Plans for my Recce weekend

I’m feeling really encouraged with my running and training at the moment and I hope this positive feeling continues to the West Highland Way Race and beyond!

On Monday I was back at the club for our weekly Fartlek session. This was another tough session of 2 x (5mins, 4mins, 3mins, 2mins and 1min). Normally we have half recoveries but like last week Donald (who sets the sessions) only gave us 1 min recoveries.

This meant you really had to pace it right to be able to complete the session at a similar pace.  I was working hard right through the session and happy with my effort!

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I don’t normally run on a Tuesday but I made an exception yesterday as our good friend Debbie M-C was coming over for the latest in our series of Training Tips for the whwrace podcasts and Debs wanted to do a 4 mile run as part of her recovery from the Stirling Marathon.

So we enjoyed a run together chatting the whole way round before doing the interview. If you want to listen to it you can find it on iTunes or the whw web site.

I have a lunchtime run around Pollok Park today but may cut it to 4 miles as I ran yesterday.

I’m really looking forward to the weekend. When I entered the Ring O’ Fire race last year I always planned to do a recce weekend on the course and that weekend is coming up now.

I wanted to do it this weekend as it’s the holiday weekend so I get Friday and Monday off but also it is 4 weeks to the whw so the perfect weekend for my final longer runs. So by going down to Anglesea I can do both aims. Perfect.

I was keen to have some company to help with logistics and enjoy the run together so I posted on Facebook a few months ago and Simon Wheeler, who did the race last year, responded.

So our plans is as follows ….

Friday

I’m going to drive down to Anglesea leaving about 11am. I plan to book in to the Shoreside Caravan Park, Rhosneigr and then drive to CP2 (Day1) at Church Bay.

I’m on my own for this run so still undecided whether to run 10miles along the route and then run back to my car or run all the way to Amlwch and then try and hitch a ride back to my car at Church Bay.

I maybe too late to do the full 20miles so might end up with 12-15miles but we’ll see. This one is a big more flexible as I’m on my own.

Saturday

I’m meeting Simon at the campsite then we will drive two cars to Aberffraw, leave one there and drive to Penman Point.

We will then run the 37 miles back to Abberfraw.

Then we will drive back to Penman Point to pick up our car and drive back to the campsite.

Sunday

Similar pattern so we can run the final 19.30miles from Four Mile Bridge to Holyhead.

Here is a summary (times a very rough guide!)

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The weather forecast looks good with some rain forecasted for Saturday.

I’ll be taking some video clips of the route so watch out for that!

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LOVEultras 007 Top 5 tips for whw

For the latest episode in my vblog series I have shared my top 5 tips for running the West Highland Way race which is now just over 4 weeks away.

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Summary of training this week

This was my second week of 3 harder weeks in the build up to the West Highland Way race. I was encouraged with how I ran last week so was full of confidence for this week.

Monday – Club Fartlek Session

There were only four of us for the session. Euan and Ryan led the way and a guy Andy who I’d not met before and I followed on! I think Andy ran the first few reps a bit quick as he struggled on the final few.

The session was one of our standard sets of 10 x 3mins but the big difference was we only had 1 min recovery which made a big difference. I had run about 27 miles over the weekend so I knew my legs would feel it a bit but I was very happy with how I ran.

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Pleased that my final two 3min efforts were not my slowest.

Wednesday – Lunchtime Tempo Run

I decided to do longer Tempo efforts than last week. So after a mile warm up I ran 2 miles aiming for a HR of 145, then an easy mile (HR 130) followed by another 2 miles with HR nearer 150.

Again I was really pleased with how well I was running.

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Thursday – Ben Lomond Run

For various reasons this was my first Ben Lomond run of the year. I set off about 4.45pm in the sunshine and it was pretty warm all the way up. I decided to take it steady and see how it went for this ascent.

I reached the top in 1hr 25mins going up the Tarmigan Ridge. The views from the top were amazing as it was so clear in the early evening.

I felt good on the descent and even though my time of 53mins or so wasn’t that quick I felt good which was the main aim for the run.

Here are some photos …

Saturday – Morning Run on the Kilpatricks

This was an important run for me this morning as last time I ran on the Kilpatricks with Cammie I struggled round on just over 4hrs and felt really sluggish.

I think it affected my Fling preparation as I knew I wasn’t running very well. So I was keen to see how I felt today on the same route.

The weather wasn’t as good as that run in March but everything else was so much better. I ran a lot more of the hills and when I reached the Whangie which is roughly half way in 1:45 rather than over 2hrs I knew it was going to be a good run.

I finished just under 3hrs 25mins and again more importantly felt really good all the way round. So another confidence booster.

Sunday – plans

Tomorrow Katrina is running the Stirling Marathon so it’s my turn to be the supporter. I’m going to drop her off at one of the designated car parks about 7.30am. I’m then going to go for a run before taking my bike and cycling to meet her at a few points along the way.

Quite a few friends are running so I’m looking forward to cheering them on as well. Have a great race everyone!

 

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LOVEultras 006 Favourite Kit

For the latest episode of my series LOVEultras I have talked about my favourite kit for running ultras from my shoes to head torches.

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Training Plan for West Highland Way

I’ve been meaning to post my training plan for the 8 weeks between the Highland Fling and the West Highland Way. After the Fling I had 5 days completely off.

I probably could have run earlier but my ankle (ligaments) were a little sore so I decided to give it an extra couple of days. It has been sore for the past 6 weeks after longer runs but then eases off.

Last weekend I was supporting Andy & Sarah on the Hardmoors 200. I had a couple of runs on the Friday. I was home Saturday night so went for an easy run Sunday morning which was good.

So my basic plan is to have 3 weeks of harder training (50 plus miles) with longer runs at the weekend. This weekend runs on the Braes Saturday and Sunday, Next weekend I’ll be running on the Kilpatricks on Saturday and running on the Sunday between various vantage spots as Katrina runs the Stirling Marathon.

The end of the third week I’m heading to Anglesea to do a three day training run on the Ring O’ Fire route hopefully running 75 miles over the three days.

Then I’ll have an easy week, a medium week then a two week taper which will take me to the start of the whw race. Oh yes and I’ve entered the Milngavie Trail Race on Sunday 4th June.

So here is my plan.

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This first week of my three week plan has gone really well. Infact it has been so encouraging as I really feel I’m running with a spring in my step again. I have felt quite sluggish during February, March and part of April so its great to feel stronger again.

A quick summary of this week

Monday – Club Fartlek Session

This was my first week back after 4 weeks and I was really pleased with how I was running. I kept the effort and pace going right to the end. The longest rep was 3 mins which means I have a better chance to reach my goal of 5 miles for the 30 mins of faster running.

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The overall session was 31 mins so if I take off the final minute I was 4.90 miles which is my best for quite a few months.

Wednesday – Lunchtime Tempo Run

I decided to do my 1 mile easy, 1 mile hard repeated for the 6 miles but instead of running by feel I used my heart rate. For the easy mile I aimed for a HR of 130 and for the faster mile HR 145.

It worked really well as it gave me something else to concentrate on. I didn’t look at the times at all. I just concentrated on keeping my heart rate. I had to really slow down after the first faster mile to bring it down to 130.

  • Easy miles (1,3,5) – 7:58, 9:07, 9:07
  • Faster miles (2,4,6) – 6:55, 7:00, 7:11)

I would definitely try that again.

Thursday – Lunchtime Off Road Run

I wanted to give a new pair of Skechers a run out so this was a good first run. They were so comfy straight from the box. My present pair still have lots of life in them but the uppers are starting to split and I don’t think they will make the whw so wanted to bed in a new pair.

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I felt really good all the way round and was really happy with how I felt.

Saturday – Run on the Gleniffer Braes

The last time I ran on the Braes I struggled with the mud and rain so I was looking forward to getting back up there knowing that it would be so much drier with the good weather we’ve had.

The first 90 mins or so were fine but then it started raining and it got heavier and heavier as the run continued. So much so that when I headed back home there was a little river flowing down the track.

But it was so much drier and I was running so much better. I always feel if I can average under 10min miles then I’ve had a good run and my average pace for the 15.10 miles was 9:51.

It would have been better than that but I tried a slightly different route for my extra 4 miles and ended up getting stuck in gorse and having to walk for a few minutes.

If I go clockwise there is a bit hill fairly early on and the first time round it took me 8mins 30secs to reach a particular gate. For my extra 4 mile loop I decided to push harder up the same hill and I was pleased to see I’d done it in 7mins 29secs.

I returned home feeling really encouraged that I’m running well!

Sunday – Run on the Gleniffer Braes

This time I was back up for one complete loop which with the stem is 11.75 miles. My legs felt good and I kept a steady pace going.

I was listening an episode of Trail Runner Nation which featured an interview with Andy Dubois. Andy was excellent and gave so much practical and helpful advice. I would love to interview him for a whwrace podcast.

A couple of many things I could mention were …

  • Importance of sleep in training. 8-9 hrs is recommended!
  • On long runs finish with a faster effort. Andy encourages his clients to finish a 3-4 hour run with 20-40mins of faster pace. He says this helps with their pacing because if they know they have to put in that effort at the end then they will pace it more sensibly early on. Genius!

My average pace for the 11.75 miles run was 9:45 so once again I was really pleased with the run. That took me to 50.24 miles for the week and 797.46 miles for the year so I’m ahead of my red line which is what I need to do to achieve 2017 miles for the year.

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Lessons learnt from Highland Fling

I find it is always good to do a post on lessons I have learnt from an ultra race. So before the race drifts into history I thought I would jot down some key lessons. These are in no particular order.

Kit

I was generally happy with my kit. I wore my tried and trusted outfit. Sketchers Ultra 2, Drymax socks, thigh length skins, Reebox long shorts and my trusted green Ronhill top.

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I carried my North Face Enduro rucksack with windproof top, gloves, hat, camera and compulsory items of emergency survival blanket and mobile phone.

I reckon I didn’t need to carry the windproof top, hat and gloves but you never know what the weather might do.

Food

I managed this pretty well I think. I ate and drank the following …

  • Milngavie to Balmaha: 2 slices of fruit bread with peanut butter and jam
  • Balmaha to Rowardennan: small pot of mashed sweet potato
  • Rowardennan to Inversnaid: small pot of baked beans
  • Inversnaid to Beinglas Farm: Greek style youghat
  • Beinglas Farm to Tyndrum: Fruit pot and a Strawberry Milkshake

Plus I drank 5 x 600ml of Tailwind (neutral flavour)

I carried other bits of food including a Chia bar, youghat covered raisins, 9 bar etc but never ate any of them so I ended up carrying them as I didn’t want to throw them away or leave them at the checkpoint so I ended up with a heavier bag than I needed!

Pacing

I set off with a sub 10:15 plan as my gold goal but the main factor was going to be my heart rate. I was keen to try and keep it around 135 for the whole race.  Once again I realised that it takes a lot of discipline to keep to this.

I would say for the first 27 miles to Rowardennan I was holding myself back. There were several times when I wanted and could have run a bit quicker but I wanted to trust my strategy and see how it would work out.

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This graph of my heart rate shows I was able to stick to my plan and able to finish well with my heart rate around 135 right to the end.

The other indicator for me if I have paced myself well is to see how I got on in relation to the rest of the field. Once the results were published I like to sort them out in time and position for each checkpoint and also split time and position for each checkpoint.

I don’t think the times I had included all the dnfs but this is what I have.

So this is how I got on …

  • Milngavie to Drymen: split 1:53:56 (241st)
  • Drymen to Rowardennan: split 2:53:25 (231st) overall 4:476:21 (221st)
  • Rowardennan to Beinglas Farm: split 3:18:40 (164th) overall 8:06:01 (190th)
  • Beinglas Farm to Tyndrum: split 2:32:49 (142nd) overall 10:38:50 (178th)

This is what I would expect if I paced it right. Starting sensibility and slowly working my way through the field. I overtook 63 people after Drymen and my best split in relation to the field was the final one were I was 142nd fastest.

The other good thing for me was how my legs felt. Obviously I knew I had run for 53 miles but I had no major soreness over the next few days. This is always a sign to me that I paced it well and within myself whereas the races I have pushed myself right the limit and beyond I have been really sore for several days.

My right ankle has been a little sore since the race but it has been like that for the past 6 weeks without getting any worse. I gave myself 5 days off from running after the Fling and it is definitely feeling easier.

Preparation for whw

I always like to run the Fling as a race in its own right but I am conscious that the whw race is only 8 weeks later so I want to be able to resume some good training fairly soon. I’m happy that I was able to do that.

I always thought that the Fling would give me a more realistic idea of what I should aim for in the whw race. In 2013 I ran the Fling in 10:05 and the whw in 21:26 so I’m thinking that my three goals for the whw race will be …

  • Bronze – sub 24hrs
  • Silver – sub 23hrs
  • Gold – sub 22hrs 30mins

I think that is realistic and if on the day things are going even better than my gold goal I’ll certainly go with it!

Thoughts on the Fling

Finally just some thoughts on the race as a whole. I have now run 8 Highland Flings but my last one before this year was 2013 so I found it interesting to compare.

The biggest change is just the amount of runners and marshals that are involved. As I took a video clip of the start line it struck me as how much bigger the event is. Plus Katrina was one of the volunteers at the finish so I had a glimpse of the amount of work goes into making the Fling happen so smoothly each year.

Once the race started it felt pretty similar to all the other Flings. A great atmosphere, lots of encouragement from fellow runners and the marshals and a chance to test myself against the terrain and distance.

Obviously there were more people on the track but where I was it wasn’t an issue and in fact meant there was always someone to try and catch or stay ahead of!

So congratulations to John, Noanie and your massive team for making it such an excellent event.

I don’t think I’ll be running next year as it doesn’t fit in with another race I hope to do but I will happily be involved again as a marshal so I can be part of this ultra experience.

 

 

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Hardmoors 200 video

Over this past weekend I had the privilege of being on the support team of my good friends Andy & Sarah Norman as they ran the Hardmoors 200. Yes 200 miles from Kingston upon Hull to Helmsley.

Here is a video I made of their journey. Hopefully it gives an insight into what it takes to attempt this epic race. Hourly updates from Andy & Sarah help to show their progress. It lasts 38 mins so you may need to make a cup of tea!

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