Trail Tuesday

Good run out tonight – only the first and last few hundred yards on tarmac and 8k on the Lanhydrock trails.

I had a rest day yesterday but the long run on Sunday was almost all on tarmac, and by 15km I was feeling my hip sockets a little more than I wanted to, so it got me thinking more about surfaces and consciously mixing it up a bit.

My quads were talking to me from the off and I’d planned to go R.E.A.L.L.Y S.L.O.W.L.Y as in, barely moving forward at all – not only to keep rested but to stay in a low intensity heart rate zone.

Those who know Lanhydrock will know it is on the side of a hill running down to a lovely flat stretch of riverbank trail. I parked up top and headed out, having checked with the nice lady in the cafe when they locked the gates. Apparently they don’t, but I was well on my way before a nasty thought popped up wondering if she’d been having me on….

Anyway, I got a bit overexcited and set off at a far faster pace than I should’ve, fairly zooming down the hill.

Plan was to go 4k around the 5k trail and turn round and come back the same way I’d come. I didn’t quite end up doing that- branching off to the carriage drive for a mile or so before heading back in.

On trails, the surface is not generally even, and at Lanhydrock there is a mix of surfaces. The riverside is earth, mud in the wet, and paths leading up through the woods mainly earth covered with small ish stones of varying degrees of looseness, depending on the path. You can often find a softer bit with fewer stones along the side. The trails are mostly wooded, so you get the shade, but this can cut out a cooling breeze too. The wooded paths can offer some surprises as the differences between light and shady patches also require vigilance for where you place your feet. I nearly got caught out but thankfully recovered without a face plant!

Trail surfaces seem less hard on the legs though, as well as being slower. I guess the need to balance and manage lateral hip, knee and ankle movement strengthens a wider range of muscles rather than the more up/down forward/back movement of the road runner.

I have (luckily as it turns out), developed a fair bit of mental fortitude since starting this running thing – doubtless due to the effect of training itself – stamina and confidence – and I have also thought up a few mantras that I find help see me through.

One is to approach every uphill or incline saying firmly to myself ‘every uphill has a downhill and this will be a nice rest on the way back down’. It really helps me to tough out the hills – I get such a sense of achievement every time I run a hill I couldn’t manage previously.

That sense of achievement is there even when my running time up the hill is longer than my walk/run time (WTF how does THAT even happen?)

Anyway, I digress.

Overexcited. Yes.

All the way to the bottom and along. Mmmm. So all the way up on the way back then. Yep. That.

Well, I did it, you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear 😊.

The climb is not, it has to be said, a big one, by most runners’ standards. Fell runners and proper trail runners would scoff, thumb their noses in proper Shakespearean fashion, and get on with the (slight) incline. I prefer to make far more of a fuss about such things, despite my secret ambitions to join the stoics.

I was very slow, and my heart rate climbed as I heaved and puffed probably slower than hike pace, back to the top of the hill.

I talked to myself about not giving up – getting to the turn, high fiving a couple of low branches, both to rest and stretch my shoulders but also to tip water from the leaves over me, setting small goals, getting to that tree, to the weird pumps by the path, tellingyself about how it was flatter up there and in 370m I’d have finished, 355. 337.

Oh god don’t look at the damn watch again!

OK so heart rate. 155 and climbing. Not motivating either. NO looking at watch.

So much for low intensity.

Glorious finish in front of the house. Thought about throwing arms up as if breaking the ribbon. An evening couple wandered out of the gate so my glorious finish became a self conscious drop-to-walk and quick-tap-to-save-the-run. Not quite the same thing!

Next time I may even remember that there is car park at the bottom too (Respryn), and do the hard part first. At least my mantra would make sense😆

Anyway, I got back to the car and my niggling anxiety about being locked in was finally put to rest – the nice lady had not lied to me. I could jump in and head for the far more rigorous demands at home.

Mum! Mu-um… mummy my PE shoes are too tight. Mum!