I had to go away and check what the quarantine day number we were up to. To be honest, every day merges into the next and the one previous at the moment. If I didn’t wear a watch I wouldn’t actually know what day of the week it was. (Tuesday, I’ve just checked. At least it was when I started this write-up!)
In a similar vein I had intended to do a weekend write-up like I’ve done previously. But it sort of slipped past me without me realising it had gone. Eeek. With the business being dormant at this time my inclination is against going out and buying the contents of Amazon due to being bored. So at least that’s something useful that’s kicked in. The news thus far seems to be that nothing is going to change for another couple of weeks at least so care over spending remains important! And whilst today there was something in the news that vaccine trials were about to start, there was also another article suggesting that the Coronavirus had potentially mutated in over 30 different ways. It could well be a more complicated puzzle to solve, but we hope for the best on that.
Anyway, not a huge amount has happened in terms of life updates since my last post, but here’s a training summary:
As the time in lockdown has gone on, I’ve made a more definite effort to mix up the training to try to avoid injury. With the 5th anniversary of falling ill today it was an important reminder to, above all, keep my physical fitness intact in order to preserve my mental fitness. My ‘statutory’ single daily period of outdoor exercise has become increasingly the focus of the day, without which I probably wouldn’t bother getting out of bed.
Having run quite hard yesterday I opted for a gentle spin on the bike. It was sunny but cold and windy after a few days of glorious spring weather. Being that I was still finding my feet again with outdoor cycling I didn’t want to do anything too complicated. 5 years ago I’d concocted some concept of a ‘Tour De Stockport’ following on from the Tour De France having come through the UK. It was all very vague and pleased my fragile mind at the time, whilst being otherwise entirely pointless.
Today’s ride was basically a half-baked relive of that half-baked idea.
It did the job of being a relaxed workout and to build up a bit more confidence away from the turbo trainer!
Having had a day off from running I was back out soon enough. No plans for speed; indeed my intention at this time is to keep things gentle and try to build up a decent base fitness. This has in itself been challenging as my body hasn’t seemed to be quite as willing to go along with this as the mind was, resulting in all sorts of strange spikes and odd training results. The longer I go on the more sure I am that I’ve had an underlying bug or virus (albeit not THE virus) so it’s been a balancing act with trying to ensure the training isn’t hindering good health.
With that in mind today’s run was all about exploring; start on the trails I know and then find some unfamiliar ones to follow to see where they go.
Turns out the answer is ‘mostly in circles’ but I had an enjoyable trip out and managed to not meet too many people, which was another aim in the mix!
For some reason I decided I needed another bike day. I think it boiled down to having seen Karen having ridden the Cat & Fiddle route and that I wanted to do that again. Another route that I last visited in 2015. So with glorious weather I set off up the A6 towards Buxton.
I remembered the route to be much tougher than I found it today, although I was quicker around it last time which might explain the different effort levels. Actually the climbs were fine, it was the fast decents on broken up tarmac that I wasn’t happy with. Coming off the tops and dropping through Walker Barn towards Macclesfield I was very conscious that it would be easy to end up on the tarmac or in a hedge. And despite the lockdown there always seemed to be cars directly behind me (all probably hating the fact I was in front of them!)
The day finished off with the weekly virtual yoga session. Good times.
Clearly the Cat & Fiddle ride didn’t satiate the bike ride needs that I had as I decided to have another bike day. I blame the virus…..
Anyway, having done the vaguest of Stockport tours earlier in the week I decided today I’d do the full tour. I had vaguely mapped it out the night before, but in the end I did the route from a mixture of local knowledge and memory.
Both worked quite well until I got into the 4 Heatons, north of Stockport centre. Then my sense of navigation, direction and, well common sense all deserted me. For some reason I couldn’t remember which Heaton was which and tried to convince myself I’d completely missed one of them. I had to cycle all the way through Heaton Mersey so I could be sure that was where I thought I was. And Heaton Moor was a tale of getting confused and cycling out the wrong side and ending up in Burnage, a more direct route I could have used from my mistake in Heaton Mersey. Anyway, after that kerfuffle I managed to take a trail route through Reddish Vale Country Park which was very nice, but a little ambitious on well-worn skinny road tyres. Amazingly I didn’t fall off, so I’ll take that as a result.
In the end I think the only village I didn’t visit was Mellor, which is out on a limb up a steep hill from Marple Bridge. I thought about it. And decided it could wait for a future even-more-complete-tour of Stockport. Preferably biked by someone else!
After all this cycling it was time for a road run and it was back to my Norbury Hollow loop.
Last week I’d tackled the anti-clockwise loop in a faster time than my 2016 effort. Looking at my records I’ve never really run the route clockwise. But given the lack of other things to do right now, it seemed like a good time to start.
As I’ve mentioned previously, whilst I use Strava to record the social aspects of my running, I don’t use the leader-board function; essentially this decision was a privacy issue but practically I find it can be distracting. Not least when you’re aiming to do slower runs, but then end up on a segment that you know someone has done quickly and….. Well we all know how that ends up.
There’s a 2 mile section of undulating road where I managed to improve my own time last week going anticlockwise. And I decided I’d like to try the clockwise version. It’s slightly different to approach because the start of this road is much nearer home and at the end of a initial climb when you’re maybe not as warmed up. That’s the reasoning I’ve always given myself for it being markedly slower for me than going the other way. And this time was no different with me really struggling with my breathing throughout.
In the end the section was quicker than I’ve done before, yet still some 40 seconds slower than in the other direction. So whilst I need to do some gentle running, that’s one effort I’ll be revisiting.
Today was a gentle effort with fundraising in mind.
Throughout the running community there has been a “Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5” challenge. Most people have been running a 5k for this, but as I’ve always worked in miles, I decided to stick with that. Apart from that I have a couple of regular and local 5 mile loops I’ve been using for many years.
So I went for the ‘traditional 5 mile loop’ – the one I’ve used throughout the 15 years I’ve been running (although bizarrely according to Strava I’ve only ever done it 4 times…….)
I think I still pushed things a little harder than I had intended looking at my split times, but it was a bit slower so no real complaints there. It’s a simple and pretty dull route, but not too busy with other pedestrians.
Last weekend one of my running group tackled a local way-marked path, the Cown Edge Way. I was sort of aware of it before then, but not very consciously. I’ve previously run along Cown Edge which is the other side of Marple. I’d also seen a sign in Hazel Grove which mentioned the Cown Edge Way, but at the time I didn’t make sense of it as I knew Cown Edge wasn’t in Hazel Grove. Anyway, once Chelsea & Mark had told the group about it, I went online to do some finding out about the route.
It’s a waymarked path which runs from Hazel Grove to Woodley via Cown Edge, something of a major diversion. Directly it’s about 6 miles between the when villages. The Cown Edge Way is 17ish miles. I say ‘ish’ because depending on whose map you use it seems to vary in length between 15.5 and 17 miles. Coupled with the fact that on the route the waymark signs don’t always seem to follow the path shown on the maps, it increases that discrepancy still.
Here’s my route:
Now you’ll see it states 21 miles. What you have to allow for initially is that I had to run about 1.5 miles from home to the start of the path, and I left my watch running after I finished the path until I decamped into a Londis to get more to drink! My time in and around the path itself resulted in an approximate distance of just under 19 miles. Which means there was about 2+ miles of me blundering about looking for signs and getting stuck in fields……
It started out pretty ropey. I found the starting sign in Hazel Grove, and within 50 yards the path had split into 3 which left me puzzling over the map to find the correct option to get me out of Hazel Grove in the first place! Still eventually I made it to the other side and before long was traversing Stockport Golf Course along with most of the rest of Stockport.
I turned off the path too early and followed the trail to Marple Rugby Club from the other day; instead I should have gone one turning further. Either way it didn’t make a lot of difference and I crossed the Middlewood Way and into Marple Golf Course. Which was similarly littered with people. And Dogs. And children. And bikes. And Children on bikes. Getting onto the canal was a relief before I found myself fumbling along a track desperately trying to spot the waymarking signs.
The map helped and eventually I had crossed a few more fields, passed through Turf Lea and had crossed the Peak Forest Canal heading up towards Linnet Clough. Plenty of people about than I would have liked. On the flip-side fewer way marking signs! Getting across Mellor Golf Course seemed like a big moment and getting to the church was relatively straightforward.
The section beyond was much more navigation by touch as I bounced between different stiles whilst the GPS seemed to chirrup at random that I wasn’t on the right path. No great surprise given the lack of signage at this point! For the first time on this trip I found myself in a field I couldn’t get out of and had to backtrack. Then there was more blundering about on different paths until I finally worked out which was the right one to take me across Gun Lane. From here it was straightforward, past the Picking Rods and then up and over Cown Edge itself, at last!
It was windy on the tops, but at least the descent towards Charlesworth was decent and easy. At least until I got to the bottom where the GPS was shrieking at me despite the fact there had been no choice of route to screw up. It turns out that it’s based on fewer waypoints and the path itself bends all over the place. But it was very annoying all the same as I seemed to be stopping and checking and rechecking over and over.
Charlesworth was again a complete horlicks, first finding the right path and then having to know that it veered off invisibly so you didn’t end up on a different road. By this point I was in full dialogue with the GPS much to various passers by amusement.
I reached a new set of flats and whilst there was a sign leading me out of the woods it took ages to find out where it went after this. Some blundering about and eventually I was pointed towards a footpath which led me back to the main road before turning off towards Tameside. This stretch seemed pretty straightforward, although once I got into Back Wood, there was clearly another path that I didn’t see; I saw a waymarking sign but not long after the GPS was telling me off again!
It was actually this section where things really unravelled. I made it through the wood, still following waymarking signs, despite the GPS saying otherwise. I crossed Apple Street into a field (waymarked) only to find another field with no exit. And the GPS was showing much further up Apple Street! So that wasn’t particularly helpful. I climbed up the hill only to miss the turning and have to retrace, after which there was much toing and froing until I worked out where I was supposed to cross Werneth Low Golf Course.
With this mileage being quite a bit more than I’d planned, my water supply was running low, so I dropped my pace and spent lots of time looking at buildings to see if there was maybe an accessibly outdoor water tap. At least once I was on Werneth Low I knew my way (broadly speaking) to the finish, but it was a definitely relief to get done. The search for water continued as I walked through Woodley village but in the end I remembered a convenience store which I hoped would still be open, and thankfully it was. Unfortunately they had a minimum card amount which meant I needed to buy more things (although they were eaten and drunk!) and as such, the final run/walk home was slowed down further by the extra weight!
It was a good trip out and I’ll give it another go to nail the navigation properly. Then we might actually find out the distance of the Cown Edge Way!
After such a long run yesterday, today’s exercise was simple. On the bike. To and from the airport. Simple and easy. And very windy!
I didn’t want to do anything too heroic today. It was windy and it was a warm afternoon. I knew I needed to visit the pharmacy to pick up my medication so thought I’d do a 5k. But then I remembered I had a 5 mile loop to do in the opposite direction to last week, so I did that instead!
Turns out I’ve done this 9 times according to Strava. Again, I’m still not convinced even that’s right, but at least it’s numerically closer to what I had anticipated.
The run was not done quick, and yet I was still out of breath which wasn’t a good sign. However Garmin seemed to think I was doing OK as it revised my performance metrics up again to what I think is the joint highest they’ve ever been (according to Garmin). So I’ll take that as a positive and hope that, as this lockdown continues on, my fitness continues to improve!