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 …

Screenshot 2019-01-29 at 06.29.35

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

Screenshot 2019-02-02 at 17.05.25

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 ..


Setting off from the car park


Sun rising over the peaks as we climb An Caisteal


Time for a selfie!


View from An Caisteal


View from Beinn Tulaichean


View from Beinn Tulaichean

Relive view of our run

Summary of the week

Screenshot 2019-02-03 at 13.38.31


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.

Screenshot 2019-02-03 at 13.48.28

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


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

Screenshot 2019-01-31 at 18.36.07

Screenshot 2019-01-31 at 18.20.04

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

Screenshot 2019-01-31 at 23.41.03

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.

Screenshot 2019-01-31 at 18.22.33

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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
screenshot 2019-01-26 at 20.20.27

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.


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!!


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!!


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

screenshot 2019-01-27 at 10.05.29

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

screenshot 2019-01-27 at 09.44.19

Photo of the week

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



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Dragon’s Back Training Week 2

Another solid week of getting some miles in with some more ascent.

Monday 14th January – Club Fartlek Session

  • 8.12 miles in 1:06:33
  • Ascent – 226ft

The session this week was 6 x 5mins with a 2min recovery. We started from the same point each time and ran the same loop so it gave everyone a target to aim for.

I was really pleased with my effort over the whole session and my distances for each 5min effort were very consistent ….

  • 0.75 miles
  • 0.75 miles
  • 0.75 miles
  • 0.75 miles
  • 0.74 miles
  • 0.76 miles

So my total distance for the 30mins was 4.50 miles. I was very happy with that and I’m encouraged by how I’m running at this stage of my training.

Tuesday 15th January – HillFit exercises

I did one set of each of the four exercises.

Wednesday 16th January – Hill Reps

  • 6.81 miles in 1:06:33
  • Ascent – 820ft

I had a busy day at work with the second of our Super 7 Athletics events at the Emirates Arena which went well.

So I ran after work and I decided I’d like to try the hill reps on the Gleniffer Braes that I did at the end of my run on Saturday with Cammie.

I ran the 1.80 miles to the start of the hill and then ran up and down 3 times. It was getting dark as I ran but I just about got away with it without a head torch.

Here is the map and a profile of the run …

screenshot 2019-01-16 at 19.18.47

screenshot 2019-01-16 at 19.18.17

I would like to do this fairly regularly  over the next few months so I thought I would keep a record of my splits so I can compare as the weeks go by.

screenshot 2019-01-16 at 19.16.56

It is always interesting to see that the ascent and descent is different for each hill rep even though it is the same route!

I was happy to see that the final rep was the fastest.

Thursday 17th January – Lunchtime Off Road Run

  • 6.56 miles in 59:35
  • Ascent – 443ft

This is probably the most frequent run that I’ve done over the past year or two. My office is based at St Paul’s HS which is only half a mile from Pollok Park. This route is my off road route as the vast majority of the route is off road on paths and grass.

Any time under 60mins is a good effort for me so I was happy with how I felt on this run.

Friday 18th January – Run over 3 mountains

  • Weight – 12st 2 1/8lbs (lost 2 7/8lbs since last Friday)
  • 11.76 miles in 4:18:38
  • Ascent – 5130ft

I don’t normally run on a Friday but I had one Annual Leave left from last year so decided to go for a run. Fortunately my friend Cammie also had a day left so he joined me.

I picked Cammie up at 7am and we started from Arrochar just after 8am.

Cammie chose the route and he took us up the Cobbler, Ben Ime and Ben Narnain. The conditions were excellent with blue skies. It was very icy underfoot (we wore spikes) and it was very windy on the tops but we both had a great time.

screenshot 2019-01-18 at 15.47.41


Cammie heading up the Cobbler


Cammie on the top of Ben Narnain


I also took a short video of our run ….

Sunday 20th January – Gleniffer Braes with Katrina

  • 10.09 miles in 2:10:15
  • Ascent – 993ft

I normally like to run early on a Sunday before heading to church but we had family staying for the weekend and we were in charge of four of our grandchildren from 7am!

So we decided to run after they had all left. Katrina was keen to come with me so we packed the head torches and set off for the Braes at 4.15pm. We had a great run and finished in the dark.

screenshot 2019-01-20 at 19.02.14

Summary for the week

I ran 43.34 miles this week which included 7612ft of ascent so pleased with that!

screenshot 2019-01-20 at 18.57.24

I’m only 10 miles behind my 2019 miles plan which. We have a 30 mile run with the whw group next Saturday so hopefully I’ll catch up over this next week!

screenshot 2019-01-20 at 18.50.58


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LOVEultras 043 Dragon’s Back 18 weeks to go

In my latest vlog LOVEultras 043 I chat about my training plans for the Dragon’s Back.

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Dragon’s Back Training Week 1

My big race for 2019 is the iconic Dragon’s Back. It is a 5 day stage race along the spine of Wales from North to South.  I’m really looking forward to it but I’m under no illusions that it is going to be tough and at the limit of my ability to complete.

Basically I won’t have too much room for error so I want to give myself the best chance possible to complete the race. Last year I have reccied the first 3 days over 3 weekends with my good friend Andy Cole. We have planned to cover the days 4 & 5 over 3 days on April.

So I have a good idea of what I need to do training wise to prepare myself for this race. My plan is to run 5 times a week. One of the things I’m going to record is the amount of ascent I do each week. I’ll be aiming for at least 5,000ft of ascent every week once I get going.

This first week I wanted to establish a pattern of running five times a week. Since my final ultra (Hardwolds 80) in November I have been ticking over running 3-4 times a week.

Monday 7th Jan – Club Fartlek Session

  • 8.25 miles – 1:08:42
  • Ascent – 259ft

screenshot 2019-01-11 at 06.40.58

There were a good group of 12 runners. We run round and round the Linwood parkrun course. The two loops are about mile.

The session was [3mins (90 secs recovery), 2mins (1min), 1min (30 secs)] x 5.

I was keen to start steady and try and keep a steady pace going throughout. I averaged 6:43 pace throughout the session and ran 4.46 miles for the 30mins of ‘on running’.

I was quite happy with this first session.

Wednesday 9th Jan – Road run

  • 6.33 miles in 57:39 (9:06 pace)
  • Ascent – 377ft

screenshot 2019-01-11 at 06.42.06

I had a busy day at work so couldn’t run at lunchtime. So I ran after work which meant a run in the dark. I chose a route which had a few hills to try and add a few more feet to the run.

I purposely ran as easily as possible and didn’t push too hard. It felt good and legs felt okay after Monday’s session.

Thursday 10th Jan – Conic Hill run

  • 10.78 miles in 2:16:51 (12:41 pace)
  • Ascent – 1604ft

screenshot 2019-01-11 at 06.42.37

I’m planning to try and do a hill run each Thursday. I’m starting with Conic Hill and then I’ll be climbing Ben Lomond once I get going.

Katrina was keen to join me so we met up after work and drove to Drymen. We set off at 4.30pm in the fading light. We put our head torches on after about 35mins. It was a pretty dark evening but quite mild.

We took it steady and walked when we wanted to. It gave me a good bench mark for where I am at the moment.

Friday 11th Jan – HillFit exercises

HillFit is a ebook written by Chris Highcock. I reviewed it a few years ago but haven’t been doing the four exercises for a number of years. I decided it would be good to try and do them a couple of times a week. They are designed specifically to strengthen the muscles needed for hill walking

screenshot 2019-01-13 at 15.24.14

The other thing I’m going to do if weigh myself each Friday morning. My target weight for the Dragon’s Back is 11st 10lbs.

  • Weight 12st 5lbs

Saturday 12th Jan – Gleniffer Braes

  • 15.80 miles in 2:55:02 (11:04 pace)
  • Ascent – 1860ft

screenshot 2019-01-12 at 13.57.38

My good friend Cammie was keen to join me so we met up at 8am and set off for our regular run. Cammie is having a go at the Bob Graham round in June so we are hoping to share some training sessions over the next few months as we are both wanting to do lots of hill runs.

We had a great run this morning as we chatted the whole way round. It was good to catch up with our various news.

The loop is 12 miles and I wanted to do 15 miles so I gave Cammie the choice of doing another smaller loop or do 3 hill reps at the end. I was happy when Cammie opted for the hill reps as it gave me more ascent.

The hill we ran up is pretty steep so a really good effort. We ran for 0.54 miles and then ran back down.

Here is the profile of the whole route and you can see the hill  reps at the end.

screenshot 2019-01-12 at 12.58.29

The 3 reps took me …

  • 10:17
  • 9:41
  • 9:36

I think I will be repeating these hill reps and I may well just do the hill reps on their own.

screenshot 2019-01-12 at 16.49.55

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Sunday 13th Jan – Road run

  • 6.53 miles in 56:11 (8:35 pace)
  • Ascent – 354ft

screenshot 2019-01-13 at 10.03.49

I was out at 8.30am for an easy run before church. It was very windy so the first couple of miles were with the wind and I was flying along but the last two miles were into the wind and a bit slower!!

Summary for the week …

screenshot 2019-01-13 at 15.21.07

I didn’t reach 5,000ft ft ascent for the week but it does give me a bench mark to aim for.

I’m also going to aim to run 2019 miles in 2019. I’m slightly behind after 13 days but hopefully I’ll soon catch up!

screenshot 2019-01-13 at 09.50.07

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