Last week I was very remiss. At everything. Running. Life in general. I blame hay fever. And so it was a mighty 5 days after my last run when I finally made it out again. On this occasion, I was running with someone considerably fitter than me. My brother. Rather than try to keep up, I decided to drag him down to my level. Unfortunately, even when running slowly, he was still much quicker. We toured Hampstead and the heath in convoy. He loped along around 100 yards ahead; I wheezed behind and pointed out favoured drinking venues of the minor celebrity. Arriving at the top of the heath, I took a short breather (to admire the lovely view) while he jogged energetically (and not a little annoyingly) on the spot. Then we headed home to chips for breakfast. On the plus side, it was an absolutely beautiful morning and I now know that the pain of running with faster companions will have a positive effect on my fitness. I was also delighted to discover we did just over 7 miles. No idea of time but, bearing in mind I'd very much 'fallen off the wagon' running-wise, I felt this was a good way to clamber back on.
And so, keen to build on my renewed enthusiasm, I went out again this morning. Having exchanged my visiting family for a visiting friend, I dragged her out with me. We did a similar run in terms of hills, but at a far more civilized speed. It was an interesting lesson in the precise impact that a change of pace can have on your body. I felt comfortable, my lung capacity was more than adequate and my legs didn't feel like they were made of dark matter. We did 4.18 miles in 47.42 minutes (11.24 minutes/mile). A pace that may not set the world alight, but was extremely enjoyable and I definitely feel back on track.
One minor downside, my nagging hamstring was definitely in evidence on both outings. On the upside, my lucky friend is a physio and got the exciting opportunity to treat my injury. She diagnosed that my piriformis was the issue and set about poking and prodding it to relieve the muscle spasms she suspected were referring the pain down my leg. It was by far one of the most agonising experiences of my life. And I'm not sure she didn't enjoy inflicting said pain a little too much. However, to give her credit, it immediately started to help. It's a great relief to know the cause - and an even greater one to know that it can be 'fixed'. As long as I do the exercises regularly. Hmmm...