Was: Work, work, work... Now: Play, play, play...

One of the tricky things about running longer distances is that it takes up quite a lot of time, which can be a pain in the backside when you've even only a moderately demanding job, a family and running is really your second-string sport. So it has proved this week; however there is hope.

I typically use Monday as a rest day and then run at least five of the next six days of the week, but this Tuesday I started work at about 07:30 and didn't leave until about 19:45 so running home felt a bit much and I canned it. Similarly, I decided that a quick 10k round the village probably wouldn't be a fantastic idea on Christmas Day after fresh Manukau scallops, turkey, ham, white burgundy and port (the trip out onto the Manukau to get the scallops scuppered the idea of a morning run!) On the other hand, I'm now a free agent for ten days or so, and will have plenty of opportunities to go and get some miles in. I'm still building back up to the kind of mileage I was doing for the Queenstown Marathon, and I did about half a dozen runs of 32k or over in preparation for that, including one from Arataki to Piha along the Hillary Trail. This means that I should have a certain amount of latitude to include longer runs in my schedule without increasing my risk of injury too much. I hope. Fingers crossed.

Despite having planned something a bit shorter, I decided that Boxing Day wouldn't be complete without an out & back along what is probably my favourite section of the HT: Huia to Whatipu. There is just something glorious about this section of the trail: the long drag up to Karamatura Forks with the accompaniment of the gurgling river alongside the trail for much of the first half; running along the Puriri Ridge Track waiting for the first open section of the track with the glorious view down toward Whatipu; the undulating ridge along Omanawanui Track with the panorama stretching from Lainghom Point back in the Manukau Harbour, across the Manukau Bar to the heads and past Whatipu to Piha and Muriwai beyond. It's a slightly easier trail than Parau Track but beautifully rewarding in its own way.

To round off the week, we all made a last-minute decision to camp down at Whatipu Campground on the night of the 27th, which made me swap out my 20k road run for a 12k blast along Gibbons Track and Walker Ridge Track. I've run through there a number of times but had never stayed there before; I definitely will again. There's the natural beauty of the valley itself, the great welcome from Wayne who runs the place (including a brief round of applause as I ran back across the campground) but also loads of places for the kids to play and explore. Well worth an overnighter if you're planning on doing some training on the trail before your personal adventure.

I ended up a little bit behind my goal for the week, but trail runs count for more than road runs in my opinion. I'd multiply the distance by at least 1.5 to try and compare; however even then, they're more punishing and work out a wider range of muscles.


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