Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Trials, tribulations, and grass running

The last month since my last post has seen something of everything, though not the largest amount of running. A brief excursion back into run training at the start of the month led to another setback with my calf, so after more time off and rest, I tried again in the last two weeks. Though only managing two runs a week I have now gotten a few pain free runs under my belt. I have not been doing anything particularly 'clever' or active to get my calf into shape, I found that the more I simply rested it the better it got - doing over zealous stretching and so on just kept inflaming it. Being back at two runs a week is where I wanted to get to so from here I just need to keep keeping it simple and keeping it going.

It is now less than three weeks to the next event I've paid money to enter (the Swansea half), after having missed the Cardiff Bay 5 with the calf injury, and I will definitely be taking it in as a training run. It is only the second running of the Swansea event, and will be my first one around that course, so I will be looking to just go out and enjoy a fun new experience. The goal of this 'training run' will very much be to get round (how many say just that on the start line), and to do so without hurting the training and the runs that will follow. Time targets are the furthest thing from my mind, indeed so far out of my mind that it could be my slowest half marathon ever.

A very neat new discovery for me has been running on grass (namely the outskirts of playing fields) and enjoying the different feel. As an experience it is quite different, my legs are tired in a different way, my pace is harder to maintain, and when I switch back to tarmac path I feel much lighter / bouncier. Having tried it I looked it up in a couple of runners forums and found explanations of the mechanical, physical, pace differences between running surfaces - apparently grass can be up to 30 seconds per kilometre slower than the tarmac as the softer surface absorbs some of the ground reaction (impact energy). All physics aside I have found it seems to help me think about and work on technique, not cause calf pain, and present a nice new set of challenges / opportunities. The weirdest opportunity (and in a way a mental challenge) is running round and round a field, it gives a nice fixed distance and lap by lap feed back on progress of pace (or fatigue mostly). I am going to carry on running on grass once a week, and in fact am really tempted to move more runs onto it as I add to the two runs a week.