Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The last run of 2014

Today was my first run post Christmas and my festive indulgences and despite feeling like the Michelin man after calorific merriment my run felt pretty good.

I am rather ending 2014 on a low note as over Christmas I have struggled to walk let alone run with severe pains in the front of my calves caused by a previously diagnosed complaint I suffer from, compartment syndrome.

Today's run was about seizing the opportunity to run while out visiting family, it provided the chance to run somewhere different and to reminisce about past running routes I used to regularly cover. A visit to Dagenham is not necessarily the most attractive proposition but it was nice to rerun familiar routes and I have always fairly enjoyed running in the area.

Coming towards the end of the year when you are feeling nostalgic it was nice to run around some of my old haunts.  

Castle Green Park

Back several years ago when embarking on training for my first marathon as a naive, up confident runner I did the majority of my training in and around Castle Green park. Foolishly I used to run the same routes repeatedly, over and over to build up my mileage for long runs as opposed to exploring new routes. In castle green I used to run my usual route around but then include figure of eights or extend my course towards the boundaries of the park in the aim of trying to squeeze in extra mileage. 

Castle Green lives up to its name of being a green expanse (minus the castle) which is somewhat rare in these parts with the busy A13 buzzing past. The City and more specifically Canary Wharf is easily visible on a clear day providing a scenic background. 

The most notable part of the park is Barking and Dagenham's sporting tribute to the boroughs sporting heroes. Overlooking the A13 opposite Barking rugby club proudly stands four monuments to the sporting prowess of England's football World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore and manager Sir Alf Ramsey, England's rugby World Cup winning star Jason Leonard and 8 Paralympic medal winning swimmer Beverley Gull. It's a tremondous moment to recognise the boroughs sporting achievements especially the unique and quite unbelievable feat of this unglamourous and less prestigious borough providing both England's triumphant manager and captain for our only World Cup victory. 

In many ways the monument is misplaced as it is somewhat hidden away and not in the most well visited of areas but despite this being placed across the road from the club where Jason Leonard started his career off and just down the road from Beverley Gull's childhood home makes it more than a fitting location.

The statues have provided plenty of inspiration as I have ran past them many times over the years and they have certainly motivated me when using the slope they stand upon for hill training. 

My run then took down to Becontree before heading straight down Hedgemans Road towards Dagenham Heathway. Hedgemans Road is one of those straight never ending roads that goes on and on. Great when your running well and want to power on but demoralising when running poorly when the end of the road never seems to come! It's also a great road for fartlek/interval training as the little side roads provide natural intervals to split up efforts. 

Old Dagenham Park

Then in the second half of my run I ventured through to Old Dagenham park which is part of the area that commemorates the old village when Dagenham was a small green hideaway miles from the hustle and bustle before urban sprawl gobbled it up into London's greater suburbia.

The park is somewhat of a hidden gem as it is a sizable green space consisting of tree lined paths, several football pitches, a traditional children's play area as well as the modern young people's skate park and hangout area as well as a surprising purpose built BMX race track which seems slightly out of place and underutilised.

Overall I covered around 8K over pavements, pathways and grass taking in residential roads, parks, busy shops and industrial areas. 

It was pleasing to finish 2014 with a successful and enjoyable run even if I feel I am limping into 2015 feeling less than fit after a Christmas of excess and feeling injured with my calves.

Thank you for reading and for whatever part you have played in supporting my blog and my running in 2014. I hope your year of running has been successful and I wish you every success and plenty of PBs for 2015!