Monday, 30 September 2013


Since mid August I've been gradually increasing the distance of my long runs. I did a few long days while I was in Switzerland in early August, with a few of the days around or just above 20km. They were decent days out, but owing to the big ascents you inevitably get in the Swiss alps the days were mixed running and walking. All very enjoyable and good time on the feet. Since our holiday I've been working towards running the Edale Skyline route, and I'm almost there. But not quite. My longest run until recently was 25km last June, since which I've not done many long runs so the Skyline route a big challenge for me to work towards.

I went up to the Brown Knoll area yesterday to watch this year's Edale Skyline race. I was somewhat jealous of the runners and wished I'd started getting longer miles in earlier in the year. Still, I was secretly pleased not to be running in the 'moderate breeze' that was very blustery and knocking the runners around - my lungs and strong winds are not friends as I was reminded on my long run on Saturday! A gorgeous day for the race though (there's a few photos below) and some great running by Glossopdale Harriers and other fell running friends. Well done to all who ran the race.

Sitting around waiting for the runners to come past I was trying to work out how my training was going. I thought it was a good idea to recap just what I have done in the last few months. That way I can see if progress is going how I want it to. Here's how it's all panned out with just the running I do. I also mix in recovery turbo sessions, strength training, walks, stretching, foam rollering, sports massage and total rest days, but here's the running:

11/08 - 9km
13/08 - 10.5km
17/08 - 17.7km in 2:45 and 1028m ascent

23/08 - 5.5km
24/08 - 18.5km in 2:27 and 882m ascent

26/08 - 7km tempo run
28/08 - 4x 3min hill reps
31/08 - 20.11km in 2:39 with 620m ascent

03/09 - 5x 1km intervals
03/09 - 8.2km
07/09 - 25.4km in 2:29 and 464m ascent. flatter run to focus on distance

09/09 - 8.6km tempo run
11/09 - 4x 3:30min hill reps
13/09 - 5km
15/09 - 21.47km in 1:58 with 142m ascent. flat run to work on speed/distance

17/09 - 5x 400m sprints
18/09 - 5x 3:30min hill reps
19/09 - 9.1km
21/09 - 26.62km in 3:33 with 851m ascent

23/09 - 5.5km
25/09 - 4x 4min hill reps
26/09 - 8km
28/09 - 29.2km in 3:53 with 894m ascent

I'm really pleased with how it's going. Distance is building gradually and I've got a few flatter long runs in so know my pace can be good over the distance too. The last two weeks have seen me do my longest ever runs and I can honestly say I don't feel too tired afterwards - that is of course once I've got over the initial feelings of 'thank goodness that's done'. I can honestly say that after having a cup of tea and a few hours rest I feel like I could run again. I therefore judge my progress to be going very well indeed. This coming week is slightly different for me because of work and other commitments so I will see what I get done before deciding whether or not to do a long run, shorter long run or just to have a rest.  In the meantime, here's a few photos from Edale Skyline yesterday (the full set are on facebook):

Looking towards Brown Knoll

Looking down towards the check point at the top of Jacobs Ladder 

Glossopdale Harrier Caity Rice heading to the check point

Saturday, 21 September 2013


The activities we chose to do cost something to us. Be that time, money, energy, the loss of something else. To me it is important that the things I do mean something to me. I don't like being wasteful, in any situation.

From the perspective of time, an activity may cost actual physical time. But what about the time it takes you away from other things - family, friends, work. Training takes time, whether you are doing the occasional charity event or racing every week. There will be some cost to your time (and the time of others). If you are even half-way serious about seeking a PB, a sub-whatever time in a race, reaching the next level, then you'll know that it involves an enormous investment of time.

So choose wisely. Time cannot be taken back.
But remember to enjoy the ride. Smile. Breathe easy knowing your decision was a good one.

Financially there's very little in life which comes free. Costs may well be negligible sometimes, but you need to be clothed, shod and get to the place you are going. This all costs. Equipment for everything these days costs. Technology doesn't come cheap (unless you want to follow the buy cheap/buy twice school of shopping). A tri-bike, a GPS watch, a cricket bat, a piece of gym gear. It all costs. And most people want the best for themselves. No matter whether they're on the breadline or on a good and generous income, there is a cost. And a choice to be made when the investment is hard earned cash on that next thing that's needed/wanted/desired.

So choose wisely. Money has to be earned.

Choosing one activity over another. Often a dilemma and a difficult decision to be made. You might chose to play cricket today, but miss out on a family occasion or a local event. Who do you let down? Who or what do you choose?

Whoever and whatever, choose wisely. Something has to take priority. Something has to come out on top.
Though the decision is yours. And yours alone.

With all that said. Often the best things in life are free. A chat with a friend as you have a leisurely run around a reservoir. The way their words make you smile and feel good about yourself.

The way you chose to feel. That's free. But it's still an investment. And it's still a choice.
Energy and emotions will be invested.
A decision made now is the one based on the right reasons. It is therefore the right reason. There is no need to fret about the ifs and buts.

I'm a great believer in doing what you want to do. Because time passes. And time does not stand still. Everything involves decisions and respect for the people in your life. But you are one person. Sharing your life with someone else puts a special twist on that thought process. You become a partnership. Yet you are still you.
Make your choices wisely.
But make them based on what you feel is right.

I learnt some lovely news yesterday from some very good friends. Thinking of them, and some of their generous words they put in their message, reminded me that I'm doing what I love. I'm happy with my life and how it's all going. I invested. I'm glad I did it with the one I'm sharing it with. Life is rich.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Circumnavigation & Experimentation with LSD

My weekend long run took me to the Derwent valley. I wanted to get some consistent distance in my legs, and to do that decided I needed a fairly flat run so I could have a constant pace. Measuring the distance around Ladybower, Derwent and Howden reservoirs I had a good 24km distance to tick off. The weather forecast was unsettled, not really deciding if it would be sunny or heavy downpours - another reason not to punish myself on the hills on this occasion. Thankfully it stayed dry, the rain arriving later in the day. In trail shoes I set off on the west side, heading north...slowly ticking off the kilometres. The road and trail was fairly quiet considering it was a weekend, so I had plenty of time to observe and think about various things. 

Something I read recently said that every run should have a purpose. Well this run had one main purpose - a good solid Long Steady Distance run. Over the past few weeks I've built up my distance; last week was 20km, the week before 18km, and before that just over 17km. Given that I was adding a further 4km on this run, keeping the ascent effort to a minimum was a good idea. I'm firmly of the opinion that the body should not be put through too much too soon. So an increase (here of about 20%) in distance should not be accompanied by an increase in exposure to tough terrain or full on effort doing large ascents. It works for me, so I follow this principle.

As I ran northwards, with Derwent reservoir to my right, I meandered into another thought about purposeful running. I was keeping a steady pace, breathing was good, I was slowing slightly for the little rises and stretching my legs on the gentle descents. My mind wandered onto the thought of foot strike. So my secondary purpose to this run became light footsteps. I do this on most runs anyway, but on this day I had the luxury of a consistent terrain and no big climbs or descents to interrupt my thoughts. Every few minutes I would remind myself "light steps" and "less heal, more midfoot"..."lean forwards" and the other phrase which I usually speak to myself on tough runs is that I need to "float like a butterfly"...and so my internal dialogue went on and before I knew it I was on the opposite bank of the reservoir and about 16 or 17 kilometres behind me. The trail was now getting busier with walkers as I neared Fairholmes, but never so busy to cause me any fact there were some very kind people holding gates open for me, saving me from interrupting my stride. 

I'd parked about 1.5km up the road towards Fairholmes. In some ways the thought of having to run north once more, as I'd crossed over Ashopton viaduct seemed to dampen my spirits but I quickly pushed those thoughts out of mind. After all, 24km is still 24km, regardless of where the car is parked! I did in fact run just over 25km, using the last 800m or so to cool down after reaching the car. My average pace was 5:52/km which I am very pleased with, and my average HR 162bpm - bang in the middle of Z3 which I suspect is a little high for an LSD run, but it felt comfortable. A total run time of 2:28:59 and a very happy me.

I had also experimented with food on this run. For a long time now I've stuck to the routine of eating on the first hour after setting off, then every half hour - this is my strategy on long runs. My food of choice has been very much the same thing - geobars (half every half hour) and the occasional small snickers or mars type chocolate bar. Today, I took what I normally would, but also some jam butties and cheese butties. I didn't know how much I'd need, so I did 2 slices of each, cutting them into quarters. I started today's run as always with the half geobar on the first hour, and at the 1:30 mark. I then had some jam butty. Result - went down well, stayed down, only ate half what I thought I would, I could hamster it in my cheeks to eat a short way down the path, hands got sticky. This is a pet I used a little of my drinking water to clean my hand. Overall, good result on jam butties. Next up geobar, then onto cheese and salad cream - which again made my hand messy but went down ok. Quantity again not half what I thought I would eat. I also need better quality plastic bags - which will probably help with the sticky hand syndrome.

So, all in all a very good run. No stomach problems from the new food experiments and a very happy and tired runner. Copious amounts of tea drinking and sofa sitting commenced once back at home!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Navigation Training

In what can only be described as a deluge of rain myself and a private client set off towards Kinder - our mission: to learn about the basics of navigation. Finding places, knowing I'm where I should be and being able to relocate if not so sure is something I enjoy doing, so having the opportunity to pass on some of this knowledge (even in the rain) is something I really enjoy. Here's a few photographs from the session:

The glorious Peak District, and a shiny new map

Heading down a well worn path....but is it the correct one? We checked this using a bearing just to make sure.

A very wet patch as we practised pacing
and a drier path, better suited for practising pacing

Good position for taking a bearing

Measuring the distance to walk

A line of grouse beaters making their way across the moor...
in the distance we could hear their colleagues shooting at grouse
The grouse shooting season starts on the Glorious 12th...the 12th of August. Looking into it a bit more the dates when various game birds can be shot legally varies - here's a helpful guide if you're curious. For the Peak District it seems the key dates are 12 August to 10 December for grouse shooting.

If you'd like to learn about navigation, how to read the land better, how to relocate when lost or just gain some confidence out on the hill please get in touch with me by email: