Sunday, 17 February 2013

Gorgeous day

I finished off a great week of training today with a couple of hours round Glenderaterra area.

It was a fabulous morning and, though I am tired from a big week of training, I was bouncing along, taking in the views and stopping to take photos.

Having clocked up a high mileage week (for me, anyway), I will make sure I take things nice and easy next week, probably only training 4 or 5 sessions to give my muscles and joints some time to recover.

My focus is now starting to drift towards the High Peak Marathon in a couple of weeks time. 42 miles of slogging round the Peak District in the dark will make for quite an adventure and yet another good block of time on feet in prepatation for bigger battles later in the year.

I have another trip up to Scotland planned for 4 weeks time when I hope to run Tyndrum to Fort William, which means I will have covered the full WHW already and any other trips after that are a bonus.


Friday, 15 February 2013

Back in the groove

Since getting over my cold, I have slotted back into training mode without too much discomfort.

The first week back, I started fairly steady, including some minimalist running in the park, but by Thursday I felt ready to do some proper work so slotted in one of my "Skiddaw reps". This is a simple concept but can work wonders. For those that know the mountain, you will be aware that it is just one long relentless climb on a good track which makes it ideal in the dark/fog/mist/cloud. The aim of the session is to condition my quadricepts to the eccentric contractions of downhill running, so a Skiddaw rep is simply a run up for a certain length of time, nice and steady, followed by a hammer back down. At the moment, I'm just doing a 40 minute run up, but I will progress this over the months until I'm doing the summit and back in late spring.

On the Friday I broke my 8 min/mile rule about a week early but it was just such a lovely evening that I found myself skipping along at a good tempo pace and just decided to go with it. It was nice to take the shackles off and run with a bit of pace, though I have a long way to go before this type of running is going to be easy!

Tempo run round Derwentwater, looking towards Skiddaw
Rather stupidly, I followed my first tempo session of the year with one of those days when my head was cashing cheques my legs could not honour. Through Twitter, I had arranged to meet Matt Wilson, who was going out on a 30 mile Lakeland 100 recce starting in Keswick, though I only intended to do 40 mins or so with him. Matt was starting mid-morning, so I thought I'd sneak in a run first, meet Matt for a short while and be done and dusted by lunchtime. I set off early on a loop round Glenderaterra - fantastic views (#fail)

17 hours after the previous photo!
It took me just over 1:30 hours to do my first loop, I met Matt and we headed off down towards Borrowdale. Before I knew it, we were at the bottom end of Derwentwater, meaning my only option was to continue round the lake and complete another full circuit. Eventually, 2:40 hours after leaving home, I crawled in the front door and demanded bacon sandwiches, which is all I thought about for the previous 40 minutes.

This week has been built around my first long run on the West Highland Way this year. Over the last few years, during my half term break, I have ran from Balmaha to Tyndrum (33 miles) and used this as a good guide to how well I have wintered. This time I decided to extend the run and continue to Bridge of Orchy (40 miles). To make matters just a little more interesting, the only bus all afternoon back towards Glasgow left Bridge of Orchy at 3pm - so the race was on!

Near Rowardennan
Although I made good time all day, I felt like I was putting more effort in than I wanted to and I feel this was because of the bus factor (not some new reality TV show) just adding a little pressure to the run. Having said that, it is always such a pleasure to run on this route and I was really pleased with how strongly I ran the last section in particular.

On the final section to Bridge of Orchy
If you watched my video from my previous post, you will know that I made the journey with about 40 minutes to spare before the bus, but the real bonus was that I got a lift back to Balloch (where Tracey was meeting me) and so arrived back about 40 minutes before I was expected - that NEVER happens!

What I have decided is that, next time I go out for an ultra length training session, I am not going to put a time pressure on myself - you shouldn't be rushing through scenery like this!!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

West Highland Way training run video

On Tuesday, I ran from Balmaha to Bridge of Orchy, covering about 40 miles of the West Highland Way, playing a racing game with the City Link bus service. I had to reach Bridge of Orchy before 3pm to catch the only afternoon bus back to Balloch.

For now, here is a short video of the outing.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Two weeks off

Just as I was getting into a good rhythm of training, which included my first venture into a carbo depletion run, I picked up a right good stinky cold. Like most others, I work on the above/below the neck rule; if the cold is confined to the head only, it's generally OK to continue training (lightly) and I often find it's good to have a blow-out (literally!) on training runs to help get rid of the snot, if the cold ventures anywhere below the neck and into the chest, it's time to stop and take a rest. This time, although my chest felt OK, I was quite achy in my back and my head was pounding most of the time, so I just made the decision to take a couple of weeks off.

This lay-off coincided with the Dark Mountains race which I planned to do, so I reluctantly had to pull the plug on that one. Sounded like a brutal night out on the fells; last team standing basically wins! Definitely on the radar for next year.

I tentatively ran for 30 mins yesterday and did not feel too bad and followed it up with 90 minutes today, taking the Glenderaterra loop as used in the Lakeland 100 route. I seem to have come through the fitness tests without any major problems so I think I will be back in proper training again from next week.

Drinking Cumbria Ale
This two week lay-off has forced a slight change to my plans. I apply my "not-faster-than-8mins/mile" rule during December and January to make sure I ease myself into the year, but I have missed two weeks of this. While I was running today, I thought about whether I was ready to ramp up the tempo a bit now we are in February or do I want another 2 weeks of steady work. I have decided to keep the brakes on for another couple of weeks, the clincher being that I am planning a big week of training in a weeks time, including a long run on the West Highland Way, so it makes sense to keep things steady until that is out of the way.

View towards Great Dodd from above Glenderaterra
I have been doing some more detailed planning for the rest of the year, mainly identifying the weekends when I will do my key sessions; ultra distance long runs, back to back long runs and some more carbo depletion runs. In addition, I wanted to find a race to do in late summer to give me something to aim for after the WHW race. So after a few hours trawling t'interweb, I have found this little beauty; The Ring O Fire. It's a three day ultra race round the Anglesey coastal path, with days of 32, 64 and 35 miles. Sounds like a really good challenge and will give a fresh focus after the WHW and provide a number of trips in the campervan down to Wales to do some recces.

My main theme for this year, with regard to training, is to get more ultra length runs done. In my build up to the WHW race in 2010 I did 5 35ish mile runs during the year, the Lakeland 100 last year saw me do 8 monsters. This year, including December 2012, I hope to complete 13 or 14 before the start of June. I seem so much better at recovering from the long runs than I used be and, as long as I keep the pace nice and steady, I think I could be standing on the start line in Milngavie feeling more confident about my preparation taking some of the mental stress out of the race.

Time will tell!!!