The devil makes work for idle legs

Yesterday, bored, I decided to jump as high as I could in the air, while walking around the office. This made for a more interesting afternoon, what with trying to avoid landing on people, clashing with light fixtures, and spilling drinks. I fondly imagine this will be good for developing strength, but as there’s no famous "Jump Around Your Office And Get Buns Of Steel" workout plan, maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree.

Or I’m ahead of the game.

This morning I woke up at 6:14, exactly one minute before my alarm, and dressed and rushed out to the MacRitchie reservoir. There were even fewer taxis on the street than last week, but I made it just in time to the meeting spot. On the way there I saw a group of cyclists clustered around one of their number, laying flat on the side of the road. I hope his weekend improved.

This week, somebody had clearly been constructing new hills at MacRitchie. I remember the trail flattening after 3.7 km, but this time round I was still running up hills well past 4 km. I set a hard pace this week, and with every mile I expected to be broken and somebody else to overtake me, but the others were having a hard time of it.

Part of my extra pace may have been from my new shoes. Well, I say new: they’re a pair of offroad minimalist Merrells, which I bought over a year ago in Seattle, but haven’t used out of the house before. They’re lighter and have a much more spacious toe box than the Salomons I was running in last week – so no nasty new blisters – but with the thinner sole they were less comfortable running on the flinty rocks of MacRitchie. The sole doesn’t have any lugs, so although they were fine today, I expect in the wet you’d be skidding all over the place.

Two areas they were harder: on my calves, and on descents. Minimalist shoes don’t support your feet in the way that more traditional running shoes do, so your calves have to do more work to stabilize your feet (it’s still not perfectly clear that this is better, or worse, for everyone). There was one occasion where I thought I was about to turn my ankle and sprain it – but that could also have happened with my Salomons. On descents, I felt a lot more of the impacts, and the edges of rocks, much more. This may be a good thing, as it supplies encouragement to run more lightly, but in the short term it can be more tiring.

One neutral thing I noticed was that I seemed to be kicking up much more gravel than last week. Assuming they haven’t just resurfaced, perhaps these are more offensive shoes to those around you.

There were fewer walkers out today – maybe we were earlier, or maybe they had other plans. There was one woman who walked out on to the trail without bothering to look, and then stood completely still, right in my path, looking at me. Better than her stepping back and forth and being even harder to evade, but not as good as checking the path first, especially at the bottom of a steep hill. Oh well. I heard another woman make an aggreived remark about "manners" when I passed her on one of the ascents, but if you’re hogging the whole trail and dawdling along, and I’m breathing through my ears and coming up behind you, I’m going to go round you, and not pause for five minutes to say "excuse me, I hope your sense of personal space isn’t intruded on by me being within two feet of you". Downhills, call out a line, say thank you when people get off it. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut, keep on chugging.

I started fast, so I was worried that I’d blow up half way round, but instead I kept it strong to the end. There was one annoying part where I had to double back when the trail was blocked by a fallen tree, but I still managed to take almost two minutes off my time from last week. Now I need to figure out how a 55 minute run can take two and a half hours.

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