There’s gold in them there hills

Last week, there were around 20 people at running club training, where the task was to run a number of efforts at 10K pace on a flat course around a housing estate. This week, where the brief was 8 two minute efforts up a steep hill, around 8 runners turned up!

What is it about hills that make people stay at home? Sure they are hard but it’s that hardness that makes them so good at building fitness. I have had more than one occasion thinking a particular running race was hilly, only to run it again when much fitter wondering why I had ever thought there was a problem.

So I hope doing the hill session has helped to build my fitness. When I last posted about my plan I was aiming to run 100 miles in March and my total was 109 miles. Now April has just started and my goal is to do at least the same. Last year I managed to sustain an injury in April which really messed up my running year and so, above all things, I want to get to the end of the month in one piece!

“May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness.” Psalm 72:3

A Mann with a plan

Over the past few months, I have had to cope with something that I never thought would happen to me and that is, I struggled to keep motivated to go running.

What happed first was that I spent the first week in the new year isolating with COVID which felt like a nasty cold. Then, after that I managed to hurt my back while gardening. What didn’t help is the subsequent succession of storms which would rage locally with 60MPH winds, making it very easy to convince myself that I wouldn’t even go running if I wanted to. So, when I did go running, I didn’t run very far each time because I felt my fitness had left me and it was really hard. The bottom line is that I was in need of a plan.

When I trained for my first Marathon, I considerably increased the distance I was running and noticed that as well as building my stamina, my times on short distances improved as well. Hence my golden rule has always been that the more miles I run, the faster I become. When I am on good running form, my total mileage is usually over 140 per month but my mileage in January of this year was around 50 and in February it was 80.

So I’ve set a plan to get my mileage up again, making sure I run 5 days a week and include a long run as well as forcing myself back to club training. Even after a few weeks of doing this I have noticed that I’m getting better now and managed to run the Wakefield 10K on Sunday in a time of 53:31 which relieved me because I was worried that I might not even get under 55 minutes.

So onwards and upwards. As the weather gets better, I am sure I will soon be back running the kind of distances I am used to and be able to more fully experience the joy of running.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22

The Little People

Today I ran in the Yorkshire Cross Country Championships at the Lightwater Valley theme park in North Yorkshire.  This is the first time I have run in a “proper” cross country, which involved, for the Senior Men (AKA Grownups), a gruelling 10K over grass, some mud and a couple of sharp uphill sections on each of 5 laps.  To say that was “hard” would be an understatement and you would have thought a time of about 53 minutes for such a tough 10K would be OK but consider this:  even with that time, I was 304th out of 317 runners.

This was proper athletics.  This was the kind of meeting that chooses athletes to compete at county, national and even international level.  This is the kind of meeting where you might compete against world class athletes.

And here’s the question, does someone like me really belong in such a field?

We recently watched the film “Eddy the Eagle” very loosely based on the experiences of the British ski jumper Eddy Edwards. Running against all these top-class athletes, today I felt a bit like Eddy because for me against these guys, there is no comparison.

But then I remembered a fictitious conversation (in the film) between Eddy and the champion Matti Nykänen, (the “Flying Finn”) in the elevator leading to the top of the 90 meter jump.  Nykänen had payed Eddy a complement who thought he was taking the piss, but he corrected  him saying:

“Do you think I am being patronising?  No, no,
You and me are like 1 o’clock and 11 o’clock.
You see we are closer to each other than the others.
Winning, losing, all that stuff is for the little people.
Men like us, we jump to free our souls.
We are the only two jumpers with a chance to make history today.
If we do less than our best with the whole world watching….
It will kill us inside.  For all time.”

This for me, sums up nicely the difference between so-called elite athletes and the rest of us.  And, that is, very little.  We share the love of the sport and ones willingness to give the best we are capable of.  And, if we do all that, then winning or losing, all that stuff, really is for the little people.

“Rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord is the Maker of them all.” (Proverbs 22:2 NIV)