Petestack Blog

12 September 2009

I believed in antelopes

Filed under: Running — admin @ 11:00 pm

So (after weeks of rain) we’ve got a glorious September Saturday, my arrangement to climb with Isi doesn’t seem to have worked out, the mower’s been returned to the shed in disgrace (won’t start), the rose on my weedkiller can is broken and I’m needing to get outside and do something…

So how about a proper hill run, and let’s see if Chris Ellis’s hamstring treatment is still working as well as it appeared to be last night (when I managed a 3.9 mile ‘Mamore Loop’ with no problems and, in what strikes me as a propitious omen, bumped into Chris at my very gate on the way home).

So (trying to set a record for the number of consecutive paragraphs legitimately starting with ‘so’?) I took the path with the monumental zig and zag up Coire na Ba to Na Gruagaichean and Binnein Mor, returning by Sgor Eilde Beag and An Cumhann for a total of 10.7 miles and 4,900 feet of ascent in just over 3 hrs 14 mins. Which might seem disappointing for a round I reckon should go in under 3 hours if fully fit but, at close to ‘double Naismith’ pace, isn’t really that bad for some afternoon/evening hamstring-rehabilitation fun.

So (don’t go there!) perhaps both legs were just starting to cramp a little as I got home, but I could hardly feel the hamstring. And I was disciplined about doing the stretches and icing, although I might point out that:

  1. I’ve never been a great stretcher, tending to agree (or wanting to agree) with Bernd Heinrich’s charming quote (see foot of post) about antelopes stretching, but have to say it’s so obvious that Chris’s stretches are working that I’m not only going to keep doing them but would probably boil my head as well if Chris told me that would improve my fitness!
  2. Clingfilming nappy bags of icy slush to your thigh isn’t just that easy, but sitting them on your chair seems to work well enough…

Had I remembered while writing Thursday’s post, I’d probably have added that Chris also gave me some instruction in cross-massaging the affected fibres and told me pulling my computer chair round my classroom with my feet was good for strengthening hamstrings. So what happens when the next pupil trying that one (NB we have other computer chairs so they don’t have to take mine!) has the audacity to excuse him/herself with ‘but, Sir, I was just strengthening my hamstrings’? ;-)

Must add that I’ve been finding the Memory-Map elevation and altitude profiles (from Memory-Map and Garmin Forerunner 305 data respectively) for my tracks quite interesting, with the negligible differences between them suggesting that, at least on open ground and real hills, the much-supposed inaccuracy/exaggeration of the GPS altitude readings is simply not a significant issue.

2009-09-12mamores 2009-09-12profiles

Have also arranged to go climbing at Polldubh with Johnny MacLeod tomorrow, so hopefully making the most of this cracking weekend that could yet (if some forecasts have it right) be the start of a mini Indian summer. But, before I sign off for tonight, here’s that favourite Heinrich passage that I’ll never be able to quote with quite my previous conviction again:

I also believe in antelopes. They would not have missed a trick when it comes to running speed and endurance. I had never seen or heard of an antelope who was flexible and did stretching, or who lifted weights for extra strength. I had never heard of one doing much more than eating and running.

From Why We Run (Bernd Heinrich, 2001)


  1. Re: Antelopes. Speed? Yes. Endurance? No. The bushmen hunt antelopes by running them into the ground, until they’re too exhausted to move. Humans are better adapted for dumping heat (by sweating) than many other mammals, who have to pant. If a human can keep the antelope moving, there is a good chance it’ll get heat exhaustion and stop.

    I saw this demonstrated in a documentary a while back. The run looked grueling though, more than a marathon in the Kalahari heat.

    Comment by Angus — 13 September 2009 @ 8:11 am

  2. Yes, of course you’re right, and Heinrich’s technically contradicting himself here because both he and Christopher McDougall in Born to Run make this point. But forget the endurance bit, it’s still a great quote!

    Comment by admin — 13 September 2009 @ 8:43 am

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