Things seemed positive going into the second week of my training program for the London Marathon. Five runs lined up, two days off midweek, and a keen anticipation to get things right following my error-strewn foray into Judy Woods the week before. And so it was on the front foot when I arose bright and early on Tuesday morning, with no work ahead of me for two whole days, to get up to the park up the road and run laps around the field in morning darkness. 4 miles clocked reaching roughly 7:15 mile pace, before jogging another couple of miles at a relative canter. A great way to blast off the cobwebs. The following night I went off for two laps of my local area, starting from Clifton Common, up and back along Thornhills, through Brighouse and then up through Clifton again, onto Hartshead Moorside, and back down through Thornhills. I was aiming for a rough 8:00 mile pace to take me to a precise 63 minutes of running over 7.9 miles. These training plans, eh? Still, its the only course of such a format I’ve ever plotted for myself. And I loved it. Despite being slightly ahead of pace in the first three miles, a steep climb back into Clifton soon sorted that out. I later managed some 8 minute miles, finished a little faster than anticipated and clocked the 7.9 miles in 63:03. 7:59/mi pace. Not bad at all!

Things wouldn’t be so straightforward for long though, and I was to lose out on Thursday’s planned easy run which amidst everything that day simply could not fit in. Last week I dropped that same run as a precaution towards my foot. This one was lost to work, family and an impromptu early night. That’s the difficult thing now – working too far from home to warrant five miles, a bedtime routine for the kids, general routines and an inexperience in running extreme late hours or very early mornings for my body to adjust to immediately.

The weather was for the turning and my gut feeling was that with ice accumulating early on Friday evening, parkrun was likely to be a nonstarter. And so it proved as both Huddersfield and Halifax, my two most local parkruns, were cancelled. I did manage to get down to the gym but only managed 2.5km and then had to be on with other plans that day. Still, it began to snow later that evening and before long the street was covered in a blanket of white. Flurries continued to fall in the night and I went to bed that evening hoping that the roads and trails would be crisp and firm rather than icy and dangerous. Waking up on Sunday morning and seeing the ground reasonably full of snow was certainly affirming and suddenly my trail run, which I already looking forward to, became that little more exciting. Not since the thundersnow a year ago had I received such an opportunity.

imageView of Thornhill Bank Lane, Brighouse, 17/01/2016
View of Thornhill Bank Lane, Brighouse, 17/01/2016
imageSteps leading to Wellholme Woods, 17/01/2016
Steps leading to Wellholme Woods, 17/01/2016

Departing around 10:00am, I made my way into Wellholme Woods and made the run towards the Calderdale Way, cutting through a field to get towards Clifton. Through a path between Willow Valley Golf, over a bridge and along another trail/path, stiles included, into Hartshead Moorside. I rejoined the main road but soon found another public footpath, descending down through a local housing estate and then towards Cleckheaton.

imageWellholme Woods, Brighouse, 17/01/2016
Wellholme Woods, Brighouse, 17/01/2016
imagePublic footpath between Hightown and Cleckheaton, 17/01/2016
Public footpath between Hightown and Cleckheaton, 17/01/2016

Up onto the Spen Valley Greenway, which looks great in the snow, and then back up Whitechapel Road into Scholes. After crossing the M62 bridge, I headed for a footpath which led me into a football field. I got slightly off track here, but eventually found the exit and wasn’t too far off course. Heading back on course, I took a turn onto a winding trail known as Moor Bottom. Here I reached the most difficult phase, as every time I thought I’d reached my exit towards the main road, but had to make a left turn. There was lots of hitherto untouched snow, which when stepped on felt like sheet ice giving way. It culminated here with crossing a small stream to climb underneath a barbed wire fence to rejoin the correct path. I managed it unscathed, with a 10:26 mile in the bank, and made my return towards Wellholme Park where I clocked off. Officially, thereabouts, 10.01 miles. Back in double figures. Feeling remarkably fresh. And not just that, but I’d managed to put together a reasonably good trail route not too far from my house and for a large chunk, off road. Maybe I shall document that route in a feature one day!

imageThe Spen Valley Greenway (Route 66), 17/01/2016
The Spen Valley Greenway (Route 66), 17/01/2016

Its been of an up and down week, having gone successfully on most of my running activities, but the demands of sleep and home ultimately cut down on how much time I got to work on stretching and strengthening, though I still consistently stretch and ice my feet to keep the sesamoids happy. But come the end of it I was able to progress my mileage and it all goes some way to getting back on par with my original training plan.

In other news this week, I was lucky to be confirmed as a winner of a solo spot in the 2016 Great Yorkshire Pieathlon! This takes place on Sunday December 11th. All for liking, sharing and commenting on the organisers’ photo! Super, super happy, the most fun I’ve ever had in a race and I’ve already contacted my good mate Jordan as we plan to go the whole hog and run in fancy dress this time!

Looking ahead, I’ve got a packed Tuesday evening with a swimming lesson and run home, the possible attendance at parkrun, and at some point, finding the time to get my gait checked and progress towards my next pair of shoes. I’ve to plan an 11 mile course for Sunday which will be likely be on the roads rather than trails, but at the same time no less of a challenge. And while I’m at it, I need to try and get back to strengthening that core.

Fingers crossed this continues to go well. Thanks again everyone for reading and hope you get chance of a snow run somewhere!