Monday, 31 December 2012

2013 Aspirations

The start of a new year is good inspiration for many people to begin their journey towards new (or existing) goals. I am one of those people too. Goals give me purpose and I like ticking things off a list once completed. Here then, are my goals for 2013 - though as I did in 2012, my goals will be reviewed regularly and will not get in the way of other stuff that comes along in the weeks and months to come. Life does, as we all know, get busy. And as someone commented on a recent blog of mine, as long as I'm having fun....that is the main thing.

#1   Run 10km in under 50 minutes (currently at around 58mins though haven't particularly tried to go fast).

#2   Run Glossop to Hope in under 3hrs 45mins - see my Home from Home blog for my 2012 run.

#3   Run Herod Farm fell race quicker than last year's race. I'd be happy with under 40mins.

#4   10 chin ups - this was on last years list, and I did reach 7 at one point...must try harder this year.

#5   Box jump onto big box (will measure it next time I'm at the gym - its 31 inches high)

#6   Complete my Walking Group Leaders Award training

#7  Successfully achieve my Walking Group Leaders Award (won't know if this is possible in 2013 until the training has been completed)

#8  Handstand press-up

I'm sure there's going to be many other interim goals I shall set out to achieve, these will do for me. Here's hoping 2013 is not quite so wet as this year!!

A small selection of maps on our shelf...


From June onwards I have been following a training programme for my are some stats for those of you who love to geek out on such things:

Totals for the year: 

Running: 1470.05km in 200hrs and 2mins with 33,092m ascent. 
Cycling (mostly turbo sessions) for 24hrs 50mins. 
Walking (only logged ones, there's loads more) 219km in 81hrs 23mins. 

I make that 306hrs 15mins of exercise (+ numerous unlogged hours). 

...and here's a table showing my running stats from Garmin:

Month Count Distance (km) Time Elevation Gain (m) Avg Speed Avg HR Max HR
January 9 81.42 12:23:16 2528 6.6 157 181
February 7 49.91 07:50:31 1380 6.4 150 180
March 14 126.98 18:11:34 2401 7.6 152 184
April 10 100.93 14:12:24 3111 7.1 151 183
May 19 117.12 20:45:01 3726 5.6 146 185
June 25 178.55 23:44:18 3432 7.5 142 178
July 20 189.34 23:34:39 3416 8 144 173
August 15 105.53 13:15:21 1799 8 145 168
September 21 186.97 23:18:21 4150 8 148 178
October 22 157.8 19:56:04 3743 7.9 142 185
November 9 51.78 05:56:14 788 8.7 153 176
December 15 123.73 16:55:04 2620 7.3 147 178
TOTAL 186 1470.06 200:02:47 33094

There have been a couple of blips along the way. Ones of note are that in July I tweaked my left knee and in October I tweaked my right knee. At the end of July/early August I was in London at the Olympics and training obviously dropped off due to a combination of long days and general tiredness. In November my knee issue pretty much wiped me out. With rehab and lots of massage/foam rollering I took the option to rest and have a recovery period. It worked, because in December I was feeling strong for the first three weeks, then the lurgy struck which seems to have been affecting all around me - nothing significant but enough to cause me to slow down. Then with Christmas and visitors etc a few runs were missed. 

Lots of water flowing out of Bottoms Reservoir on 30 December run from Glossop to Tintwistle - the fields were very soggy
It's good having stats and a diary to look back over. I can see from my weekly totals that a good total weekly distance for me is between 40km-50km. Both times I've been around, or gone over 60km has been immediately prior to one of my knee tweaks. So my decision for 2013 is to not only be consistent with my training, but to keep a watchful eye on the weekly totals. It's really tempting to get out on the hills at the weekends for 3hrs+, but if that is going to push me over what seems to be a sustainable total distance it's just not worth it. Either that, or I'll cut back during the week to allow myself more distance on a long weekend run. 

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Review of 2012 Aspirations

It was back in December 2011 when I set myself the following aspirations for this year:

#1 - 24 GDH runs
#2 - run 3 fell races
#3 - cover 25km in one go
#4 - 10 body weight chin ups

I did a review at the halfway point - here's the blog link to that. And here's a few comments on what I did achieve:

#1 - I never got myself back into the swing of club runs after the Olympics, a combination of my training plans not matching what the club was doing and more lately my choice to run in the daytime rather than at night. I really enjoy being in the hills to see the scenery and wildlife and running by headtorch, however good the torch is, just isn't what motivates me. 

#2 - achieved and beat my aim by running six races. I'm really pleased with the races I did. In June I started a training programme specifically for my running and that meant (to start with) that I wouldn't be racing. I didn't mind too much, and to be honest I've not missed racing. I like the social aspect of it, and the fact that it pushes you to work harder so I will be doing some more races in 2013 (more on that in another blog to follow). I did have plans to do the Dark & White mini mountain marathon in mid-December but the date clashed with a trip to Scotland. I definitely prefer doing the orienteering races so will be scanning the FRA calendar for local races to get in the diary.

#3 - achieved in June when I ran from Glossop to Hope - here's the blog to that run.

#4 - as I said in the halfway blog, I reached seven and never seemed to get into consistent training but I will do better next year. I only really have myself to blame for not achieving this aim, but sometimes life gets busy and I won't be dwelling on this.

Highlights of the year......running to Hope from Glossop. I was a great day out and I had the pleasure of sharing it with good company. I did also really enjoy the run over to Chinley for the beer festival, and not just because of the beer! Obviously the Olympics were just superb, how could they not be.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


We've just had a weekend in the Cairngorms.....and we had snow which was good since we were up there to help a friend who's brushing up on her mountain skills for a looming winter mountain leader assessment.  Here's a few photographs from the trip - some taken on my phone so the quality isn't great.

Reindeer just wandering past us...amazing.
then they got inquisitive....and came even closer.
me being assisted up the steep bit thanks to Caroline's kick steps and Mike's helping hand

Me all togged up against the cold.

Going through the Chalamain gap - boulders strewn everywhere and covered in snow and ice

The Lazy Duck Hostel - highly recommend this place if you're ever near Aviemore

Sunlight through the trees from the drive up to the hostel

Red squirrel!!

Red squirrel

In my element - cooking curry on the wood burning stove

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


I had a delightful fell run today up onto Bleaklow with a fellow Glossopdale runner and her daughter - and it was a wonderful run for her first time on the fells. Our route took us up from Glossop via Lightside, Yellowslacks and Dog Rock then across Dowstone Clough and to 621 trig at Higher Shelf Stones...then down via James Thorn, Shelf Benches and Mossy Lea. Conditions underfoot were lovely, crisp and crunchy with some solid chunks of snow still there from last week. We even had a delightful glimpse of a mountain hare bouncing across the frozen terrain. Here's a few photographs:

Running towards Dog Rock

our three shadows

the route across from Dowstone to the trig was directly into the sun - almost a perfect natural bearing

one of the large snow patches still remaining

frozen grass

dropping down from Higher Shelf Stones to James Thorn

almost back down to Mossy Lea

Monday, 10 December 2012

Snow on the benches

Shelf Benches to be exact, on the Western end of Bleaklow. Here's a few photographs from my run on Saturday, they are taken on my phone so not the best quality. Good memories though of a chilly run.

Looking east towards Snake Summit

Facing north east - James Thorn with a light covering of snow

Easterly view of James Thorn

The trod along the top of Shelf Benches

The Pike and Dog Rock to the North

Heading back south down Shelf Benches, looking towards Lordship Hill with Kinder hidden beyond Hurst Moor

I wish I'd taken out the camera on this run but hadn't actually planned on going up so high so was travelling light....I just can't resist getting up into the snow!

Friday, 7 December 2012

New Shoes!

That's right. I've got new shoes. I bought road shoes from a certain running shop a while ago and had a £25 voucher to use before the end of the year....well it's taken me until now to get back there and buy some. That's mainly because I have quite a few pairs of other shoes and didn't need more. But, the deed is done and I have a fine pair of Kanadia TR4's. They wouldn't be my first choice of trail shoe as they are a lot more built up on the sole than my normal INOV8 Roclites. But, the said shop no longer stocks INOV8's and I couldn't waste the voucher.

brand new Kanadia TR4's
The grip doesn't seem as sticky as INOV8s, but the only way to know for sure is to get out there and try them.

grip not performing well on the frozen grass - but then neither would any of my other shoes!
The ice certainly made for a very steady 7km hour long run, but it was good to get out and see the sunlight just reaching the top of James Thorn and the southern edge of Bleaklow. There was one point where I had to cross a track, normally just a tarmac strip with a couple of steps and no thought about it - today was a different matter. The whole track was one long strip of verglas ice. My tactic for crossing this 2.5m wide section - down on my knees and slide across!! It might not have been elegant but I didn't fall over, and it made me smile.

I really just wanted to carry on and get up there in the snow but with clients expected the top of the hills will have to wait this time. I'm also not sure the Kanadia's would be up for the conditions up there, I'd feel much more confident in mudclaws and some katoolas in my bumbag.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Walking Group Leader

I signed up for the Walking Group Leaders Award in July 2011 and have steadily been gaining 'quality hill days' since. I've lived and walked around the Peak District for many years and know what a joy it is to get out and see nature close up. What I've discovered though, is that I don't know anywhere near as much as I should do to pass the WGL assessment, so I've started actively learning about flora and fauna, geology, weather and general hill skills.

I'm not entirely sure where the qualification will take me yet, that is aside from self development, gaining knowledge, confidence in the hills, and of course the obvious one of being able to lead groups (but the type of groups/activities is incredibly vast). Give my lengthy relationship with the local area I'm actually embarrassed by my lack of in depth knowledge of my surroundings. Having given this some thought, it's spurred me on to learn more and lay down some thoughts about what I might do once qualified. More about that another time.

I have no-one really to blame for my knowledge gap. But I do feel that something was lacking or could have been done better to inspire me in this direction when I used to nip up Win Hill or Lose Hill in the Hope Valley after school. Why did no-one tell me there were Pixie Cups tucked in between rocks, or that you can use the wind direction and sun to aid navigation?

So it is with some excitement that I have begun my education and fact finding, rather than letting things just wash over me or appear, then disappear once passed. I have lots of friends around me to inspire this journey which is great. I will be tapping them for hill days and photography sessions of the myriad of lichens and mosses and everything else. I have a renewed vigour for spring - and this winter will see me with my head stuck in books (as well as on the hill) seeking out what delights are going to sprout on the local fells come the warmer weather.

Here's my first challenge - identifying this fungi. Found this little fella lurking in some moss (another one to correctly identify - sphagnum moss?) on the south facing slope under James Thorn the other day.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

James Thorn

My training programme had me scheduled for 1.5hrs on the hills today, come rain or shine....or snow as it turned out! Here's a few photos from the run, but first a word on gear:

A bit about the gear: given that it was snowing on the tops, and down in Glossop there'd been fluttering showers of the white stuff, I opted to take some additional kit with me, even though I was only planning to be out for 1.5hrs. Bleaklow gets its reputation for a reason. So in my little 5.5ltr rucksack I took a running compass, inhaler (for asthma), waterproof pouch for phone (which includes some cash and emergency contact details), chocolate bar, geobar, thin gloves, spare thicker gloves, windproof beanie, buff (not shown as it was already round my neck), emergency bivi bag, torch, arcteryx insulation jacket which would get stuffed in the blue waterproof bag with spare gloves, and finally waterproof trousers.
I'm used to running with this rucksack and the weight doesn't bother me. To be honest I hardly notice it. In addition, I was wearing a base layer vest, thermal base layer, long tights+shorts, mudclaws and an OMM Kamelika smock. I run hot but like to be on the toasty side rather than cold. If I get cold it gets painful, so I'd rather be hot.

Cloud enveloping the top of Shelf Benches on the approach to Mossy Lea Farm.

I ran along the footpath in the valley bottom - along side Shelf Brook - to the footbridge at the bottom of Doctors Gate. Turning north I climbed up the steep hillside to pick up a trod up to the summit of James Thorn. This photo is looking back, vaguely south over to Coldharbour Moor.

first snow of the 2012 winter for my mudclaws

looking back across to Coldharbour Moor...a bit more snow under foot and the clouds just kissing the tops

somewhere in there is Higher Shelf Stones and 621 trig

guess where I came from...?!
and this is where I'm heading
James Thorn memorial stone - reached it just as the cloud lifted momentarily, view back towards Glossop
Me with Bleaklow behind....looking...errr....bleak.
Heading down to Spring Cabin with Shelf Benches to the right
It was a great run, I stayed surprisingly dry except for my feet, and came home feeling good. November was a month of little running - mostly rehabing a slight knee/ITB tweek, so it was good to get out on the fells and (almost literally) blow the cobwebs away. My knee feels strong and my lungs seem to have behaved fairly well after being kickstarted into action last week with a few easy road runs.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


I went to a photography talk and slide show last week - a friend had invited me along and I thought it would be a good time to start thinking about my own photography. The chap giving the talk (Ian Bramham) lives local(ish)ly and I rather hoped he would have lots of lovely inspiring photos of the Peak District. There were sadly precious few photos of the local area (urban landscapes are more his thing), but his photos were more than inspiring for me. He has some amazing shots, and I have been inspired to renew my passion for photography. As such, I've joined a website which Ian recommended, Aminus3, and the photo's I'm posting can be viewed over there. Here's one which I've already posted (I know it's on my blog somewhere else, just shows I really love this photo!):

Icicles hanging from a balcony in Keystone, Colorado

I'm starting the project by using photos I've already taken, but I have already been out with my camera to take new ones specifically for this project.  There's no particular theme to my pictures, they are just what catches my eye. My typical interest is for landscapes, unusual shapes and abstract things. I like details, patterns and textures, and I shall be using some of my fell running exploits to take photos. I've already got several ideas for shots I want to take.

I'm not the most accomplished photographer, nor do I claim to know the technical aspects of how to take pictures particularly well. But I'm learning. I also dug out my black and white film photos that I took, developed and printed several years back when I did a B&W developing course. I've been saying for years that one day I'd like my own developing studio, in reality that may never happen now there is the ease of digital photography. Perhaps I might have to invest in some photo manipulating software...and therein lies a whole other topic to discuss sometime!

Monday, 12 November 2012


First run in 9 days this morning and I'm pleased to report that my knee didn't give any pain. Bad news is that I had forgotten to charge my garmin - that is after I forgot to turn it off after a turbo session last week. So I have the first 2.5km of my run recorded and all indications are that I might have been on for a new 5km PB. I shall never know.  The run was very wet and a little windy, but my OMM kamelika smock performed brilliantly. As usual I was too warm but venting the big front zip works. Could have done with some gloves though, chilly on the hands.


Where has time gone to this past month or so?! There's not much to report really. Here's some stats from past month or so:

1-7 Oct - ran 37.70km, 1 turbo session, 2 strength sessions

8-14 Oct - ran 65.83km, 1 turbo session,  1 walk. Saturday run was long at 25km and I felt some knee pain.

15-21 Oct - ran 36.09km, 1 turbo session. Knee pain gradually worsened over the week. Possible ITB inflammation?

22-28 Oct - ran 15.89km, 1 strength session. Easy week with just 3 short runs. Lots of foam rollering, soft tissue therapy, stretching and icing knee.

29 Oct-4 Nov  last few days/Nov - ran 15.28km very easy, 1 strength session. Knee pain kicks in at 20 minutes. It's not acute pain, just a noticeable pain that tells me to stop. So I stop.

5-11 Nov - full week of rest from running as knee hasn't improved over the last week. Did 3x 40min turbo sessions focusing on strength.

I'm just about to head out for a short run to see how the knee is, nice and easy. I feel like I've lost all my fitness over the past 3 weeks. I also feel like I've lost my motivation. Having an injury brings up lots of emotions and while I know what I'm to do and how I need to feel it is hard. I miss being able to run easily. I've done plenty of foam rollering, stretching, received loads of soft tissue therapy and followed the advice I give my clients - if there's pain it's there telling you to stop - lets see if it's all paid off.

A photo to inspire me...taken by Tim on our run from Glossop to Chinley for the beer festival. That was a good day, I ran strong and kept up with the boys relaxed pace.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Catch up

It feels like I've been playing catch up with everything since coming back from the Olympics...and writing blogs has just slipped out of the net! I can't believe it's been nearly 2 months since my last post! So what's been happening...lots of training (running and strength work), lots of work, lots of reading, lots of blackberry picking and jelly/jam/chutney/sauce making, just lots of stuff. The blackberry picking was brilliant - I still have about 2.5kg in the freezer for use later and lots of jars of various delights to sample once they've matured.

blackberries starting to simmer
blackberry jelly being jarred up!

I've also made red onion chutney that should be matured enough to tuck into over the festive Christmas period...along with our jointly made blackberry vodka, gin and whiskey. After dabbling with blackberry vodka last year we realised we'd not made anywhere near enough to last until this we've remedied that this year, and some. The pantry is well stocked.

My running is going well. I'm still following a training programme designed to build up my endurance and I am currently enjoying a recovery week. I was amazed to look at my stats the other day and see that I've totted up 1,160km, ascended 26,292m (that was the shocking one for me) and spent about 160hrs out running. I've never really stuck at running so consistently before moving to Glossop so seeing some facts like that has helped me realise I have achieved quite a bit. My last long run was on Saturday - a lovely 24km route on Derwent edge and around the reservoirs. Good to see the water flowing over the dam walls, a true reflection of the wet weather we've had.

So what is coming up in the next few months...I have another month of building my fitness which is going to include specific hill training. I'm torn between looking forward to getting better at ascending and fear of the pain that it will bring in the short term. There's a few events coming up for work but those will be written about over on the Global Therapies blog.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Olympic memories

It was a long time coming, almost 2 years to the day since my application to be a Sports Massage Practitioner at the 2012 London Olympics and my first shift started. What a journey of ups and downs - literally travelling from Glossop to London five times for the interview, training sessions and finally the actual big day.

I was a little anxious about having to wear a uniform before arriving in London. It's been some years since any uniform has been imposed on me; I quite like my individualism to be preserved. I don't have a particular style as such, nor do I follow fashion trends, but I do like to chose my own clothes. I realise I wear Global Therapies branded clothing for work, but that's different; that's promoting my own business which I am very happy to do. So with some trepidation on the day of my first shift I put on my Gamesmaker uniform and set off for work. 

Me in my Gamesmaker uniform - at the Olympic Stadium warm up track with the Stadium and Orbit dominating the view
Here's some memories I have from my time as a London 2012 Olympic Sports Massage Practitioner...

A common theme of most of my journeys to work was that the public looked to me for information about every conceivable thing you could imagine. I'm one of the lucky Gamesmakers, for I lived in London for 11 years. Finding my way around the tube and London streets is within my knowledge bank. Directions were therefore no problem for me. For other queries some people just couldn't understand why myself and other Gamesmakers just didn't have the information they ask for. What they failed to understand, quite understandably, was that Gamesmakers have come from all corners of the globe, not just the UK, and that some of us - like me - were volunteering at the games with a specific skill. So we therefore didn't necessarily know the answer to what may have seemed a simple question, such as where other venues were in the Olympic Park were!!

Tower Bridge and Olympic Rings - quick touristy stop off en route to work
The excitement and admiration shown by children was brilliant. The games were about Inspiring a Generation and if only a small percentage of those attending events are encouraged to try, take up and become the future stars of sport it will be great. One lasting memory for me was after a long day - first the commute in, then hours on my feet, then the long trip back to the accommodation. As I stepped off the train and walked down the platform two young lads jumped enthusiastically off the train and "high-fived" me...that kept me smiling long after leaving the station and was a heart-warming pick-me-up; just what I needed in my shattered state!

The Tunnel - where athletes walk from the warm up track to reach the Olympic Stadium
Politeness of commuters on public transport and the willingness, even eagerness to have a chat and smile was so refreshing. I spent 11 years living in London and the times I've held a conversation with a fellow commuter they have been superficial, and sadly few and far between. That was a large part of why I chose to commute by cycle during my London life. There were a few days when my Olympic shifts coincided with the need to travel at peak times. One day I saw the train pull in and thought that no-one would get on it as it was so packed. To my utter astonishment a chap on the platform insisted I got on before him in case there wasn't room for both of us - he said that my need to get to work on time was more important than his. What a true gentleman, thank you.

As I travelled back from my shift one day the driver of the tube said he had an important announcement to make....the usual groans were muttered by passengers, most expecting bad news....and then the driver said "Another GOLD for Team GB in cycling, GO Jason Kenny". The whole train load of people burst into cheers and clapped!! How amazing, the atmosphere changed to a positive one instantly.

Monument Tube station - just one of the many interchanges I made during my commuting journeys
The final point I shall make is that it is great to have the work which I (and all the other Gamesmakers) have done appreciated by the public, coaches and the athletes. It is such an honour to be working with international level athletes during their training (as I do already with Global Therapies), but to work with them during the Olympic Games was really very very special.

Walking back after the opening ceremony night at the far end of my commute so no-where near the stadium I was thanked for making it a great evening! I had a good chat with a coach from South Africa who insisted on giving me a hug and thanks - yet I'd not worked directly with any of his athletes. One athlete had hung around the warm-up track to have a massage with me - just me - because I treated him a few days prior to his competition and he wanted to see me again. How wonderful is that, and what a way to have someone thank you. As the athlete left the treatment room he shook my hand and wished me well.

The South African Coach giving me a big hug and thanks
There are so many memories I could share, and so many that keep coming to mind as I see clips of Olympic footage online and on the TV, and as I read the follow up stories in the news. The cliche 'it was the time of my life' doesn't seem to express enough how much of an amazing experience it all was.

Me and other Gamesmakers at one of the Field & Track training venues
And yes, I am still pinching myself because I was there, I literally saw history being made, and in my role as a London 2012 Olympic Gamesmaker, I Made It Happen.