Saturday, 16 May 2009

Animal Rescue

My 6 mile run in Shap on Monday evening was eventful. As I ran off into the mountains, I attempted to cross a cattle grid, only to find my route blocked on the other side by an enraged sheep. While I was trying to negotiate my way past, I could hear even more sheep-related disturbance coming from underneath my feet. A lamb had managed to fall down between the gaps in the cattle grid. The sheep blocking my path was obviously the lamb’s mother. Regular blog viewers will recall that this isn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with errant sheep on my training runs (see “All Creatures Great And Small”, Wednesday, 14 January 2009).

The lamb’s head was poking up through the bars, so the next car over the grid would have spelled disaster. As I tried to get hold of the lamb, it ran to the far side of the grid, and a maternally outraged ewe was waiting to bite me over there. This was a complete Catch-22 situation: should I wait for a car, which I could flag down for some assistance, or run to the nearest farm? Murphy’s law dictated that, if I waited for a car, one wouldn’t arrive, and it would soon be dark; while, if I ran to the farm, a car would almost certainly appear and, with it, a grim end for my ovine friend.

After waiting for 10 minutes, with no sign of a car, I leapt over the dry stone wall and made for the farm. Fortunately, by the time I made it back to the cattle grid with the farmer, the lamb was still bleating. I had to kneel on the cattle grid, with my arms through the bars, shepherding the lamb towards the farmer, while trying to avoid getting my rear nibbled by the lamb’s apoplectic mother. We finally managed to squeeze the lamb out through the bars. The poor little thing’s heart was going crazy. Almost as many beats per minute as my own.

Upsetting Shap’s sheep

This week, I received an email from the organisers of the San Francisco Marathon, which suggested that I should incorporate some hill work into my training so that I’d be well prepared for the hills at miles 3, 5 and 22 on race day. You can follow the course of the San Francisco Marathon at and Given Shap’s location, virtually all of my long runs have been through the mountains. In fact, I’ve struggled to find flat courses to do some timed speed work in preparation for shorter races like tomorrow’s 10km Great Manchester Run. My estimated time for the race is therefore a real guess, but at least it has got me into a quick starting pen. After the congestion in the London Marathon, being able to get away quickly and run at my own pace will be a big advantage.

Harris and Ross’ Alan Raw has worked hard this week to get me ready for tomorrow’s race. Alan investigated the cause of some recent tightness in my left achilles tendon and checked to see if my trainers were contributing to the problem. Some acupuncture helped to release the tightness, and some new stretching exercises will hopefully stop it coming back. I’ve also developed an unexpected dedication to Alan’s core stability exercises to prevent a recurrence of my piriformis problem. If the alternative is having acupuncture knitting needles in my rear again, I swear I’ll get doing the exercises.

You can now follow my detailed training plan online at Google docs: I update the plan with feedback on the various training runs (average speed, average heart rate, my energy level) and Laith tailors the plan accordingly. It also details the regular VO2 max tests which I’ll be taking in the run up to San Francisco (see Saturday, 18 April 2009’s blog, “Dr Ron Hill MBE” for a full explanation of the test).

Good luck to fivemarathons’ Amanda, Lucy, Martin and Kirsten in tomorrow’s Great Manchester Run. Full details in the next blog (unless I have a complete shocker, in which case I may overlook it).

This week’s training schedule:

Monday, 18 May 2009 5 miles easy
Tuesday, 19 May 2009 Warm-up, 3 x 1 mile fast, 4 minutes jog, warm-down
Wednesday, 20 May 2009 6 miles steady
Thursday, 21 May 2009 10 mins jog, then 8 x 40 secs uphill, jogging back down, then 10 mins jog
Friday, 22 May 2009 Rest
Saturday, 23 May 2009 5 miles easy
Sunday, 24 May 2009 15 miles brisk

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NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004