running along the seafront is fine for most of what I do, but as the South Coast Challenge is going to involve some pretty varied terrain, I wanted to get as much variety in to these early runs and walks as possible.
The area that I live in is fairly urban and, although there are some nice parks, most of the paths aren’t that much different from the road or pavement surface. So, I decided to head for a small trail between Woodland Drive and Woodland Avenue that I had used before. It’s only about a kilometre or so, but it does have a nice incline and the surface of the path has a good mixture of mud, stone, shingle and exposed roots to keep things interesting.
Although my plan was to walk this section, I couldn’t resist breaking into a little jog here and there, just warm up the old leg muscles and get them used to running uphill again – well, the less steep sections anyway.
The trail ends at a main road, which is a bit annoying as it means having to stop before crossing the road, but I think my legs were happy for the rest to be fair.
As I headed across the road to the open field that would take me to the next trail, I noticed that the wind was picking up a bit and it was starting to rain. This was good. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed a bit of rain to cool me down mid run, although I was pleased that it didn’t come to much.
The run across the field was nice. I ran the downhill and some of the flat sections until I came to the gate that would take me into Coney Wood, which I had only ever ventured into once before, but remembered that it had some nice narrow trails and plenty of downhill sections to keep things interesting.
This part of the run was a lot of fun, with much more downhill than I remembered, and plenty of hazards like fallen trees and more exposed roots to keep me on my toes – literally! This was really good practice for downhill running and I tried to remember to land mid foot and avoid braking with my heels too much.
It was a bit disappointing when the trail came to an end and I emerged from the wood on to a residential street, but as I had completed over 4K, I decided to keep running and see what my 5K time would be. As it turned out it wasn’t bad at all, considering the uphills and walking, and I ended up with a time of 42:15 for the first half of my run.
Of course, now I had to turn around and do the whole thing in reverse, which meant a lot of walking to get myself back up the hill. But I did run some of the flatter sections and a bit of the field, before running the whole downhill section of Woodland Ave/Drive. That took me back to the park, so I continued walking and jogging until I had completed my hour and a half, which took me to a bit over 10K.
By the end of it I felt pretty good and was tempted to turn into Hove Rec for an extra couple of kilometres, but in the end I decided just to keep going until I had finished the 11th kilometre and called it a day at that. My final time for 11K was 1:33:11, which was pretty good for what was originally just going to be a walk.
I think that my 1K a day since Thursday might have helped a little bit as well – if not in terms of fitness, then at least in terms of feeling motivated and ready to get this training started.