Climb every mountain

Over the past week I’ve been in Germany, chilling out, doing lots of walking and around the edges of that, running.

The tightness around my hip and across my back is easing now but I’m slower. Oh so much slower.

I made the mistake of putting the garmin on. Oh dear. How hard is it to accept you’ve lost pace and you need to build up again? I’ve noticed I’m running heavily and rather flat-footed on my left side too. But all this aside feeling well. Which is kind of the point isn’t it?

Me in Heildelberg

Me in Heidelberg

Heidelberg is an amazing city. It’s one of the few the Allies didn’t bomb during the Second World War so featuring some pretty impressive architecture. It’s a university city, twinned with Cambridge, according to MrM. It’s on either side of a river, nestled in a valley with high tree-smothered hills around it. Amazing houses and cafes and beautiful squares…

But the physicality of the city aside, the vibe is very outdoors-living, chilled and relaxed. There are parks for children everywhere, it seems. People are walking or jogging or sailing or canoeing or riding bicycles… a really lovely, healthy place.

We did lots of walking, climbing up the steep, cobbled old road up to the castle and musing over how on earth people got down during the icy winter weather without spikes, or a tea tray.

Heidelberg, looking up to the castle

View up to the castle

Heidelberg library

Now THAT’S a library

Generally, people don’t wear helmets in Heidelberg, though we’re obsessed with them in the UK. Mostly, people leave their bikes unlocked. Another thing you don’t see in the UK. And in the evenings they gather at bars like Hemingway’s and have a beer after work. Always clamouring to sit outside, that’s the place to be seen. No one wants to sit inside. They’ll sit outside with a blanket on their laps rather than sit indoors!

Hemingway's bar, Heidelberg

Chilling out at Hemingway’s bar, at sunset

So, down to the grizzly stats.

Last Sunday: 11:58 average over a 30.01 minute run. 11:31, 11:56, 12:55, covering 2.51 miles.

This Sunday: 12:08 average over a 30:27 minute run. 12:08, 11:34, 12:29, covering 2.51 miles.

Now I took a couple of walking breaks today, so I am clearly running faster – I just can’t keep it up. Time. Patience. Argh!

Recovery rocks

There is a good reason for taking a break after a tough training session – your body needs to recover and more running will do it no good at all.

Rest and recovery are as important as nutrition and sleep.

The science goes a bit like this, according to Harry the personal trainer: after a heavy session of exercise – like mine today – your muscle fibres have torn. They knit themselves back together and as they do they build more muscle, hence muscles get bigger and stronger. And to do all that knitting they need a break.

Give them a day or two’s breathing space and they’ll still be less than 100% and so you’ll find a testing session, like some interval training, won’t be easy. Maybe harder than it was the week before.

But that doesn’t mean you’re getting worse. It means you’re pushing your body harder and that will mean more tearing and knitting and building and strengthening.

It’s a fine balance isn’t it, between overtraining and gaining maximum benefit. If in doubt, easy does it.