These weekly updates seem to come around more rapidly than they should. Today is the 48th day since the lockdown was imposed in the UK. Aside from the lack of work (and thus me being at home all the time) I can’t say it’s had a massive impact. Of course the groups I run have had to cease for the time being and the task of trying to keep them going is all the more challenge in a virtual world. But I’ve spoken to most of my bell ringing group and the runners are pretty active on social media, so it’s good to know that all are well, or as much as they can be in the circumstances.
I commented in the last post about my frustration of people choosing to ignore the lockdown rules and again, another week goes by and more ignorance is being exhibited. This clipping was sent to me during the week and I think it sums up how I feel about those people!
After last week’s high mileage, this week has had a good attempt to keep up with it. Let’s dig into what went on.
One of my Lyme Runners who also lives in Hazel Grove has a keen eye for routes. And when I saw that she’d run to Mellor Cross I realised it wasn’t as far from here as I’d thought. To drive there it’s about 8 miles give or take, but going cross-country on foot it’s only 5ish miles each way.
In fact it became a mapping challenge to see if I could find the absolute shortest route from home and I established I could get there in just over 5 miles. It was a mixture of road, canal and trail and it looked like this.
Some of the route I knew, the rest was either new or I’d done it so long ago I couldn’t remember. A few map checks were made as I ran along the Goyt as I became convinced I was going to miss my turning to start the main climb of the run, but really it was pretty straightforward.
I also had Mellor Cross to myself and whilst i failed to record an Instagram video, I did manage a few photos!
I then ran home the way I came and crowned the route my new favourite 10 miler with just over 1400ft of elevation involved. Well you already know I don’t tend to do flat! It was also nice to see one of my ringing friends out for a walk so I was able to say ‘hello’ from the other side of the road.
I shared my photos with the ‘Tortoise’ WhatsApp group and was immediately asked if I’d had a look around Shaw Cairn whilst I was up there. This is another Bronze Age burial site where it’s believed (from the digs) that a high status female had been buried here. And I was kicking myself because I’d intended to have a look – last time I was there it was dark so there wasn’t a lot to be seen. Somehow I got distracted and headed straight back down again.
On the plus point, a reason to go back!
Normally having run a 10 miler the day before, any run the following day would be short and sweet. However I had already decided that I wanted to do another historical site and intended to head up to Mellor Church where there was evidence of a Bronze Age settlement with a bit of an exhibition there. I’d run that way a couple of weeks back when I followed the Cown Edge Way and it appears I ran straight past this without noticing……..
My plan was to pick up the Cown Edge Way and follow it to the church as I wanted to refresh my memory on the navigation which was sketchy at best. Rather than heading out of my way to start it from it’s end-point in Hazel Grove, I thought I’d pick it up in Stockport Golf Course. As with many of my plans, it was ‘fluid’ and I’d changed my route before this point, electing to cut across to the Middlewood Way earlier and joining the route as it headed across Marple Golf Course.
I bumped into one of the other Tuesday Patrolling Rangers from Lyme and it was nice to catch up with him. As to when we’ll be back inside Lyme Park doing our roles we have no idea.
I followed the Cown Edge Way down to the Goyt whereupon I decided that I actually wanted to go and look at Shaw Cairn more than the settlement exhibition. So for the second time in two days I found myself up at Mellor Cross, although this time I continued further up the hill to the trig point. It was busy too and I had to wait for a good while until I could get a photo without various other walkers and/or dogs photobombing the shot. It’s also the highest point in Stockport.
On the way back I decided that I didn’t want to go back the same way; it’s circuitous to say the least. Nor was I fond of the idea of canals and a long stretch of the A6. My original plan in Hawk Green was to drop down to the canal, but I ended up on a footpath I didn’t know about before I reached the water! It wasn’t particularly useful and didn’t bring me out anywhere helpful, but I continued following the road over the canal to pick up a footpath I’d seen on the map but hadn’t clocked in person. Until now.
Turns out it’s a good one and links up another selection of trails I’d seen but never worked out. With the longer outgoing leg the whole route ended up at 12 miles and nearly 1700ft of climb. It wasn’t a bad outing at all.
I returned home the delivery of some new cycling cleats which I’d ordered after the fiasco on Sunday and spent far too long trying to remove the old ones to fit these spangly new ones.
With two longer runs in two days, today was always going to be a bike ride. In particular I wanted to see if I’d fitted the cleats correctly as I really didn’t have much of a clue if there was anything I needed to watch out for. I just took a photo of the position of the old ones and tried to replicate it with the new ones.
With that in mind, the route was going to be simple and flat. So I jumped on the bike and headed onto the bypass which is simple and flat.
I’m not sure what happened whilst I was peddling along, but it culminated in me turning around when I got to the oil refinery and heading over to Marple instead. I do wish I understood my own thought process when it’s left to free-wheel…….
I am aware there was an idea which involved Mellor Cross, but thankfully that subsided. That obsessive compulsive part of my personality does have a lot to answer for. In the end I decided I really didn’t want a big climb and instead looped up through Hawk Green again and over Marple Ridge. There was still a hill to negotiate, and thankfully I didn’t meet and vans or wagons on it, and all was good. I was however aware that the right cleat had worked loose, which meant that once I got home I couldn’t unclip! In the end, leaping out of the shoe and tightening the one bolt I could see allowed me to separate shoe and bike! All bolts were subsequently tightened a lot more!
Having faffed about sorting out my increasingly rusty shed, and finding out that the click & collect options at the local DIY stores was akin to a Krypton Factor puzzle (see how many people get that reference!) I ended up ordering some Hammerite online to be delivered. Worryingly it was giving a 10 day window for said delivery, but by that point I’d lost the will to do it any other way!
The weekly virtual yoga class was derailed by a lack of electricity at the host’s house, so that was delayed until Friday. It was surprising how busy everyone else’s diaries seemed to be in terms of rescheduling; maybe it’s just me that isn’t going anywhere at the moment!
Any plans for an early morning run went out of the window when I didn’t get up early enough. I’d had a bad night getting to sleep for no particular reason. That said, I didn’t exactly have a feature-packed Thursday lined up.
The run was a complete dogs breakfast in all honesty. I seemed incapable of finding the entrances to some paths and I spent the first half dodging around a millionty zillion dog walkers as I picked my way through Happy Valley. It is a popular local walking spot a the best of times. But mid-morning on a warm lock-down day? Heaving! And boy was a it warm.
At many points there was an urge to drop to a walk, but I managed to keep moving, albeit not particularly quickly (no issue, I don’t need speed sessions at the moment!) and the shortish run ended up being over 7 miles (and flat). It was featureless and forgettable, but it served a purpose.
Since the start of May, I’ve been taking part in RUNR’s #MilesForMind charity fundraiser where I’ve pledged to run 100 miles during May. I’d always planned on front-loading my miles during the month as my hay-fever generally kicks in later on in the month, and I didn’t want to be having to put down some serious miles when I wasn’t feeling up to it. There are enough health issues going on at the moment without adding any additional stressors! My plan had been to roughly aim for 25 miles per ‘working’ week which I’ve always measured Monday – Sunday. However with May starting on a Friday and me heading out into the Peak District to bother some ancient rocks I was adding that mileage from the word go. By the end of the first 7 days of May I’d clocked up over 53 miles. Not planned that way, but it takes off the pressure going forward!
Friday was bike day. And whilst I wanted to get a decent ride in, I didn’t want it to be a high intensity ride. So rather than looking for the hills, I headed for Cheshire which is pretty flat.
The planned route was one I’ve done before, and in fact was one I was going to do last week until apathy set in and I didn’t get beyond Wilmslow. With Tatton Park shut I thought I’d do a loop down that way and then follow the roads all the way around the Park.
Except I misremembered the exact route and ended up drawing a nice excursion around Rostherne which I quite enjoyed. Although it did mean a stop to double check the map when I appeared at a featureless T-junction and had no idea which way was home!
What was very noticeable was just how many vehicles were on the road. Bearing in mind that we were a) in lockdown and b) it was a Bank Holiday (75th anniversary of VE Day) there seemed to be a suspiciously large number of ‘essential journeys’ being undertaken.
Otherwise all went well and the cleats behaved absolutely fine. I did check them a couple of times whilst I was out just in case, but it looks like the relevant tightening lessons had been sufficiently learned!
On getting home I had another delivery! My Hammerite had arrived. Pleasing that it had taken 2 days, not 10. Less pleasing in that it meant that I really needed to get on and do the painting which was on the list of ‘jobs I’ve been avoiding for years’!
Yoga went ahead with electricity and without a hitch in the evening. Order in the world has been restored!
Saturday was the ‘final’ day of the unseasonably good weather and the temptation was to get straight out for a run before it got too warm. Except I’d had another bad night and an early-rise wasn’t therefore on the cards.
I also knew I needed to get the shed sorted out before going out doing exercise as I know that it wouldn’t happen at all if I left it until afterwards. It’s too easy to get in, get showered and cleaned up and then sit in a heap feeling exercise-happy but with no plans to move another muscle. So it was out into the garden armed with a tin of paint and a set of ladders.
The shed hasn’t stood up to the weather that well, given these metal sheds are advertised as being robust. I’m not sure whether it’s being directly below a tree that drops several tons of discarded branches on it annually or that is sat un-built for about 6 months after it was first delivered. That said, it has been in situ for 10 years now. Anyway, the thin metal roof was pretty rusted and it was only a matter of time before it became too thin and disintegrated.
In the most part the paint job was pretty straightforward. One side of the shed is pretty accessible. It’s the side that’s amongst the trees and against the fence-line that was always going to be a problem. One only solved once I was part-way up the tree itself. Many occupational health rules were almost certainly discarded in the process of the paint job, but after a couple of hours it looked a lot less of a mess. Not that it was a simple task; the can of paint advised about how to clean the surface off. But it didn’t explain how to tell the tree to stop dropping its contents onto the wet paint whilst the job was going on! Nor did it advise the bird that emptied it’s bowels onto the roof either (at least I was on the other side of the shed at the time!!).
It was mid afternoon before I’d got my running shoes on. A running friend had made the trip to the exhibition site near Mellor Church the day before and so I decided that I would like to do the same.
The trip towards Mellor was pretty uneventful, other than the fact it was a very warm afternoon. There was a bit more cloud cover but that didn’t seem to reduce the temperature. Except for the wooded sections which were a very pleasant temperature. But as the outgoing trip was predominantly uphill and out in the open, it was a slow plod. Not a problem, the outing was about getting outside rather than trying to do anything speedy.
Before long I was at Mellor Church and a quick look around located the exhibition site. Turns out I’d run directly past it on my Cown Edge Way adventure, but I was so focused on making sure I was on the correct footpath that I didn’t notice!
The original plan was to retrace my steps, but my errant decision making process kicked in as I left the exhibition. Rather than following the Cown Edge Way back down the hill I followed the road from the church back down to Longhurst Lane, and then veered off on another footpath which brought me out just down from the Golf Club. It took a while until I was able to pick up the Cown Edge Way again because of the angle I’d approached it, but then it was a simple run back to the Goyt where I finally remembered to take a photo of the footbridge (everyone else has photographed it so I felt I was missing out!).
The rest of the trip home was uneventful until I made my way across Hazel Grove Golf Course. The footpath is obviously signed in the opposite direction, but with no visual clue as to where they path was I ended up drawing a figure of 8 with my GPS trace as I failed to find my way out of the course. In the end I retraced my steps and eventually found the footpath that took me back onto the main road and back home.
The evening’s entertainment was a OMD show that had been recorded during the 2019 tour but was being ‘broadcast as live’ on the internet. All good fun, lots of hit records spanning 40 years of the band. If you want to catch it in your own time, this is the link.
Sunday started even more slowly than the last few days. A late night (starting this blog post) and the hot long run yesterday had taken its toll. Despite the drop in temperature outside the house still seemed to be at melting point although opening a few windows seemed to cure that “problem”.
In fact much of the morning involved sitting in a heap drinking coffee, with a knackered pussy cat sparked out on my lap. The wind had got up overnight and that was dampening my enthusiasm for getting out and doing anything!
That said, the ‘move alert’ in my smartwatch would soon be nagging me to get off my rear and do something, and that something ended up being the 5 mile loop around the village that has featured a lot in my running career. In case you’ve forgotten:
Everything felt pretty tired and it started off being a case of one foot in front of the other until I got into a rhythm. It wasn’t intended to be anything other than about 30-40 minutes of smartwatch-pleasing goodness. An unsurprising reduction in ‘essential’ car journeys seemed to be going on today now the warm weather had gone.
What I didn’t expect was for Garmin to tell me I was getting fitter:
Now the whole VO2 max thing I think deserves it’s own post (to follow!).
Proper lab tests involve running to exhaustion on a treadmill whilst oxygen intake, exhaled air and vital signs are all accurately measured. This works out the maximum uptake of oxygen the body can utilise. Basically the harder the run the more oxygen the body will try to take in, but after a certain point, this reaches a limit, which is expressed as a volume of oxygen per mass of body weight per minute.
Anything done away from the lab conditions is only an approximation. There are numerous different tests which have been used over time to estimate the figure. In this case though, the number is something that’s been generated from a sports watch.
Sport watches take a bunch of user-input information plus HR data recorded during workouts from either a chest strap or, more recently with an wrist-based optical sensor. This is all fed into an algorithm (based on data averaged over many people) to generate an estimate of the VO2 max. However it doesn’t take into account a lot of the individual’s own physiology instead using averaged data from a large sampled population. It stands to reason that if an individual’s physiology differs significantly from the ‘average population’ being used in the calculations then the number being generated may vary wildly compared to that derived from a proper lab test. As such the generated headlin number is, in my mind, much less interesting than the progression of readings made over a period of time. It’s also worth noting that VO2 max (done properly) isn’t the only aspect that affects athletic performance. So whilst it’s an interesting number, it’s importance shouldn’t be overstated.
I’ve never done a lab test so I’ve no idea how close or otherwise the number is. But it is nice to see that the figure of 55mL/kg/min from early March has improved so much, although not entirely surprising given I was coming off the back of a period of very patchy training. I don’t need to see a number to know that my fitness has improved since I started training regularly!
This week’s mileage: 48 miles and 4972ft elevation running plus 52 miles and 1962ft elevation cycling.
If you’ve missed any of the previous weekly updates, here they are