Challenging Myself

I live halfway up a hill. It’s hard to photograph hills, but this is the one that goes down beside my house, the wall to my yard is to the left. I walk down this hill to the woods during my warm up and then walk up it as my cool down.

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It carries on around that corner and goes down for about another 20 metres.  I’m sure you don’t think it looks like much, but at least once each winter I get my car stuck on it in the snow. In fact, winters here are punctuated by the sound of spinning tyres as idiots who don’t even live up here decide to go for a little drive in the snow…

Turning around and following this road around a corner it continues to rise slightly

009Yeah, no one here understands why they decided not to resurface that bit… It’s nothing huge at this point, just a slight rise and then there’s another corner at the end.

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And around that corner comes hell on earth for a new runner…

012011That light at the top? That’s not a joyful heavenly welcome to say you’ve finished the hill, that’s a bloody oncoming train. It doesn’t end there, it goes back to another slight rise for about 20 metres and then it goes right up again for another 30 metres or more, I’m normally about to pass out by that point. After that the road ungulates up and down in a way that isn’t too horrible but is still challenging.

The only Couch to 5k run that I have failed at (besides the one where my knees sent me home) was when I attempted to go up this hill. I’ve made great progress, I seriously could hardly walk up it before I started the plan and in my 5 minute warm up I got about halfway up it walking quickly. I then started to run and under four minutes later, feeling like I was going to die, I stopped running and walked, still not at the top of the hill. I managed the other 2 runs that day just fine, but this hill killed me, so of course it is now my nemesis and it must be defeated before I move (I’m looking but nothing seems to be coming up where I want to live).

Not just the hill though, oh no, that would be too easy. I want to run to the end of the road and back again, a distance measured by my car’s odometer to be 3.4 miles leaving from and arriving back at my front door. 5k is 3.1 miles according to Mr Google so it’s a tiny bit farther than the plan. I imagine that it will take me a few attempts to do it, the first few I will no doubt have to walk some of the hill and possibly other bits of the route. But each time I do it I hope I can get a bit further without walking.  I intend to try once a week, not sure when I’m going to start, I have just under 3 weeks left of C25K and 2 of those weeks are just long runs with no walk breaks so I don’t want to stop on the hill during those.

What I meant when I said that this challenge would cost me money was that my current running shoes are trail shoes, designed for running off roads rather than on them. My old trainers which are for roads are half a size too small, it turns out, which might explain why my feet hurt in them and kept going to sleep!

I read a lot about shoes, I looked at shoes in every sports shop I’ve been into and I’ve read blogs where shoe companies sponsor the bloggers so they talk about how wonderful their shoes are (why yes, I’d love free shoes and anything else you’d like me to test for you major sports companies, please get in touch, thank you). I have also been reading about bare foot running shoes which is indeed a contradiction in terms. As I’ve said I don’t want to run barefoot or in the really minimal shoes and I wanted some shoes that would help me with my mid-foot strike but with some padding to protect me when I run on a harder surface than I’m used to. Shoes have stupid names nowadays, but I eventually decided on Mizuno EVO Cursoris shoes.

Women's Wave Evo CursorisWomen's Evo Cursoris (45)Worn with my bright purple shirt I’m all set to scare the natives, blimey these are bright (couldn’t find the colours that are on the Mizuno site, although I’m not sure white shoes are a good bet in England). What I like about the description of these shoes (nowhere I have been has had these to try on but I have researched the sizing of them and they can be returned if they are a bad fit) is that they are designed for people learning to run in a mid-foot style. They also have the most padding in the mid-foot of any of this kind of running shoe, 12mm. The New Balance shoes I love and contemplated buying (mainly because they have 2 of my favourite colours I admit) have 4mm, so it’s a big difference and is supposed to make them more protective and stable to run in. All of this is what I’ve read by the way, mine aren’t here yet, I will of course give some sort of review after I’ve given them a go as I’m sure you’ll be absolutely fascinated by my observations.

I think this challenge will be a good way to try out new shoes and a new surface by only doing it occasionally rather than every run. Roads will be harder on my knees and joints in general, particularly my feet, so I wouldn’t go and do road runs in new shoes three times a week off the bat, running on soft forest paths has not prepared my body to do that.

Anyway, these range in price up to about £80 which is their RRP I believe. I found mine on Amazon for a lot less (from a sports shop with their own website and multiple shops, not just some Josephine Bloggs selling shoes she wore twice and didn’t like) which I think is a pretty good deal and was the cheapest price I could find after a morning of Googling whilst I decided what to buy. I believe, when it comes to running shoes, in buying the best you can afford. The best YOU can afford, I’ve read plenty of advice about shoes, but the vast majority of it I couldn’t take because I’d rather feed my kids than spend the food money on shoes, call me odd but that’s more of a priority. My current New Balance shoes weren’t very expensive (actually due to a mix up by the girl behind the till they cost me £5 as she scanned something else twice and didn’t scan the shoes) as I didn’t know if I was going to carry on running and I didn’t know which brands did what (they are W411 Trail shoes, mine are more mud coloured than black now though). These new shoes might not be for me but at least I should be able to get some use out of them while I decide what to try next, if I’d paid full price I wouldn’t have that option (if I’d paid full price for the NB I couldn’t have afforded the Mizunos).

So, watch out hill, I’m coming to get you in some shockingly bright shoes!

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