This blog will cover February’s training and the start of March. I’ve come a long way in terms of my training in terms of both distance and endurance.
The month started with a Parkrun at Perth accompanied by my youngest daughter, my other two kids disappeared into the distance. The course was somewhat damp and the grass section akin to wading. I’m proud to register a personal worst and a defeat at the feet of no. 3 child.
The following day maintained the mud wading tradition as I tackled the Forfar Half Marathon, a course that prides itself on weather related challenges, either ice skating or, this year knee deep paddling. This is a race I love, weather and terrain combine so that it’s impossible to compare times year on year, each one is different.
The course is essentially a circumnavigation of Forfar, running round the loch then through some lovely countryside, passing the refuse site, there was a long deep puddle to wade through, I did contemplate swimming. The last couple of miles involve crossing a newly ploughed field, before returning to the loch side and the finish.
The finish line is understated but the post race meal is legendary, carbs were consumed in excessive quantities.
My focus this month was on back to back days, so I didn’t rest on my laurels or lie about digesting the over-indulgence, Monday was a day off work and a tough training run. I took the bus to St Andrews and ran 22 miles back to Dundee, along the Fife Coastal Path, another excellent training route.
I followed that up with three days of double runs, training both morning and evening. I had been running to work, but the route is all flat and on roads, since I’m training for events that will be hilly and off road, I decided that aspect of my training needed re-focused. I have been driving half way and then running various routes which incorporate hills and tracks, with the potential for off trail scrambling. To make up distance and train when I’m tired and energy depleted, I have the run back to the car.
The rest of February continued with runs to work interspersed with parkruns. I set a PB having run the long hilly route (15 miles) to the start through snow and ice and then paced my son to a PB the following week, really proud he knocked 2 mins off his time.
I know this is February’s update, but last weekend I decided to get some training in on the West Highland Way as well as testing some gear for the Great Lakeland 3 Day race in May. I drove to Bridge of Orchy and pitched the tent beside the river. I then ran along the Way to Tyndrum and back, chasing the setting sun, despite being an easy section, I managed to nose dive at the sheep creep under the railway.
Back in the tent, the rain started and remained constant for the night. I cooked dinner on my gas stove, I’d bought a prepacked meal from Tiso as I’d considered fuelling the GL3D on 12 hr ration packs. Needless to say, it wasn’t a test sensation and I’m back to the drawing board for light, convenient calorific meals. The mornings porridge and raisins were a great success and I’ll definitely be taking that to the lakes.
The Sunday saw me running from my camp to Glencoe Ski Centre, one of the checkpoints on the race. I started running with a long sleeve top and quickly began to overheat on the climb, once I got to the exposed top, my choice of gear paid of and as I climbed over the moor, it became apparent that the rain overnight was snow on the higher ground as I ran through 2 or 3 inches of wet snow.
I refueled at the ski centre with snickers and a yoghurt drink, both of which I find suit me and provide a good mix of calories and protein, I’ve moved away from gels as I find them to sweet and quickly find my stomach overwhelmed.
The return journey to the car felt good and, while I walked a few of the hills, I had plenty of energy to run the downhills and flat sections.
My goal race is the Dragon’s Back in Wales. This is advertised as one of the worlds toughest and I’ve had some debate about this and comparison with arctic ultras and the legendary Marathon des Sables. The Telegraph recently rated the Dragons Back as one of the worlds 8 toughest races, read the article here, which points out the race has more than 10 miles of ascent. I’m reading ‘Survival of the Fittest’ by Dr Mike Stroud and he says
You are more likely to succeed in completing multi-marathons in the ultra-dry Sahara at 40 degree C than you might were you to do the same in Britain at the height of the summer.
Finally, it’s important to remember that I’m running these races not only beaus I enjoy them, but because I want to raise money and awareness for Care of Police Survivors (COPS). The ongoing trial of a male for the murder of PC Keith Blakelock brings this into focus. Please dig deep and give generously. If you pledge £1 per month between now and the Dragons Back, you’ll have donated £15 to this worthy cause and won’t even have noticed it. My Just Giving page is here.