Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My French adventures with training

On holiday last week I went running, in fact I went running three times in a week whilst on a family holiday in France. Why am I telling you this? Well, I don't do running on holidays normally, and this year has seen a change. Running on holiday on home soil seemed to be running in a relatively controlled environment, whilst running in France felt altogether edgier - and mostly because if I got into any difficulty I can't speak enough French to explain to anyone what I might need. Plus, I was running in a fairly rural area where near enough every gateway seems to be holding back a canine based alarm and defence system.

I completed three runs and learned a lot in a short holiday about the sense of adventure these challenges can bring while at the same time giving a sense of freedom to the process of running. Once I had stopped worrying about dogs, getting lost, and not being able to ask for help in the local language, I really enjoyed myself. There is something oddly liberating about running down a hill and not knowing either how long you'll enjoy the benefits of gravity or just how steep the inevitable next incline might be around the next corner. The scenery of course contributed to the sense of enjoyment, the countryside of Normandy is such a lush, verdant, rolling, and variable landscape. The most fun I had was on the middle run where I ran a course based around a crossroads at the centre of the hamlet we were staying in - basically I ran a ten minute out and back on each arm of the crossroads. Quite apart from the challenge of maintaining my desired training pace over each of the four stages I really got a quite fabulous sense of how this hamlet sat with the countryside and a sense of what made it what it was.
My lovely GPS pattern in the French countryside - not a bad set of out-&-backs
Yes, I know I am getting a little lyrical about running abroad, when the driver for doing so was so blunt - I have four and a half weeks now until the challenge of the Berlin Marathon - so you see I could hardly have had a week off the training schedule (which is in the full roar of the bigger run sessions before the downhill of the taper). I take it as the best of all signs that quite apart from all the lyrical stuff the process of running while we were away 'on holiday' brought home to me how much I am enjoying the process of running right now. Perhaps I should write in smaller print as I write this, but my body is beginning to feel the benefits of a block of training injury and illness free and thus my passion for running just now seems to grow with each completed run. Putting this in some context, since I've been home (3days) I have been out and turned out a half-marathon distance run (not a race) that was controlled, measured, successful, informative, and not unduly stressful on my system. I completed the distance at target marathon pace and could see where I hope to be in four weeks time pace wise. Most happily I was no more than appropriately tired after the session.

How else do I know I am feeling better about all things run? Well just don't make the mistake of asking how my marathon training is going... two friends enquired yesterday and by the time I finished and took a breath I could see the look of 'oh, good grief, wish I hadn't asked' on their faces. Still, whatever they might have really thought, I am happy that right now things are moving along nicely.

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