After the near disaster of a week that I covered in my last post, this week has been a lot more sedate. And hasn’t involved the bike at all.
I’ve also decided to change things up a bit with the workouts. Previously I’ve been linking to Strava, but it’s actually not my preferred platform at all, even though many runners and cyclists use it. To be honest, I find it all a bit too ‘Facebook’ copycat for my tastes and whilst it’s nice to be able to see what friends have been getting up to it doesn’t provide me with any more information than Garmin supplies. You can pay for their premium service, but to be honest that still doesn’t give me anything that Garmin connect doesn’t.
That said, I’m not a great fan of Garmin Connect either. It tries to be an all encompassing portal to all the things my watch can do, most of which I’m not that bothered about seeing.
Moving over to Smashrun
Instead, my preferred platform is Smashrun, which I’ve used as my primary running resource since early 2014. Unlike Strava it’s focus in only on the data in my runs. And unlike Garmin Connect the information is just what I’m after, rather than a couple of additional kitchen sinks that I own but didn’t really want included in my running data. Like Strava, Smashrun has a free version containing some of the features plus a paid-for ‘pro’ mode which unlocks a lot of statistical information which keeps my inner geek happy.
It’s also a platform I direct newer runners to. I’ve found that some runners get really overwhelmed when they look to see what everyone else is doing (on Strava) with their running. Suddenly they’re making comparisons which are neither appropriate or useful. Instead Smashrun is really good at giving a runner the focus on their own running. An especially nice touch is the digital challenge badges which start off very simply; first mile run, first 5k, first 10k etc but then stretch off into run-streaks, elevation challenges and more. It’s all very friendly and motivational, but not in a crass insincere way. The badges are even available for the free membership so it’s a nice way of getting something back (the badges) whilst being able to focus on the bits you’ve got control over.
It’s developed by three runners rather than a huge team and feels very personal. I’ve also found them super helpful with queries in the 7 years I’ve been a member.
More recently they have added a ‘social’ tab where you can see what friends have been up to. But this is a secondary aspect unless Strava which is all about what everyone else is doing (in my opinion at least!).
Check out Smashrun, it’s really good fun.
Right, onto the week that was.
Monday should really have been a bike ride. However I was still very sore from Wednesday’s bike fall and really didn’t want to go there at all.
This was my very simple 4 mile-ish loop. I was still taking things very gingerly although the various bits of me that had met the tarmac rapidly seemed to be holding up. It was more an acceptance that I’d covered 10km each day for the last 3 days and I didn’t want to be overdoing anything. I have no idea when I’d next be able to get a physio appointment whilst everything is up in the air.
It was, however, nice to have the trails to myself after such a busy weekend!
I decided to return to my favourite 5 mile loop through Norbury Hollow. The plan wasn’t to do a hard effort, but there is something of an acceptance in that when I’m on the road I tend to push on.
It was hard work today and I really wanted to walk a lot of the back section through Middlewood. I kept it going though and was only stopped by the level crossing. Yup, I’d forgotten to check the time I was about to set out and managed to cop for the double-train experience. The signalman joked that I’d had a breather as he opened the gates and the reality was that this was the case. I like to be able to compare my times on the section (which includes getting through the crossing) but at the end of the day, I’d not set out to set a time. I was just happy to have kept going.
Another reason for the lack of enthusiasm for a belter of a run was that I had plans for the Wednesday. And after having my plans messed up a week prior, I was certain I wasn’t going to risk it again.
I’d been planning a return to Cown Edge for several weeks. Last Thursday would have been ideal as it was a clear, sunny but not overly warm day. Sadly, the bike fall put paid to that, however this Wednesday’s forecast was looking promising. The only issue was that it was also set to be the hottest day of the year, and I knew that my route would be 20 miles minimum.
So the plan instead was to get out early. Like, be on the way before 7am when usually I’m trying to fill myself with coffee at 10am with a hope to be functional before lunch. Having had a number of route fails when I followed the Cown Edge Way last month I was keen to see if I could nail them a bit better this time around; I’ve had a couple of requests as a guided run so it would help if the guide knew where they were going…..
That said, with the day being forecast so warm I didn’t want to be doing an excess mileage. I’d looked at some of the early part of the route again a couple of weeks ago. The problem with following the full route from the start of the Cown Edge Way is that, from home I’ve got to head west for about 1.5 miles before then retracing my steps, but not in a very direct way. Instead I decided to go direct from home to Strines and then pick up the Cown Edge Way from there.
It looked something like this (note that I save myself about 4 miles compared to running the full Cown Edge Way):
Now it’s worth highlighting that Smashrun has the option for a pirate-themed map which looks like a film scene treasure map. As a map it’s uncluttered and whilst it lacks some of the detail of other maps, it’s much more pleasing to the (my) eye. To make it even more pirate-y they’ve amended every place name including the letters “ar”with “arrrr”. It’s very silly but it makes me smile every time. I
I was quite surprised just how many people were out so early in the morning and I even bumped into another member of the running group who was out for a quick blast before work. Even at 7am it was warm, but it was pleasant and I was glad I’d made the effort. And once past Mellor, I only saw a few walkers out which was great too.
The navigation started out OK although I got stuck in the same field on the way through Ludworth Moor as last time. The difference was that this time I knew what I was looking for, but the signage confused me. Last time I was a bit gung ho and sailed past everything before having to work my way back. Anyway, I knew I was wrong almost immediately and worked my way back to find the stile. Which, to be fair, the sign was pointing straight at……!
The rest of the climb was easy second time around. And this time, I remembered to look for the Picking Rods, another megalithic structure. To be fair I saw them last time and there was a family eating their lunch on them, so getting a photo then wasn’t really practical. This time, I had it to myself, albeit without lunch!
Cown Edge, and Coombes Edge were both fantastic. It wasn’t as clear as I’d hoped as there was a bit of a heat haze, but I had it all to myself. And a lot of sheep as well. Just gorgeous really. And I came off the Edge without any confusion this time (no GPS shrieking I’m not where it thought I should be…….).
That was until I got into a field that I couldn’t get out of. I’d misread a sign on a stile as being for the Cown Edge Way but then couldn’t understand why the footpath was going away from Charlesworth. I pratted about a bit before returning over the stile and following the path into the village; no idea why I messed up this time when I was fine last time. Hey ho.
In the village I stopped off at the shop to get an extra bottle of pop. I had plenty of fluids with me but I remember last time discovering I was running a lot further than planned and I didn’t want to run out of water again!
There was a bit of faffage in a few more fields as I was pre-empting a left turn that I missed last time by trying to turn left at every stile. Not recommended!
The rest of the run was pretty uneventful; I found all the paths I needed to including the ‘hidden’ path in Back Wood. It turns out the path is very obvious, but the Cown Edge Way is signed in the direction I went last time. So either the official GPS trace is wrong, or the signs are wrong. But it was nice to emerge from where I expected to this time.
By the time I arrived in Woodley I’d run 16 miles which left 6 more of road to get me home. A successful day and a beautiful run.
The regular Zoom yoga session allowed me some further stretching out after my endeavours!
The day after a long run is often one where care is required. I’ve been aiming to get out and do some exercise every day during lockdown (at least since 31st March) and I didn’t want to break this. Cycling wasn’t on the cards, so instead I headed into the local trails again:
The fact was I had nothing in my legs, which wasn’t a huge surprise. What turned out to be a huge surprise was when I decided today would be a set of hill repetitions….!
It’s a hill I’ve earmarked for the task previously but usually when I’m running through I have other plans for the run. This only started out because there were other walkers in the area clambering over the stiles I’d usually head over and rather than waiting I ran down the hill again. And then did it another 6 times for reasons only known to my head, before tottering off home, knackered!
It’s fair to say that on Friday, I did not want to do any exercise at all. I was totally shattered by Wednesday’s big run. Under normal circumstances I’d probably have chosen a gentle bike ride, but with gale-force winds, I really didn’t feel safe going on 2 wheels. Not given I’d only just fallen off with no provocation by the weather!
Today was different because for the first time in 8 weeks or so, I had a work visit to make. I’d normally drive having spotted a footpath trail I’d never previously noticed, the day miraculously morphed into another running day!
I think there was as much intrigue as anything having been blissfully unaware of this footpath. Actually I was blissfully unknown that Bramall Park even had a golf club until I arrived. And boy was it windy. It was a headwind pretty much all the way there. I knew it must be strong when it was blowing me off my feet. I also realised my beard must be getting quite big when it seemed to be travelling in another direction to the rest of me…….
Anyway, job done and I got home and collapsed in a heap! Garmin told me off for overdoing it. To be fair, it was totally correct!
After another decent night’s sleep I felt OK on Saturday, but with the winds still at gale-force I wasn’t keen on getting the bike out. So I had a bit of a quandary about what to do.
My first task was work, but this time I decided that using the car was FINE. In fact it was entirely based on my wondering how much distance I had saved by using all these footpaths as cut-throughs.
It turns out the answer was ‘not a lot’. My driving distance was 7.5 miles and the running distance was 7.1 miles. And the car was quicker too (that question wasn’t outstanding).
I’d received a parcel the previous evening which was some equipment for the music production. However, within ten minutes of opening the box it was clear the microphone stand was of pretty poor quality and I was filling out my Amazon return form. It turned out that they used Hermes as their return courier, and this gave me a reason to go out, to post it. Today wasn’t about speed or anything. Today was a walk and nothing more than that!
The Hermes website had quoted a distance of 0.5 miles to the drop-off shop, something I was highly dubious about. Indeed it was just over 1 mile away when I got to the shop. I decided, whilst I was out, that I’d have a bit of a meander on the way back. Ironically, in doing so I found a trail short-cut that probably wouldn’t have been too far off the 0.5 mile quoted, although some of the trail was clearly not well trodden. And I might have to look on the map to see if it’s officially a trail anyway (although most of it was pretty obviously cleared as such).
Having returned far quicker than planned I set off back to my favourite trails, and the original “1 mile return” morphed into 5 miles!
Sunday had started out (in the planning stage) with so many things that were going to happen. But I overslept and that put paid to most of them. A running friend had been out since Friday afternoon undertaking a 48 hour challenge and I’d hoped to get over to see him early morning. Oh well. It turned out later that he’d also posted locations for the final section of his challenge, but I’d already been for a run by that stage and wasn’t really capable of keeping up with him!
As it was, I went back on the local trails, albeit with most of the borough wandering around them at the same time. I don’t think I’ve seen it that busy before, although in fairness once I’d run about a mile I didn’t see anyone until I was almost back home again. Here’s the route:
In all honesty today’s run was really just making up the numbers rather than going out to do anything in particular. Including yesterday’s walk it took the total mileage for the week about 50 miles, and for the month to date, to 155 miles. So that’s pretty pleasing given the aim was 100 #MilesforMIND plus me nearly hospitalising myself part way through by falling off the bike!
The afternoon was one of wrestling with one of my old 1990s tracks. It was a problem child back then, and it appears nothing has changed. It’ll hopefully reach soundcloud sometime soon. but whether that’s through success or through stalemate (like 30 years ago) remains to be seen!
Do you like the new visuals? Do the links work OK?