Report on Two Day Training Run

Day One – Saturday 21st May 2011
Balmaha to Bridge of Orchy – 40.53miles

I’d been looking forward to this two day training run as it’s a great opportunity to train and run on the whw. Ross Moreland, who I’ve been running with a lot this year, was also keen to join me. Ross drove over to Paisley on Friday night and we enjoyed a lovely Pasta meal – thanks Katrina.

After a leisurely breakfast we left home about 8.30am and arrived at Balmaha at 9.30am where Marc Casey and his family were waiting for us. Marc was joining us for the Saturday. I took our bag over to Oak Tree Hotel where AMS bag service were going to pick it up and take it to Bridge of Orchy.

So after the obligatory photo we set off about 9.40am …

Marc, me and Ross

Balmaha to Rowardennan – 7.81miles in 1hr 29mins 28secs (11.27pace)
I had my splits from this training run in 2009 and wanted to use them as a rough guide. I decided though to not look at them until I reached the mini-split and then see how I was getting on.

I was slightly concerned that Marc and Ross might pull me along a little quicker than I wanted to go but I needn’t have worried as they were happy to run at my pace.

We started off in decent weather. I wore a short sleeved top and felt just about right.

I’d run with Marc a bit on last year’s whw but it was really good to get to know him better. Last year he finished the whw race in 19hrs 51mins 36secs (which is 23secs faster than my pb!!) and paced it really well. He has a very efficient running style and we spent a good part of the time chatting about race plans, training as well as lots of other family/work/sport issues.

For most of the way Ross led the way, then Marc then me. I was keen to take lots of photos to do a slide show of the run so I have lots of pictures of Ross and Marc’s backs!

We arrived at Rowardennan right on the 1.30 plan.

Rowardennan to Inversnaid – 7.24miles in 1hr 21mins 34secs (11.16pace)
We didn’t stop at Rowardennan as we were all happy to keep moving. It was cold but not bad at this point.

My two main objectives over the weekend were to work on my pace and my food. I’d planned to eat something every 45mins and I had a variety of food. First on the menu was a honey sandwich which went down well.

Then between Rowardennan and Inversnaid I had a peanut butter and jam sandwich. I was also taking my succeed tablets every 90mins or so.

We had one or two showers during this leg but nothing too bad. There was no wind so it was good running conditions.

There were plenty of walkers on the route and they were all wrapped all nice and warm. I often wonder what they think of us as we run by in our shorts and t-shirts!

Soon enough Inversnaid Hotel arrived where we stopped for a 6min break. I enjoyed my mashed potato with cheese.

Inversnaid to Beinglas Farm – 6.68miles in 1hr 31mins 15secs (13.40 pace)
With fuller stomachs we set off for Beinglas. I was ready first so had a bit of a head start but by the time we reached Rob Roys cave Ross and Marc had caught up and our established order was resumed!

We all agreed it was so much easier doing this section with only 15miles in your legs rather than 35miles!

Over the next hour or so the rain became heavier and more persistent. I was quite surprised with just how much water was flowing off the hill side. We certainly weren’t short of places to replenish our water bottles.

What a contrast it was to three weeks ago in the Fling when the path was really dry and the streams a trickle.

As always it was good to get through the tough bit after Inversnaid and head down to Beinglas. By now I was soaked through and getting a bit cold. This can be a tricky time because you’re not too cold but your body is having to work hard to stay warm.

We arrived together at Beinglas a few minutes under my planned 1hr 35mins.

We had another stop to eat. For me this was a lovely thick and creamy youghat. It went down a treat. I also decided to put on a clean top. I figured since I carried it I might as well wear it.

Beinglas Farm to Auchtertyre – 9.54miles in 2hrs 11mins 21secs (13.46pace)
I felt good with some more food and a clean top and the next mini section to Derrydarouch felt comfortable.

The rain was coming and going but with no wind it wasn’t too bad. I was really pleased with my new shoes. They definitely give me a lot more protection on the stony paths and were comfortable.

I made sure I didn’t bang my head this time we went under the railway line ….

We ran steadily up past the ‘smelly’ farm and in Bogle Forest. I like this forest section and even though there are a lot of ups and down the time passes and you get down to the road.

By now we were once again really soaked and it was getting colder. Ross suggested stopping to put on our rain jackets but we decided we might as well get to Auchtertyre and do it then in our break.

That section had taken 10mins longer than planned but I was feeling fine and our overall time was still 10mins up on plan!

So after a 7min stop to refuel – baked beans for me! we were off for our final leg to Bridge of Orchy.

Auchtertyre to Bridge of Orchy – 9.26miles in 1hr 38mins (10.38pace)
It was a good job we put on our jackets as the rain was even stronger and it was getting a fair bit colder as well.

A good steady run into Tyndrum. Ross decided that his legs were far too dirty to be seen running through Tyndrum so he waded into the river and give them a good wash. Marc and I were quite happy to have dirty legs!

We climbed out of Tyndrum then we ran right along the path alongside the road before climbing up and running down to the railway line.

Once under the railway tunnel I like to run all the way to the bridge at the bottom. In the race I feel if I can still run that section confortably I’m hopeful of a good time. Last year this is were I struggled big time. I wonder what state I’ll be in a few weeks time?

We ran the last 3miles or so into Bridge of Orchy at an average pace of around 9.45, our fastest of the day. I think we were all ready for a hot shower and some food!

Ross and Marc pulled away up the long incline to the railway bridge but I set myself the challenge of running the whole way which I did.

Over the last hour or so I’d suggested to Ross and Marc that if they wanted to push on that was fine but they were both happy to stay together. In fact a couple of times I saw them glancing behind to make sure I was still with them! Thanks guys.

We finished the 40.65miles in 8hrs 16mins 34secs at an average pace of 12.15mins per mile. When I did this two day run in 2009 it took me 8hrs 18mins 19secs

Within a few minutes we had booked into the Bunkhouse, collect our bag and found a shower though it did take me three attempts to find one that worked!! But it was worth it.

As I showered I also drank my recovery drink I’d put in the bag as I knew it was key to start the recovery process asap if I wanted my muscles to be ready for tomorrow. I think I made it a bit thick though as I had to squeeze had to get it out the bottle!
There is nothing better than a nice hot shower after a run when you’ve been soaked several times.

Marc grabbed a shower and then headed off with his wife and two children for their treat – fish and chips at the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum. I really enjoyed running with Marc and I’m expecting great things from him on 18th June.

Ross and I went down to the resteraunt where we really enjoyed our butternut squash soup and fish and chips with a couple of pints of coke for Ross and orange and lemonade for me!

After our meal we chatted to a father and son Alex who are walking the whw over 8days. They are really enjoying it despite the weather.

At 10pm or so we wandered off to bed. The third person in our room hadn’t arrived so we settled into bed thinking we had the room to ourselves.

At about 11pm with the lights off and just falling asleep a guy opens the door! He says he came up from London by flight then train but fell alseep, missed the Bridge of Orchy stop and had to get a taxi back from Fort William!

Needless to say it took a while to get back to sleep especially as he went off for ages before coming back and putting the light on to make his bed!

Day Two – Sunday 21st May 2011
Bridge of Orchy to Fort William – 35.89miles
I woke in the morning and was quite happy to realise that my legs felt fine. We went down to breakfast at 7.30am and stocked up on porridge then scrabbled egg, bacon, sausage and toast.
We reckoned that would keep us going for the first 2-3hrs! It was raining as we eat but the sky did look a little promising. The forecast I’d seen on Friday said Sunday would be a better day.
Our train from Fort William was at 17.37 so I wanted to get to the end by 5pm at the latest. In 2009 it took me just under 7hrs. I added on an hour in case we were slower so aimed to leave at 9am.
Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe Ski Lodge – 10.82miles in 2hrs 08min 38secs (11.20pace)
We both felt really good setting off and soon settled into an easy pace walking up the hill and running down to Inveroran.
We passed a few walkers who had set off before us.

Ross running down the hill to Inveroran
We passed the Father and Son combo at the Victoria Bridge Car Park. They had been trying to work out where we would pass them and I got the impression the Dad won.
We had started off wearing our rain jackets but within 15mins had taken them off as the rain stopped.
We both enjoy the Rannoch Mor and we made good time walking up the hill and then running the rest. Once again we ran in the same formation but without Marc in the middle!
Ross sets a good steady pace and I’m happy to follow but I ran at my own pace and if this meant letting Ross go ahead a bit that was fine. At one point Ross stopped to get some food and I carried on walking up the long hill.
A female walker came the other way and said to me, ‘So you’re running to Fort William today.’ I was surprised that it was a statement and not a question. When she saw the look on my face she added, ‘I read your blog last night!’ So whoever you are – thanks!
We ran in to Glencoe still feeling good and just a couple of minutes outside my plan. Once again I’d not really looked at my watch so was happy to pace myself more by feel.
We had a 6min stop at the car park. Mashed potato for me. I hadn’t felt like eating much until then as my stomach was full from breakfast.
Glencoe Ski Lodge to Kinlochleven – 10.47miles in 2hrs 11mins 47secs (12.35pace)
As we set off down the road to Kingshouse we looked left towards Glencoe and all we could see was black clouds and rain.
So just before we went past Kingshouse Hotel Ross suggested we put on our rain jackets and I’m glad he did as the next few hours were very wet and very cold.
The wind and rain was right in our faces. I tried to run behind Ross as much as I could as he makes a good wind break!
Once again we were passing a lot of walkers who presumably had started at Kingshouse. I must admit I’d much rather be running in the rain than walking.
We got to Altnateadh and set off up the Devil’s Staircase. I led the way for the first few minutes but then Ross powered up with me in his wake.
Half way up the hill I glanced at my garmin only to discover it had stopped! I must have pressed the stop button at some point. Fortunately I also had my ordinary stop watch on so could work out that I’d lost about 35mins.
When I saw Ross at the top he’d had a worse disaster though … his red bull can had burst open and soaked his blackberry so if you’ve not had a text from him you know why!
We asked a walker to take this photo of us at the top …

I think you can see that we were pretty wet by now.
Over the next hour or so into Kinlochleven we experienced all sorts of weather – rain, hail, gale force wind and for a brief 5mins or so some sun!
Ross pushed on a few times and then waited for me to catch up. It was clear he was running really strongly and I encouraged him to push on but once again he was happy to stay together.
As we descended into Kinlochleven in became warmer as we out of the battering wind and rain.
I was quite surprised that we were only 10mins behind my plan but nearer 15mins behind 2009’s run. I must have a look back and see what the weather was like then!
We sat in the bus shelter and took some more food on board. Another lovely thick and creamy yoghurt for me and half my chocolate milk shake.
Kinlochleven to Lundavra – 7.61miles in 1hr 53mins 15secs (14.53pace)
As we set off another couple of runners came by. When we caught them up we asked were they doing the race. One was and the other was his support runner. Hope they had a good run but we didn’t see them again.
We climbed up the hill together and then set off on the Lairigmor. By now it had stopped raining but was still quite windy.
Once again Ross was running strongly and a few times a gap opened and then he’d slow down and I’d catch up.
As we walked up a longish hill I really encouraged Ross to push on this time. We had about 10miles to go and we weren’t really running together at this point as Ross would run on, then wait.
He was a little reluctant but I think he realised it made sense. I was feeling good and running fine but Ross is going great and I was keen for him to push himself over the final leg.
So once we’d got to the top of the rise he was away and the next time I saw him was in Fort William Train Station!
So for the first time over the weekend I was on my own and it was good practise as more than likely I’ll be on my own in the whw race.
I knew I was going to be 45mins slower than 2009 but most of that is down to the weather. On the other hand my legs felt fine. I was eating well and felt my legs had enough energy to run.
The wind though just got stronger and stronger and I found it quite hard to run downhill into that wind.
So I ran where I could and eventually made my way to Lundavra 23mins slower than planned!
Lundavra to Fort William – 6.99miles in 1hr 24mins 09secs (12.02pace)
When Ross and I ran in early April we had to go down the road to Fort William because of the logging going on so I was really interested to see what difference it had made.

For the first 2.5miles there is no difference but then suddenly you come out of a tree tunnel and wow it’s all gone ….

This used to be a forest of trees you ran through. Now it’s all gone. It also has the disadvantage of seeing just how steep that last hill is!
Once at the top I took off my rain jacket and set off to run all the way down to Fort William which I did except for odd pause now and then for a photo.
I arrived at the leisure centre in 7hrs 46mins 22secs for the 35.89miles which works out at 12.02pace.
At least it was sunny in Fort William.
I walked over to the train station where Ross was waiting. He’d finished about 15mins earlier. We got our drop bag from the station locker where AMS had left it for us.
It was almost 5pm and so there was no time to go back to the leisure centre for a shower but to my great joy there were showers at the station. The best £3.50 I’d spent in ages!!
We really enjoyed the train journey back to Glasgow as we chatted with an American girl Lesley and a couple of guys from Glasgow who gave Ross lots of stick for being a Fifer and me for being a Scouser!
So despite the tough weather it was a great weekend and I enjoyed the challenge of running for two days. Debs sent me a text saying, ‘…. and to think we were moaning about the sun during the Fling!’
So thanks to Ross and Marc for your company.
As I type this a day later my legs feel fine. My plan is to have an easy run on Wednesday and then join friends for an midnight run from Milngavie to Balmaha before beginning a 3 week taper.
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2 Responses to Report on Two Day Training Run

  1. Silke says:

    Sounds like you had a good training weekend! See you soon. Silke

  2. Santababy says:

    great work John, i've yet to work out my splits as i ran with watch instead of garmin but recorded the splits.
    Think you were problably enjoying it more than i was i have to say!

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