Hills and Valleys

From 14 December I spent two weeks with the in-laws in Suhl, East Germany. A perfect opportunity to start developing my fitness, particularly endurance and strength. I’ve visited Germany several times over the years, mainly in December or January, and I’ve found the conditions on the hills to be a little different each time, especially in terms of the depth and type of snow.

Sometimes (like this time around) I find myself trudging in up to waist-deep snow, and sometimes I’m negotiating thinner snow and ice. The local 300m hill (the Domberg) is great for the shorter runs, particularly at night. For the longer runs I usually head for a bit of adventure up on and around the ski slopes of the Rennsteig on the Thuringer Wald, and around the town of Oberhof. I love Overhof. I’ve visited it a number of times in the past for snowy training runs, and to watch the World Cup Biathlon races with Yve. This time around I did several long runs. On one particular run I checked out the various ski jumps, ran up alongside the bobsleigh run, and then took a break at the DKB ski arena where they were making preparations for the Biathlon. On the return home I checked out the old Guesthouse for DDR Ministers.

The trip certainly helped develop some fitness and went a long way to strengthening up my ankle. It’s been 10 months (post Op) and the ankle has finally strengthened up for it not to be an issue any more. I’ve also noticed the back pain has diminished and I’m no longer experiencing any chest pain. On the other hand I’ve noticed increased pain and stiffness in the left inguinal canal where I had my hernia operation (2014), to the point it can been painful to bend the knee. I’ll be having this checked out this week so fingers crossed I won’t be requiring the knife down there again!

Now the ankle is fixed I’m starting to increase my running again. With optimal sleep and training time a lot harder to come by now, I’m finding it hard to get more than 6-7hrs/week. From a competitive point of view I’ve decided to restrict myself to shorter distance races and work a lot more on conditioning alongside running development. I’ll train to the disciplines required for the up and coming races ie swim on the approach to an Aquathlon and then swap for cycling on the approach to a Duathlon. I’m targeting races local to where I live – Ludlow, Shropshire.

I started 2018 with the local Ludlow Parkruns. I had a good run of 4 out of 4 first place results (70-100 runners) during January. I was hoping to improve my time over the four races but I had a tumble on the third (knock to the knee) and a cold on the fourth. I’ll get a better indication of my form when I do a fast/flat 5km.
I took my head cam out for the first time in 6 Jan race, and you can see the footage (from my perspective) here:

I’m now building towards my first main race of the year – the Ludlow Aquathlon (400m swim/10km run) on 25th February. I came 2nd two years ago but my swimming is weak at the moment and I’ll probably be spending most of the 10km run trying to catch some of the faster swimmers. After that be looking at the local duathlons, triathlon and running races for the remainder of the year and trying to optimise each one. Most of the Ludlow running races are quite technical so home field advantage will help as I get to run the various routes in training.

Living in London for 20 years I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to train on the hills. In Hampton the biggest climb was probably over the local bridges! So the move to Ludlow has become a bit of a shock from a training perspective as it’s very difficult to find any flat stretches of road. In fact most of the time I head to the trails of the Vinnalls forest and hills (where the Parkrun takes place). It will be interesting to see how my running form changes over the year having focused mainly on hill running, it certainly won’t hurt in terms of the local races. I’ll just have to find other opportunities to work on speed (treadmill, running track).

 

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