parkruns and progress

Yesterday I ran 4.5 miles in 40 minutes. A whole 4.5 miles! I only need to multiply that by eleven times or so to return to 50-milers…

Both the slow pace across the ground and the slow pace of progress in increasing mileage are frustrating, but I’m being sensible (amazingly sensible for a runner). I keep reminding myself that after six months of no running I have to expect to be slow, and that to give my injured tendon the best chance of adapting back to full use, as well as to avoid overstressing foot muscles which have done very little work while I was wearing the ankle brace, I must not increase the distance too rapidly.

However, there’s great progress in that I can honestly say that the foot didn’t ache during or after the run and is not aching today either, which is fantastic. I’ll be sticking to three runs a week for a while longer but hopefully I’ll soon be able to run with my running club again.

This last month has also seen a running first for me: I ran a parkrun on an amazing four consecutive Saturdays – unheard of for me and taking me to a grand total of 25 parkruns spread over more than three years – although I have volunteered on more than 160 occasions over the same period. The first two were at Lloyd parkrun, my home event; both weeks we had lots of volunteers so, as Volunteer Coordinator, I took myself off the volunteer roster and pulled on my running shoes. It was hard work and very good really for me to be reminded that when you’re just starting running, three miles is a LONG WAY – a perspective that it is too easy to forget when you’re running ultras. I also got fantastic encouragement from the other runners.

The next week I was away at a conference and skipped the first few papers on the Saturday morning because Eastleigh parkrun was just a few miles away and it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. I enjoyed running the course and chatting to people before and after (and eating cake – Eastleigh parkrun is famous for dressing up (they were wearing tutus for International Dance Day) and for trying to maintain “calorie neutral” status by eating cake after the run). I did have one heart-stopping moment when I miss-stepped and slightly turned my left ankle on the downhill section on the second lap, but it didn’t hurt and I was even able to go for a sprint finish.

The following Saturday we had cancelled Lloyd parkrun to make it easier for the European Disc Golf Championships being held in the park. We have a variety of parkruns in the local area so I suggested to our runners that we split up into “Lloyd parkrun on Tour” in a variety of locations; I took the opportunity to run at Banstead Woods. The bluebells I am told were past their best, but were still carpeting the ground quite brightly. I finished in 25.00, which was pleasing.

It’s still early days but I’m now feeling more hopeful that I’ll be back to long trail runs later in the year – if not quite ultras.

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