Dragon’s Back Training Week 6

I decided to have an easy week after this week as this was my 6th week of, for me, harder weeks.  If I took my week from Sunday to Saturday then I’ve run 95 miles in 7 days!

Monday 11th Feb – Dragon’s Back Day 5 Recce Part 2

  • 21.7 miles in 7:03:53
  • Ascent – 4,121ft

As it was our half term this week I was able to complete Day 5. Katrina dropped me off near her Dad’s house and I headed back up Fan Bycheiniog to re-join the course.

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The snow had melted on the lower slopes but was still very thick on the summit. I put on my Khatoolas which helped. It was also very windy so I didn’t hang around much.

The navigation was pretty straight forward though there were a few times I did wander off line in the mist but I was able to get back on track pretty quickly.

It was really good to have a look at a couple of route choices especially between CP5 and CP6. I had Marcus’ gps line on my watch which I followed rather than the ‘recommended route which stayed on the ridge.

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Some of the underfoot conditions were tough as the course made its way over clumpy boggy ground.

I put together a video of the two days but here a few photos to give you a sense of my day.

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CP5 Carreg Yr Ogof

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Lots of this sort of ground!

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CP9 Tair Carn Isaf

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The route goes round Carreg Cennen Castle

It was a really good day out and another day covered. I have now reccied 4 out of the 5 days. I plan to recce Day 4 in April with Andy Cole so I will have covered the whole course. I know there will be others who will cover the ground more than once but others who won’t step on the course at all.

Wednesday 13th Feb – Lunchtime Run around Pollok Park

  • 6.47 miles in 58:42
  • Ascent – 535ft

I decided not to do a Conic Hill run this week as I’ve just had a bigger weekend and I have a 35 mile run planned for Saturday.

So I ran my off road run around Pollok Park. I have bought a new pair of Altra Lone Peak 4 so this was a perfect chance to try them out. They are very similar to the Lone Peak 3 so that’s good news. I plan to continue to run in the Lone Peak 3 and keep the Lone Peak 4 for my final Day 4 recce run and then the race itself.

Thursday 14th Feb – Run with Katrina after work

  • 5.31 miles in 47:12
  • Ascent – 207ft

What better way to spend some of Valentine’s Day with your wife than going for a run together! We haven’t had a run for a few weeks so it was good to get out together. Katrina always makes me laugh as she will often (every time?) say ‘I will be slow’ and then proceeds to set the pace and is not slow!

Friday 15th Feb – Weigh-in

  • 11st 11lbs (put on 1lbs 5/8)

A fellow Dragon’s Back runner, Oliver, left a comment on my Strava run saying ‘I notice you lose weight easily! What’s your secret?’

I’m not sure I find it easy but here is what helps me if it’s any use.

  • I don’t snack at all and don’t drink alcohol
  • Breakfast – Porridge with banana, blueberries, seed mix and honey
  • Lunch – ham, cheese, beetroot wrap plus youghat and apple
  • Evening meal – Katrina is a great cook so we have lots of healthy food with plenty of vegetables
  • I try and keep to sensible portions for my evening meal. I find it easy to have a second plateful if I’m not careful
  • Supper – Hot Chocolate before bed is my treat!
  • Mon to Fri – no puddings
  • Weekends – I will be a bit more relaxed but try not to go overboard!

I find there is a balance of eating enough to fuel the amount of running I’m doing but not eating too much that I put on weight. I have found that since I turned 50 almost 10 years ago that I do have to be more careful with what I eat.

I try and drink water throughout the day but I know I should be drinking more.

So in conclusion I don’t diet as such but I try and eat a variety of all food types in moderation. I do think I need to be disciplined to make it work.

Saturday 16th Feb – Long Run on the whw

  • 36.07 miles in 9:14:06
  • Ascent – 5774

I wanted to do a longer run in preparation for the Hardmoors 50 in 4 weeks’ time on similar terrain. I drove up to Bridge of Orchy and caught the 8.36am bus to Fort William. I then ran the 36 miles back to the car on the West Highland Way.

I set off from Fort William bus stop at 9.50am and went on the Devil’s route from the Leisure Centre. As I climbed up the fire road there were signs to say the path was closed due to logging but I decided to push on hoping that they wouldn’t be working on a Saturday which they weren’t so I was okay! It does look a lot different though with all the trees felled.

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I was looking forward to seeing Ian & Julia Minty who were running the opposite way and sure enough we crossed after an hour or so. They had left Kinlochleven at 8am and were moving well.

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I was running as much as I could and happy with my progress but I did think back to my best whw in 2009 when it took me 3hrs 20mins from Kinlochleven to Fort William. Today it took me 3hrs 35mins and I hadn’t run 80 mile first!

As I descended to Kinlochleven Rachel Campbell was running up the hill looking very smooth. Not long after I saw Donnie and we stopped to have a chat. Donnie is an excellent ultra runner who wins a lot of big races so it was great to have a chat even if it meant he had to work even harder to catch his wife!

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It was long climb out of Kinlochleven so lots more ascent feet to add to my weekly total! As I approached Altnafeadh I switch on my phone as Max & Stacey Holloway had planned to join me at Glencoe and run with me for a bit.

I was interested to see what the new Kingshouse Hotel is looking like now it has been rebuilt.

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Max & Stacey ran down from the car park and joined me just before the main road. It was great to have company for the next hour or so before they headed back. Thanks so much for making the effort to come and join me.

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Thanks to Stacey Holloway for the photo

 

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I had a final 7 miles or so and I kept running as much as I could. I put my head torch on as I climbed up ‘Jelly Baby Hill’.

I finished just after 7pm. I had a quick change then drove home. Another good day out.

Sunday 17th February – Final Payment sent

I sent off my final payment for the race so there is no going back now!!

Summary of the week

This has been my biggest week of the year so both in terms of distance and ascent.

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I normally try and work on a pattern of 3 harder weeks and then an easy week but this time I’ve had 6 harder weeks before an easy week.

Here is a summary of the first 6 weeks of my training plan for the 2019 Berghaus Dragon’s Back.

1-6 week summary

Photo of the week

I could have chosen any one of a number but have gone for this one from yesterday on the Lairgmor

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Dragon’s Back Day 5 Video

I made a short video of my two run run covering Day 5 of the Dragon’s Back course

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Dragon’s Back Training Week 5

I decided to run 4 times this week as I had another big weekend coming up.

Monday 4th Feb – Club Fartlek Session

  • 8.41 miles in 1:12:18
  • Ascent – 322ft

A really good turn out this week with 18 runners in our group. Another interesting session of 3 x (1min, 2min, 3min, 4min) with half recoveries.

Once again I was keen to make sure the final set was not the slowest. Here are my stats ..

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I was very happy with my average pace for the whole session. The final 1min was not as quick as the first one but all the others were quicker so I’ll take that.

Tuesday 5th February – Entered Silva Great Lakeland 3 Day event

I received an email from the organisers of the Dragon’s Back last week and at the bottom was details of another race they organise in the Lakes 2 weeks before the Dragon’s Back over the May Bank Holiday (4th-6th May).

I had planned to do a final big weekend anyway so I decided to enter. Katrina has been accepted as a volunteer helping with the hospitality team so we be heading down together.

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Plus I have a few friends who are also taking part so it will be great to catch up with them and even run with one or two of them!

Wednesday – Hill Reps on Gleniffer Braes

  • 6.81 miles in 1:01:43
  • Ascent – 866ft

I was busy over lunchtime at work so I decided to head back to the Gleniffer Braes and repeat my hill reps from 3 weeks ago.

I ran very similar times over the session …

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Each one was slightly quicker than the one before so that was encouraging.

Thursday 7th February – Conic Hill 

  • 9.60 miles in 2:06:54
  • Ascent – 1,919ft

I was on my own tonight as Cammie ran yesterday. I decided to park at Garadhban Forest and run over Conic Hill and then down the other side until I reached the gate leading into the forest before Balmaha.

That way I would climb Conic twice which would give me some more ascent!

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All the snow has gone from Conic but I could see it snow on the top of Ben Lomond. So another good run. I’ll be heading to Ben Lomond soon for my mid week hill runs.

Friday 8th February – Weigh in

  • 11st 9 3/8lbs
  • Really happy to lose another 3lbs this week. Definitely going in the right direction

Sunday 10th February – Dragon’s Back Day Recce Part 1

  • 27.27 miles in 7:55:11
  • Ascent – 5,269ft

It is our half term next week and Katrina was keen to visit her Dad in South Wales so I thought it would rude not to recce Day of the Dragon’s Back Race over 2 days. This means that I will just have Day 4 to recce in April with Andy Cole.

Katrina dropped me off at the start of day 5 and I ran to CP 4 Summit of Fan Bycheiniog and then I ran the hill to Katrina’s Dad’s house where she picked me up.

Here is the route …

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Profile …

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The weather was mixed with rain and wind to start, then dry and even sunny in the middle when I was lower down through Llandovery and then snow and very strong winds on the top of Fan Bycheiniog.

I made a bit of a mess of my navigation early on but I’d rather make those mistakes on a recce than the race.

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I spent part of the run thinking about how I might feel on day 5 of the race. I really hope I’m still it in! I am feeling more and more confident that I can do this. I’m getting lots of ascent done and feeling stronger.

The other thing that is encouraging me is how good my feet are feeling. I’ve not had any blisters or issues. I was surprised today as my feet were wet right through the run.

Here are some photos of the day …

 

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View from CP 2

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Quick stop at Llandovery

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Fan Brycheiniog in the distance

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I’m looking forward to part 2 of my Dragon’s Back Day 5 recce tomorrow! The weather forecast is better as well!

Summary of the week

weekly summary

Photo of the week

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Dragon’s Back Training Week 4

Another good solid week. I do very encouraged at the moment as the weeks tick by. I feel I’m getting stronger and a little faster but more importantly I feel I’m running more easily.

Monday 28th January – Club Fartlek Session

  • 8.65 miles in 1:16:04
  • Ascent – 311 ft

The weather was a lot better than last week so we had a bigger group running. I’ve been a member of Kilbarchan since 2001 and I don’t think I’ve ever done this particular session before.

We ran a 10min tempo run, then 10 x 1min with 1min recovery and then another 10min tempo run. We started each of the tempo runs from the same place so the aim was to reach the same end point as the first one.

Here are my stats …

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I was really pleased that my second 10min tempo was quicker than my first. It was a great session and one that suited my training.

Wednesday 30th January – Conic Hill Run

  • 11.21 miles in 2:01:18
  • Ascent – 1570

I had a meeting at work and so couldn’t get away until 4.15pm. I’d arranged to meet Cammie at Drymen at 5pm and thought I had enough time to make it but I hadn’t planned on there being an accident on the Erskine Bridge which delayed me by an hour!

I sent a text to Cammie as I didn’t want him to wait for me. I set off at 6.05pm and ran up and down Conic Hill in the dark. I met Cammie as he was making his way back.

It was a lovely evening with no wind, crisp snow to run on and loads of stars for company. I felt strong throughout the run which was encouraging.

Thursday 31st January – Lunchtime Run around Pollok Park

  • 6.48 miles in 59:54
  • Ascent – 479

I was able to get out at lunchtime from work and run round my off road route. The group was frosty so I ran it a little quicker than last week.

I don’t look at my watch at all during these runs so it is always interesting interesting to see how long it has taken me each time.

Friday 1st February – Weigh in

  • 11st 13lbs

I think this is the first time I’ve been under 12st for almost 2 years so that was encouraging. I can definitely feel the difference particularly running up hill!

Saturday 2nd February – 4 Munros with Cammie

  • 12.74 miles in 5:41:32
  • Ascent – 5833ft

This has to go down as one of my favourite days out. Cammie picked me up at 6.45am and we arrived at the lay-by just before Crianlarich at 8am.

The sun was just coming up and there were hardly any clouds in the sky. Our route was to take in 4 Munros – An Caisteal, Beinn a’ Chroin, Beinn Tulaichean & Cruach Ardrain

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The snow was in excellent condition so we could keep moving as fast as possible. I wore my Khatoola spikes over my Altra Lone Peak trail shoes and the combination worked well.

I also wore shorts and two tops and felt fine all day. We kept a good pace going on the ascents and ran as much of the descents and flats as we could. As normal I was stronger on the ascents and Cammie caught me up on the descents.

I took some photos so hopefully they will give you a sense of how amazing the views were ..

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Setting off from the car park

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Sun rising over the peaks as we climb An Caisteal

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Time for a selfie!

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View from An Caisteal

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View from Beinn Tulaichean

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View from Beinn Tulaichean

Relive view of our run

Summary of the week

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Another solid week with plenty of climb. Normally if I run for almost 11hrs I will have covered more miles but the key figure in my training for the Dragon’s Back is the amount of ascent each week.

I had a look on the Strava Dragon’s Back group to get an idea of what others are doing.

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My milage is not as much as others but my elevation gain is up there so I’m happy with that!!

Photo of the week

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Running with Cammie back to the car after a great day out! 

 

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Review of January 2019

The first month of 2019 has been been a good one as I have started my training plan / build up to my main focus of the year, Berghaus Dragon’s Back.

I have run 20 times for a total of 191 miles. The other key factor I’m keeping a close eye on is the amount of ascent I’m doing each week. I’m aiming for at least 5,000ft a week so it was good to see my monthly total as 21,884ft

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I like to keep a track of the types of runs I do each month so here is my summary.

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One of my targets for the year is to run at least 2019 miles in 2019. I’ve made a good start in January and I’m sitting ahead of the red line.

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LOVEultras 044 Dragon’s Back 16 weeks to go

In my latest vlog I chat about my detailed training plan for the Dragon’s Back.

 

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Dragon’s Back Training Week 3

A good week with 5 runs.

Monday 21st January – Club Fartlek Session

The weather was truly awful as we set off at 7.15pm for our club session. Unsurprisingly the numbers were down on such wet and windy night but I take a sense of pleasure in getting out in bad weather as it could be like this on race day and you can’t back out then!

After 20mins or so of heavy rain is eased off and for the majority of the session it was dry but the windy stayed pretty strong throughout. As we run round a loop at least the wind was behind us for some of the time!

The session was a pyramid of 1,2,3,4,5,5,4,3,2,1 min with half recoveries. Here are my stats …

fartlek stats

I kept it fairly steady throughout the session. The hot shower at home was very welcome!!

Tuesday 22nd January – Planning

Rest day today but I did spend some time at lunchtime working out some good routes for my Saturday long hill runs. I’m really looking forward to doing them!

Wednesday 23rd January – Conic Hill Run with Cammie

  • 11.22 miles in 2:02:01
  • Ascent – 1,572ft

I met Cammie at Drymen just on 4.30pm after work and we were running soon after. It was a lovely evening – cold, crisp with little wind.

We ran chatting together over the compacted snow until we reached the bridge at the bottom of the hill. I tend to be stronger on the up hills so I pushed on running as much as I could and walking the top section.

I made a cross in the snow to show Cammie where I had turned and headed down. When I saw Cammie heading up I challenged him to catch me! He took up the challenge and caught me about half way down!!

Cammie is so comfortable on the descents and while I feel I’m getting a bit better he is so much more confident and quicker!

We regrouped just after the bridge on the way back and ran together back to Drymen. It was a lovely evening and we both really enjoyed it.

Thursday 24th January – Lunchtime Run around Pollok Park

  • 6.46 miles in 1:00:48
  • Ascent – 561ft

I had time to get out at lunchtime and run round my off road loop of Pollok Park. The weather was excellent and the sun even shone for most of the way round.

The snow had melted a bit so it was a bit muddy but it was good to get a run in daylight.

Friday 25th January 

  • Weight 12st 00 3/8lbs (lost a couple of lbs)

My initial target was 12st so I’m also there. I would like to get down to around 11st 10lbs by the race or even a little lower but we’ll see how I feel.

Saturday 26th January – whw Training Run

  • 31.10 miles in 7:33:42
  • Ascent – 3,799ft
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Route – out and back from Balmaha

Katrina and I joined 50 or so runners as part of our annual West Highland Way Race training weekend. A good number stay at the Oak Tree in Balmaha for the weekend and we have in the past but this time we drove over in the morning in time for the 10am start.

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The plan for the run is very simple run as far as you like, turn round and run back! The full distance is out to Inversnaid (15 miles) and back but lots turn round at Rowardennan (7 miles) or a little further.

As we are building up to the Hardmoors 50 in March we opted for the full 30 miles. It would be Katrina’s longest run since the Dunoon ultra in October and she was a little apprehensive.

The weather forecast wasn’t great and it was pretty wet for the first few hours but once we turned at Inversnaid it got better and better and it was fine.

I started at the back and chatted to Julia and Ian Minty for the few couple of miles then caught up with Katrina who showed my her hand … lots of blood from an encounter with a thorn bush!!

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One of the good things about an out and back is that you get to see everyone ahead of you as they turn and head back towards you.

We caught up with a few other runners and it was great to catch up with friends. There was a diversion just after Sallochy for some bridge repairs. We missed the diversion signs at Sallochy itself but once we reached the bridge we took the track back up the road which added an extra half mile or so.

The only slight argument I had with Katrina was when she realised that due to the diversion Inversnaid was going to be nearer 16 miles than 15 miles and she said she signed up for 30 was was keen to turn at 15 miles. I explained that it would be less on the way back as we would take the high path! Anyway we ended up going to Inversnaid and the total was just over 31 miles!!

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It was a good day out and we both enjoyed it. Katrina’s knee was sore for the last hour or two so we are going to have to see how it reacts. I was feeling fairly comfortable throughout the run and it was good to be out on my feet for seven and a half hours. All good preparation for the Dragon’s Back!

If you want to see the route via ‘Relive’ here it is.

Sunday 26th January – Recovery Run

  • 5.29 miles in 50:46
  • Ascent – 256ft

I was keen to have an easy run today as I want to build up running the day after a long day. I was really pleased that my legs and feet felt pretty good. I ran easy but it was an encouragement that my legs coped okay!

Summary of week 3

My biggest week so far with 62.51 miles over 5 runs with 6,516ft of ascent

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With this week I’ve crept above the red line of my goal of running 2019 miles in 2019 …

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Photo of the week

Starting off from Balmaha with the West Highland Way Training group ..

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