Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kicking Goals

I know we're well into 2014 now but I've finally set myself some goals for this year.

I'm not calling them resolutions because I traditionally haven't done well with resolutions. As a teenager I'd make these grandiose goals that would start on the 1st of January and be inviolable. I'd go great with them for a day or two, have a little whoopsie then get disheartened and abandon them. Only to do it all again the following year.

I'd always fail because my goals were too big and didn't actually have a plan to back them up. Invariably they'd be about losing weight and getting fit and invariably it didn't happen. I'd never thought as far as working out the little steps between where I was at and where I was wanting to be and I'd certainly never put in contingencies for my moments of weakness. No wonder I was such a bad chess player.

Somewhere along the way I started to incorporate the health and fitness goals into my every day life without all the grandiosity of a resolution and eventually I was close to where I wanted to be. But I'm never one to be totally content with my fitness regime - there's always a little bit of tweaking that can help fine tune this work in progress.

So here it is - my current fitness goal is to improve my strength. I've been here before and was working fairly diligently on a program my son had written me but, because my testosterone levels were sub-clinical I only ended up exhausting myself. With a year of testosterone treatment under my belt I'm a lot more comfortable giving it another go. I'm back using that strength plan Sam wrote me and I've started running up hills again because there's no better training than sports specific training with overloading.

I've mentioned here a couple of times about going back to run hilly trails. I had to do it quite a few times by myself to get the nerve up to run them with the group. I know it sounds silly but I was quite anxious about doing the group session but I've got good reason. I don't get to pick where we go for the group run. That's all done by our sadistic coach who is part mountain goat and who knows no fear of a steep downhill. I, however, have a very strong self-preservation instinct and when I look over the edge of some of the steep cliffs that Coach Chris wants us to voluntarily fling ourselves off, I can't help but think of lemmings.

I am also at an age where a broken ankle/femur/hip/pelvis would probably take a while to heal. And I'd make a very unpleasant patient.

I'd already told Coach Chris that I'd never do Owl Trail downhill again and he's been obliging in letting me know if that was in the plan. But I had NO idea that Owl Trail wasn't the worst (and by worst I mean steepest) hill on Mt Coottha. No, the one that we went down this morning might possibly lay claim to that title. (But it just as well may not - we haven't explored every trail yet.)

We were so naive when we set off down the trail this morning. It was a pretty cruisy downhill on a fairly wide and smooth path. The running felt easy and it wasn't demanding on my brain so I was able to chat with a couple of people. 

But then we hit it. From where I was standing it looked like a vertical descent but I'm prone to a little exaggeration when I'm scared so let's just assume it was a few degrees off being completely vertical.

I stopped dead and contemplated my options. If the hill had been grassy I would have done this - 

But all the dirt and jagged, skin-tearing rocks made that a poor option.

And if it had been the middle of winter and we'd had a never-before-seen, freakish-climatic-event, I'd have been doing this and loving it.

But my only real option was to run it. And by 'run it' I mean kind of run/ kind of walk between trees (because you can grab onto a tree to stop you hurtling down to the bottom of the hill) making whimpering noises. It was pitiful but luckily there was only a few other scaredy-cats around to see what a hill-wuss I really am and they were so busy looking for their own safe descents that they weren't scoffing or mocking my extreme patheticness.

Luckily I survived the downhill without damage to any part of my body but the thing with down-hills is that there has to be an up-hill to get you back to where you started from. 

My calves are still sore from that uphill and it's been 6 hours since we finished. It's not DOMS yet but I'm pretty sure that'll set in by tomorrow. I don't know if I even ran half of it but I don know there was a significant amount of walking involved and even the walking was HARD!! 

Then when we'd finished that hill we got to do it all over again on another trail. But this time our legs were already dead from the first trail so even though it wasn't as steep, there was still significant pain. And more walking. I felt like I'd won just by making it back to the car.

But in some strange way it was a tiny bit fun (maybe in the misery-loves-company way because the company is always good even when it's miserable). And I'm pretty sure that the whole lot of us will turn up again to be tortured next week. We're a strange bunch of masochists.


  1. Masochism loves company! ;-)

    And that's one thing I love/hate about running a new trail - you never *quite* know what will be coming up next! =)

  2. You would have loved last nights trail race... other than the up hills, there was this down hill which a couple of the ladies didn't think the race could go down so they ran off in the wrong direction!!! Then there was a small river to cross on a log (in the dark)... Dawn (my wife) was sitting there watching and after the front guys were through it started being quiet funny...

  3. You hit it on the head - I had a speed class a couple of years ago where people would sometimes puke during the training ... and they would always be there next week to put their bodies through the same thing. Seems perfectly normal.

  4. You seem to be going into a whole new direction. You are going to be one bad ass runner!
    I am laughing at your comment that my new cat looks sweet. He is as feisty as they come! Sweet - not so much.

  5. Ahh i remember those kinds of resolutions too!! I agree now I just want it to be part of my day. I finally made strength a more consistent part last year by giving myself the option to not make it a MASSIVE workout each time I thought about it.

  6. Running trails and especially downhill and steep descents, takes special skill and training. I am not known for fear on the descents but I do train for it specifically. We have to work at being stronger and actually more badass. But we are also a lot more fragile now than 20 years ago. Love the clips in this post :)

  7. Heh, you are braver than me! I *hate* downhills & I absolutely suck at trails. I would have been climbing right on board the nope rocket.

  8. Your video clips are basically awesome. Well done on being brave! I don't trust my footing on steep, technical downhills so I am usually slower going down than up. I need to work on that. Keep up the good work.

  9. You're a strange (STRONG) bunch of masochists! Crazy how we set those gigantic resolutions back in the day then dropped them faster than we made them. I am guilty as charged on this front as well.

  10. Ok - the gif with everyone running into the hole sort of freaked me out and then when I read about your downhill I kept picturing that scene!!!
    Glad you survived all the down and uphills today - I know you will be back out there next week cause you are awesome like that!

  11. I love that you confront your fears (hates) with such good humour. I guess it's good that you can continue to be challenged even though you're already super fit!

    PS. Your blog hates me and keeps eating my comments! :-0

  12. So, masochistically, I kind of want to run that trail from the way you're talking about it. When you live somewhere pancake flat you really appreciate every hill you can get! I definitely prefer uphills to downhills though; at least your body doesn't fall far going uphill so your rescuers will know where to find it.

  13. I'm so relieved that you have enough energy, stamina, effort, enthusiasm and exercise for the both of us. I am exhausted just reading about your fitness regime. Which totally counts as my mental exercise.

  14. Those gifs are hilarious!

    Hills great for strength..but that steep maybe too much !

  15. I have been doing hill work outs on my treadmill. OMG! My legs feel like lead and my feet feel like two big boats. Didn't make a pretty sight for my speed work out yesterday! Even those puppies were more graceful!

  16. You are one tough cookie with the hills. Most of my country is flat and running hills isn't that easy here. Most of the times people use bridges for hill training but in my town we don't even have a bridge to run up :) On the other side it also means most race in Holland are flat. I have to use strength training for stronger legs.

    I don't do resolutions anymore either for the same reasons as you. I have set high goals in the past years that I never met at the end of the year. This year I set goals I can actually reach, feels so much better.


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