21st April 2018 - on knowing Left and Right, Lamb 69 and Water choices

When I was a kid, I was taught to recall Left and Right by putting my hands in front of me and stretching out my first finger and thumb. The hand that made an 'L' shape was my left hand. This was easy to remember, and revealed my left-handedness. Many years later though I still apparently struggle with left and right.

Despite being a competent map reader, it doesn't take much to disorientate me; the easiest dupe being a car park that intersects a trail, such that the trails looks the same at both ends of the car park. One end goes in your direction, the other end goes away.  

And so it was that I ended up running half a marathon this morning by accident. 

No matter though. I woke in a good mood, and this served me well. As soon as I opened my eyes I had the feeling of at least 10 miles in me, so it was gratifying to prove myself right.  I run intuitively like this all the time - doing what feels right, and listening to my body's readiness (or not) - and I have every intention of preparing for Bosnia in the same spirit. I just don't seem able to follow highly-specified and 'scientific' training plans. I lose interest very quickly, and find them a blunt instrument when you consider all of the personal variables that can enhance or destroy a run.

As it was, today had YES written all over it. The most beautiful deep spring morning wrapped in huge blue sky. And for 8 miles I had the trails around the the white peak to myself. My route took me on the High Peak Trail (HPT), National Cycle Route 548, the Tissington Trail and then back on the HPT to seal the loop. Only on the last 5 miles leg did I come across horses, cyclists and a few other runners. I also ran briefly alongside a young boy on an offroad wheel-chair-bike. I loved his tenacity, and his insistence that he doesn't need chocolate as fuel, only water. He's young, but he'll learn I thought, knowing he was far more mature than me. 

Running at this time of the year with freshly birthed sheep in the fields is just the greatest joy. Lamb 69 brought me much smile. 

Knowing I was feeling strong, and recognising the gift of a warm day, it felt like a good opportunity to find my forever pace. Granted, I am not running with a large pack yet, and the terrain is less spiky, but part of running intuitively is coming to know the pace you can run at forever (or, you know, within the hours of daylight). I am not aiming to run Bosnia fast, just entirely. Day In Day Out. The distances are long, but all I have to do is run, eat and repeat. So my training can be low intensity and steady for the time being. 

Low intensity meaning time for tea. In my defence, I stopped at 9 miles to grab water from Parsley Hay, but the only option was to buy a plastic bottle and then discard it. So I opted for a quick cuppa and scolding throat burns instead. 

At the moment i'm very comfortable and fluid on the 11 minute per mile mark. I arrived back in the car park feeling good and strong, happy that I will have plenty in the tank for tomorrow too. As the sign says in a curiously inspiring and peakland kinda way, dream of noise and wheels and coal and steam



16th April 2018 - On Shins.

I've just got back from a start-of-the-week training run. I was pleasantly surprised at how good I was feeling for a Monday morning, running straight up the hill without effort. Then a thing happened 10 minutes in. 

I thought 'what happens if I fall over on Day One and get an open fracture of the shin?' 

I hate it when this sort of thought pops into my head. As soon as it's sprouted, it flowers garishly into my imagination, full of blood, pain and helicopter rescues. 

For the remaining 40 minutes of the run I kept a cautious half-eye on my left shin, whilst trying to distract my inner eye with thoughts of victory ice cream in Mostar, five months from now. 

I mean, let's be clear. I have run in a fair few mountains and I have never taken a fall sufficient to break anything, and certainly not to open up the bones in my leg. Yes it could happen. Of course it could. But, it could also happen on any of my runs, at any time, with no regard to distance from home or my inability to grasp the Cyrillic language. This is just my mind finding new and creative ways to make sure I'm fully aware of just how scared it is. 

At the moment I feel as if I am giving it too much voice, but I'm also trying to hear the kindly message. In this instance, learn the words for 'hospital please' and put the number for Bosnia Mountain Rescue in my phone. And entertain the thought of shin pads.