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Training Camp | XC Running | Ankle Update | Next Races - A 5minute roundup!

Well where to start; So I suppose this is a bit of a blog post but seeing as we missed the January newsletter we wanted to give a bigger update so you've got two months worth of update here and we will let you know where we will be next and plans etc... so grab a snack and a drink.

As you will have seen at the beginning of December we disappeared up to the mountains for an altitude trip. This felt a great step forward for us both. We were both returning from injury; mine from surgery and Ben had been struggling with an ankle injury since before the games but that didn't resolve itself with a break post Olympics so an extended break was necessary. We both then got sick in mid September (for what felt like forever!) - it wasn't covid just that horrible cold going round at the time and it knocked us about a bit. Both of us were very much in the very early stages of returning to running and it wasn't appropriate to head off on training camp at that stage. As we got to December we had both managed to progress things on well training wise and were planning on a warm weather trip over Christmas but decided to change that and use December into January as a good opportunity to get a solid block of altitude training in where we could really dig into some proper base work. Flagstaff, Arizona is a hugely popular training destination in the US for distance runners and neither of us had been before so we thought we would see what all the fuss was about. We asked some fellow distance runners for some routes and decided our first week up there was just going to be steady 'exploratory' running to find our way. Our first run up there was great! We found the 7mile 'mailbox' loop which became a firm favourite with Lake Mary Road right next to it so that was a good start. Have linked the run/loop here. Incase anyone intends to visit I will list some of our favourite Flagstaff/Arizona loops here as well as the never ending path we found in Las Vegas.

10. A1 Mountain Road - We didn't actually run this trail because it was too heavily covered in snow when we were there but have included it because apparently it is a great run so maybe we can update this in the future.

(If you follow us on Strava & are interested in return to run, progress and fitness building; I have uploaded all my running since returning from surgery - starts at the beginning of September).
& I have linked both our Strava accounts below if you want to take a look and don't already follow us there! All those loops above are on there also.




Cross Country Season - Lily

If you follow me on instagram you will have seen that I recently ran the Midland Cross Country Champs at Berry Hill Park - I'd be lying to say this was my first race back as some may have seen me at the Midland League two weeks prior. I chose this very low key start back because I wanted to understand how my ankle felt on the cross country without the pressure of performance and anyone who was there will be thinking right now somewhat concerned "what a course to choose to find that out" because it is probably more accurate to call it a fell race. I could say that I picked it for this reason blah blah blah but I didn't; I had no idea until I turned up and all I knew was that it was 'quite hilly' - understatement. There was a little concern as I hadn't put spikes on for over 12 months and certainly hadn't ran on terrain this challenging in far longer but I did pick a race for this rather than training because I would be forced to find out rather than in training it can be easy to fool yourself and I felt I needed to know as part of my rebuilding trust and confidence in my ankle/body and although I am far from my best shape that my ankle can cope with the rough ground and twists and turns cross country provides. I knew the ankle was healthy from the training it had allowed me to do so that wasn't the concern, the concern was the movement and control and I wanted to see how it reacted when the surface was uncontrollable. We got through that race well - not in terms of performance (I was 10th) but in terms of when I turned left my ankle also turned left fluidly which is something that I haven't had for a long time. More importantly; despite a tough course, spikes and everything else I was able to wake up the next morning without issue and complete my planned long run. It was another piece in the puzzle.

After ticking that box the next plan was to put some more intense sessions together as prior to this I had been doing some lighter sessions where the pace was very much controlled albeit at 7000ft but before the race I hadn't pushed anything hugely as we were gently trying to get the achilles accustomed and over a bout of tendinitis (an expected result of the surgery). Now we knew it could handle spikes; it was time to crack on so I put in a few harder sessions and a more decent paced long run as we get back to a normal training pattern. My mileage has dipped a tiny amount the past two weeks because of this increase in intensity but will recover and continue to build it again as my body adapts. The Midland XC was good; we knew I was much better equipped than at the league race but didn't completely know where that would land position wise. The plan however was to compete as if I was fit and commit without over committing early on, relearning effort judgement but with confidence and to run strongly which I feel I executed well and really enjoyed being out there again. Another positive is that I have been able to jump straight back into training so that gives me confidence in my body and looking forward to using both races as platforms to make some good jumps in fitness over the next few weeks.


Whats next for us both...

Over the next few weeks our plans are to continue to build our training in intensity and volume as we regain fitness and hopefully have some (more) races on the horizon.


Lily - English National Cross Country Championships, Parliament Hill, London 26th February
(Hopefully its a good omen but Parliament Hill is where I won my first Senior National XC Title so am excited to return!)

Ben - Heads back stateside to a definite bucket list race - NB New York City Half Marathon, USA
(We will give out streaming details when we have them!)
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