Sunday, 22 August 2010

4-Hour Hill Run. Equipment: Shorts.

Location: The Malvern Hills, Worcestershire, UK
Date: Sunday - 22nd August

This was a wonderful outing in spite of the fact that I was in all kinds of pain by the end.

I left the house at 6.30 am with 4 objectives:
  • A long, 4-hour, low-intensity hill run to build endurance for upcoming races
  • Practice the 'Pose Running' technique I have been reading about
  • Toughen up my feet
  • Get some sun
I came back with a selection of photos to illustrate my success.


The Malverns from the A449 approach

I captured this photo as I approached in the car (okay, I know, that's not safe driving - but in my defense, there were no cars around - it had been a joy to speed through parts of the city like a knife through butter, where normally I'd have been mired in traffic.)

I would be running along that ridge, from right to left.

Getting Ready to Go

Waist bag with Mocs, car key and vest

I have no idea why I posed so weirdly!

Alright, so I had more equipment than just shorts. I took a vest, the car key and my Five Finger Mocs, which I expected to need to start wearing one my bare feet could take no more.

Toughening the Feet

The tarmac was okay

Yowser, this was tough on the
bare feet

The grassy paths were a relief

Some hard, stony paths hurt even
through the mocs

After 45 minutes, I needed the Mocs

The terrain was a mix of grass, tarmac, gravel and rocks.

I managed about 45 minutes before I needed to put the Mocs on. Compared to the Flow Treks I normally run in, the Mocs have wafer-thin soles. They are not really designed for trails, so I was impressed they managed the remaining 3 hours without any damage.

This was a bit like progressively exhausting muscles with lighter weights. As my feet got too sore to be bare, I donned the Mocs.... and frankly after about 3 hours, I could really have done with downgrading to the Flow Treks, which alas I did not have with me.

I consider this rather like training with the weighted vest. If I can train under more severe conditions than I race, then racing should seem easy.

Pose Running

This is the first time I have had a chance to try out the technique I have been reading about properly. There is a fair bit of shallow or flat terrain along those hills.

And it just clicked. Seriously - nothing has worked for me as suddenly as this. Perhaps it was because I was being forced to use the correct technique by having minimal or no footwear. Whatever the reason, I can honestly say, I have cracked it.

There is nothing that radically different about Pose Running versus correct barefoot technique (I suspect.) The epiphany for me was the 'leaning forward' part. I found that by quickly lifting my feet with my hamstrings (which the pain of running on stones forced me to do anyway) and leaning forward, I was speeding along under the power of gravity, rather than dragging myself along with my quads.

Getting Sun

There was plenty of sun for the fist couple of hours, as you can see from the blue skies silhouetted by a cyclist who was admiring the view from of the peaks. The UK weather has been a bit moody recently and I have been missing my natural dose of vitamin D.

The Long Easy Run (and Glorious Countryside)

Energy-wise, I felt good throughout... but my legs become progressively tired and achy. This was almost certainly due to the effect on my gait of experimenting with Pose Running. I pretty much reverted to my old technique after a couple of hours, as clearly my muscles need time to adjust. I think my gait was also affected by having a much thinner sole. By the end I was reduced to a shuffle.

This was the English countryside at its best - quiet, warm, teeming with wildlife and a gentle breeze blowing. I found some cows, some more cows, a beetle, some purple heather and a black dog. I also acquired, probably thanks to the presence of the cows, a small cloud of flies that buzzed around my head as I ran, as if in a cartoon. Swipe as I might, I could not shift them.

The flies so infuriated me that I made all kinds of plans to transport them back to the city if they followed me into the car, then get medieval on them once I got them back to the house. Alas, they dispersed once I got below a couple of hundred metres. Clever little b@stards, those flies - they must have figured out I had plans for them.

Food When I Got Back

Egg, avocado & cocoa dip, fruit, coconut cream

Crab and fennel soup with coconut cream

I was pretty hungry. Last night's curry and paleo pudding were filling, but after skipping breakfast, I was ready to devour a big lunch. The avocado and cocoa dip was a first for me - something I picked up from Girl Gone Primal. It was nice - I recommend it with fruit.


Rachel said...

Oh, boy. English countryside at its best. Yeah yeah, I am from Shropshire, but quite honestly? You can shove the rest. Midlands is best!

Chris said...

Looks nice. Interesting to read your expereinces barefoot on those hill.

You look like Jack Dee in one of those photos!

I was in the Cairngorms this weekend - that was nice too, but very midgey.

4 Winds said...

Looks a cracking run, may get up there next time I'm up that way

Methuselah said...

Rachel - I'm a big fan of Shropshire too, and spend much more time running at the Wrekin than the Malverns!

Chris - you're right, I do. I hadn't looked at myself up close in that shot. It looks nothing like me. Must be because it was so early in the morning.

4 Winds - the nice thing about it is not having to worry about a route. It's just a long line of mountains and that's it. Like the back of a stegasaurus.

Anonymous said...

Looking for hills? There's more to it than Shropshire...Try running up Porlock Hill in Somerset....the UK's steepest A-road. Even my car found that one hard to manage!

Methuselah said...

Anon - yes, that does look steep on the map, especially for a car... I bet it's a favourite for cyclists wishing to hone their hill climbing skills.