on... Running Streaks

I’ve just broken out of a 11 day running streak. Hold on, that’s an 11 day “non-running” streak. No running, no gym, no formal exercise, no stretching, nothing.

I’m not injured, it wasn’t planned, it just kinda happened. Life gets in the way sometimes. I had a few days off to do some work in the house - a room needed decorating and the chickens wanted a new path to ensure that they remained easily fed and watered during the winter.

My last run was a parkrun. My brother and sister-in law were down for the weekend, so I suggested that we try Ponty parkrun for a change. I grew up in Caerphilly, so Ponty to me is the one with a Lido, a new parkrun to try. Having studied the course (flat, long straights), and the attendance (low, call it Newport circa 2012), I got myself psyched up ready to celebrate a great result. Sadly, the weather on the day disagreed with me. Cold, wet, and wet more, we arrived at the park. The course was great - flat, long-straights, well marshalled, but cold, wet and wet more. The local rugby boys had gathered right at the front - fair enough if they can stand the pace, but they couldn’t. It wasn’t long before I witnessed the first bit of parkrun “cheating” that I’d seen in years. People appearing out of the bushes may be normal in some places, but not at nine o’clock in the morning. I gritted my teeth and just got on with it, coming in a reasonable time but way off target. Great fun though, and nice to share the experience with family. Recommended.

The following day, I missed my long run. It was easy - we went to visit “Boy” at Uni, only to find that the Great South Run was on the same day, in the same town. A race for next year, only 10 miles - but this time round it felt really strange seeing all the runners wandering / hobbling along in their post-race high, proudly showing their medals off for all to see. I felt left out.

Returning home, I took a few days off and launched myself into the work that I needed to do in the house. First few days were easy - early starts, physically demanding and finishing late. No trouble in my “no exercise” rule. Plenty of arm-work in sanding, painting and floor laying. I always struggle with my puny arms - I am sure that any muscle that I build on my arms is worked off when running.

The hens needed their path renewing, so a ton of chippings needed to be shifted to the allotment.  It’s 100 foot from the road to the side gate, up a 20% gradient (think Murder Mile). Pushing  barrows up the path with a 24” concrete slab on the top for good measure had my calves screaming, and my heart was pumping, but it felt so good. Half of the work was done in darkness, so my “Thunder Run” head-torch came in very handy. I did manage to get a growl out of next door’s shitzu, she didn’t know quite what to make of me, mind you that’s normal.

The only thing with a running connection was on Thursday night. I was lucky enough to be invited to a film premiere. Tim Lebbon from the NEWTS had a private screening of “Pay The Ghost”, a movie based on one of his short stories, starring Nicholas Cage. Now Tim’s a proper writer, and I would thoroughly recommend his book “The Hunt” (available on Amazon and in all good bookstores). Whilst the book is a bit “darker” than I would normally read - it’s not for runners of a nervous disposition, it’s a great read and well worth checking out. The film was good, but the evening was exceptional as Tim had gathered friends and family, neighbours, previous work colleagues and NEWTS to share his first viewing of the film. Thank you Tim!

Back to reality, and work stopped me getting to the Halloween parkrun, my next long run day and before I knew it, over 10 days had passed, and I’d started to get restless. I finally returned to running on Wednesday, with a lovely four miles, followed by three the following night - I’m back!

What were my findings of my non-running streak?

  • I had a bit more time when not running, and felt a great sense of achievement through the work that I did instead. That said, it wasn’t enough to make it worth giving over my exercise time to other things.

  • I missed the running, but felt happy that I could still run if I wanted to (as opposed to being injured)

  • I missed the company.

  • My arms held a bit more definition, and were slightly better in gym class the following week.

  • My head started “fugging up”, things started getting on top of me and I was starting to feel a bit fed up overall.

  • The pain in my left posterior disappeared (though that might have been down to not sitting in a chair all day too)

  • My calf muscles hurt, badly. When running again, my legs hurt a bit. I should have kept up the stretching and hip mobility exercises - these are for life, not just for running.

  • I had no trouble in getting back into the running, and went back with a renewed sense of vigour and appreciation

Busy with work again over the weekend, no chance of getting out for a run. I did manage to take a look at some Trail shoes though - tried on a pair of Salomon Speedcross in SportsDirect. Very nice fit, solid laces - they felt stable, with thick rubber lugs, almost bought them - but there was something not right - they were a bit drab (black, on a black background). I normally prefer the brighter trainers in general, but I do get flashbacks of a one-shoed Tom Bland looking forlornly into a massive puddle at the Sodbury Slog a few years ago. You need to be seen!.

Sunday afternoon, I had a break and ordered myself a pair of Salomon FellCross - lightweight and bright, hopefully bringing a bit of stability to my Trail / Cross Country running. About an hour later, I twisted my ankle. I was sat with my legs crossed, then got up quicker than the blood flowing back into my dead leg- full weight on the outside edge of my foot - so much pain!

No running tonight then. Oh, the irony.