Friday, 31 January 2014

Janathon #31 and reflections

Today marks the end of the Janathon Challenge. When I set out to do this it was a snap decision. I didn't know if I'd manage it but I was determined. The plan was very vague, but essentially I decided to vary the distance and types of runs I would do, that way putting less stress on my body. It has worked well. There's been no signs of injury or even a slight niggle, and no signs of overtraining. My weekly distance is slightly above what I normally find comfortable, but with most of the runs being fairly short it hasn't felt like I've been doing 50km+ weeks at all.

I can honestly say there were only a couple of days I really didn't want to get out and run...but actually those days were more about the weather than running. We've had some very wet days, some cold days and a fair amount of chilly winds blowing through. Having this challenge to complete has really helped me push and get out there. Here's a summary of each day, you'll see that on some I've been out twice, on a couple I've also done a bootcamp. What's not shown here is the strength and conditioning training I have also done which averages out at twice a week.

1 - 5km
2i - 5km
2ii - 2km barefoot
3 - 7.4km
4 - 2km barefoot
5 - 10.28km fell run
6i - 5.4km
6ii - 3km run to bootcamp and back
7i - 2km barefoot
7ii - 2.67km with janathon buddy
8 - 8km Dawn Patrol
9 - 8km
10 - 2.15km barefoot
11 - 10km on Longdendale trail
12 - 11.17km fell run
13 - 2.12km barefoot
14 - 8.63km mixed road/trail
15 - 8km Dawn Patrol
16i - 17km trail
16ii - 3km barefoot
17 - 5.6km
18 - 8.22km Copenhagen city tour
19 - 3.62km Copenhagen lake tour
20 - 3.17km barefoot
21 - 8.55km
22i - 8km Dawn Patrol
22ii - 7.2km night nav
23 - 2.5km barefoot
24 - 4km very steady (saving myself for #25)
25 - Kinder Trial orienteering fell race
26 - 3.4km barefoot
27 - 5.6km
28 - 3.8km barefoot
29 - 7.4km
30i - Global Therapies Social Run
30ii - 4km run to and from Bootcamp
31 - 4km barefoot. longest barefoot run to date.

37 runs
5616m ascent
29hrs 14mins

Thanks to everyone who has joined me on some of these runs, especially Tim who continues to be a wonderful inspiration.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Global Therapies Social Run & Janathon #30

Well that was a bracing run. The temperatures was forecast to be chilly but with a stiff headwind blowing into our faces for the first half of the run it felt much much colder. Meeting at the turning circle in Old Glossop a group of seven of us (plus one energetic dog) headed up to Mossy Lea then onto Doctors Gate on the inaugural Global Therapies Social Run.

A couple of the group headed up towards the top of James Thorn (plus dog, who had a keen interest in chasing a mountain hare - it lost the chase!), with the rest of us opting to do a shorter climb up to Shelf Benches. Pausing to catch our breath at the top we were pleased to have the wind on our backs and be heading downhill for some well earned coffee and homemade cakes.

It's great introducing runners who normally stay on tarmac to the hills. I think the perception that fell runners are all super-hard and run up all the hills is a myth I like to help demystify. Yes, some of us do run up hills...but then some of us run/walk and some of us just simply walk when the incline gets even vaguely uphill. That's the beauty of fell running. There's no pressure from car drivers or walkers or anyone watching. You can sit down and admire the view. You can pause to catch your breath without the invisible finger-pointing; we all imagine that is happening when we dare-I-say-it- stop running and walk. On tarmac that pressure is there. Will people see me as a failure if I stop part-way up a hill. On the fells no-one cares, let alone be there watching. I love showing people around a corner they've never been, up a trod they didn't know existed, and pausing to look at the view, to admire the wildlife and flora. Isn't that what it's all about?

Until next time, here's a few photos from today's run:

Running up the track to Doctors Gate

Heading along the trod to Little Clough

Climbing up a little used and barely visible trod towards Shelf Benches

James Thorn in the background
Thanks to everyone who joined us today, we'll be back for another social run soon (with coffee and homemade cake!).

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Janathon #29

Today was to be the day of retesting for the barefoot running research. However, only 15 minutes before we were to drive to Salford University my phone rang. The PhD student who's research it is was calling. Bad news. He'd arrived at the uni to find the treadmill literally in pieces. Something had broken and we wouldn't be using it today.

So, me and Tim put our running gear on, waterproof tops and headed out on to the hills to go messing around in the peat bogs. I can't say any more than that. It involves placing Tim's goodie box so the location of our run is a secret for now. No photos either. That'd give the game away :)

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Janathon #28

Another rainy grey morning. On the agenda today was a short barefoot run. I'd planned to go early but the weather was against absolutely chucked it down as I got changed so I thought I'd let the shower pass (it didn't), then I decided to bake some flapjack and chocolate brownie....then I had to wait for a delivery. So my early run ended up being a lunch time run! Moral of the story....just get up and go.

I also needed to collect something from town so I decided to head that way with a rucksack and multitask on the run.With the item collected I had the choice of returning home the same way, making the total run just over 3km, or heading up the main road and adding a bit on. I chose the latter. The run was 3.8km completed in my fivefinger barefoot shoes. That makes it my longest barefoot run, albeit with a short pause in town.

Janathon #27

Gosh, it's getting close to the end of the month and the end of the Janathon challenge. Today dawned cold and wet, rain lashing down was hitting the windows hard. It eased a little so I took the chance to do the grocery shopping and other jobs in town - no point getting soaked while I am walking. Running isn't a fair weather sport for me, so while I might look to dodge the worst of the weather if it fits in with my day I'm not all that fussed. It really never is as bad as it looks once you get outside and running.

The approach to Bleaklow
It turned out to be dry for my run though the clouds and rain loomed overhead. I'd planned a blast up Lightside to get a decent bit of ascent into what is essentially a flat run...however, my energy levels were on the low side so I stuck to the low level loop of about 5.5km. I tried to inject a bit of speed over one strava segment and I was literally 1 second off of my pb. Now there's a challenge the next time I'm out that way!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Janathon #26

After yesterday's long run on the fells today was a delightfully short 3.3km barefoot run in my fivefingers. I'm feeling stronger in them, not needing to rest/walk at all now on these runs. I could quite happily have stayed indoors today; the weather was fowl but having checked the weather forecast I knew it was going to dry out this afternoon.....luckily it did and my run was in the dry, with sunshine even.

Just 5 days of Janathon left. The plan is a short run tomorrow, another barefoot run Tuesday, retest on the treadmill for the research project on Wednesday, a fell run on Thursday morning and Friday.....I'll think of a suitable way to celebrate completing the challenge.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Kinder Trial 2014

Me and Lis getting our first sight of the map
It's been two years since I last did Kinder Trial orienteering fell race in 2012.  At that point in my running career I'd not done many fell races, and I'd never run the distance or potential duration of the event before that day. I ran with a couple of other Ladies from Glossopdale Harriers on that occasion, and to be fair, they pretty much dragged me round the second half. It was tough going, there was a good 6-12 inches of snow on the ground, and I felt totally shattered at the end.

Lis clipping check point #2 above White Brow
This year I hoped to be much stronger (and for no snow which thankfully we didn't have). Certainly I felt like I was stronger, and the distance/time element didn't bother me at all. I've done plenty of runs around and over 20km (and 25km), and spent a fair number of runs on the hills over 3 hours, and several over 4 hours. What I was most happy with was that I was running the race this year with my very good friend Lis. We have a regular weekly running date, and have been mostly consistent with our runs. Slight hiccups with Christmas and illness for both of us have interrupted our plans to get Lis' mileage up, but we had a pre-defined goal for the race: we were going to have a fun and relaxed day on the hill. No pressure. No 'racing' around like headless chickens. We weren't even bothered if we didn't finish the course. The plan was to enjoy some time on the hill together. And that's what we did.

Dropping down to check point #3, Rowan Tree
Lis running down the horrendous grass tufts from CP#4 to CP#6. Kinder Downfall blowing up in the distance
Climbing up from check point #6 towards CP#8 in the enclosure
We'd said we would be out about 3-4 hours, having regular reviews of how we felt and what was coming up. By the time we got up onto the edge of Kinder we'd been out about nearly 2.5hrs and after a good look at the map we decided to head back in, and technically 'retire'. This turned out to be a good plan...

Looking back towards Sandy Heyes
We made a final push up the steep slope to the check point at Kinder Cavern - our eighth CP and last, then headed back to Hayfield via Tunstead Clough Farm. After about half an hour of tea drinking, cake eating and soup slurping there was an almighty hail and rain storm that blew over. We were very happy to be inside and dry!

As is usual after orienteering races there was a lot of chatter about route choices among the runners. The general feeling seemed to be that this year was a long and tough course, with plenty of options on route choice to be made, rather than all following a more or less defined route dictated by the check points. Thankfully when we were out the sun was shining and the wind wasn't as bitterly cold as it has been recently so we had the best of the weather. 

Mulling over the map I'm sure I could have finished the full race route, but seeing the distance run by others, and ascent, I reckon there would have been another 7-8km and at least another 300m ascent for me to do. That would have made a very tough race and a very tired me. As it is, I feel really good, ready to run again tomorrow and not totally destroyed. The bonus being I got a good few hours chatting away on the hill with my mate, totally enjoying the scenery instead of rushing around and missing it all. Mission complete.

A big thanks to Andy H and his gang of helpers for organising the race, especially the cake/soup makers and those serving drinks/soup in the scout hut afterwards. Having spent some time with Tim helping to put out controls for another event on Bleaklow/Kinder tonight (the marmot dark mountain marathon) I know how much work goes into setting up these events. Well done Andy and your team. We'll be back next year!

Other blogs about this event:

Friday, 24 January 2014

Janathon #23 and #24

Slight delay in blogging about yesterday's run as I was immediately busy with work for a few hours, and then on a train down to London to see a lecture by Ueli Steck, an uber famous but - in his words - a very normal mountaineer. He is such a humble person, and so so inspiring. The talk was titled "Driven" which pretty much sums up his attitude to everything he does, even relaxing. Tim's blog about the event sums it up nicely.

It was a long day, so managing to get my run in before 7am was lucky....I didn't end up getting to bed until about 1am - 3hrs after my usual bed time! Anyway, my run yesterday was the second of this week's barefoot runs; 2.5km at 180bpm. I'm really enjoying the barefoot runs and it is feeling easier every time. It's still a little frustrating that I'm being held back (because of the research project) with the distance I can do. But, gradual process is good as there's much less chance of injury or muscle strain.

Today's run was a short blast up on a local hill out of Glossop. We fitted it in to the day in between work and the heavy rain which was forecast. Luckily we made it home before any heavy rain arrived. A short run today was deliberately planned as I'm racing tomorrow in the Kinder Trial orienteering fell race - that ones around 20km, depending how good my navigation is! I last did this race a couple of years ago, and I'm very excited to be running tomorrow with a very good friend - we're going to have a great few hours on the hill. So, with that in mind today we just ran under 5km to blow the cobwebs away and see the view, which was actually quite hazy so here's a view up the hill instead of into the distance:

the edge of Bleaklow

Thursday, 23 January 2014


We had such a great time away in Copenhagen last weekend.  Here's a few photos. ..

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Janathon #20, #21 and #22

Janathon day 20 was a barefoot run of about 3km, yesterday (day 21) was an 8.55km run to deliver an envelope to the other side of Glossop, and today was an early Dawn Patrol with Global Therapies - 8km in about 51mins. It really is good to get out and running first thing. Some might say a 5.50am start is early, but the feeling of getting home, showered, eat breakfast and be ready for the day by 7am is wonderfully invigorating.

Here's my tally of Janathon runs so far

1 - 5km
2i - 5km
2ii - 2km barefoot
3 - 7.4km
4 - 2km barefoot
5 - 10.28km fell run
6i - 5.4km
6ii - 3km run to bootcamp and back
7i - 2km barefoot
7ii - 2.67km with janathon buddy
8 - 8km Dawn Patrol
9 - 8km
10 - 2.15km barefoot
11 - 10km on Longdendale trail
12 - 11.17km fell run
13 - 2.12km barefoot
14 - 8.63km mixed road/trail
15 - 8km Dawn Patrol
16i - 17km trail
16ii - 3km barefoot
17 - 5.6km
18 - 8.22km Copenhagen city tour
19 - 3.62km Copenhagen lake tour
20 - 3.17km barefoot
21 - 8.55km
22 - 8km Dawn Patrol

26 runs
3289m ascent
18hrs 35mins

Janathon #18 and #19 Copenhagen

A weekend away.
Visiting friends.
A chance to run somewhere new.
Plus a first for me. A running tour of the centre of Copehagen for Janathon #18.
Then a run to the lakes and shops for Janathon #19.

Colourful buildings on Nyhavn (new harbour)

Windmill on the Kastellet
One of the six Lakes

Friday, 17 January 2014

Janathon #17

Just a little 5.6km today through the park, up to Old Glossop and back. Had company in the form of Tim, now my pace has picked up a bit over the past year our runs together are a much better match. The stretch coming up Sheffield Road is a good test of how I'm feeling and today I felt great, managing to hold a 5:15min/km pace more or less all the way up the gradual incline.  No photos today, too busy running.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Janathon #16

What a glorious day to be out running, hardly any breeze, sunshine teasing us on the hills above, and the wonderful thundering sound of water overflowing both Derwent and Howden dams...our route (I had company today) took us from Fairholmes, all the way up to Kings Tree, around both dams in a clockwise direction. Here's a few photos which give you the idea of the water overflowing but don't do it justice...go visit the dams if you can, soon - this doesn't happen all that often!

the first view of Derwent dam with water overflowing as we climbed up the first small incline
Top of the dam wall is hidden by the overflowing water on Howden dam as we head south
Derwent dam with the torrents of water flowing over the dam wall
up close and getting damp right next to Derwent dam wall
Derwent dam
Derwent dam, last view as we return to the car
Total distance today....17km in 1hr 37mins, average pace 5:41/km which is great considering this is the longest run I've done since the end of November, and considering I've run everyday in January, clocking up 19 runs and 120km so far this month. 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Dawn Patrol + Janathon #15 + S&C

Early start for the Global Therapies Dawn Patrol runners. We headed down to the leisure centre at 5.50am, meeting four others and doing the Derbyshire Level loop. We were rewarded for our early start with the hoots from two owls, how delightful. Total run for me and Tim was 8km which includes about 2.5km to get to the leisure centre and back. A lovely 51mins with great company chatting all the way round.

Back home and I went straight into the 'home gym' to do my strength and conditioning session. Today's set was:

3 rounds of:
20x kettlebell swing, 20kg
10x deadlift, 40kg
10x goblet squat, 16kg
1min rest

then 3 rounds, no rest:
2mins weighted step up, bodyweight+20kg
1min plank
1min back extensions

This was all followed by the barefoot training, strengthening and balance exercises for the research project we're taking part in, plus a 20min barefoot (wearing fivefingers) walk.

Total exercise time: 2hrs 15mins.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Janathon #14

A bright patch in the otherwise grey sky appeared. Quick put on the running shoes and go run, I say to myself! My route took me through Manor Park, past Shire Hill hospital, up and round Swineshaw reservoir (right through the very boggy fields, splish splash through the puddles with a grin on my face), back to Old Glossop. In a spur of the moment decision I decided that the probable 6km total wouldn't be enough so I turned left not right and circumnavigated around Shire Hill and back home via Mossy Lea.

Swineshaw Reservoir looking towards Cock Hill - the latter being obscured by the mist/fog
same reservoir but a little further around, looking towards Shire Hill
Waterfall flowing in full force at the bottom of the reservoir
Total run today was 8.7km in 48:03, with and average pace of 5:31/km. I really pushed on the descent down into Glossop, getting my pace to about 3:45-4:00min/km. Good to get the legs turning quicker, even with gravity helping them along.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Janathon #13 Barefoot

After almost a fortnight of daily running I'm feeling good, perhaps a little tired in the legs today but that is down to a cold icy run onto Bleaklow yesterday. I had earmarked today for a loop round Mossy Lea that's just over 5km; a mixed terrain run which includes a 3km gradual incline, ending with a slightly steeper bit. It's a nice challenge to keep running at a good pace without it being a really tough run (that is until I add in a 1km hill rep with about 200m ascent). Anyway, I decided to have a recovery day and do my barefoot run - just over 2km at 180bpm. I've also done the plyometric training for the barefoot research study we're taking part in, and a strength and conditioning session this morning.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Janathon #12 plus the Trigger Race

We had snow yesterday morning, and with clear skies overnight there's been a keen frost. Looking up to James Thorn (on the edge of Bleaklow) it's still got a white covering, and that's where we were heading today. I'd calculated that the Trigger race runners would be passing Higher Shelf Stones check point from around 11am, and that might include a couple of our faster club members so I wanted to be there to offer moral support. Tim and I left home about 10.15am, slightly changing our intended route up to avoid the icy cold waters in the boggy section of Doctors Gate. Our route took us up behind Shelf Benches, past James Thorn and up to the 621 trig point at Higher Shelf Stones. The first initial climb of about 2.5km was the same as our run last weekend, but today with the icy headwind it felt much harder. Looking at the times for comparison (strava segments!) we (well I) was 2mins slower today. Yes, I was carrying more kit, but that didn't account for how much harder it felt today. We pondered whether I might have an iron deficiency...I'll be researching that later.

looking NE/East from near Higher Shelf Stones
Reaching the trig point we were greeted by three mountain rescue chaps on the race check point, a small tent/shelter which I dove straight in to put on more warm clothes. The wind on top was Bitter with a Capital B. I also cracked hand warmers for each glove, any thing more than a brief second out of your gloves and fingers were numbing instantly. We were soon joined by a few friends from Glossop who'd walked in, and than another club runner trotter in. Not long after the runners started coming by in dribs and drabs, (we'd actually missed the first racers and our club gazelle, Mark O). Some we knew - Glossopdale Harriers, Carnarthy, Pennine and Dark Peak; others were cheered on with just as much enthusiasm and encouragement. These guys and girls had been running for about 2.5hrs, and still had about 1.5-2hrs to go crossing the Kinder Plateau before their final descent into Edale for the race finish.
4 Supporters on left, 3 mountain rescue/marshalls on right

We only stopped for about 20 minutes but the cold was getting too much even with extra layers on. Setting off back down the hill neither of us stripped any of the warm layers off; the wind had really picked up and the temperature had dropped in such a short space of time. A steady pace brought us back home, covering about 11km in total in about 1hr 40mins. What a glorious run, the Peak District and especially Bleaklow is a fabulous place to go play in!

Glossopdale Harrier, Caity Rice almost at the check point/trig, Chris Jackson just behind

Brae the wonder dog, with runners leaving the check point/trig towards Snake Summit then onto Kinder
runners dropping off the top of the trig point; Kinder Plateau in the distance looking moody

Me running towards Mossy Lea on the final descent home

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Janathon #11

The excitement within me this morning spilled over........for it was SNOWING!! and for a time they were BIG snow flakes coming down thick and fast.

Today is also the start day for the Spine race which follows the length of the Pennine Way, so it literally passes my house within a few kilometers. Now on any other weekend I would run from home to spectate for a while, watching the runners of that race go past somewhere around the Snake Pass road crossing, or maybe Bleaklow Head. But, tomorrow is the Trigger race - Marsden to Edale - and there are loads of Glossopdale Harriers in that race, and it passes the same place close to home. So, I am following my Spectators Plan A tomorrow, and chose Plan B today. Well that was the idea...Plan B being to drive to the snake summit, have a short run along the Pennine Way and cheer on the front runners of the Spine.

However, that beautiful snow put that idea right out of the window....the Snake Pass at the summit was lethal...yes, I did drive up there and the road up was fairly clear until right at the summit where it turned into a car park on ice. I did a swift-as-you-can-on-ice-numerous-point-turn and drove straight back home. There looked to be a good couple of inches of snow up there, good to run on, but not safe to leave a car.

Plan B for my run then, enlisting Rachel, and running from Hadfield along the Longdendale Trail to the road crossing for the Spine race as they drop off Bleaklow via Torside Clough. We just got there in time to see the first runner leaving - he'd already been stopped for a short while refueling. We headed a short way up towards Torside Clough seeing a few more runners coming through, and then a few more back at the road crossing before making our way back to Hadfield on the trail. All totalled up to an easy 10km run with a few pauses, just about an hour of running.

first place guy leaving bottom of this Marcus Scotney? didn't manage to see his number!

looking up to Bleaklow

top ten runner heading down the last bit of a very soggy path down Torside Clough

early placed runners dropping down to cross over Torside dam wall, a little respite before climbing up Black Hill

Friday, 10 January 2014

Janathon #10

Today was going to be a 10-15km run with a friend around Ladybower reservoir...we have a regular running date each Thursday, which this week was swapped for today. Sadly my mate woke up feeling rubbish...her husband has had flu so it looks like it's going round their house. As I'm running every day I decided to swap my longer run today and will do it tomorrow. Instead of the long run today I just did my barefoot run, which I would have been doing as well as the long run. This is a sensible approach given I'm running everyday this month, as rest is good for muscles.

I like having flexibility in my training, but at the same time I am starting to hanker after a bit of speed in my runs. Lately it's started to feel like I've been plodding a bit too much. That will ultimately mean a period of weekly hill reps and speed sessions to get my cadence up, to push my cardiovascular system and muscular strength so they adapt and get stronger. I've got a race coming up on the 25th (Kinder Trial which I did back in 2011 though I'm hoping there won't be snow on the ground this year!) so over the next few weeks I'll be adding slightly longer runs to each week. Looking at other things in the diary I reckon I shall be in a position to put in two structured training sessions per week starting from the last week of January. I'd like to start it a bit sooner, but at the same time I want to ensure that this run-a-day-Janathon challenge is completed sensibly and without an increase to intensity as well as frequency of runs. Until the end of the month I'm going to put in a few fartlek type sessions, just adding short bursts of speed randomly, and hill reps in an unstructured way as and when I am ascending.

Need to find an empty wall somewhere near home so I can practice these more often. Shoulder/upper body and core strength are great for runners to develop

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Janathon #09 Squelch!

It's going well in the Janathon challenge; nine days have been completed, with twelve runs and 61km in total. Here's a summary of each day's distance:

1 - 5km
2i - 5km
2ii - 2km barefoot
3 - 7.4km
4 - 2km barefoot
5 - 10.28km fell run
6i - 5.4km
6ii - 3km run to bootcamp and back
7i - 2km barefoot
7ii - 2.67km with janathon buddy
8 - 8km
9 - 8km

Today's run took me onto the hill, leaving tarmac behind in preference for the squelchy muddy paths around Shire Hill and up onto just about the edge of Bleaklow. I need to build up my hill climbing strength so I put in a few reps on the 1km climb up Lightside. I didn't want to be bothered with timing the reps so I counted steps instead, doing 50 paces steady running, 50 paces walking to recover....well that was the theory. Good news is I didn't stop all the way up. Even the hail that was falling behaved by only blasting into my back, as soon as I turned to drop off the hill it stopped and the view cleared.
climbing up Lightside, looking over towards Doctors Gate
Shire Hill
I'm heading into that...and somewhere in it is the cairn to mark the high point of my run
heading back down...
just been up in that claggy rainy hail cloud
looking over towards Cock is in that hail cloud somewhere!