Slow Train to Fitness


I spent a long time trying to come up with a title for this post. In essence, it is another “catch-up”, summarising my training to date during June. I looked for suitable quotations about June to help disguise the repetitive theme of catching up, but that would have come across as too contrived. I found a lovely stanza by the poet Pablo Neruda, but again could not use it for the same reason. I thought about “getting back on track”, but I have used variants of this before.  So, slow train it is. I think it sums up the process, and it also alludes to the route of the disused railway line (Brampton Valley Way) I use for some of my training. The photo is of a caterpillar train slowly making its way along a wooden bench.

2nd June
A return to Brampton Valley Way, heading south from the Draughton crossing. Two miles out, two miles back. I had to resort to walk/run strategy after the 3-mile mark. It really is a slow process trying to build my stamina and I’m tending to give-in too easily. I need to build my psychological stamina/resilience. Pace was that of a “stopping at all stations” train (11:35 min/mile), but acceptable under the circumstances.

4th June
I set out with determination to face my fear – turning left at the top of the lane from the car park at Titchmarsh Nature Reserve to tackle a bit of hill work. It was a struggle after the first mile and I was not able to get up the hill by running (a few months ago I could do this reasonably well). Disheartening at one level but encouraging at another level – I’m actually tackling the problem. Also, some evidence that even with a  walk/run strategy, my pace is improving over this distance (5km – 10:37 min/mile). To round off the day, I had a little swim. There is a role for cross-training.

9th June
Sunday again, it must be stamina building. Today I managed to get through the 4-mile barrier with continuous running. A modest pace, as one would expect on this type of run (11:23 min/mile). Surprisingly, I did it with a negative split – the second half completed at a faster pace than the first half. It is all about the pace. Pace management is the key. And other such platitudes.

11th June
Oh, a horrible wet day after a horrible wet night. Back to the gym and treadmill and a wee dabble with the rowing machine. The good thing about the treadmill is that you can keep to a steady pace and incline. I focused on hill work, ascending 108 metres in 18 minutes over a distance of 2.22km. It all counts.

14th June
Back on the street today, another attempt at the hill up from Aldwincle towards Wadenhoe. I had a slight twinge in my left hip flexor. These little chappies have caused problems in the past on my long runs and I try to stretch and strengthen them regularly on an irregular basis. It is possible I hurt it doing some uncharacteristic energetic kicks in my martial arts class last night. Resilience is still a problem and it was a bit windy. It seemed more of a struggle than it was 10 days ago.

18th June
I made a classic mistake today – setting out without a clear goal. It was a bit of recovery running, a bit of interval work, quite a pick-and-mix. The weather was muggy. I went out from Aldwincle towards Thorpe Waterville and Achurch for 1.5 miles before heading back. Pace was 10:33 – acceptable.

23rd June
Choo-choo, back on the Brampton Valley line! South from the Draughton crossing for 2.5 miles and then an immediate 180 degree turn to head back. I was aiming to break through the 5-mile barrier on this Sunday run, but had to resort to my walk/run strategy after 3.5 miles. It was hot out there. I completed the 5 miles by a whisker, at a pace of 11:00 min/mile. Slow, but psychologically important.

25th June
A muggy, misty and drizzly morning finds me in the car park at Titchmarsh Nature Reserve again. My intention was to run up to Achurch and back, which is about 4 miles in total. In the end, I did a swerve at Thorpe Waterville and reduced the distance to 5km. I was very pleased with my pace – 10:12 min/mile, even with a bit of walking after 2 miles. Again, it is the challenge of maintaining a steady pace, although my excuse this time was that I included a bit of interval work – short bouts of faster paced running. As they say, it is not the miles you put in so much as the effort you put into your miles. Good effort today – I actually began to feel like a runner again and my technique is starting to improve (posture,  cadence, strides and breathing).

So, that’s me up to date. Look out next for details of my new venture, if you haven’t yet sneaked a peek at my Facebook page! Until then, continue to run free and happy.

The Pablo Neruda piece I mentioned in the introduction. I was thinking of a title along the lines of “Green, Wet and Trembling”, but I couldn’t work it in! Maybe just as well – that could have been an altogether different type of post!

“Green was the silence,
wet was the light,
the month of June
trembled like a butterfly.”



2 thoughts on “Slow Train to Fitness

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