Of Pilgrims and Plans …
It’s some ridiculously small single-figure number of weeks until Pilgrim Challenge so yes, panic is setting in but it’s not all bad news, it’s just bedlam. Last time I wrote I’d just discovered I had ten weeks to get from 0 to 60 miles. Seven weeks left and this is just silly but two things are certain: (1) I WILL get to the start line; and (2) I’ll do everything I can to get there safely!!
You know me … I never do anything without a plan. There’s no point telling me to ‘just train’ or ‘do a few hills and you’ll be fine’. It doesn’t work for me. When it comes to my training I’m like a little child. I need it all written down in front of me – strictly in black and white. No grey areas! Then I’ll follow what’s written to the letter – as best I can. I’m sure lots of people will probably think that this strategy takes all the fun out of running, but actually it doesn’t. In fact, I think it makes it easier because I can go out and concentrate just on the distance or the time or the intervals and all that ‘thinking’ bit has already been done for me so I can more or less switch off and simply enjoy whatever challenge is ahead.
The training plan I’m following is courtesy of Trail Running magazine (Oct/Nov 2012) – Mark Hartell’s 13 Weeks to Run a 40-Mile Race. Of course, since I’ve left myself way too short of time I’ve had to adjust and adapt so I’ve re-written it to cater for my lack of weeks in the year. Have I done it right? Who knows? This is all new to me, but I’m not a complete idiot (feel free to disagree). Yes, I left it too late to start training but nothing I can do about that other than stop moaning about it and get on with it. No time to waste. I’ve checked the original plan and there seem to be three or four weeks of mileage ‘building’ and then an easier week, so I’ve incorporated that strategy (my ‘build’ has simply had to be a little faster). This, of course, is not good thinking when you’re looking after already-dodgy knees but thanks to the most brilliant sports therapist/physio on the planet (Jamie Webb) and the discovery of the best shoes in the universe (Hoka Evo Stinson) my knees are holding up and this past week I’ve felt a real turn-around and have spent at least a couple of runs feeling positively elated because I’ve noticed I’ve been able to run completely pain-free. It’s so liberating and wonderful and exhilaration has been the word of the week!
Except for Wednesday, that is. Do you remember Wednesday? Wednesday was that day last week when it poured … and poured … and poured … and then it poured again. Tuesday and Thursday? Sun, sun, sun! But my long run was in the diary for Wednesday (there’s a surprise, eh?)! And you know what? I even got a text mid-morning from my daughter … ‘Mum. Just looking at the rain. I bet you’re running!’ Yes, that’s how jinxed I am when it comes to the weather and my running!
Never mind. It gave me a great opportunity to really test my new gaiters from http://www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com/ – one of my favourite shops for anything and everything running at really competitive prices. I have to say as a newbie to running I’d never even heard of gaiters before I saw an ad for these ‘accessories’ on Facebook, but I love them (although I’ve been told by my kids I need to buy ‘older/more serious’ ones haha – seemingly the ‘skulls’ design is not appropriate for an ancient mother!!). I’d worn them just once before and thought they were brilliant. Wednesday, however, would have required a lot more than dirty girl gaiters to keep me dry/mud-free … my first long run (15 miles – yes, that’s long for me!) … and I was saturated from head to toe and frozen. I had to ask a passer-by to open my car door for me because my hands wouldn’t work!! Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!! But despite frozen fingers I was still smiling when I finally finished because my knees felt great and with my new Hoka Stinson Evos even my Plantar Fasciitis was bearable! (http://www.hokaoneone.com/en/d/stinson-evo-unisex_103.html – and quickly available in the UK from http://www.likeys.com/cgi-bin/ss000001.pl?page=search&SS=hoka&PR=-1&TB=A&search.x=0&search.y=0) I wonder how these shoes will look with my festive little black dress? They are so kind to my poor feet that I just can’t imagine wearing anything else! The cushioning and support in these shoes is incomparable to any other trainer I’ve tried on. If you’ve got dodgy joints I’m going to make no apology for harping on about them because they are pure magic!
That’s it, then. I’ve done my first 40-mile week. All I have to do now is be able to run the whole lot in a single day. Ah well, nothing like a challenge. Hey, 0 to 40 miles/week is not bad for me and my knees in three weeks so I am a happy bunny. Mustn’t overdo it now, though. Another couple of 40 mile weeks with a few 15-mile runs thrown in and I’ll start feeling confident about this. There’s just one problem …. CHRISTMAS IS IN THE WAY! I see many dark, dark, dark and cold morning outings ahead, but I suppose that’s only going to be good training for Pilgrim?
Still … I hate the dark mornings … scary people … dogs that rip holes in your clothes (yesterday) … people who throw cans of Guinness at you (Sunday) … and hardly much point in having a personal alarm if there’s no-one around to hear it, eh?
In the words of a famour bear … ‘Bother!’