Not getting any easier.

Now that the school holidays are upon us I am having to take some time off from my training. I do intend to get out whenever I can but, as the kids are home during the day, getting out on a proper training schedule is a bit more problematic. What I intend to do is do a few thirty to sixty minute runs and take the dog out with me. I will only be able to do this after my wife comes home from work.

After my ten mile long run a couple of weeks ago my first run was supposed to be a 50 minute easy run. The teachers’ strike saw me stopping home looking after my son. The other two children were still in school (despite all going to the same school) but my son was off. He had previously made a comment about us going out for a run, so I took the opportunity to take him out on my first easy run of the week.

Being eleven (and I would like to think, inexperienced) he set off quite quickly, leaving me behind. He realised that he would have to slow down to stay with me and on a couple of occasions had the temerity to walk. However, less than a mile in and he had to stop to do his laces up. I told him to catch me up, which he did, but it meant that he had to run (rather than jog) to get up with me. This wore him out a bit. As we were approaching my turnaround point I realised that he was quite a way behind me, so I turned back early.
We ran back along the same route but, in order to keep going for the a decent time, a couple of times I ran to a point, returned to my son and then continued on a bit further. As a result I managed to keep going for 45 minutes. Average HR 144bpm. Pace 11.41minute mile!!

My second run (children back in school) was a sixty minute run over the meadows and muddy track through to Upton-St –Leonards. I continued through the village and along a very muddy bridle path towards The Portway. The mud was sucking at my feet and I knew the pace was slower. Average HR 145bpm. Pace 12.55 minute mile.

I abandoned my thirty minute run as my day was going to be taken up with popping into town to get Mother’s Day gifts and cards ready for the Sunday. I satisfied myself with the knowledge that I had two games of football over the weekend and that would count as a thirty minute run. Or something like that.

My long run was a 12 miler. I had decided to run onto the Glevum Way and do it in reverse. It’s funny that I keep thinking of this direction as in reverse. The Glevum Way is a circular route which can, obviously, be done in either direction. However, my plan is to do the route anti-clockwise (it gets Chosen Hill over and done with early) and this run was going to be clockwise.

I set my Camelbak up with about 1.5 litres of isotonic drink and put a flapjack in my back pocket. And off I set. My route took me through Upton-St-Leonards before I joined the Glevum Way at the church. From then on, most of the route was across fields , some of which were still a bit muddy.

I ran around the side of Robinswood Hill, along the edge of the golf-course and across country to Whaddon. I had been this route before (but in reverse) when I did my 9 miler. Once out onto the Stroud Road, I was on unfamiliar territory. I was having to follow the route based on my memory of what the map showed me and the few signposts that indicated the Glevum Way. I ran past the church in Whaddon and then it was into another field to take me towards Quedgeley.

This field had, what looked like a massive farm house in the middle of the field. But I couldn’t see a road leading from it. On the map, if memory served, there was what looked like a track coming from it. As I neared this structure I saw that the yard was full of cattle. It was only when I got really close that I saw that the farmhouse was in fact nothing more than a barn. It was probably the most elaborate, enormous brick built cattle-shed I have seen. Running around the edge of it, I couldn’t even see that it may have been a farmhouse that had been turned into a cattle shed. It just looked as though it had been built solely for the purpose of housing cattle.

My route took me down to a tarmac track which led me across an unmanned level crossing. I wouldn’t have thought that the line would have been particularly busy at that time of the mid-morning, but as I approached the level crossing two trains passed and as I got to it, I had to wait for another! I bet if I had been waiting in the station I would have waited ages.

I know that on these crossings you get a good view of the line in both directions, but there is still an uncomfortable feeling of taking your life in your hands when you have to cross the lines.  I only had to go about another half mile or so before I reached my turnaround point. I whipped out my flapjack and started slowly munching on that. I hadn’t touched my drink up until this point, so slowly started working my way through that.

Some golfers were out on the golf-course on the way back. They gave me an odd look as I ran past them as they were approaching their tee. Bearing in mind the garish sort of clothes that golfers can wear (who really wears pastel pink tank-tops with orange tartan trousers?) I think they had a bloody cheek giving me an odd look.

After two and a half hours, I finally reached my start point. My adjusted distance was 12.1 miles. Average HR 151bpm. Pace 12.55 minute mile. I was reasonably satisfied with that considering about 9-10 miles of it was cross country.

Last week I managed to fit in another two sixty minute runs before going back to work. On my first one I had forgotten to re-charge my GPS battery. As a result I ran without any indication of what my heart rate was, so just went for what I considered a really easy run. I kept it going for the full sixty minutes, through the meadows and across fields in Upton-St-Leonards. Average Pace 12.40bpm.
On my second run I just couldn’t seem to get my heart rate under control. Admittedly there were a couple of small hills but I really struggled to keep to a satisfactory pace. I went up the start of Chosen Hill before turning off towards Badgeworth. This route took me along the side of the motorway slip road where some vicious brambles forced me to walk, picking my knees up high. It didn’t stop me getting a couple of cracking cuts and scratches though. Average HR 146bpm. Average Pace 13.07 minute mile.

This heart rate lark is certainly hard work. But how long will I have to keep at it before I start to see my pace come down significantly? Or do I just have to satisfy myself that my easy effort is going to stay a slow pace?

Oh well. The next three weeks will see me putting in some easy effort runs with no long run. We will see if it makes any difference.

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