Before I add another one of my off-running posts (how to build a fence) I thought I’d actually try writing about running for once.
My first month after the highland fling is flying by like the summer holidays. I will soon have to stop pretending to be recovering and start accepting that I’m just dossing.
I was out this morning for an easy 10k and I got to thinking about what is the most difficult thing you can do with your legs. I don’t mean in a yoga/kama sutra way. More in a ‘how long before they start to hurt real bad‘ way.
I got thinking about this because I realise (and have done for some time) that my training for these off-road ultras lack a certain level of specificness. In layman’s language you don’t reach your full potential at slogging up the hills if you spend all your time dodging dog shit on flat suburban footpaths.
I’m only thinking about this because I think that road running tends to make you obsess about distance covered whereas the off-road ultra stuff is much more about time on your feet. If you sent me out for a suburban 2 hour run and I hadn’t covered at least 15 miles I would consider the run to be a failure. If you sent me into the hills for 2 hours and I covered 6 miles and came back with all my limbs in working order I’d consider it a success.
I think you get the gist of what I’m aiming at.
I have no idea of what I have coming up for the rest of the year although my jokes about really long distances in 2013 are not been greeted with complete negativity on the domestic front (yet).
All of this ‘getting into the hills’ fighting talk is great but doesn’t count for much if you live in the city like I do. Given that the only off-road running I have ever done has been in the 3 ultras over the last 8 months it does offer me great scope to improve my off-road training (a base of zero miles will do that for you ;-))
My make-it-up-as-you-go-along plan to incorporate more off-road stuff into my training over the next 2 to 3 months will involve me keeping a set of smelly running gear in the car with me whenever I’m away from the office so I can try to find some off-road stuff before I come home from meetings. I will also try to do some off-road stuff in Italy. There are great walking trails in the hills around were we stay and if you run these they become running trails (you can tell I was too good for mensa, can’t you?)
To make it feel even more serious I might invest in an off-road set of shoes and one of the camelbak bladder systems (a fancy way of saying a water rucksack). If it all fails the off-road shoes will look good under a pair of jeans.
Getting back to the question I posed at the top of the page, what is the most difficult thing you can do with your legs?
I’ve thought about this in great detail and as someone who has put his legs through many stupid activities, the sort where if your brain was in your knees they’d be outlawed, I have some authority on the subject.
It’s not the steep downhill after 10 hours of running. It’s not the calf cramps at mile 24 of a marathon. It’s not the racing through ITBS nor is it the foot shredding that sand in your shoes or boggy socks will give you.
The most difficult thing you can do with your legs is to go browsing for clothes with your significant other (wife or girlfriend but not both at the same time).
Not only will this activity cause your knee cartilage to rupture and your calves to sprout varicose veins it also has the potential to ruin any hopes you had of sex.
Picture the scene – searing leg pain. The sort that makes you wish you had type-2 diabetes, bed sores and owned a burgundy coloured mobility scooter. You are leaning against a rail of frocks staring enviously at the 3-year-old who is acting out your tantrum and frustrations. The wife holds up a skirt/dress/top/blouse/random piece of clothing and turns to you and mutters the three words that will send fear down your spine. ‘Wha d’ya think’?. You’ve used your full quota of ‘it’s grand’ responses and you are now frantically wondering whether you should start on the ‘I prefer you with no clothes on’ answers (the humorous route) or whether you should speak your mind and call it like you see it ‘it looks shit’ (the I’m really trying to help route).
I’ve tried them all but the only solution to this is to accept your fate: the fact that you will have some of the worst leg pain you’ll ever experience and the fact that you will be flying solo on the love front for a while.