Sunday, 27 May 2012

Lakeland 100 recce video

Sorry this is late but it has just been a busy week.

Running-wise, I have taken things very easy, with only three sessions (plus some swimming and cycling) which was exactly what I needed after the monster run last weekend with John. I now feel recovered and ready to get on with some proper training.

Enjoy the video.

Monday, 21 May 2012

A long day at the office

With all the logistics in place, John arrived early evening on Saturday, which gave us plenty of time to eat, begin a recording for the West Highland Way Race podcasts and watch the football. What could make a better evening? Oh yea, I know; don't embarrass yourself doing a podcast. It all sounds so easy, though I found it quite a surreal experience. You are effectively talking to someone, talking to no one and talking to anyone all at the same time. Weird!

Tracey had agreed to take-one-for-the-team and dragged herself out of bed on Sunday morning to take us down to Ambleside for the start of the recce run, continuing on from the point where we finished last time.

Ready for the off.
The weather had finally decided to abandon winter and jumped straight to summer. Those grins on the photo remained there for many hours to come, not all the time but most of it!

One of the things I have really enjoyed about these recces is that I have discovered new trails on my doorstep. The route out of Ambleside is a prime example. There is a nice climb over Loughrigg Fell towards Elter Water and then a wonderful run along the river from Skelwith Bridge to Elterwater village and then on to Chapel Stile. We just couldn't resist taking pictures every couple of minutes, skipping along like a couple of Cheshire cats. We did not have the exact location of the checkpoint so took a few photos of the various options and have since bossed it.

The River Brathay
We then continued into Great Langdale, skirting round the foot of Lingmoor Fell. Here the underfoot conditions became rockier and the ankles started to take the pounding they would take for many more hours. This early in our run it was difficult to comprehend how this same route will feel in the race with 90 miles already in our legs; the only thing I can say for sure is that I will be happy if I can muster any kind of run at all at this point.

Little Langdale is far quieter than it's bigger brother, but no less beautiful, with a more intimate feel. At this point, we were trying to work out where the 100 mile point would be, finally selecting a footpath sign as our marker - who knows how accurate we are but who cares? At this point in the race each step is going to be a significant marker.

John in Little Langdale
We arrived at Tibberthwaite, the final checkpoint before the finish, took one look up the hill and started the plod. When looking at the splits from the race, you wonder why runners take so long - now we know. It's a long slog up on to the beautiful Yewdale Fells followed be a knee popping descent into Coniston and the finish. If you are able to run a single step of this descent at the end of 100 miles, you are having a good day.

The drop to Coniston
We talked a lot about how we might feel at this point and ran into the finish as if it was the real thing; I nearly started high-fiving the tourists. Although it was a fun game, imagining what it will feel like, this turned out to be a mistake as we both seemed to think of this point as the end of our run, whereas, we actually had the best part of five hours left.

Looking rather supple in the start/finish area
The initial climb back out of Coniston went well as we continued our podcast interview, but once we got onto the Walna Scar Road which would take us over into the Duddon Valley, the conversation dried up somewhat. This might not sound too significant, however, we have spent about 23 hours running this route together and this was the first time we stopped chatting. I think it was a combination of the mind and body targeting the finish in Coniston and us falling behind our split time expectations for the first time. Lesson to be learnt -  with these events, you run half with your legs and the other half with your mind!!

The climb out of Seathwaite up to Grassguards and on towards Harter Fell was exactly what you don't want when you are having a tough time. It is rough, boggy and long. On the plus side, once we came out of the plantation below Harter Fell, we were both so pleased to be able to run again that our spirits started to lift and we "got it back together" again, running more smoothly down into the Eskdale valley. I even managed a skip just to prove I could!

Born to dance
We met a lady in Eskdale who helps with the checkpoint there during the race and she kindly refilled our water bottles for the final push over into Wasdale. This was generally a more inviting climb, more runnable and less rocky than many of the previous plods. By this point, we were both quite pleased with how we had turned round from the tough section and really started to run more strongly. As soon as we crested the final col, I could see where the car was parked and before too long we were shaking hands and congratulating each other on a grand day out.

At the finish in Wasdale
We covered just over 35 miles in 9 hours but, more importantly, this reminded us just how tough this race is going to be. The previous two recce runs have been fairly straight forward and had perhaps lulled us into thinking we were going to boss this race. This weekend's outing showed just how much respect we need to have for the course and this will be at the forefront of my mind when I start to plan my race strategy.

The Lake District was stunning, the weather was superb, the Hoka's were bouncy and the smiles were BIG! Thanks for the company, John.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Lakeland 100 Recce

Just a quick note to let you know that John and I completed our third recce of the Lakeland 100 route today in glorious sunshine, 35 miles in 9 hours. We came through a tough patch (more psychological than anything else) and finished strongly, if rather weathered.

At the finish in Wasdale

Ambleside to Coniston to Wasdale again showed the tough nature of this course and reminded us of how much respect we have to show this race.

The usual full report and video will have to be done another night as I can hear my bath calling me!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Three valleys

Just about got everything in place for the next Lakeland 100 recce run tomorrow. This one has taken a bit more logistical juggling involving various car trips, a campervan, co-driver, running over fells and a bus journey. Only two things remain to be slotted into place; John needs to arrive here in time to watch the football and we need to run 30 odd miles. Simples!!

Managed to take in (the view into) three valleys today. Wasdale, Ennerdale and Buttermere. Rather windy on the tops today (the weather, not me!) but still enjoyable. I made sure I took the climbs nice and easy with tomorrow in mind and am looking forward to seeing another chunk of the Lakeland 100 route. This will actually complete my trip round the route, though I need to spend more time on the Wasdale to Keswick section which needs care, especially in the dark. That will be the final recce for John and myself in four weeks time.




Sunday, 13 May 2012

Quad trashing

I wanted to make a positive start in the final build-up towards the Lakeland 100. That meant only one thing, HILLS.

Today, I went up Jenkins Hill (the steep bit of Skiddaw), cut off round to Sale How, dropped down to Skiddaw House YHA, took in Great Calva and enjoyed the long drop back down into Keswick.

The difference in the weather compared to yesterday was rather dramatic. Calm and sunny yesterday, howling cold wind today. I walked more of the hills than I would if training for fell racing as I wanted to make it more specific to the ultra-marathon and, to hopefully, keep the pressure off the Achilles tendon.

The boggy climb to Calva

I think I still ran too much, as my tendon has been a bit sore during the afternoon. I need to have more discipline on these long hill days if I am going to avoid any injuries. On the plus side, it felt like a good workout for the quads, which is the main point of the exercise. More days like that will reap rewards during the big race.

As I returned along the Glenderaterra path, I met a number of the runners on the official Lakeland 100 recce, running from Buttermere to Dalemain. They all looked to be enjoying the day out but I was glad I only had to drop down into Keswick and did not have another 20 miles to do.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Back in the land of training

It has now been two weeks since the Highland Fling race and I have completed my prescribed recovery period. Even last weekend, I felt that I could have done some more serious training sessions but I have stuck to my original plan of just doing a few very easy jogs over these two weeks and my legs feel better for it.

Today, it was time to get back into training mode and I spent a lovely hour and a half out on the hills, feeling good and running smoothly. The route along Glenderaterra is one of my favourites and part of the Lakeland 100 course so I feel like a frequent flier.

Tomorrow, I hope to get out and include some more substantial hills, particularly working on the conditioning of my quads for the big race (only 11 weeks away.) I have been giving some thought as to how I need to slightly tweek my training over these remaining weeks. On the build up to the Fling, I have done relatively little mountain running, however, this needs to change if my training is to be more Lakeland 100 specific.

The big building blocks are in place; two more long recce runs with John Kynaston and the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon. What I hope to do in the course of normal weekly training is to include a tempo run (60 - 80 minutes), a hill run (one climb/descent, 60 - 80 minutes) and a mountain run (multiple hills, 2 - 4 hours). The fact that I have decades of fell running in my legs means I don't have to go stupid at this but psychologically, knowing I have put in the hill work will help me come the end of July.

"The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary", Vince Lombardi

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Recovery week

After the exertions of last weekend, I had decided to give myself a couple of weeks recovery time, though I did not really know how much I would need them.

The two previous times I've run the Fling, I have kept things in check for much of the race, particularly when racing the West Highland Way only 7 or 8 weeks later. This time I gave myself more freedom to have a proper go, knowing that it is three months to the Lakeland 100, giving more time to recover and then build up to the big one. In 2010, I was training properly within 4 days of the Fling, however, that is not the case this year.

I feel that the recovery is going well and my legs feel fine; I just have a general tiredness and a desire to eat anything and everything. In some ways, it is quite useful having this tiredness as it is stopping me from kicking in with the training too soon and has reinforced my plan to take another week of easy jogging to, hopefully, complete the recovery.

Right on cue, Lorn Pearson posted an article on overtraining on her blog, which again reminded me to take things easy. At the moment, things are going in the right direction with regard to my Lakeland 100 preparation; confidence is up after the Fling, I've had a good four months of consistent training, the recces with John have gone really well and I still have the motivation to push on over the next three months. It would be a disaster to risk overtraining at this stage when recovery is obviously needed.

Today, Tracey and I had a drive out to Wasdale to make good use of the lovely weather, combining a run/jog/walk up to Blacksail Pass for me, a walk for Tracey and a picnic together after. Wasdale is gorgeous but what a pain to drive for 1:30 hours and end up only 11 miles from home!!

Looking up Wasdale Valley

My legs felt good on the long climb, though I made no effort to push the pace, simply taking in the stunning views. I had a good recce of the point where the main path crosses Gatherstone Beck as I have heard that this can be tricky in the dark and I estimate it will somewhere around here that I'll need to put on the headtorch in the Lakeland 100 race.

Heading towards Blacksail Pass
View from the pass
I have started to think about how I am going to make the slight shift towards a more Lakeland 100 specific training plan which I will share on another day, though needless to say, it is going to include more mountains than I did on the build-up to the Fling.

Finally, a quick congratulations to my stepfather, Paul, who became MV60 British Mountainbike Orienteering (long course) Champion last weekend. I'll be a happy man if I'm that fit at his age!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Highland Fling Race Video

I've put together some video clips of my race last Saturday which, I hope, gives some flavour of how things unfolded for me. Enjoy!