Running in Squares

Posted on March 30, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

You don’t often read about casual runners in the newspapers but, when you do, they have invariably discovered a body.  This week as I ran I studiously examined hedgerows, ditches, and alleyways looking for anything that would give me an excuse.  I wasn’t just looking for a body, any excuse would have done really.  Any excuse to end the purgatory of runs that just didn’t feel good.

I know, I know, what doesn’t kill you blah, blah, blah etc.  But, this should not be so painful with four weeks to go.  Four.  Fecking.  Weeks.  To. Go.

To be sure, I am shipping more timber than normal after half a year of lung enforced sofa dwelling, but as a veteran of two Ironman and lots of long distance running, swimming and cycling I should be comfortable with suffering.  But I’m not.

I have no idea if I’ve gone soft or if The Click just happened yet.  If I am going to harden up or Click I wish it would happen soon because I have very fresh memories of 26.2 mile pain.  That beast outweighs the Ironman, 5k swims or century rides for pure, unadulterated discomfort both during and after.  As well as toughening up the chafe points, strengthening the knees, bones and muscles and cold weather readiness I could really do, right now, with my brain being on my side.

It’s a bizarre situation – I will run about 10 or 11 miles at a steady pace, full of the joys of spring and then my mind wanders and I hit a mental brick wall.  It’s like my legs and brain are completely disconnected.  You know the old films where the bearded (I am currently bare faced and this in itself may explain the lack of superpowers) salty old seadog captain of the ship bellows down the speaking tube to the engine room?

Captain (Me, obvs): *blows down tube* FULL SPEED AHEAD, ENGINE ROOM

Engine Room (Legs. Again mine, equally obvs):  Aye, aye Skipper!

*awaits surge of power like a doped American sprinter*

Captain:  Errrrr, Engine Room, full welly please!

Engine Room:  *splutters, coughs, bangs, seizes*

When I try to change pace or terrain my legs just turn into a bag of spanners.  As the pedalling expression goes, sometimes I just feel like I am running in squares.

But, I have a theory.  Bear with me.


What goes down, with grace, must come back up with little dignity and a crushed spirit.

I live on a hill.  Not a normal hill, but a gradual, sleekit, insidious snake of a hill.  The kind that you only notice going uphill and you can only prove with a GPS plot.  As I have done longer runs, so it is that I have had longer returns.  And now, on the return I hit the hill more fatigued.  When tired, and shipping some extra timber the smallest incline becomes a mountain.  6 miles of continuous mountain just crushes the soul.  A rapidly fading lightbulb smashed under the jackboot of ascent.

haggiThere are only two solutions to the hill mental block.  And while I normally subscribe to the theory, “the hills are your friends” comments will be glared at with my withering 1000 yard stare.  These hills have not bothered me a jot training for any event until this time; and now only when mileage hit the teens.  It’s a temporary hill motivation problem.

Firstly, and least likely, I could run concentric circles around the contour lines of the hill to avoid the ascent.  However, I fear I would end up with legs like a haggis.  Having freakishly stumpy legs anyway I am not sure the lopsided look would suit me.

The better option is to travel a little for my last two long runs.  For flat Ironman courses I normally use Loch Leven or the Union canal to get used to slogging out long flat miles.  It will also be useful for getting my distance confidence back up after some horrendous uphill walk/run yomps.  One of each probably – scenic, mentally soothing and flat as pancakes.

Perspective is also important.  Reviewing the run data after yesterday’s run, I realised that I climbed more in 9 miles than I had in the whole London Marathon course in 2012.  My 16 mile run on Friday was double the climbing of the London course.  I don’t feel much like a mountain goat but I am certainly spending a lot of time going upwards.  I know I don’t have the distance in my legs for London but skipping hills to allow me to cover more distance is just what I need at the moment.

That sounds like a plan.


Congratulations if you’ve made it to the end.  This was just one of those cathartic posts I needed to get off my chest.  I shall now HTFU and shut up.

Four.  Weeks.  To.  Go.


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2 Responses to “Running in Squares”

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Rather than one of those “YOU CAN DO IT” comments…..
The extra effort after a period of not putting your cardiovascular system through its paces is possibly due to the sheer lack of goodies in your blood. A quote from my doctor after giving myself stress induced asthma for a year when trying too hard during a period of being anaemic. Yup! Asthma! Me!
You might be missing some of those goodies in your blood…… or technical term haemoglobin (I had to look that up!) Now….. where’s my cake……


Good point Hels! I thought I’d come through the hangover but i might still be dragging a bit of superlurgy with me.


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