When I was a teenager I had a bike for road and an off road bike which we used to call scramblers. I always thought that in the future I’d build myself a better scrambler using new parts rather than the battered, salvaged parts we used back then. It turned out that I needn’t have worried because after I’d been to university, where running was my chosen sport, mountain bikes appeared within a few years. Life was good.
I ran regularly even after I was riding a mountain bike but after 1992 I only ran if I couldn’t ride so it was mainly an activity for winter evenings after work. By 1995 I’d met other mountain bikers but continued to run on winter evenings. By 2012 I had sold a business and was free to ride during the days, summer or winter, so running became a rare experience. I don’t think I’ve been for an actual run since 2015 but with gloomy skies and oncoming darkness today cycling was out and I thought a run would be an interesting change.
I’d often used a run of around 4 miles starting at home which initially falls by 20 meters then rise 34 meters to it’s highest point. It falls gently again by around 15 meters to the halfway point where I spin around to run the same route in reverse. My best ever time must have been set in 2004 or thereabouts and I remember that it took me 26 minutes and 53 seconds, beating my previous best from about 8 years earlier by a single second. I seem to have a habit of beating PBs by a single second and can only hope that consistency is a good thing. Shortly after this I caught a very common virus caller Parvo B19. I know Parvo is usually associated with dogs but this is a human form. My 3 year old son had had it, had red cheeks and lost his appetite for perhaps 24 hours. I’d taken him to the doctors to be told that it was the fifth childhood virus after mumps, measles, rubella and chicken pox. Apparently it was trivial and yes, he was over it quickly. I then caught it but the outcome was very different. I had a deep exhaustion and feverish feeling which persisted for some time. When I returned to exercise I found that I’d lost a considerable amount of speed and never got it back. Maybe if running had been my only interest I could have trained my self back to my previous form but the following spring I was mountain biking again so my loss of 30 seconds per mile in my running was forgotten about until the next winter. I never managed the run in question in less than 30 minutes again.
Today I started out and it didn’t feel too alien but I had no idea whether I was running quickly or slowly until a point where I’d always check my progress. I was slow but I had no particular expectations. I listened to my breathing to pace myself, inhaling deeply every fourth step. Before the halfway point I was feeling some strain in my leg muscle behind the thigh, about halfway up. This continued for the rest of the run. The picture at the top is courtesy of Doctorlib.info and surprised me with the fact that I don’t know any of the names for leg muscles. I turned at 18 minutes 32 seconds and knew I was slow on the climb to the high point before a long descent. The last climb was easy because I knew it was nearly over. The return leg took me longer at 19 minutes 43 giving a total of 38 minutes 15. OK, with some practice I could soon improve on this time but I doubt that I will. Mountain biking is way more entertaining and road riding is a good second best. I made sure I stretched my legs when I got back and found that I was perspiring profusely. I’ve read that running burns more calories in a given time than any other form of exercise, so sweating is to be expected. I hope to ride on Boxing Day. Happy Christmas to all my readers.