Springtime has not really started in the steppes of Northamptonshire – sure, there are lots of daffodils and the trees are beginning to blossom, and birds have been busy collecting twigs for their nests, but the sky has not really got into the spirit. Grey skies and rain have dominated of late. But we elite runners are not slaves of the weather – we are out there regardless, except maybe when it is too icy. After three weeks away from the mandatory Sunday long run, I’m back in action.
It was mild, grey and drizzly today along the Brampton Valley Way. I ran the same route as last time, from the Draughton crossing towards Northampton for 6 miles, a quick 360 degree swivel, and then back towards Draughton again. However, just as you can never step in the same river twice, so you can’t run the same route twice. For some strange reason, when I checked my running data at home, on this occasion my elevation gain was 9 metres greater than last time. I ran about an extra 30 feet uphill. Explanations? Maybe all the rain has raised the water table, so parts of the route are a bit higher above sea level than they were previously. Maybe there was more bounce in my step, thanks to a visit from the Easter bunny last weekend. There could be a technical flaw in my sports watch. Maybe atmospheric conditions interfered with the GPS.
I ran with music again today, one of my favourite playlists. One of the tracks was When I Ruled the World by Coldplay. Just as it reached the line “I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing”, I heard church bells from across the fields. I think they were from the Church of All Saints in the village of Lamport. It has been a strange day.
It is actually quite uncomfortable as I sit to compose this post. I think I overdid it today and my right hip flexors are giving me a bit of pain – my hip is giving me gyp! I was trying to focus a bit more on my running style today (I need to look good on the streets of Edinburgh!). In particular, noting the position of my shoulders and arms (and checking they remained connected), leaning slightly forward so gravity could assist me (but not to an extreme extent, that would just be silly), trying to look up more rather than focusing on the ground immediately under my feet (this focus would of course be more intense if I let gravity take over completely), perfecting my foot strike so I land on the right bits of my feet, and finally trying to engage my core more. We elite runners like our cores. I can feel a real difference when I remember to do all these things, but keeping it going and remembering to do all at once is a bit challenging at the moment. As the distances get longer and fatigue kicks in, that is when form and style get left behind, creating a vicious circle of inefficient running and a collapsing core. Or hips with gyp.
Seven weeks until the Edinburgh Marathon on 27th May! And I have got my fundraising page up and running! I am trying to raise funds for Kettering Mind, a voluntary organisation that provides invaluable help to people affected by mental health problems.