Spring time, the only pretty ring time

The view from my Friday office.jpg

The view from my ‘office’ on Friday

…when birds do sing hey ring a ding a ding…

Yes, it is all looking lovely, with early sharp mistiness burning off to reveal clear blue skies and enough breeze to shiver the carpets of daffodils adorning all the parks I trot through. And of course, as anyone who has trained for a spring marathon will know, when those early mornings and evenings are light again, and sunrises and sunsets make you feel glad to be alive, you bounce along so happily – however forbidding the mileage looks on the weekly schedule.

It’s not just the season I’m referring to in this title, though, but the bouncy art of plyometrics, or being able to jump high.

Yesterday I was treated to the most inspiring display of muscular people taking flight. The coach who had us interval training on Saturday (my backside is still achey from what felt like a hundred squats) led a plyometrics session. She jumps like a cat, springing upward from a standing start onto boxes, jumping backwards, or hopping onto things, leaping high and long, spending a while in the air and landing silently, on the balls of her feet, in a primed squat, ready to jump again, like a super bouncy power ball.

I was Benny the Ball to her Top Cat. My powers of elevation are pathetic. It feels as if all the muscles in my legs are like old knicker elastic – all springiness gone. Can this be down to age? Most certainly not, as this extraordinary display by the world’s oldest gymnast, the still very bouncy Johanna Quaas proves.

Of course I may have been more springy if I had not running 50 miles this week (I remained committed to last week’s schedule, but my miles were mostly slow, except for Tuesday’s track session). Fitness coaches despair of distance runners, doggedly logging miles and bashing their tendons in the process. Trainers of elite runners insist they do plyometric work: bounding, hopping, skipping to get some height on their workouts.

The PT I work with sometimes recommends squatting at least my body weight, and training my legs out of the endless running corridor – the forward plane of movement – so jumping sideways over low barriers, sideways skips, hopping east and west, lightly jumping on and off steps.

This week I must cut my mileage to run The Vitality North London half marathon on Sunday. I am in a mini taper, therefore.

I hope I will have regained a little bounce by Sunday morning, and the old knicker elastic muscles will have slightly more ping in them. It’ll be a hard old slog round the 13 miles-round trip to and from Wembley Stadium if not .

On the schedule this week

Monday: 7 miles easy

Tuesday: cross training

Wednesday: 5 miles easy

Thursday: 10 miles with a couple around half marathon pace (8m/m)

Friday: two miles to keep legs moving

Saturday: cross train gently/cycle

Sunday: half marathon




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