Ben Lomond Run

On Tuesday night after work I went for an easy 5 mile run. It had to be easy as my calves were burning from Monday night’s fartlek session! I find it amazing how specific running is. Over the past 6 weeks I’ve been tapering towards the Lakeland 100, then running it and for the last few weeks recovering from it so all my runs have been easy.

It’s been a while since I really pushed the pace. You use such different muscles so even though I feel running fit I don’t have the same speed in my legs. Hopefully it will return soon enough.

Anyway last night (Wed) I set off for Rowardennan for a run up and down Ben Lomond. My last run was just before we went to Indonesia and I did a double run. It took me 2.03 for the first loop and 2.00 for the 2nd. I was interested to see how long it would take me now.

I set off fairly steady and realised early on that my legs felt pretty sluggish. I decided to go as comfortably as I could and use this as a base level of where I’m at now. It took 1.20 to the top and another hour to get down so 2.20 for the loop.

The weather was very misty at the top so I didn’t bother with a photo but here is one at the bottom at the end of the run.

john 27 Aug

I’m planning to run Ben Lomond for the next two weeks so I’m hoping to take off 10mins per week with the aim of being under 2hrs before the Marathon de Ben Nevis.

I’ve worked out my training plan for the four weeks (including this one) in the build up to the race.

plan for nevis v2

Posted in Ben Lomond run | Leave a comment

Club Fartlek session

I decided to go along to our club Fartlek session last night. It was the first time I’ve done a speed session for a couple of months. I was looking forward to seeing how my legs (and the rest of me) would cope with running a bit faster!

There were 5 of us doing the session of 6 x [3min (90sec recovery), 2min (1min)]. Norman and Catherine who are running Paisley 10k on Sunday did half the session while Ryan, Euan and I completed it.

I took the first set quite comfortable and then basically tried to get a little bit quicker as the session progressed. I was really pleased with how I felt. My stats …..

fartlek 08-24

It’s always good to make sure the last set is not the slowest and I was happy that it was the fastest!

Hugh Cook who won my ‘Guess My Time’ Competition for the Lakeland 100 has received his key ring and Hokas from

Thanks to Keith from the ultramarathonrunningstore for sponsoring the competitions this year.

hugh cook gmt

Posted in Fartlek, guess my time competition | Leave a comment

Supporting Glencoe Skyline race and run on the Braes

Katrina & I picked up Neal & Caroline on Friday night after work and we headed up to Glencoe, via the Real Food cafe for fish and chips, in time to watch a couple of videos about the Skyline races and listen to Ian Corless interview Emelie Forsberg.

ian c

I asked a couple of questions including asking Emelie whether she will run the whw race one day!  I also managed to get a photo with her afterwards …Emelie

We camped at Glencoe then in the morning headed up the Buachaille Etive Mor to watch all the runners go by after about 30mins of running.


I took video clips of all the runners as they went past.

We then headed back to Glencoe for some breakfast before heading back up to cp 10 to watch the leading runners go through.


Once the top 8 or so were past we drove up to Altnafedth and walked up the Devil’s Staircase to watch the runners coming off the ridge.

emelie 2

Again I took some video clips.

It was really good to see top class runners like Joe Simmons and Emelie Forsberg descending.  I really enjoyed cheering on Jayson Cavill who had a great race finishing 3rd male.

jayson 2

We went to the finish for a bit before heading home. It was a really good day out supporting the race.

I was up early and out for a run on the Gleniffer Braes. I did my usual 11mile circuit and I felt really good.  It is 4 weeks since I ran the Lakeland 100 and I feel pretty well fully recovered.  I have 4 weeks before my next ultra so things are going well!

Posted in Glencoe Skyline Race | Leave a comment

Midweek runs

Over the summer I have moved office to a high school near Silverburn.  If I ran at lunch time I used to run from Bellahouston Leisure Centre but now I can run from the school as there is a shower next to my office.

So this week on Tuesday and today I went for a run at lunch time and worked out a circular route of 6 miles or so which goes around and through Pollok Park. The only part I don’t like so much is the run along the main road but it does mean it’s a circular run.

route 08-20On Tuesday lunch time I was a little short of time so I pushed the pace a bit and was pleased that I felt fine.

My plan is to have a couple of off road runs over the weekend and then have a 3 week build up and a taper week before the Marathon de Ben Nevis race on Sat 19th Sept.

Tomorrow night we are heading up to Glencoe to watch the Glencoe Skyline Race on Saturday. It should be really interesting to watch some of the best ultra runners race over a tough course.

glencoe skyline

Posted in Easy run | Leave a comment

Weekend end in Inverness

I had my second recovery run on Friday morning before work. I ran just over 5 miles and felt okay. My shin is fine but I feel a bit sluggish. Hopefully another week or so and my legs will remember how to run!

We were up to Inverness for the weekend to visit Jo, Jono and our two week old grandson Seth. Plus our youngest daughter Hollie was there too as she starts her first teaching job tomorrow at Halkirk (5 miles south of Thurso!).

We had a great weekend with lots of cuddles. It’s great to see Jo & Jono as parents. They are doing a great. We also visited Ryan, Becki, Chloe & Orrin Mackenzie. Orrin is just over 6 months old and full of energy!

I went out for a run this morning. Jo & Jono live very close to the Culloden Woods so I have a circuit I can do a couple of times.  I stopped to take some photos and try out the slowmo video on my new phone!

route - 08-16

Legs felt more responsive this morning so that was good.

Finally a picture of the proud grandparents with Seth …with seth

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Question about how to break 30hrs on Lakeland 100

I received this message from Adrian Leigh on Facebook yesterday. I decided to answer it here and post the link on Facebook.

Hi John you passed me at Dalemain on the 100 and I ended up finishing in 31.22 after failing last year and doing the 50 in 11.33 the year before. Assuming I get in on Sept 1st I want to try and beat 30 hours as I am 60 2 weeks before the race so any advice would be gratefully received please. You did a great time this year.

I wrote about some of these things in my ‘Lessons learnt’ post after the Lakeland 100 but I’ve thought about Adrian’s question about how to target and beat 30 hrs.

I’m sure lots of people could give lots of different answers but since Adrian asked me here are my thoughts for what they are worth.

I have divided them into two areas. Firstly training and secondly race day.

# Training

3 key things that helped me ….

i. Weight loss

I think if you are serious about running sub 30hrs you can’t be carrying too much extra weight. Adrian … I don’t know your weight or build so this may not be a problem for you but it was for me. I was over a stone lighter running this year to 2012 and I believe it made a massive difference.

ii. Hill work

One of things my friend Dave Troman helped me identify was the importance of preparing the quads for the second half of the race. If you want to break 30hrs then you need to be able to run the down hills in the second half of the race. To that you must prepare your quads for the pounding. So each week in my preparation I would run and up and down Ben Lomond. I really think this made a big difference to my performance as I was running right to the end.

iii. Recce runs

If you want to break 30hrs you can’t afford too many navigational mistakes. I made one this year and it cost me at least 25mins. I got away with it but it would have been even better not to wasted that time!! So if possible make sure you know the route well especially the legs you will do in the dark.

# Race day

I had a very clear strategy of how I wanted to break 30hrs and I was very focused on that. I know this would not suit everyone but it worked for me!!

There were probably a number of factors but I’ve identified three …

i. Very Easy start

Lots of people say they are going to start easy but in my experience very few do! It takes a lot of discipline to hold back when you feel fresh and good and everyone else is pushing on. The thing that helped me was to run by Heart Rate.

I found that having an objective marker that wasn’t negotiable really helped me. I was aiming to keep my HR between 125-130 for the first 10hrs or so. Lot and lots of times I had to ease off especially walking up hill to keep it down but that meant I was able to maintain a good pace right to the end of the race.

I was 201st at the first checkpoint and finished 60th. I think that tells its own story! Darren Firth who I ran with on and off throughout the race was even more impressive. Darren was 245th at Seathwaite (Adrian was 58th) and finished 49th in 28hrs 53mins 04secs

Here is a comparison between my average pace throughout the race compared to Adrian’s. average pace

I was able to maintain a straighter line whereas Adrian was slowing throughout the race. I really think to be able to finish under 30hrs the line needs to be as straight as possible from Braithwaite onwards.

You have to be really committed to this strategy. It won’t just happen. I practised running to HR on my training runs and was committed to running my own race.

I think it has lots of physical advantages but also psychologically it really helps as you spend the whole race catching people rather than being overtaken!

ii. Checkpoints

In this year’s race I spent a total of 36 mins in checkpoints including 11mins at Dalemain. For the majority of the checkpoints I was in and out within 1-2mins. I only sat down at Dalemain.

Again you have to practise and be really disciplined with this. Before the race I worked out from the published menu on the web site what I was going to take.

So for example at Braithwaite I knew there was rice pudding so I entered the hall, dibbed in, gave my water bottle (with energy powder already in the bottle) to a volunteer to fill, went to the table, took my rice pudding and jam, ate it in a few mouthfuls, took my water bottle thanking the volunteer and was out again! It took me 1min 45secs. I must have passed about 20 runners who were all sat at the tables eating.

In my opinion if you want to break 30hrs you can’t afford to waste time in checkpoints. My good friend Any Cole once pointed out if you stop for 5mins longer than someone else you have to run 1min per faster than him for 5 miles to catch up!

Adrian … it would be interesting to find out how long you stopped for in total for this year’s race. It may be that you can save a lot of time and get closer to your sub 30 goal within actually running any faster!!

iii. Focus

I found that I had to focus for the whole race. My friend Jonny who also ran this year made the comment after watching my race diary video that I was always taking about my time and how many minutes in hand I had etc whereas he hardly thought about time. It was just making sure he finished.

If you capable of sub 26 hrs then you can take your time to achieve sub 30hrs but for those of us that sub 30hrs is a challenge we have to stay focused and make sure we don’t waste too much time. I even kept walking while I took a wee to save a few precious minutes!! (btw I didn’t do that through Ambleside high street!!)

Anyway I hope that helps Adrian and I look forward to seeing how you get on next year.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First run since Lakeland 100

I finished the Lakeland 100 at 11.36pm on Saturday 25th July. Within a few minutes of sitting down my left shin was very sore. It had been sore for the final 8hrs of the race but it was only uncomfortable when I was running and certainly wasn’t going to stop me.

I went to the A&E department in Paisley on the Monday after the race and the doctor reckoned it was tendinitis and besides ice and ibuprofen the main treatment was rest.  So I’ve not run for two and a half weeks.

I’ve actually quite enjoyed having a rest after training pretty hard for the past 7 months building up to the race.  But I was ready to get running again and I was looking forward to getting my kit and shoes on and heading out for an easy run after work.

It helped that it was a lovely evening.  I ran just over 4 miles and I couldn’t feel my shin at all so that was good news. I felt a bit sluggish overall but that’s to be expected.

I now have just over 5 weeks before my next race … the Tour de Ben Nevis (42miles) on Saturday 19th September. My plan is to run every other day for another 10 days and then have 2-3 week of harder training before an easy week before the race.

after run

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment