This morning I went for my first run in Africa; my first run in over three months. To be honest a pulled calf muscle back in June was a main reason for the lack of running back in the UK – but since I’ve been here I think I have been daunted by the challenge.
As I have mentioned here before the town of Mwanza is higher than any place in England and Wales – just above that of Mount Snowdon. It’s not immensely high but in the early days you could feel it when you walked. I think I have got used to it (at walking pace at least).
It’s not particularly flat here – running involves the inevitable uphill part and unlike my runs in the UK these are prolonged (several minutes of uphill). I will get used to it – but the thought of a prolonged uphill run at the start was a little off-putting. A work colleague (Head of PE) takes the students here up an even steeper ascent – although we both went running this morning, this particular element will need to wait for another occasion.
Furthermore the roads aren’t particularly flat here – there are a lot of ruts in the road. This make running more tiring as you dodge potholes and avoid rocks in the road.
Not surprisingly it’s hot here. The sun is baking and this saps your strength. Even the walk to school can leave you feeling sweaty. So the idea of running in the heat left me a little ‘cold’ :-). The only way to contemplate running was to get up at the crack of dawn before the sun was really able to exert it’s furnace on the world. So it was up at 6:15am on a Saturday to meet up with a colleague and head out of the compound and uphill.
As usual I probably started out too fast but eventually got into a rhythm – the uphill bit wasn’t to bad – though at the end of it I was glad to turn onto a more level path. The only issue was that this meant leaving tarmac and heading over rough ground (the road). This road lead to the school around which we did a loop, before heading back along my familiar route to and from work.
All in all I felt OK given the length of time since my last run – but I know I can do a lot better.
I hope to run more often but it might only be possible at weekends.
The other barrier to running here is the daylight.
Sun rise here is about 6:30am all year. Sunset is about 6:30pm all year. This makes it tricky to fit tuns in during the working week as work is from 7:55am to 4:15pm (including meetings and clubs). Given the heat of the afternoon, at least to begin with I am not going to find it easy to run after work and will have no time to run before work. Maybe this will change.
Today was a start and hopefully I will continue – I’d love to join with the school running around Kilimanjaro next year – they do 5K, 10K and a half marathon. The views of Kilimanjaro can be spectacular apparently – so it’s definitely something to aim for.