At a quarter past eight this morning a wonderful expansive pink glow in the east heralded the beginning of the sun’s shortest traverse of the sky for this year. At Nottingham’s latitude it will take a little over seven and a half hours for the sun to make its low arching journey from south eastern to south western horizon. Tomorrow this journey will take about 3 seconds longer. Although it will be several months before the evenings offer appreciably more time for daylight running, it is perhaps a natural point at which to review the running calendar.

After the beginning of my training year was disrupted by increasingly severe asthma in January and February, and then by lingering pain from a nasty bruise beneath the left metatarsal head from stepping on a pebble in March, I had managed to build a fairly sound basic level of aerobic fitness with regular, low intensity and moderate volume running though the spring and summer. In October I felt quite pleased with my performance when I completed the tough, hilly 10 mile Dalbeattie Hardrock Challenge in 78 minutes. I then increased the intensity of training with the intention of running some shorter races in December and January. However in my second interval training session in mid-October I tore my right soleus muscle and was forced to defer further interval sessions for about 6 weeks. Eventually, by the end of November, I was running interval sessions again and in early December was pleased to do 6x1Km at an average pace of 4:20 per Km and average heart rate in the upper aerobic zone (140-143). Then a week ago, I developed a rather unpleasant cold which took the wind out of my sails for another week.

Today I set out for a run at midday with no plan other than to run as my body dictated. The pink of dawn had by this time given way to alternating stripes of wintry sunshine and grey cloud. I ran along the southern bank of the river from Clifton to Wilford, before crossing to the other bank and heading south-westward towards Beeston. At Beeston Lock I turned and retraced my steps, covering 15 Km in total. I was not wearing a watch so I have little idea of my time, but I would estimate that the pace was around 6 min per Km. It was an enjoyable run, but serves to illustrate the fact that I have reached the end of the year with the moderate level of fitness achieved over the summer partially eroded by minor injury and illness.

I do not have a sound enough base for intense interval training, but I am still inclined to persist with moderate intensity, low volume training over the next few months. I will also include a few medium length runs in the range 15-20Km to lay the foundation for an increase in volume once the duration of daylight has increased appreciably.

One Response to “Solstice”

  1. Ewen Says:

    You’ve had quite an interrupted year. If careful, the moderate intensity build-up should work well.

    I become more convinced a mix of running speeds during any phase of training is very valuable for older runners. To do it without becoming injured is the difficult part.

    Anyway, all the best for ’09 – enjoy those lengthening running days!

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