running blog

Clive Whaley

Happy Valley

Day 49 - Marathon Training - 17 miles steady

It was a trip down memory lane today. I completed 17 miles running through the beautiful, and mostly deserted, Bride Valley. I used to live here and most of my runs, when I first moved to West Dorset, were completed along these relatively wide rural lanes.

The main reason for choosing this route was to get some miles in on the road, without having to jump out of the way of traffic and without having to climb ridiculously steep hills. There are hills in the Bride Valley but they are fairly modest and rolling and … well, you can forgive them and accept them when you are running in such glorious surroundings. Not only that, but it was unseasonably warm for late February (about 14C) and the sun shone for most of the time. I wore only a single layer on top and donned my shorts for the first time in 2017!

The whole day and the whole surroundings were doing a cheeky imitation of spring - from the sparkling, babbling streams by the village roadsides, to the snowdrops on the verge. I guess I was running so fast I was causing the space/time continuum to warp and the whole valley had leapt a month or more into the future. The little streams which tumble along the roadside in most of the villages in the valley are a real treat - you could call it a 'streamlined valley' and I tried to capture them on camera with my dynamic shape racing along. It's an interesting training concept - matching your running pace to a village stream.

Slap Slap Slap - Squish Squish Squish - Slap Squish, Slap Squish, - Slap Slap Slap. The sound of my new running shoes on the valley roads was accompanied by the sound of my backpack full of water. At times it provided a comforting rhythm, at others it was driving me mad but for the most part I forgot about it. Mind you, I did need the water today because it was pretty warm. I only wear the 'bladder' on my back on longer runs (more than 90 mins) and/or when it is fairly hot. It was sensible to take it today, despite the annoying sound effects - and my training plan specifically stated "practice your fuelling and hydration strategies". I hadn't thought about the little valley streams - maybe I could have just cupped my hands and gulped down water from the roadside?

Much like last Monday's 'long run' I felt really light and strong in the first half (or say up to about 10 miles) and then significantly weaker in the leg department towards the end. This time the hamstrings were complaining. The back of the legs were competing for attention with the tiredness in the front. If there was just ONE thing that would make me a better runner I am sure a 'hamstring transplant' would be it. And if I couldn't get them both done, I'd settle for having the one done at the back of my right leg. It's ALWAYS stiff and inflexible and noticeably more so than my left. Can anyone explain that? I do try stretching them out after most runs and I give more attention to the right than the left in a vain attempt to balance them out a bit. I think it is the curse of the runner, and especially middle aged male runners, to have tight hamstrings.

Maybe after the London Marathon I will take up 'extreme yoga' and develop the ability to leap out of bed in the morning and touch my toes with my nose, whilst keeping my legs straight. This also opens up possibilities of a new job in a travelling circus and freak show as 'the amazing rubber man'. One thing at a time. In the meantime I will settle for a training programme that allows me to have a beautiful Dorset Valley to myself on a day when it starts to wake from winter.

My mantra: I take only photographs and leave behind just the faintest Slap and Squish.