Yesterday I ran in the fresh snow and sunshine and it was glorious, but oh so tough. Patchy breath in the cold air. Eyes and nose streaming into the wind. Slowly picking out footsteps through the fresh snow. A deceptive softness gave way to iron ice and aching arches, struggling to find that perfect rhythm of breath and stride.
My usual route was slippy and I took a couple of diversions, having to slow down to a walk on some steps and slopes. I’d gone out thinking I’d do a 10k, but the depth of the snow in places surprised me, and I decided to cut it short and turn back at a local landmark. Gerty the Garmin beeped to say 4k, and I thought ‘8k, in these conditions… that’s not bad.’
I treated myself to a trot along the beach with the wind behind me and tucked my gloves into my pocket. I’d slowed my pace to master my breath and just couldn’t seem to pick it up again. My legs felt heavy, hamstrings constricted. Across the hard packed sand I could feel my feet and knees turning inwards. Where were my long lolloping strides?
But the snow and sunshine brought the best out in the people I passed on my return journey. Not many runners, save a group who overtook me early on. But the dog walkers and parents with kids on sledges stopped or sidestepped out of the way.
Down to the beach again for the last stretch, avoiding paths now churned and rutted with snow. But I’d miscalculated, and as Gerty rang up 8k, I was still at least 1k from home. So I carried on and ground out a last couple, abs pulling and legs protesting as I doubled back on the sands to make up the distance.
On reflection, maybe not the best decision, as my goal is now speed, rather than endurance. But having let myself off with a slower pace, I felt the least I could do was finish, even if it was my slowest ever 10k. And I do enjoy running on the beach.
Back home and time to reflect. There was a slight pull at the top of my right leg that I eased through the afternoon with stretches. So it was an unwelcome surprise when I felt that familiar bruised feeling at the top of my left thigh this morning. I’d forgotten what a tight ITB band feels like.
Was it running on such an uneven surface? Running in the cold (even though I didn’t feel cold), or just a symptom of picking up the training again? It’s not the sharp ouch that told me I really needed to sort it out last time, but a dull reminder, as though I’d slipped and fallen on my side.
Or is it my shoes? On a couple of runs now, they’ve felt kind of flat, like some of the bounce has gone. I had to take out the insoles to fit my orthotics, but that combination saw me through plenty of mileage in training for the Great North Run.
I examine the soles of my trusty trainers and see some signs of battle scars. It seems I land more heavily on my right foot than my left, and near the ball of my foot and at the front, some of the tread is heavily worn.
I have new shoes, as yet un-worn. Still box fresh and sparkling as the snow. Maybe this week I’ll give them a run in on the treadmill. Just so long as I can soothe out these niggles that remind me – this won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
10k in 59.21
Don’t think I’ve run a 6.xx kilometre since I worked out how to do splits on the Garmin. Blame the snow.