Desert ‘Heat’ Training – UK Style

Tapering is going quite well. My desire to reduce my weekly mileage has, through necessity though, been easier to manage than I had anticipated.

Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein – Nice and warm!

Liz is away at the moment in South Africa ‘fetching’ her mother, as she is moving back to the UK after well over 50 years. She has lived in the same flat in Bloemfontein for 30 years now, so as you can imagine there is substantial amount of accumulated ‘memorabilia’ to sort through and at 85 this is a significant move. It will be for the best though, as she will be a lot closer for her immediate family to look after her and provide the care she needs.

While Liz is away it has not been as easy to get out and run because of other family duties, even though I’ve had the assistance of a friend of ours, Colleen, for a few days and although she has been a star, I’ve still been working from home but for some reason have not had the ability to wake up and get out the door early in the mornings. Perhaps it’s just the weather or maybe last week took it out of me a bit more than I realised.

Interestingly, one thing I did notice was that after a slow, but ‘hard’ long run last week, which included many hills and a full backpack, I have had a few great pace runs during this week, i.e. runs where I’ve found it relatively ‘easy’ to maintain a faster pace than previously, including one around the City and two with hills around Guildford and I actually recorded my first sub-4:00 km for about 2½ years, so obviously I’m pleased about that.

Guildford - 2 hours into a long run
Guildford – 2 hours into a long run

Nevertheless, cause and effect aside, the tapering or at least the reduction in my weekly volume of running has decreased nicely to about 2/3 of my previous peak week.

On this basis I was planning on doing about 18 miles this morning on my weekly long run, having run every day during the week to keep my legs ticking over, and ensure my body is as familiar as possible with the onslaught it is about to get in a couple of weeks time in the desert. It was not the distance that concerned me this morning though, it was the forecast. Rain is one thing, but snow in March, nearly April at that, is another thing. The forecast was for rain pretty much continuously overnight, but at 7:00am this was purported to be turning to snow – about an hour into my planned run.

Weather forecasters have not been renowned for the accuracy of their predictions, especially in the UK where our climate can be dynamic, to say the least, but this morning they were spot on.

I had decided to keep to the roads because the trails had been getting progressively worse recently while I had been running and I didn’t fancy today’s long run turning into a mudfest with the associated puddle dodging and surface slipping with which I would otherwise have to contend. Although this was a good decision, even the flats were full of standing water and there were plenty of areas of flowing water on the slopes, from the ongoing deluge as well.

Undeterred, I ploughed on, accepting the dampness in my shoes and the cold in my feet, reminiscing it had been a lot worse at the Thames Trot a few weeks ago.

Guildford Snow - March!
Guildford Snow – March!

Surely enough though, about an hour into my journey around the outskirts of Guildford, the rain was beginning to lighten, not in intensity but literally in weight, becoming far more affected by the prevailing winds (which I always seemed to be running into!) and as incredulous as it seemed it was beginning to snow and the meteorologists predictions had been right.

By the end of the next hour, the crystalline precipitation had started to settle, and although damp the roads were becoming noticeably more slippery as I made my way from Clandon back towards Guildford town centre. In fact, the last 5km was downright dangerous to my ankles and I wondered if I might have made a bad decision to wear my Inov-8 255 Road shoes which have absolutely NO tread to them as I slid around on the fine layering of damp snow through which I was leaving my first contact footprints.

I made it home safely though and the children excitedly informed me it was snowing, as I walked through the door 🙂

So, with just 2 weeks to go until the first stage of the MdS, where the other 1000 competitors and myself are likely to experience 35-40°C midday temperatures, I am currently training in an effective -4°C temperature.

Not ideal for acclimatisation, but hey…. Mad dogs and Englishmen 😎

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