Last night as I was walking through Sutton Park to get to the Athletics Club, I realised how lucky I am to live within walking distance of the Park. Yes London does have some amazing parks, but Sutton Park is more than equal to most of them:
“Sutton Park, in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, England, is the largest urban park in Europe and the largest outside a capital city; it is larger than Richmond Park in London. The park covers 970 hectares (2,400 acres), with a mix of heathland, wetlands and marshes, seven lakes, extensive ancient woodlands (covering approximately a quarter of the park), several restaurants, a private 18-hole golf course on its western edge and a municipal golf course to the south, a donkey sanctuary, children’s playgrounds and a visitors’ centre. There is no entrance charge although on summer Sundays a parking charge for cars applies. A wide range of leisure activities are undertaken in the park including dog walking, pony trekking, bike riding and kite flying. There are areas to fly model aeroplanes and helicopters. A railway line runs through the park”
Massive thanks to Wikipedia for the brief (?) summary. I’m sure that at 18:00 most of the London parks would be pretty crowded.
When I arrived at the Club I was informed that I would be completing a “hill session” rather than my usual plod around the park. I can honestly say that until yesterday, I had never completed a hill session. Sutton Park has plenty of hills so I wondered where we would be torturing ourselves. The other slight snag yesterday was the heat, my Garmin thinks that it was 72 degrees during my run yesterday, it wasn’t that warm but it was a lot warmer than I have been used to. Apparently the warmer weather will last for most of July…
We set off on a warm-up run towards the Jamboree Stone (one of the highest points in the park), did some stretches and other exercises, had a quick lesson in how to sprint “elbows in Emma” and then started the session. At the start of the hill reps I was thinking of Kate Bush and Running up that Hill 15 minutes later I was thinking about dying. I can honestly say that I didn’t give the session 100%. I was far too concerned (1) about being sick, (2) my calf muscles, and (3) not being able to run back to the Club.
After completing the first set of hill reps we had a quick rest and then started on the second set of slightly longer reps. As I sit typing this, I’m not actually sure how I survived the second set of reps. One thing the session did teach me is that I am a lazy runner and need to learn to push myself. On completion of the second session we were informed we would be ‘cooling down’ by running towards the Jamboree Stone and then back to the Club via the long route. Great! After staggering back to the Club I was absolutely shattered and couldn’t get enough fluids down my neck.
Evidence of the torture: