Wednesday, February 20, 2013

2013 so far .....

Thought I'd give a wee update on how 2013's gone so far and what i have planned at the moment for the year ahead. In terms of previous years, 2013's got off to a flying start (with the exception of 2009 - I have NO IDEA what happened that year !) -

I've only listed the miles up to June as I generally stop running for months after the West Highland Way. In the case of 2011 I stopped for around 18 months !

Not running the WHW this year, still fancy getting a 5th goblet one day though. Instead I plan to run a few shorter ultras and spread them through the year to try and keep my interest in running going through the back end of the year.

At the start of February I ran my first race as a veteran, the Forfar multi-terrain 1/2 Marathon. And to wind me up my race number reminded me of my younger days .... :( -

I finished in 1:41:19, which was a bit disappointing, but my good old creaky hamstrings stopped me stretching out for the last few miles, even though my lungs would've let me. And the course is usually a bit wet & slippy but this year was exceptional - 

This is normally a path but it was freezing cold, & thigh deep, shoe coming off in it didn't help either !!

Other races entered for the year are the D33 on 16 March, then on 17 March Kim and I have entered the Alloa half marathon - yikes. I'm running it to support Kim, so hopefully I should be ok, and I'm hoping the miles on tired legs might be beneficial - will let you know on the 18th !!!

Had hoped to run the Fling, but I was too late and both it & the waiting list are full & closed. Other races identified that I'm contemplating -

1. Larig Grhu on 30 June - always fancied this, but it has always clashed with the WHW

2. Speyside Way on 24 August - again, this looks like a great bit of the world to run through and as it follows the Spey to the sea it must surely be all downhill !!

3. Glen Ogle 33 Novemberish - this would give me something to keep training for.....

That's probably enough for one year, knowing me I might not end up doing any of them. Hopefully a good year this year will set me up for a decent year in 2014, might even try the WHW again .....

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ice Running Shoes for pennies !!

Now that the roads and paths are coated with sheets of glassy ice I thought I'd share this idea that I saw on line a while ago that lets you carry on running despite the underfoot conditions being deadly.

If you want to carry on running when it gets icy one option is to buy grips that fit over running shoes such as Wintertrax or Yaktrax, but I've no idea how comfortable they are to run in or if they stay in place. Another option is to buy spikes that you can put into the soles of running shoes,  like those sold by, which have the advantage of giving grip without having to stop and start to put on grippers, but these are £15 per pack of 32.

The option I used was to buy a pack of 100 hex head self tapping screws for about £4, the ones I bought were 13mm long with a 7mm head like these -

Then I dug out a pair of old running shoes and using a drill and the driver head shown in the picture (it's much easier that trying to do it by hand), I screwed them in to the sole of the shoe at various points -

I thought that they would be uncomfortable to run in and would be felt pushing through but they are completely un-noticable. I would avoid putting any through the sole immediately under the balls of your feet though.

I have used them a lot while I wouldn't run at 7 minute miles in them they do give superb grip letting me run over frozen puddles & icy tarmac without any problem, something that if I had tried in normal shoes would have resulted in my looking like bambi. And when the ice disappears and conditions are normal underfoot you still don't notice the screws.

One other word of warning - don't wear them in the house if you have wooden or laminate flooring !!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Progress Report

My return to running has not been as smooth as I would have hoped and has been sporadic due to a number of unavoidable factor and I've managed 8 runs since the start of September when I did the run I mentioned in my previous post. 

Training has been interrupted by an ingrown toe nail on my left big toe, which stopped me running for a while, then 2 weeks ago I opened a door in the house whilst barefoot, right on to my wee toe, completely peeling the skin right off it. This took ages to heal and I've only just started walking properly. And work has also been a major detractor from training, much to my annoyance.

On the positive side my running was improving, I usually aim to run the club 8 mile route at a speed of 8mph, and whilst I started back at 6.5mph, I was quickly up to 7.6mph & keeping up with people that previously had been leaving me standing as they ran into the distance. I still have a long way to go though....

I've also managed one longer run into the hills taking in the following route -

It was a beautiful day and the route started easily enough with a gentle jog up the glen -

then a steep climb up to the rolling tops before a steep descent and a flat jog back to the car.

The day ended up being about 22 miles and with the last few miles being a struggle, a shock to the system for both me and Cody- but he slept well that night .....

Also managed a reasonable run of sorts during a recent visit to Aviemore. Kim and I took the bus up to the Cairngorm Car Park from Coylumbridge then ran back through the Chalamain gap via the Lairig Ghru.

It was about 12 miles with a mixture of walking and running on a relatively fair day, but we did get hit with a horrendous downpour in driving rain just as we crested out of the Gap. Somebody really should clear up all those stones that are lying around - they're a trip hazard !!!

The rain was the only blemish on an otherwise great day (although Kim's skinned knees may disagree!). I didn't find it at all taxing, which is promising and the best bit about it was - it was all down hill !!

I'm off Monday - Wednesday next week so hope to try and get in another long run then...


Saturday, September 8, 2012

It's gonna be tough !

Well, got back from holiday 5kg heavier than I was before I left and on Tuesday went to my running club for the first time since January. The club does a selection of 3 routes - 6, 8 & 10 miles. I would normally do the 8, but my main objective was to get round the 6 without walking, which I achieved (nothing to be proud of though). 

6.8 miles were completed in 1 hour 2 minutes, and I doubt I could have gone faster - surely it can only get better !!!

The legs were pretty tired on Wednesday, but Kim, Cody and I drove up to Skye, parked at Sligachan and walked in to Loch Coruisk to camp. Even though it was an easy walk I found it tough going with a big pack.

Kim & Cody with Marsco on the left. We were heading for the far side of the peak just visible in the middle. Great weather - at that point ......
We woke on Thursday morning to horrendous weather, honestly don't think I've ever seen rain like it before. Fortunately the howling gale that accompanied the rain was at our backs as we walked straight back to the car. Paths were now streams and trickles of water we hadn't even noticed the previous day, now took serious care to cross.

This was only a couple of stepping stones the day before.
We were all soaked to the skin when we finished so lunch and a change of clothes at the Sligachan Hotel were extremely welcome. We then headed to Applecross where we had a worrying moment as my right (i.e. braking) leg cramped up as we came down the Bealach na Ba !

All in all a tough 3 days for me unfit legs, but it's a start although highlights how much work I have ahead to get back in shape.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I'm Back .......

After an unenjoyable 6 months of running in 2011, I pretty much stopped running. I think I've ran probably no more than 50 miles in total since 2011's WHW !But after having some time off I think I've overcome the reluctance and apathy to train (not that I did much anyway !) and have decided to start again. 

I don't think I'll do the WHW in 2013, but will probably do 4 - 5 shorter ultras throughout the year, give me targets to aim for. I usually do the WHW then stop for 6 months so this should keep my interest up.

I've missed the long training runs with the dog, the meeting up with friends at races and the fitness that came with the miles. So, off on holiday on Monday for 2 weeks of sun, then when I come back I'm gonna ease back into the miles.....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

YIKES !! - It's Race time already !?

I can hardly believe that it's that time of year again, June seems to have rushed up on me, and my plan this year of increasing my training mileage started well, but then went into reverse. Was never the most motivated person in the world to go training but seem to have really struggled a bit with motivation this year, particularly after the Fling, but that seems to be an annual occurance !

My training miles for the year looks like this -

So whilst I feel like I've not really done as many miles this year, it isn't much less than other years, and I doubt that 30 miles in traininng will really make that much difference, so this year should be the same as other years. If only it were that simple !!

I've not been in the right place mentally for the Race this year, which I think can be illustrated by the number of blog posts I've recorded this year, 4 compared with 43 last year ! However as it draws nearer and I start to gather all the gear and food I need, i.e. today, I am now looking forward to it.

I made a note last year of earning points from the race so that I wouldn't forget them (being organised is most unlike me !) The link to the post is here.

The forecast for Friday / Saturday is dominated by this symbol -

So good luck to everyone that's running, hope you all have a good race and make it to the finish. See you tomorrow night !

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Monthly Update (not that there's much !)

Well February was a good month mileage-wise, but March sees me return to my old ways. I finished off Feb with a long run of 31 miles from the Drovers to Kingshouse with the following group - 

Richie, Marco, John, Neal, Me, Bob & Ross
Within half a mile of starting I knew the pace was too hard for me and before too long I was trotting along at the back. I really toiled over Rannoch Moor, desperate to get the run over, made worse by knowing that everyone was waiting in the pub for me before we got the bus back to the start. It brought home I've got a long way to go that before June.

March was a difficult month to find the time to run but I had reasonable excuses, the first week was spent working all the hours of the day, unsuccessfully looking for the buried body of a murder victim, then I developed a chest infection. The chest infection meant that I didn't enter the D33side ultra as but I did do one run of 22 miles but after 16 miles I blew up, didn't have any liquid or food with me and basically walked the last 6 miles.  I had planned to do

Worryingly  I'm not developing the speed or stamina that I would liked to have achieved by this time of the year, but I'll keep plugging away. I've entered the Fling at the end of April which I'll use as a training run and a gauge of my fitness.

On the plus side I ran less miles in March '08 and that was the year I set my best time, so lets see how I get on. It would be most uncharacteristic of me to do hundreds of miles in a month !!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

An icy slide along the Cateran Trail.

Firstly, thanks to everyone who commented in response to my request for training suggestions. I'll go with the unanimous majority and keep doing what I've always been doing, although this year I might bump the mileage up a wee bit.

Went for a run along the Cateran Trail yesterday, a route I've done a few times, run was from Bridge of Cally to a bothy known as the "Lunch Hut" between Enochdu & the Spittal of Glenshee. In total it's not far off 28 miles, so would be a good test for me at this stage of my "season".

The Route
We are currently dog sitting so have 5 dogs in the house and by the time I'd got them walked, fed then driven to the start it was mid-day - a lot later than I'd planned to be. As 2 of the other dogs were still pups and the other 2 are fat little barrels, it was only Cody that I took with me.

Within 10 minutes I was slipping and sliding along icy forestry tracks. When hard packed, wet ice covers the entire width of the track, it makes for very slow, cautious going, and I found places more stress on your legs as you tense up and try not to fall. And when there was no ice there was mud, lots of it. 

Cool signpost near to Cultalonie Farm


Going out was a bit of a slog, previously I have been to the halfway point at the hut in 2 hours 15 mins, but yesterday it took me 2 hours 55 mins. I knew then I was going to be finishing in the dark. The way back was even tougher, obviously the terrain was the same, but my poor fitness really showed and I came back in 3 hours 25 mins, making a total time for the 28 miles of 6 hours 20 mins, an average speed of 4.4 mph - yikes !!

I'm putting it down to the underfoot conditions stopping me getting in to my stride ! I hope that's the case as I'm planning a run on the WHW on the 27th with John Kynaston and a group of pretty good runners, so I don't want to hold them up. I'm really wishing the snow would disappear now, but there's more forecast tonight and it looks like I might struggle to get to work in Blairgowrie in the morning.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Snowy run with my "new" Packdog !

I decided to go for a longer run on Tuesday there, so headed up to Dunkeld to do a run in the Loch Ordie area, I had a target of 20 miles give or take in mind, and thought that after the recent, relatively warm weather most of the snow would be gone - I was wrong !

As I headed past Perth I could see that the snowfall we had on Sunday night had stuck around locally, but I decided to carry on anyway. Cody was with me and this was our first outing with his new dog backpack. I figured there was no point in me carrying everything when I could give the dog gainful employment, so he got the pack for Christmas. He's only worn it for a few walks but doesn't seem to mind it at all, his tail continues to wag incessantly -

So given the weather he was tasked with carrying a spare fleece and a pair of trousers for me. We set off from the car park and it quickly became clear that the run was going to be a lot harder than running in normal conditions. The soft powder snow was generally 2-3 inches, but frequently was 6 inches deep and any standing water was frozen solid, making for slippy, tiring progress.

Typical conditions
I trudged up to Loch Ordie then down towards Kindallachan and back to the car park by Rotmell Farm. The distance covered was about 17.5 miles and because of the underfoot conditions I was regularly reduced to walking so it took me 3hours 15 mins, an average speed of 5.3mph, which I guess I'm quite happy with given the limited running I've been doing and the snow / ice.

I'm running a bit more regularly now and hope to get another couple of longer runs in before the end of February so my monthly target is 70 miles which, work permitting, should easily be acheivable. I've created a table of my monthly mileage again, but this year I've added my total mileage prior to the WHW race and my time. I've never done this before and what I found amazing was how close my totals were given that I don't really know what I'm doing and have a completely unstructured, run-when-you-can training regime. 

This year I'd like to increase my mileage to see if it makes any difference. Looking at some other blogs Marco Consani ran 285 miles in January ! And Ian Beattie ran 2,035 miles throughout the whole year, so I have some catching up. I've deliberated this many times before and I'm not sure if the running that I do suits me, or if increasing my mileage would improve my times ? So Jez, if you're reading this and you  have the time to make me up a training program then feel free to e-mail me ! I know that it's a completely individual thinag and if you ask 2 ultra runners how they train, you'll get 3 different answers but if anyone else wants to contribute some suggestions then they would be gratefully received.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 - here we go !

Now that the New Year is here I tend to start thinking about training for the Big Race in June andlook to increase my mileage, this year that won't a difficult thing to do. Traditionally I tend to have a pretty easy second half of the year running-wise. I think it's probably because I've done so much (for me anyway) running during the first half, but this year felt worse than normal, so I added up the totals and was pretty shocked to find out how few miles I had done -

July was probably 15 miles max, I don't actually know, but it was the run when I supported Pete Duggan on his Rasmsay Round run.

I had hoped to have started my training a month earlier this year and was all set to begin in December but the snow scuppered that. Frustratingly the roads round my way are still thick with ice, making falling and picking up an injury a big risk, but I'll need to look at some way to kick-start my training.