Sunday, 24 June 2012


In my non-racing mode today but still needing a long run of around 2hrs 20mins I headed out from Hayfield up onto Kinder. The weather had pretty much dried up, but there was still loads of misty claggy cloud hanging on to the Kinder Plateau. Running in the opposite direction to the racers in the Kinder Trog my plan was to cheer on as many Glossopdale Harriers and other fell running friends as I could, yet still get a decent run in myself. Here's a few photos from my run:

The White Cabin - a distant speck under the central summit of The Knott - my eventual target before dropping down into Hayfield

Kinder shrouded in claggy cloud with the full flow of the Downfall just visible

Heading up the steep rocky steps to Kinderlow End

Looking down Red Brook

Kinder's edge path with the Downfall hidden in the clag - this was about as clear as it got!

Kinder Downfall - the most water I've ever seen going over it...and it was going down, not up as it usually does despite the blustery wind

Rocky steps down from the western end of Kinder....descending into more claggy cloud

Legs in perfect sync!! Some of the front runners here at Mill Hill

Tim is just visible on his way down from Mill Hill....before the climb up to Kinder's edge path

Claire Aspinall of Pennine Fell Runners looking strong and relaxed over Mill Hill. Congratulations on winning 2nd lady.

No. 65 - Andrea Minshull - who would have been my invisible tow-rope had I been racing. Well done on coming in about an hour faster than you'd expected!!!

My final descent down the Snake Path back into Hayfield. The path seemed strangely longer than I remembered!
My plan worked well - I headed out from Bowden Bridge about 50mins before the start of the race and I had thought I'd be at the Downfall to see the front guys. Slight adjustment on my timings had me at the Downfall with approx 20mins to spare, so I thought, so I carried on, not wanting to get chilled in the clag. I guestimated I could get to the western point of Kinder, just 2.5-3km away in time to see them climbing up. Not to be. The clag was fully down and my plan was scuppered. So I dropped down (and then slightly up) to Mill Hill, not knowing if I'd been passed in the clag on slightly faster trods than the edge path. Nope. Pretty much perfect timing. After only 2-3minutes the first guys came past.

Much cheering, clapping and general support giving done and I was starting to chill after 20mins or so. I had chatted to someone who'd come up William Clough - and they'd reported a muddy torrent. So, using my inbuilt compass and a bit of local knowledge I heather bashed and popped out nicely at the White Cabin to the east of The Knott. Legs are a little scratched, but I took the opportunity to practice high feet lifting in the heather. There is apparently a trod down by the grouse butts, which I used briefly, but in the clag I just took a bearing and bee-lined. It worked. And timing back into Hayfield was good too, giving me just enough time to change, have a quick drink and see the race winner come through the finishing funnel.

A grand run. My run was just under 2hrs 15mins; 14.37km. I think my heart rate was a little high compared to what I should have run but the wind was so noisy I couldn't hear the garmin must have been going crazy at some points. Oooops. Sorry running coach. Will try harder next week.

Monday, 18 June 2012


My early morning run today was a glorious sunny one, quite warm too even at 7am. Just a short 5.5km road run - doing my heart rate zone training - and a loop around a quiet country lane. I saw lots of birds including one particularly noisy curlew (they do seem to be chirpy at this time of year, perhaps because it's breeding time), and a couple of lovely poppies that were dancing in the sunlight (the camera phone doesn't do them justice but it's a memory nonetheless).

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Home from Home

Quite literally, I ran home from home today. From my home in Glossop to my home in Hope. OK, so Hope isn't my home anymore, but it's where I used to live, and where my mum still does. So yes, home from home in 3hrs 45mins and a few seconds, covering 25km over Kinder, Brown Knoll, Rushup Edge, Mam Tor, across the ridge to Lose Hill and down the grassy fields into Hope.

RockTape applied to help prevent fatigue on knee/ITB
Andrea and I left at 8am. It was overcast and the forecast was for it to be dry, certainly til 12pm. Judging distance and our previous runs I thought we'd be in Hope by 12pm, maybe 12.30pm. If clag came down certainly a later time would be more realistic as the Brown Knoll to Rushup section was new to both of us. No problem though, perfect visibility for the whole run.

There were a surprising number of folk out early, and a good few runners. By Edale Rocks we were thinking we may have missed some local event, but I think people were just out enjoying the dry weather after a few days of heavy rain.

I'd had our route in mind for the past 6 months. One of my 2012 Aspirations was to do a run covering 25km. We felt heavy legged, not quite fully awake and needed to settle into the run. The first 5km or so gain height constantly so it was hard to strike an early rhythm. I used the time to work on form, focusing on picking up my feet, not about the foot strike part of my gait. I knew later in the run my concentration would be on the end goal, not form.

Kinder Downfall came at about the one third distance point. I was enjoying the running now, the route is familiar and we could just get on with running, settled breathing and enjoying the fine views. The reservoir below us was as still as I've ever seen it. No photos - weight saving meant no camera today.  Soon enough we're at Kinderlow trig, quick glance at the map to ensure we drop off at the right point and across the Pennine Way just east of Edale Cross.

We'd been warned about the next section - bog monsters galore apparently - they must have been napping as none reached out and grabbed us! After a few more map checks, and our sense of knowing the area though not the exact path, we're heading south towards Chapel Gate and Rushup Edge. As expected, we ended up spending lots of time hopping across bogs and making careful foot placements where it was just too wide to jump. The varying degrees of bog softness start to form the majority of our conversation. This section takes a lot less time than we thought, the bogs too didn't seem as treacherous as expected. Suddenly we're at Chapel Gate and turning east and upwards to Lords Seat. though I am tiring I feel like we're going to make it to Hope almost too easily. Gosh, must be stronger, fitter etc than I allow myself to think.

Over a few stiles, down a bit and we're at Mam be greeted by our friends, Tim, Matt, Caroline, Louise and Zoe walking up from the parked car down on the road.  We keep moving; I know if I had stopped to wait and chat getting going at our own pace again would have been hard. Up the flagged steps to the summit of Mam Tor we go. Running reduced to walking on the uphill sections and knees starting to complain as we descend off the top.

Ascending the steps up to Mam Tor

Looking back as we ascend to the summit of Mam Tor - Rushup Edge in the background

Leaving Mam Tor Summit - Lose Hill in the background
I can sense Hope is within reach. There's no real place to bail from here onwards so we are going to do it. I've not contemplated exactly how long we might take, but now looking at the watch I think under 4hrs should do us nicely. Opting to do the ridge entirely we soon find ourselves walking up the rocky, unevenly spaced cobbles and stone steps up Back Tor. There's just a small amount of ascent after this then it's down down down to Hope. I circle the trig at Lose Hill (a funny ritual I've always done there!) and we pause briefly to admire the view. How lucky we are to be living here, and to get out and enjoy the splendid scenery in our back garden.

Dropping down off Lose Hill
We drop off Lose Hill and meet up with Tim, Louise and Caroline who've taken the lower level path. Matt and Zoe had passed us back at Hollins Cross and dropped into Edale - aiming to go round the edge of Kinder, Win Hill and into Hope. We run as a group for a few moments before we leave them to finish our run down the grassy fields, past Losehill Farm, across the bouncy bridge over the cement works railway line and just a few more fields to the back of the Woodbine Cafe.  We've done it. I'd pushed a little on the lower fields as my watch was creeping towards 3hrs I kept the pace up where I really wanted to slow, just to get a nice round number. (I'm sure I'm not the only one who does that!).

Still going, enjoying a flat bit before the final descent - and associated knee twinges!

Me, Andrea, Caroline and Louise dropping off Lose Hill

Borrowing the Woodbine hosepipe we wash off our muddy legs and shoes....

Cool water to wash off the mud and start the recovery process
Cheesy grins from the pint of tea drinkers in the Woodbine Cafe
A few minutes after we arrive Tim (with camera), Caroline and Lou are join us. Tim now turns round and runs back up Lose Hill and along to Mam Tor to collect our car while we sip pints of tea, change into dry clothes and tuck into a delicious toasted panini.  A short while later Matt and Zoe arrive, and we retired to the tea garden to enjoy the sunshine which has broken through.
Woodbine tea garden with (clockwise) Andrea, Tim, Zoe, Matt, Louise and Caroline...and my second pint of tea
Wow, I've just run 25km. I do feel really proud of myself and Andrea. And I do feel quite strong. Yes I'm tired, but had I needed to do a bit more I'm sure I could have. My left knee/ITB is a bit twingy, but then I knew it was going to be - hence the RockTape (which did help a lot by staving off the tiredness and pain too early).

Garmin track for those interested is here.
Thanks to Tim for the photos, sorry there aren't more but as I said, no camera today.

NB RockTape was applied by Tim Budd - he's a Certified RockDoc so if you want to know more about it drop him a line at Global Therapies.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

In the zone

Since moving to Derbyshire in April last year my running has literally come on leaps and bounds. Now I'm no chaser of first place in fell races....yet....but I am really pleased with how my running has improved. I feel like I can start to play with technique now, and work out what feels better, more efficient and what makes my running just, well, easier.

I've never had a training programme of any sort until going along to the gym, Strength & Performance. I'm working on strength and conditioning stuff down there - with the aim of being stronger and having more stamina for running. It feels like it's working, and running does seem to be feeling more natural now. However, I want to improve more, so I've arranged for a running programme to be written for me. To get things moving I needed to complete a couple of tests:

Heart rate threshold test: warm up, 6x50m sprints (at about 80% effort), 15mins evenly paced running but as fast as possible. The test was as much mental as physical. I had no car on the day I did the test so my nice straight line test along the Longdendale trail was switched to a several-times-round the 200m track at Regra - easily accessible on foot from home, but tedious to say the least as I went round, and round, and round, and....!  Result - average HR is 170bpm.

My HR zones have been calculated from this.

Next up - a 60min run, flat course and keeping within HR zone 1. For me that's between 111-145bpm.  With my garmin forerunner set up I headed down to the Longdendale Trail. I was joined by Tim and a few friends - a couple of which are fairly new to running so the pace was ideal for them. Leaving the car park we ran in a straight line down the trail for 30 mins, turned round and back again. Nothing exciting, just a steady pace. It was lovely to have friends join me - I suspect that if my first attempt at running for an hour within the HR zone was solo then boredom might have kicked in. As it was, we chatted and ran and it was great. I'd set my time alert on the garmin to bleep every 5 minutes - as I'm trying to work on my running form I'm using the alert to bring my focus back to the sub-task in hand. On this run it was to work on less heel striking, more midfoot strike. So for about 30sec-1min every 5mins I'd do some technique practice. I can see that all the low HR zone work I've got over the next month will give me ample opportunity to continue working on my form.

Garmin track was sent off and in return I got myself a schedule for a months worth of running (plus one turbo session and my two regular strength&conditioning sessions).  My programme officially starts on Monday next week, but being keep to get into the routine I'm copying the first week's sessions this week. So far all is good. Setting my HR alerts is keeping me more-or-less within the right zone and I'm heading out on the runs with some aspect of technique to think about, work on and absorb as I do my steady plods.

The weather was atrocious yesterday, and perhaps without the training programme I wouldn't have run. But I have one, and I did. I ran to Old Glossop, up to Mossy Lea and continued up Doctors Gate towards the foot bridge. I paused to take this photo on my phone, though it was too wet to get the phone out of its waterproof pouch I think the photo reflects what I could see most of the time fairly accurately:

Looking east towards Doctors Gate

Although I got soaked through it was a good run. I felt strong and had enough in me to continue at the end - exactly the point of my training. Plus, I got to see a great show by two curlews - buzzing each other and swooping really low by the path. The sound they make is just so unusual, makes me smile every time I hear them. So I ran in the rain, got hailed on a little, blown about a lot in the wind, splashed through oodles of puddles, and had a great time.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

RockTape in action

I've been having mild knee twinges on and off for a few weeks now (attributed to poor muscle activation in my glutes and further aggravated by a very mild ankle sprain a week ago), so before my long run last Sunday I got Tim to apply some RockTape - he's been trained and is a Certified RocDoc, so he knows what he's doing with this tape which we see on all the top level and international athletes. To prevent fatigue, and help the biomechanics of my left leg be more efficient, tape was applied from under my foot, twisting round my leg and ending on my glutes.  It was amazing, I really could feel my glutes activating when I walked, so knew it was going to help me stay on track during my planned run of about 25km.

This is about 4km into the run, under Crowden Tower on the southern edge of the Kinder Plateau

Kinderlow trig point

An impromptu ballet lesson!!!

Resting at Fairbrook Naze - northern edge of Kinder and about 12km, halfway
Finished! 24km in about 3hrs 50mins.

The tape around my foot was frequently dunked into rivers - either deliberately or otherwise - to cool me down. I then had a good 10 minutes sitting in a cool river at the end where all of my legs were submerged. The RockTape didn't come off at all - even under my foot where you would imagine it would rub up and roll with the friction inside my fell shoe. It definitely helped to keep my knee alignment at it's optimal and ensuring my glutes were activated properly. The RockTape really complimented the strengthening exercises I'm doing and the soft tissue therapy sessions, and certainly helped me achieve my longest ever run. I even felt good enough to run the final kilometre or so after my river recovery - on previous long runs once I've stopped that's in - no getting going again!

I left the tape on for three days in total, running with it still on (an easy 11km) the following Tuesday and with the exception of some of the tape rolling back around my foot it stayed stuck. I think most of the tape peeling on my foot was due to my carelessness putting on and taking off socks! So that's 24km and 11km fell runs, numerous dips into water on the first run, 4 showers and 3 nights - brilliant.

If you want to see how RockTape can benefit you in whatever sport you play then get in touch with me or Tim at Global Therapies.


My ability to run longer distances has been improving recently, so when a few guys from the club decided to do the Kinder Dozen (12 ups and downs around the Kinder plateau) I though it would be a good chance for me to see how far my legs would take me around the edge - just one up at the start, and one descent at the end. Other than that, a fairly level run so I could get distance in. Plus, there are several points its possible to cut the run short without being logistically difficult.

It turned out that our pre-arranged date was going to be a hot one. Probably the hottest day I've ever run on, and with my longest ever run to date planned the water bladder would be full to busting. An apt choice of words, as filling up the bladder on Saturday night ended up showing a leak. Great. I can't run without a bladder - bottles just don't work for me. The design of the Osprey bladder is such that the bit which holds the water is surrounded by a mesh outer, and a stiff back to stop it from flopping down to the bottom of your bag. Its a great design, and it works well in my Talon 5.5 Osprey sack - but, the design means that there is no way to repair a leak without hacking apart the outer cover. Quick texts and emails to friends and I'm supplied very generously with a replacement. Phew!!

Bags packed, rendezvous points prearranged with various runners sorted and an early(ish) night. 8am sharp, maybe a few minutes before, and we're setting off on our run. I'm with Alison and Becky, plus Elsa the dog. We head up from Edale to the top of Grindslow Knoll.  The three 'Dozen'ers' (Tim, Julien and Alistair) have left us behind and are mere dots in the distance in no time. We'll be seeing them 4 or 5 times as they summit various ascent legs later in the day.

For now we concentrate on getting to the top...up and up we go. I've marked out each kilometre on the map so know we've got two to go until the top. We reach it quicker than I'd anticipated - a great start to the day. Though it does mean maybe a long wait for the 'Dozen'ers' at our first rendezvous, or skipping the first and continuing with our own thing. We had always said that the two groups were doing their own thing, and if we did meet up great, if not then no worries.

Crowden Tower. This photo and most in the blog with thanks to Sikobe.
Within minutes of reaching the southern edge path we're greeted by Sikobe - he'd run over from Snake summit, stashing spare water and cake at Sandy Heys trig for the 'Dozen'ers'. What a star!  Running round the southern edge of Kinder is amazing - there's plenty of rock formations to look at and we make good progress to Crowden Tower.

Alison, me, Becky and Elsa the dog getting lots of attention.
After seeing the lads at their first summit we continue on to Kinderlow trig.

Kinderlow trig.

After the traditional photo shot at the trig point there's an impromptu yoga session....

Sikobe, Becky and Alison (out of shot is a man looking on a little puzzled!)
...and an even quicker ballet lesson (what exactly is a plie again?!)....

No comment.
...there's then a discussion about veering off our plateau route and plunging down at Red Brook, climbing back up to Sandy Heys trig via Mermaids Pool. I'm reluctant in my head but fight that voice and opt to join the others. I am after all trying to push and challenge myself so another up/down for me will be beneficial. It's a steep heather-tussocky descent and Sikobe and Alison showing their skill at descending leave me and Becky...then Becky leaves me behind too....I catch up at the brook for some welcome cooling off.

Red Brook brings some relief from the heat.
All the time we're keeping an eye out for the 'Dozen'ers' - trying to estimate where they might be but no sightings yet.  Down we go, across the River Kinder....quick dip of the feet to cool off....and up to the pool. It's here we spot the others towards the end of their descent....they'll be on us before long so we don't have much time to loiter at the pool. Just enough time for Sikobe, the bravest of us, going in waist deep. Elsa joins him and shakes her coat to give me a refreshing shower.

Dipping my feet in Mermaids Pool to cool off.

The guys are catching us up and it suddenly feels almost like we're in a race. We don't want them eating all the cake at the top of this summit so we push on and upwards. Converging paths, the seven of us summit together and run to the trig. The banana cake is delicious - I eat some, and a bar of some sort, some peanuts for salt and a few apricots, plus a good swig of the stashed water. Too much - I feel too full as we head north to the edge path. Good job we're on a relaxed pace or I'd probably regret such quantities of food in one go.

The 'Dozen'ers' leave us as they plummet down into Ashop Clough and we turn eastwards for the next planned rendezvous, Fairbrook Naze. The distance for both groups is about the same, and as the 'Dozen'ers' would be faster than us on the descent we don't loiter too long to watch them drop down. Somewhere along here I get a text from Matt - he'll meet us at the next meet up. It's starting to really heat up now, noticeable in the sheltered spots. Mercifully there's a good breeze blowing and I'm not overheating. I'm sipping constantly on my fluids - the only way in that heat. Quite soon we get to Fairbrook Naze - reaching it quicker than we thought.

At Fairbrook Naze.
Soon enough the 'Dozen'ers' are with us, having a short rest and some more banana cake, then off and descending once again to the bottom of Seal Flats. Matt appears not long after they've gone, and sets off to catch them up. Sikobe also departs us here, but not before leaving more of the delicious banana cake - thank you to his wife, the cake bake. The next leg for us three+Elsa on the top is about the same distance as the down and uppers so we keep moving. Somewhere along the northern edge my running feels easier...perhaps because I've not had any ascent to push up for a while, but whatever the reason it's great to feel the freedom of just placing one foot in front of the other.

The next meet up with the others comes and goes (Matt departs alone, back to his car which is over the very western side of the plateau); the top group push on to the 590 trig. It's now the turn of Becky and Alison to depart the plateau leaving me alone facing east to Mad Woman's stones. I pause a few moments as they run off, Edale bound. It's so peaceful, hardly anyone around. I still have to pinch myself - this in my back garden!

I'm brought back to reality with the thought that the three lads will soon be catching me up, not that we're on the same schedule, but a little more distance under my feet will be good before they're upon me. I bound my way across to Mad Woman's stones, passing a large group of walkers on the way. I love the feeling of moving faster than walkers, it's exactly why I started running years ago - to go further distances than I could when walking; plus the look on their faces - silently showing their disbelief in seeing someone up there running. It makes me chuffed to bits knowing that I'm pushing myself and achieving something others are astounded at.

Sure enough, I just get to the stones and the lads are at 590 trig. I wait for them to join me - a few short minutes only. Then we all run together to the north edge - them disappearing off down to Upper Ashop Farm. I've told them my decision to run to Crookstone Knoll then head to Edale without waiting for them....I'm alone now, and at the knoll pause for a while admiring the view. I must say, as I sat there I was very, very tempted to run down to Hope Cross and up to the summit of Win Hill. I could just send Tim a message that I'd meet him in Hope, not Edale. I shake that thought and save that route for another day, my favourite hill will wait for me.

View of Win Hill from Crookstone looks so runnable & within reach. This photo and subsequent ones taken on my phone.
Looking back from Crookstone Knoll to the northern edge, Fairbrook Naze just visible.
Looking down the path to the southern edge from Crookstone Knoll, Mam Tor sticking up and the ridge just visible.
I topped up my water bladder from a bottle; that's over 2ltrs drunk already (bladder + stashed water + swigs from rivers). I sip some more - though conscious that I only have 500ml of fluid to get me 7km back to Edale. There's a spring around here somewhere, but I'm not sure of it's exact location (one to find on another run out). I start to imagine how good a cool beer is going to taste as I make my way round to the southern edge and Druids Stone.

I'm not entirely sure which way down I'm going to head at Ringing Roger, there's a couple of options. But, my left knee/ITB was starting to feel the distance so I opt for the nearest path. I would have liked to extend the run right back to Grindslow Knoll, then it would have been an almost true circumnavigation of the plateau (we had only missed the western tip beyond Sandy Heys trig), but that one too is for another day.

Dropping down I take it really easy, the taste of a beer growing stronger, and now battling with which would come first...a beer, or a sit in the river. I reach the big zig-zag and take a direct line straight down the tussocky heather. As I plummet over the edge there's a group of three ladies walking up the of them, rather loudly, says "Where Is That Woman over there Going?! The path's This Way"...I laugh to myself....and silently reply "why, I'm taking the Best line down". Her comment keeps me smiling all the way down, I laugh out loud a couple of times too.

Onto the path and I'm striding confidently past walkers on the lower reaches of the hill, knee still twingy but not enough to reduce me to walking. The river wins in the beer-river battle. I'd never walk back up from the bottom of the village, and I need my legs to recovery with a decent cool down. I have a good 10 minutes sitting in the water (why do walkers stand and stare at a lady sitting in a river? do they not understand?)...not to worry, now I'm cooled it's time for that beer. The Rambler is my choice - favouring the grass lawn in the sunshine, and view of Ringing Roger. I eat and drink and glance lazily up the hill. Memories of what I've just accomplished are sinking in nicely. 24km. I ran all that way. It was almost the distance I set myself at the start of the year so with the warm up jog from the car park to the start, I've reached my target <big grin>.

The water went down before the beer, honest!
View from the pub, Ringing Roger just out of shot to the left. Lads are traversing in this shot, but tiny specks!
After an hour or so the lads are spotted - traversing where I thought they shouldn't be. Tim explains all in his here to read his account of the Kinder Dozen. A while later they've done their final up and down, had their recovery sit down in the river, and joined me for a pint of ....was it cider they had?

Alistair, Brae the dog, Tim and Julien - just arrived.
We're all tired and really pleased with our day's running. I've run my longest distance ever - 24km. The time really doesn't count on this one as a) there was no rush, and b) there was loads of stopping, waiting, gazing and general 'stuff' happening, and c) I was smiling - a happy runner is a satisfied runner. Thanks to Becky, Alison, Elsa, Sikobe, Matt, Tim, Alistair, Julien, Brae and all the walkers who chatted or said 'hello' - I had a fabulous day. 

For all you interested in stats and seeing the route here's my garmin track.