Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The hills are alive with the sound of...runners' feet

Perfect North Downs
View from North Downs just West of mid February!

Sticking with theme of offroading in new and exciting places in and around London took me and the other half to Dorking to run on the Surrey Hills.

I'm in love with the place. There is something about big open spaces that I'm drawn to (hoping this will add to my enjoyment of marathon des sables, being rather big and open).

Added to the beauty of the place was that the sun decided to join us. Positively balmy! Running past vineyards made me feel like I was in France, not Southeast England in February.

For the marathon des sables training plan I'm trying to fit in more challenging runs than flat roads in London, so the North Downs was perfect. It has hills. It has mud.

What hill training happened?
Saturday was an extremely hilly 10km up and around Box Hill. Now most people generally take the well marked trail path or road up to the top of Box Hill. Not me. My other half decided the right path was one that looked suspiciously like a wrong path. We ended up scaling the sharp end of Box Hill instead.

I could go on about men and directions, but I'm not going to. I'm just going to put this paragraph in bold instead.

Climbed up this steep Box Hill!
Climbed up this. Rock climbing equipment not to hand.

On the plus it worked my calves out like nothing else. It was probably coming up for a 65-70% incline so it was a case of scrambling and holding onto tree roots to scale it's heights...

And not looking down.

Considering I've now heard some of the sand dunes on the marathon des sables are pretty scary to climb, I reckon this "training" we did (aka got lost) was probably a good thing. I just wish I could get used to not being scared of heights!

Sunday was more of a horizontal affair, though still hilly. More like rolling woodland than in-your-face vertical incline which was a little more pleasant. We ran 20 miles west from Dorking along the North Downs Way.

Why should runners do hill training?
I've posted on my hill training previously, but to recap I'm trying to concentrate on hill training to build my strength, build my running fitness in general (so I can run further before I get completely worn out), and get my legs used to running up hills, as there are going to be a lot of dunes to crawl over in April in the big sahara race.

So I've been a lot of running in places like Ally Pally, Queens Woods and Hampstead Heath, but it's always good to get out of London sometimes - particularly for me at the moment. I am suffering from a severe case of LACK OF ENTHUSIASM FOR RUNNING.

The North Downs, I am glad to say, has revitalised my love of running. How could you fail to be happy out in somewhere like this? In mid February as well? Happy days.

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