Thursday 12 January 2012

Weekend Doubles (including WAAA XC Championships)

Over the Christmas holidays, I realised that my ambitions and my schedule were at odds.  I've been happily running marathons on three training runs per week for around 18 months.  Last year, as usual, I had more two-run weeks than four-run weeks.  This year, though, I've got into my head that I want to do some trail ultras, starting with around 34 miles and working up to 100+.  Preparing for that on three runs a week just won't do - the weekday runs would take too long and would rather get in the way of staying awake at work.   So, I've bitten the proverbial bullet and will be interrupting my traditional Saturday long sleep and adding in a fourth run.  Standard fare for many, but a step I've been trying to avoid in an effort to keep some non-running down-time in my life.  We'll see how it goes.

This week, I got to put the theory to the test during a standard working week - no more holidays to provide extra recovery time.  Saturday, I did at least get the late wake-up, because the local county cross country championships weren't until the afternoon.  So, I woke up around sunrise (way too late in the morning at this time of year!), mooched about the house catching up on a few things, and then headed out for the afternoon of fun.  Last year, the race was tough and hilly.  The year before, the race was flat, icy, and horrible.  In both cases, I came away with a mildly injured right ankle/calf/Achilles combination.  So, this year, the goal was to enjoy racing and come home fit!

I'd like to say the race was really exciting and interesting.  But, from the back half of the pack, it was just a case of running hard, passing where possible, and trying not to fall into the canal where the course takes a sharp dip into a 90-degree turn (or a filthy swim!).  There was a nice, short hill to keep us on our toes.  A bit of mud here and there added to the challenge.  In the end, I managed to keep a very similar pace to last week's Festive Five, which is very pleasing.

At the front end of the field, of course, there was a bit more nip and tuck.  The EVRC Ladies definitely showed up, placing three in the top 10 and winning a team 2nd place.  The faster part of the Men's team put a consistent group in the high teens and 20s, giving them a 4th place.  From the pictures, and they certainly looked both fast and exhausted!  Then, I spent my evening feeling a bit rough from the effort and the cold air while planning the Sunday trail run with super crew chief Nicola, as she trains for her first (and second, and third) trail marathon(s).

Sunday, we decided to take in a part of the Cotswold Way that we've not been on before, from Cleeve Hill to Seven Springs.  I'd looked at the map a few times and decided it was a pretty easy route - one good long downhill and two really tough uphills to keep us company.  The nice thing about choosing a route based on the criteria of "I'd like to learn about that bit of trail" and "that's the right sort of distance" means that you don't always think through the ramifications.  So, it wasn't until I was speeding down the hill towards Dowdeswell Resevoir, that I realised we would have to get back up the beast on the way back.  Still, hills are great fun and there was no reason to worry just because I hadn't planned on a particularly tough day.  In the end, we put in nearly 16 miles and 2500ft of climb.

Theory tested, and it seems like a good way forward in the short term, I'd rather have a run-free day on the weekend.  We'll have to see how it all pans out over the next few weeks.

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