With the race being my focus this year I thought it would be good to capture some of the build-up in the form of moving pictures on the old YouTuber.
Let me know what you think – this is the first episode. More on my YouTube channel. Please subscribe there if you fancy seeing some more as race day gets closer.
Join me as I meet the locals, discover unmarked trails, run some mountains, rest, recover and train again.
After a fairly lengthy journey via Philadelphia and an overnight in Phoenix I arrived at Flagstaff ‘basecamp’ this time last week. Not really a holiday believe it or not but a chance to get away from everything and train for a few weeks in new surroundings and maybe with some other runners.
Flagstaff is in Northern Arizona so much cooler than the likes of Phoenix. It sits near the southwestern edge of the Colorado plateau and is home to the biggest Ponderosa Forest in the US (so they tell me). I can confirm there are a lot of trees! The town itself sits at over 2,100m above sea-level, something that the locals seem proud of and I imagine helps to attract a lot of athletes to the area for training. (more…)
On Friday I set out on a challenge that was never really meant to be. I had other plans that had been scuppered by circumstances and bad timing’s (a recurring theme for me of late). So rather than do nothing and waste the ambition I decided on a double WHW. Yep, I know, off-the-cuff like that doesn’t quite give that particular challenge enough respect. A fair accusation I guess, but I do know what’s involved in a WHW both in summer and in winter. (more…)
Well, it’s been a while. It’s February already so I guess it’s time to crawl out of my cardboard box, escape the warm corner of the shed and dust off those well worked 2011 reptilian running legs.
2011 was a cracker. 2012 is gonna be even better!
Last weekend I met up with some fine people in the Lakes to run over some hills, eat, sleep and run some more. That was the plan anyway, and that’s pretty much what happened. (more…)
A pleasant change.
On Sunday I did something I haven’t really done before. I ran with someone! Well, not just ‘someone’, but the one and only John Kynaston. We live only a few minutes apart and arranged to meet up early Sunday morning. We headed up onto the Braes (Gleniffer) chatting our way through 11miles of up’s and down’s. John has such an obvious passion for running and his ultra experience is remarkable. It was a real pleasure to listen to some of his stories and his general thoughts on running. I was just disappointed when it was over.
It was a fitting end to a hard week of training and hope to do it again soon.
If you don’t already follow it, check out John’s blog here – it’s one of the best.
Taper-time now. Have a good week.
Thought it about time I actually posted something. Been keeping my head down after the WHW race. It’s been a strange month and I’ve had a few injury concerns, but building back up to peak training weeks.
First things first – a question!
Post race blues – is this a recognised condition?
It doesn’t seem to be talked about much. Maybe it isn’t real? Or maybe it doesn’t affect the full-time athletes as much as there is no ‘normal’ to return to after the event. Most of us anyway have to return to our normal day-to-day working lives only days after a lengthy physical event like the West Highland Way race. I was back in work a couple of days after and whilst I expected it to be ok (at least for the first few hours) I wasn’t really prepared for the slump that followed.
I know it was only a race but I did learn a lot about myself and where I want to head. (more…)
Friday was my last opportunity for a long training run before the Cateran Trail Ultramarathon next Saturday.
I’ve started to mix up my longer runs meaning I generally now include 2 x types of long runs in my training. Both very different and both much debated / discussed by the running community. (more…)
Wooohooo, look what arrived tonight – some new road shoes! (Saucony Progrid Kinvara).
I’m a big fan of the Nike Lunaracer but I’ve been getting less than 12 weeks out of them. I normally use them for my morning 10K’s and the longer 50K+’s at the weekend. Never run in Saucony before but after a series of let-downs by a large online sports retailer they offered me a good deal on these. Full review to follow….(is it too late to go for a run now?)
Anyone Saucony fans out there?
What a difference some light nights and a drop of sunshine make.
Managed a couple of runs today and after work on a Thursday I’m normally heading straight for the gym and a swim.
Just felt wrong tonight though, so it was straight home, shorts on, sunglasses dusted off and out for a blast on the road bike. What a pleasant change, fresh air, reasonably quiet roads and some natural warmth on my pasty skin.
Roll on the summer!!
I understand now. I must be a bit of a drama queen. That’s obviously the reason I haven’t written anything for a while. Last post I did was the night before my big race – the one I had put a huge amount of effort into preparing for (The GEDM). Other than a knee injury the week before the preparation had been meticulous and my training relentless. Long runs, nutrition, weights, hydration, clothing, checkpoint times, target pace….the list goes on. I was so ready for it.
Headed off to bed night before the race at 10pm, breakfast plan all sorted, clothes prepared, support bag and instructions all organised – family had been briefed (and were excited about the race). Then at about 2am I was dragged out of my running dreams into a bit of a nightmare by the pain that was building in my stomach. read on
As I said yesterday I managed to get an appointment with Glasgow’s finest Osteo last night. Was a pretty thorough session and as expected was an Ilio tibial band issue. He already knew that I was racing on Saturday regardless and after a fairly detailed examination didn’t waste any time talking me through his treatment recommendations to get me to the start line for 9am on Saturday (and fingers crossed the finish line in Edinburgh the same afternoon). Yep, you know what’s coming – I did too, and just to confirm the impending pain he stated that it’s normally “a pretty aggressive treatment, and when I do it , it can be a little uncomfortable.” Yeah right. IT Band release? It’s up there with child birth I’m sure of it 😉
To be fair to him, at the point where I actually stopped breathing whilst chewing my arm he did remove his elbow from my thigh for a minute before returning to the scene. What a gent 😉
So now it’s no running until Saturday which isn’t ideal in any way but my knee is feeling better – just have a thigh that’s a little tender. Still, should be feeling a lot better by tomorrow.
Roll on Saturday.
On Saturday night following a 35miler my right knee was troubling me. Sharp pain down the right side of my knee-cap. I went through my normal post-run recovery – the right food at the right times, plenty of fluids, ice pack on my knee etc. Throughout the night the pain in my knee kept me up. I took painkillers, applied ibuprofen gel and desperately tried to sleep convinced that it would be fine in the morning. It wasn’t great when I got up. But moving it certainly helped. Sunday was a rest day anyway, so with luck I’d be fine by Monday. As I’m tapering the training a little for the race on Saturday and with sore knee in mind I decided before bed to ignore the #444alarm for once and sleep a bit longer. Figured I could do a lunchtime run and all would be good.
Lunchtime came and I was convinced that after a few hundred metres it would ease off and the world would continue spinning. It didn’t.
So, tonight instead of running and swimming I’m heading into town to see a man who I’m hoping can do something for me. Either way – I’ll be on that start-line on Saturday.
I had big plans for Thursday. Needed to use some holiday so thought it would be a good idea to get a tough session in before next weeks race. Would give me plenty time for recovery too.
So throughout Wednesday I formulated a plan. With us now officially in BST and with a week of half-decent weather behind us I thought it would be good to run part of the West Highland Way – the 53-mile Highland Fling route from Milngavie to Tyndrum read on
Well, following my first race on the 19th March – the D33, plan was to have a lighter training week than normal. Whilst I generally run at least those distances at the weekend I did feel pretty tired all week – felt like I was wearing someone else’s legs for a while. It did stress me out a little but I guess it’s another lesson learned – racing is harder than training (doh!).
So, this week, I cut the mileage a little read on
Saturday was meant to be my last long’ish run before Race day 1 next Saturday – a short ultra. So, plan was at least a few hours at a relatively decent pace. It’s been a heavy week of running and that would put a tidy lid on a successful week. Woke up to this however… read on
Just a very quick post full of Friday wishes. Sadly I have to work today (I normally cram a full working week into 4 days), I’ve done that already but my employer feels that there’s obviously more to give. This week has been a cracker in terms of training. I still have a longish run to do tomorrow but I’m already up at 115K for the week, 3 x swimming / 2 x weights sessions and a couple of spins. It takes a lot of organisation (and washing powder) to fit all that into 5 days.
Next week will be a little different with my first race on Saturday (details here). A little tapering of the training is necessary I think. I’m extremely excited about the race and cannot wait to get going. Some of my family are coming up to watch, so also a good opportunity to spend some quality time with them pre and post race.
Anyway, I said it would be short – hope you are winding down for the weekend after a fruitful week. Have a good one 😉
Run, run, run, is that all I ever talk about? Sorry.
No, it isn’t. I’m currently “knocking my pan in” (as they say in Scotland) trying to improve my swimming technique / stroke. It’s safe to say (as many others do) that I find this thee most difficult tri-discipline. I generally toil in the pool 3 or 4 times a week hoping that Read on
I’ve been putting in the miles of late in preparation for a few races – averaging between 100 – 150K per week. Body is holding up well – trouble is, I’m going through running shoes fairly quickly, particularly the lightweight shoes that I love to run in. These racing flats are used on the early morning training runs as well as the long weekend slogs.
So, I finally thought it would be wise to also introduce a more ‘traditional’ running shoe into my week. If I could find a reasonably lightweight neutral shoe it might also be better for some of the more straightforward trails (with the more aggressive /grippy sole).
Now, the manufacturers are constantly revising and ‘improving’ their offerings. New soles, new materials, new colourways. BUT, the models that came out 2 or 3 years ago were ‘cutting edge’ so surely they can’t all-of-a-sudden be useless? Can they? Read on
Following a good day of training on Friday I decided before bed to complete a long run in the morning. Plan in my head was a 70K road run. Figured if I got up at around my normal time – fuelled up on porridge and honey, I could be out the door before 7.00am and be back around lunchtime to enjoy the rest of the day. The 4.44am alarm went off as normal and after a couple of ‘snoozes’ I was burning my mouth on some hot porridge in a dark unheated house. Other than the breakfast related huffing and puffing it was silent and still – I guess everyone was were where they should be on a Saturday morning – in bed.
Next up, hydration – bladder was filled but annoyingly I was running low on energy powder so dropped a ‘Zero’ electrolyte tab in to top it up. The financial excesses of Christmas had meant I’d only ordered more on Friday (payday) – it’s all so expensive and there were no guarantees that the postman would turn up. So, energy for the run was:
– 3 x Mule Bar Cherry energy gels
– 2 x Mule Bar energy bars
– 1 x Eat Natural bar
All packed into my OMM last drop with waterproof jacket, spare hat and gloves, phone and bank card in a (now busted) Haglofs Watatait (grrr – will be speaking to them!). I’d forgotten to get money out the bank but the card was there for emergencies. So, with the orange glow of the streetlights guiding me to the front door I stepped out in my Nike Lunaracers and pressed start on my watch. I’ve been getting a little bit of stick for running these kind of distances in such lightweight flats. Not entirely sure why? They just work for me – granted at times like any other runner my knees get a little sore but I suspect it’s the cycling that does just as much in terms of irritation. My running style is something that I’ve been working on for the last 6 months and its made a huge difference to my overall efficiency – this is maybe why I can get away with racing shoes.
Within an hour the sun was up and the world was awaking. It’s quite nice being completely in a world of my own and seeing tiny snippets of people’s lives as they get up to enjoy their weekend, work or regret what they did last night. I had a couple of loops in mind to make up the distance. One that’s about 40K another that’s 50K. So I figured if I added at least 15K up front I’d have enough room to up-it at the end should i need to.
First 1:20hr went smoothly – deliberately trying to keep things slow. First gel of the day was squeezed as the paper / milk boys were dropping the last of their orders just before 8.30am. The Cherry bombs are pretty good – not as gloopy as some of the others. Kinda like an over-cooked fruit compote.
Then came across a cycle path (Cycle network 7) and figured I should at least add a few k’s down that – got to be better than the additional effort of avoiding traffic / hungover pedestrians. Surroundings were pretty pleasant and to my huge surprise the big yellow star came out and the sky turned blue – like proper light blue!! Just continued running tbh – I went through about 3k where the inside of my ankle was painful – almost like i was going to get cramp (which I don’t often suffer) but through gritted teeth it wore off. At about 35K I was conscious that I was probably running short on fluid – I spotted a handy ‘Shop this way’ sign for the cyclists and found a Tesco petrol station – perfect! Chocolate bar consumed whilst re-filling my bladder and I was off again. Figured I’d keep going to 42K and turn around and that would take me home in the target 70K. 42K is almost a milestone for obvious reasons – it does feel a bit of a random one though.
I guess psychologically the return should be easier – you can fall into the trap of thinking about the parts that you know will be a struggle but by keeping the milestones small and regular it’s possible to put it to the back of your mind (for the most part). I have a general rule of not thinking about hot baths or warm food unless I’m within 10K of being home!
As it was getting later there were lots more people around – other runners and cyclists. Never quite understand why so many won’t return a nod or hello. It’s not a big ask. We’re all out enjoying the day, doing what we love and you’d think there would be an obvious connection. Maybe just ‘unrbanites’ these days?
At 60K I joined another path and spotted a runner about 50m in front. He was fairly shifting but feeling good I thought I’d have a go. Not entirely sure why or the point of it but in a second I was committed. Chased him, but he was going faster than I first thought. Took me 1K to get level and pass him – then the sudden realisation that I’d have to keep going at a ridiculous pace “why oh why did I do it?” Huge mistake. By 65K he was gone but so were my legs as were any remaining fluids. 5K in under 18mins at that stage was pretty stupid and now I was looking at every puddle with intent……”hmm, that one doesn’t look too dirty.”
So, struggled up the road and finally turned into my street at 72K (and missing 4,500 calories). The next 30mins are usually pretty painful and that’s exactly what they were. But I was soon in a bath with a bowl of pasta, a protein shake and a couple of pints of water with fruit juice. Recovery went well and by later in the night I didn’t feel like I’d been out. Some long compression socks overnight and I woke up fresh as a daisy!
A good day on my feet.