Sorry, not sorry

“How’s your ankle?”

“Seems fine.  Didn’t mutter at all during last night’s head torch run on the common.”

My physio looked at me.

“Last night’s what?”

I shuffled my feet and tried to look  innocent.

“Last night’s head torch run on the common.”

I gathered during the ensuing silence that confessing to being a little slack with my physio exercises one week and throwing in mention of night time trail running the next was not winning me physiotherapy brownie points.  But after a stressful couple of weeks and a disastrous speed session the day before, my soul had needed solace and my club’s annual head torch run had proved impossible to resist.

If better compliance with my physio schedule is what it takes to make night time trail running a lower risk activity, then better compliance it will be.

Starting tomorrow.

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The shelf life of sacrifices

I found out this morning that although sacrifices to the gods may not expire like club card vouchers, it is as well to use them quickly for the gods have a strange sense of humour and a pedantic streak a mile wide.

As a teenager, I used to make regular sacrifices to the gods of getting out of track running, and more specifically to the gods of getting out of track running (1500m), a distance which I absolutely loathed.  This morning, as I cycled to my local athletics track for 4 x 1500m intervals, I spared a thought for that teenager and promptly caught the attention of the gods of getting out of track running (1500m), who went off to check their ledgers.

“Aha”, they said, “she has a few sacrifices remaining.  We’ll redeem them now.”

I arrived at the track to find that it was awash with contractors ripping it to shreds.  Resurfacing work. Unlikely to reopen until the new year.  Oh. 

I cycled home wondering whether I was off the hook altogether.  Alas not.  The session quite clearly specified track OR TRAFFIC FREE ROAD, and as the owner of three different makes of GPS watch and a smartphone, I’d be hard pushed to claim “inability to measure distance” as a viable excuse.  Muttering under my breath, I set off for the local park, ran my intervals and staggered home to update my sacrifices to the more general purpose gods of sloth.

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Mornington Chasers Regent’s Park 10k (2 of 6)

I’m not a great fan of early alarm calls, 10k races*, lapped races or repeating races I’ve already run, so I’m still not quite sure what I was thinking when I signed up for all six of the winter series of 10ks organised by the Mornington Chasers. 

Race 0 (the last of the summer series) was a purely social affair, entered on the day as an ankle test a mere four days after I’d started running again.  I ran the first 8k with Alma, a kilometre on my own and the last kilometre with Rachel, who was struggling with a chest infection.

Race 1 was a line in the sand. My training plan was starting to return to normal and my ankle was feeling solid, but an all out parkrun attempt on a pancake flat course in perfect conditions had netted me a time that was over 5 minutes off my PB.   I needed a boost, and I also wanted to lay down a “this is where I am now” 10k time to try to improve upon.  Luck was on my side.  Having shifted her cold, Rachel was after a conversationally paced (for her) run and seemed happy enough for me to run with her, panting more loudly than a steam engine and holding up my end of the conversation with the occasional grunt.

Race 2 was an altogether different affair. Rachel was back on form and no more than a speck in the distance, and I wanted reassurance that four weeks of progressions, kilometre reps, tempo running and other assorted sessions featuring the words ALL OUT and HARD were having an effect.  I dutifully set my alarm for 6:15am, inhaled some porridge, cycled to Regent’s Park, picked up my race number, changed into my running kit, defrosted my toes, met up with Rachel, and lined up at the start.  

The course is three flattish laps, though the mischievous hill pixies mean that each one feels slightly less flat than the last.  There are kilometre markers so large that even I don’t miss them, and because each lap is 3 1/3 km, you can use them to tick off every 333m stretch.  There are enough competitors to work off, but not so many that you’re tripping over them or permanently gap spotting and it has a slightly downhill finish to help you sprint for whatever sub XX:XX time you are targeting.

Apparently progressions, kilometre reps, ALL OUT and HARD are having a positive effect.  Here’s hoping they continue to work their magic over the next four months.
* They’re too hard, not too short, before you ask.

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6 jours de france

Privas.  It’s the capital of the Ardèche department and in the Rhône-Alpes region.  It sits in the midst of a rugged landscape which make it a centre for outdoor sports and exploration.  It has not one, not two but three rivers going around it: the Mezayon; the Ouvèze; and the Charalon. Beyond and between them are gorges and craggy hills which feature some beautiful views and lake district style terrain.  Who wouldn’t want to spend a week there at someone else’s expense?

There was a catch, of course.

Instead of spending my time exploring the hills, I would be spending it at the local stadium supporting three race walkers taking part in a six day race.  A six day race around a 1 025m circuit made up of the path around an athletics track and the track itself.  On the plus side, it was the south of France, so sunshine was guaranteed.

Guaranteed, I tell you.  Guaranteed.  Barring the first three days, when it rained pretty much solidly, flooding the athletics track and restricting the circuit to the outer loop.

Richard, the friend who invited me to crew, was superb.  It was his first six day race and there were highs and lows by the tonne, but throughout it all his attitude was exemplary.  The conditions may have been sub-optimal and his body may not have reacted to the experience the way he expected, but he never gave up and he never stopped thinking of ways to improve.

As for me, I’ve made copious notes on do’s and don’ts for six day racing.


  • Have Noel on your crew – her omelettes are superb and a more fascinating woman you will struggle to meet
  • Pick a race that William Sichel has entered – he is delightful and his crew, Alan, has two very broad shoulders and a wealth of experience to share with debutante crewers
  • Pack everything in dry bags and have a plan that can cope with six solid days of rain
  • Hire a motor home because the zips on tents will drive you insane
  • Take marmite


  • Ever, ever, blooming ever under any circumstances whatsoever at all enter a six day race.
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Dicing with death

“Excuse me”

I paused.

“Excuse me”

A woman stood on her doorstep looking at me.

“I wonder if you could help me.”

I walked up to her.  She invited me into her house.

“Before I come inside”, I said, “I need to ask.  Are you a mad axe murderer?”

She assured me that she was not and led me into her kitchen.

“I need to switch off the fridge, but the socket is in that cupboard and my arms aren’t long enough to reach it.  I’ve tried everything.”

I knelt down, stuck my hand into the cupboard, flipped the switch, accepted her thanks and headed back out to finish my run.



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Mea culpa

Forgive me, Abradysis, for I have sinned.  It has been five weeks since my last post.

Week one:

Wimbledon parkrun with you!  Memo to self: learn to give praise in a way that sounds sincere rather than sarcastic.

Week two:

Chiltern Wonderland 50 and Tooting 24 hour track race.  Watching other people being epic while catching up with friends and eating my own bodyweight in junk food.  Pure bliss.

Week three:

First all-out effort and first longer run post injury.  Good news: I’m back running.  Bad news: I’ve lost ridiculous amounts of fitness and speed.

Week four:

Regent’s Park 10k winter series race 1/6.  A faster than expected time in the company of @fairweatherrun.  Races 2 to 6 have a lot to live up to.

Week five:

Boston parkrun and a lap of Grafham Water.  Great company, lovely scenery and a little bit of trail.  What more could anyone ask for?



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Somewhere in a parallel universe

I was being so sensible.  I was on for a medal in the “most sensible injured runner” category.  I was going to be the poster child for injury rehab, a myth spoken of in awed whispers.  I was going to prove that not all injured runners are impatient idiots who run on barely healed injuries and then seem surprised when those injuries recur.

I was.  I’m not now.

Soul Cake Day Challenge (Thursday)

Parallel me: I shall go along, walk a single lap, collect my Terry Pratchett themed medal and goody bag and then return home to work through my physio exercises.

Real me: Gosh walking is dull and look at all that smoooooooth concrete.  I shall run/walk the concrete section.  Oooh, that wasn’t too bad.  I’ll do another lap and run/walk some more.

Exeter Riverside parkrun (Saturday)

Parallel me: I shall go along, walk the parkrun and then chat to my friend over coffee.

Real me: My ankle hasn’t whinged too much about Thursday’s run/walk, I haven’t seen my friend for ages and she seems happy enough to pootle around, so I’ll run round with her and just try very hard not to go over on my ankle.

Regent’s Park 10k (Sunday)

Parallel me: I shall cycle there, cheer on my friends, join them for brunch and then cycle home.

Real me: Oooh!  They do on the day entries and the course is 100% tarmac so it’s actually less risky than yesterday’s parkrun and that went okay.

Somewhere in a parallel universe is a very smug version of me with an ankle which is very grateful for her good sense.  I will settle for having a soul which is very grateful for good luck and better company.

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