Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

Blackhill Parkrun – 18-04-15

on 18 April 2015

Similar to my first parkrun three weeks ago, there was a very high turn-out today: 117 runners, with 24 there for the first time! Durham parkrun was not on as the sports centre there had to close urgently for maintenance, so a big group of runners from there came to visit – judging by some of the comments about how tough Blackhill was compared to Durham, which is flat by the sound of it, I’m not sure how many of them will be mega keen to come back! I think when I have managed to get Blackhill below 30 minutes, I will try Durham in the hope of getting a 5k personal best!

With the intention still being to head over to Otterburn for the 10k tomorrow, I volunteered to marshall this week. I’d mentally decided to myself I was going to try to go every weekend in April, and I’d also thought about volunteering once a month too going forward – so while I’m trying to balance things a bit more for my feet with races and training, now seemed as good a time to start as any, especially as they’d posted on facebook yesterday that they were short two marshalls and a scanner! I had the position at the top of the park at the big crossroads, and a lovely view from all directions.


I also got a video of all the runners heading off – about the only time you’ll see everyone together is coming up the hill before all the different paces between people start to spread them out. The route starts by coming the middle path in the pic above, they then go down the path on the left, round the bottom of the park and come back along the path to the right to cut straight across and back down the left one again – three times. It was a bit odd at the start as there was almost complete silence as people reached the top of the hill: for the offset of a run it’s savage and I think everyone just buckles down and gets on with it! I’d taken my camera (obviously, by the very existence of pictures!), and took a video of everyone coming up towards me. One of the guys from the Bounders at the end of the video was running with his dog on a canix style harness (take note J!) and was tailing at the end as his pooch had to visit every lampost on the first lap!


I really enjoyed doing the marshalling, though I was knackered just watching everybody coming past! It was really foggy when I’d left so I’d put a coat on over my hoody, and taken my big fluffy hat – you really couldn’t miss me. The coat was shed by the time I’d reached my post at the top of the hill, and I only had to walk it! I kept the hat and hoody on, but was getting a bit warm whenever the sun poked its head out! I can see my winter wear is going to be retired for the season soon back into its box in the top of the wardrobe.


When I got home – feeling as hot as though I’d actually done the running! – I decided to do a gym workout and give my new pull up bar a shot with the ‘beginner’s guide‘ I found the other day but as of yet hadn’t done anything with. 4 weeks to Gelt Gladiator! Scooby’s phase 1 for being able to do 8 pull-ups is to stand on something like a chair that puts your eyes about level with the bar, hold the bar with your palms facing you (chin-up way), step off the chair/whatever holding your weight on the bar and lower yourself as slowly as possible. 8 reps per set and 5 sets per session until you can hold your weight long enough to lower yourself slowly over 2 seconds, then you move onto phase 2 which is the same but with your hands the other way (palms facing away) in the pull-up position to build your arms and shoulders up. Forty reps on the first session seemed a bit much but I figured I’d just see how I went, and would cut the sets down if I needed to.

I put my funky workout gloves on (first time using them! Yay!), moved my workout step so the end was by the bar – I don’t know if Scooby’s cut the legs off his chair, has none of his own or has a really high pull-up bar but I only needed something about mid-shin height to be eye-level! – and gave it a shot. I impressed myself even just getting through the first set as I was dubious about even managing that on the first go! As it happens, I managed all five sets! My resting between sets consisted of sort of swinging my arms in circles and stepping side to side to try and keep my shoulders loose. At the moment I was maybe only holding for half a second and then dropping down – not in an uncontrolled way but certainly not a 2 second descent – when you consider the relatively small range of motion needed to get your feet back on the floor from a door-height bar, 2 seconds is a really slow transgression.

I know this exercise is about working on stronger shoulders, chest and arms, but I also found it really worked my abs as I took my weight off my feet – I don’t know if it was an awareness that the only thing that was going to be attaching me to the bar was my puny arms, or that the only thing holding the bar up was its own tension as I’d screwed it out to fit in the doorframe. Hopefully as I get a bit more mentally confident in my own abilities and the bar (which to be honest, has been rock solid – it just seems to be in my head, just watch – 2 weeks time it’ll come down and I’ll be on my ass in a heap just as I’m relying on it), I won’t be cramping my abs up as if my stomach can take some of the weight of my legs off my arms. On the plus-side, it might save me doing any extra crunches!

It’s been a while since a did a gym session, I went through my strength circuit once after the walk-the-plank chin-ups, and I don’t know if it was because I’ve not done the session for a while, or because I’d just been hanging from the doorframe, but the 2kg weights felt heavier than I remembered. I did the circuit through once – using my new gym ball for the ab crunches. I find them harder on a gym ball anyway, but after my hanging ab session they were really tough! I spent quite a long time stretching off – retrospectively, I think skipping the gym sessions will have been impacting my running – I spend a lot longer stretching off everything when I’m at home then when I’ve finished a run when I spend a few minutes stretching the big leg muscles and maybe wave an arm or two around. I think even if I’m skipping the gym sessions, I need to fit in some dedicated stretching time during the week, even if it’s only 10 minutes, and possibly dig the foam roller out again – I’ve only used it once or twice and was a bit ‘meh’ about it, sometimes I think I’ve noticed an improvement, and other times it’s just a pain to try and use.

I tried using the heart monitor again for this session – again, no problems with discomfort but I wasn’t wearing it for long or for anything particularly energetic; I had the watch hanging on the door handle (it still seems to have managed to track 0.04km…), and unsurprisingly I had a moderately low pulse for the exercises. I could really feel my muscles working, but breathing while relatively stationary is easy and the blood doesn’t have to carry the same amount of oxygen around as it’s not all the muscles using it at an accelerated rate.




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