Stepping Stones

The last few months my progress has felt very much “two steps forward, one step back.” I’d progressed to running the full hour with my running club, Striders of Croydon, on Wednesday evenings and was wanting to reach 90 minutes on the club’s Sunday run. I started by adding 10-15 minutes onto the hour run on the Sunday and possibly did too much, with the ankle twinging at the end of the run. Gave it a couple of weeks of gentle running and was just about to start increasing the distance again when, walking around the house on the Friday morning, I caught my left big toe in my right trouser cuff and pulled it sideways, hard.

The next day I had lots of volunteers and the chance to run my parkrun for a change, so I did. By Saturday afternoon the strained toe was informing me that had been a really bad idea; as for running 90 minutes the next day – forget it! A couple of weeks of rest and I started back gently again…

Apart from the stuttering progress in increasing my running distance, I’ve really been struggling on the hills the last few months and haven’t been improving at all at parkrun, seeming to be stuck at 24.57 to 24.59 (more than 2.5 minutes behind my pre-accident PB). The last week in August I was in Edinburgh for a conference and was based very close to Arthur’s Seat so I took the opportunity to go running up the hill every other morning. There’s something about having a specific goal in mind which can really improve motivation. The first morning I went up the “front” of the hill and had to walk a lot of the last third, going up stone steps and the final rocky scramble, before stopping on the top to enjoy the view for a few minutes, scrambling back down off the craggy top then running down the wide grassy slope on the far side of the hill and back down the road. The second morning I trotted round and up the road and then, heart pounding, ran to the top of the grassy section without stopping, before the final rocky section to the summit and my reward: clear long-distance views in all directions. The third morning I extended the run, turning left rather than right when I came back down the grassy slope and running the rest of the way round the hill to return to my starting point. By this time my quads and glutes, which had really been complaining after the first outing, were beginning to settle down and I’ve certainly felt that the hills have been a bit easier since I returned home.

While I was in Scotland on the Saturday I enjoyed running Tollcross parkrun with one of my nieces. It’s  definitely an undulating course, with three uphill sections on each lap. I wasn’t pushing and was content to come in just under the 25 minutes again. At least I’m being consistent!

Last week I finally ran the 90-minute Sunday club run – the fist time I’ve managed that since the accident and it felt really, really good. This Sunday I was able to do the 90-minutes run again, so I’m finally making some progress on the distance.

Additionally, I took part in a cross-country relay race for the club on Saturday afternoon and the ankle held out for that as well. As for improving my parkrun time? I’ll just have to wait and see.

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