As I write the sun is beating down on South West London, Mrs Dan is in her bikini lying on a sun lounger in the garden and I am virtually naked trying to stay cool. Note the word "virtually". I AM wearing shorts.....
Today was the first day of my running career where I changed routine and tried something brand spanking new. I had been reading about hill training and came across an article written by a chap in Lincolnshire who championed this method of training. Coincidently he used to live very near me and spoke in glowing terms of a hill in Richmond, which was perfect for this kind of torture! So I had a peek at Google maps and discovered the hill is only 2.5K away from my house.
"Aha!" I said (like Alan Partridge). "I can jog there on the morrow and partake in my first hill training session! Hurrah!"
The chap advised running up and down this lonnnnnnnnnggg hill 8 times for a good serious work out. "I'm up for that" I told myself and after a spiffingly top sleep, arose and clad myself in shorts and top. I decided to rise early to try and get this session done before Mr Sun put his hat and burned me to a crisp. Mrs Dan was getting ready to stomp about the lounge to Davina's super hard session work out DVD and after her saying "Have you got your phone? In case you need to call an ambulance!" - "Haha! Very funny sweetheart. I'm off. See ya later."
A nice comfortable jog for 2.5K along the river, over Richmond Bridge and up Petersham Road towards the Royal park soon brought me to my destination, the very soft and gently named "Nightingale Lane". But alas dear reader, she may have a soft and gentle name, but in fact she is one of those hills that hides a mean side. At the top of the below photo is a bend in the road which turns into a slope so steep, it gives The Eiger a run for it's money! Right. Here we go.
I started up the hill as slow as a snail, keeping my feet close to the ground, my head up and my back straight. Two Mums were chatting outside a house at the bend, where the slope turns into a mountain and I sweated upwards past them, wondering what they must be thinking of this oik, travelling slower than a sloth on mogadons on the hottest day of the year! The slope was so hard - I mean SOOOOO HARD, but I kept going and reached the summit.
"I did it!" I said to myself. I was so pleased, I felt like planting a flag at the top. I took a few seconds to get my breath back and set off back down the hill. The mums were still yabbering away and watched me saunter past with the brakes on to stop me from going too fast. This was as hard as going up the damned thing! I'd read (in my research) that you should imagine gravity pulling you downhill and not to over stride or over "brake," as this would leave muscles exhausted with lactic acid build up. Eventually I reached the bottom and took a swig from my water bottle. "Only another seven to go!" (yeeahhh right. I'd already decided that half that amount would be the best I could do). Off I went up again. Slowly. Very slowly. The damned mums were STILL yak yak yakking and looking at me witheringly as I "ran" past. If only they weren't talking at the bend which happened to be EXACTLY where the hill turns into a mountain. Anyway, I reached the top once again puffing, blowing and my shirt was absolutely soaked! Sweat ran down my face in riverlets, my lungs gasped taking in the air and my legs started their moaning ;
"Oi! Sh** for brains?"
I ignored them.
"Oi! Don't bloody ignore us. What the hell are you doing?"
"I told you. A spot of hill training. Only another down, up, down, up and down again"
"You taking the p**$?? Our muscles are cream crackered! One more up and down AND THAT'S IT!"
"What you say?"
So down I went, slowly watching myself so as not to do any injury to my hips, glutes, shins and ankles. Guess who were STIIL THERE? Go on? Guess. ....... you guessed it THE YAK YAK YAKKERS FOR GREAT BRITAIN!!! They were really getting on my nerves now, but I tried to keep cool (metaphorically speaking). Reached the bottom, another swig from my bottle of water then the final climb. Up I went, ignored the chattering ladies and reached the summit for the final time. How that geezer on the article I'd read managed eight times up and down I don't know. Anyway it was time to run back down, then jog home (if my legs decided to work).
I did reach the bottom successfully and amazed myself when I managed to take off on the flat and jog home. Took a slight detour down to the riverside and ran under Richmond Bridge where I ran up the steps which lead back to the road. Over the bridge and back home along the Thames path where, when I reached my favourite lamp post, I'd realised not only had I done my first hill training session, I'd also ran 5K to boot! Get me!
I am sure tomorrow my bum and legs will be SCREAMING at me, but I have to say I really enjoyed it (despite the yabbering mums who looked at me strangely each time I passed.) Here's to stronger glutes and legs, so that I can chop some time off my 5K PB sometime in the future.
Thanks for reading!