Behaving like a professional sportsman … but not a good one

We are in the Cotswolds for Christmas. I brought the bike and went out for a short ride the other morning. It was wet and windy and I was thankful for mudguards as I splashed through endless muck and puddles. However, severe weather warnings were in place for today so I decided to run instead of cycle. Fear of slipping on wet roads or being blown off made it seem a more sensible option.

I ran 5 miles along the remains of an old Roman Road. Part of the route was solid trail, but mostly it was slippery and wet with ankle-deep mud. Hills, wind, driving rain and my lack of fitness all added to the challenge. Just when I thought it was going ok, I completely lost my footing and crashed to the ground, landing in the foetal position in a giant puddle, smashing my knee on a rock and screaming in agony like the little baby I looked like. In fact, it was worse than that: I reacted like a Premier League footballer who’d been touched in the penalty area, clutching my knee and screaming at the sky. With nobody for miles, my pathetic cries were instantly absorbed by the bleak surroundings. The rain continued to fall, the wind whipped the puddle into my face and after a few more futile shouts of pain mixed with frustration mixed with humiliation, I dragged myself to my feet and hobble-jogged the last mile home.

It's difficult to say which annoyed me more. Ripping a hole in my tights, or ripping a hole in my knee

It’s difficult to say what annoyed me more: ripping a hole in my tights or my knee

Back home, I cleaned myself up, bandaged my knee and tried to ignore the nagging feeling that I’d probably over-reacted just a little bit. It hurt, I was tired, it was cold, I landed in a puddle. But were the blood-curdling screams like I’d been shot really necessary? I behaved like a bloody footballer. If all this outdoor exercise is supposed to make you tough, then I’ve still got a long way to go …

Parkrun – second attempt

At some point on Friday night, Ms BikeVCar and I agreed to set the alarm clock and get up the next morning for a second attempt at the Ashton Court Parkrun 5km race.

I seem to have developed an addiction to Strava over the last few weeks and so found myself stood at the start line with my Garmin in hand eager to log my run. If anyone wants to share their Strava addictions then feel free to link with me.

The Ashton Court 5k run is an out-and-back with the halfway point at the top of a hill.  This means 2.5km of busting a gut uphill followed by 2.5km of busting your knees going down.

I paced myself by my heart rate trying not to top 180 bpm until the final finish. This resulted in sub-22 minutes and beating my last attempt by nearly 30 seconds. I hadn’t done much running since then so it’s good to know that the miles on the bike have improved my overall fitness.

Ashton Court Parkrun Elevation

My pace - slightly faster downhill with the turning speed of a juggernaut at halfway

Sticking to 180 bpm with a heart-busting finish

From the finish line we walked to a cafe in Clifton for breakfast. The essential part of our fitness regime is to take on essential calories as soon as the exercise is over. 😉 Three breakfasts between two followed by an afternoon nap seemed to greatly assist recovery. Hopefully it will be less than 2 months before our third attempt …

Breakfast in Clifton - mostly we were looking at the healthy vegetable stall while scoffing bacon & pancakes

Ashton Court Parkrun

I ran my first parkrun event on Saturday in Bristol’s Ashton Court. It had been 5 years since I’d participated in an organised race and having never run the 5km distance before I used it as a marker to gauge my running fitness. However it’s pretty difficult to just treat something as a private time-trial when you have a nasty, competitive streak and are surrounded by a hundred other runners!

The main challenge with the parkrun route in Ashton Court is that its first half is a non-stop climb and not something I was fully prepared for. I started too fast and felt a bit demoralised when a man running with his dog overtook me three-quarters of the way to the top, but I kept going and overcame thoughts of stopping to catch my breath which had been lost somewhere near the bottom of the hill. The profile of the run is below and borrowed from abradypus’s wordpress blog.

'Ashton Court Parkrun Profile' from

The parkrun event was well organised and unlike a dreaded ‘Charity Run’ you can just turn up 5 minutes before the start and run in a small group of participants. I completed the run in 22:21 which was a little slower than I’d hoped but had been expecting a slightly flatter route. I’ll be back again soon to take on the hill.

My new second mode of transport

I am currently car-less which now makes walking / running my second mode of transport after cycling. The weather today was nasty which wasn’t really a problem as I spent most the the day clearing out our spare room which will now become my ‘office’. In the afternoon there was a brief window between heavy downpours where I put on my trainers and went for a run. I have just signed up to parkrun and intend to enter their free weekly 5 km runs in Ashton Court, Bristol on a fairly regular basis. My run today was probably about 7 km and mostly involved slipping in mud and leaping over large puddles.

Time for a shower in my clothes

My first cycle of 2012 will be tomorrow. Hopefully it will be a bit less muddy!