The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Red Moon Rising

My busy weekend has been postponed till next week so quite a leisurely Saturday and Sunday for me. Saturdays long run, if you can call it that, was just 10 miles.  Lynne and Skye decided to go swimming so I parked the car in Ellon, agreed to meet back at the car at four thirty and followed the circular footpath. It was three o'clock so 10 miles in 1 1/2 hours was going to be a tall order, particularly with the ice under foot. The footpath was well trodden which made it very slippery so I headed down to the river and made my way to the disused railway. The path here improved slightly, still well used but not enough to turn to ice. A flat disused railway line isn't exactly hill work training required for the whw race but it was quite hard work running through the snow. I ran South until near enough Undy Station, turned and made my way back to Ellon as the light faded. On the way back I was treated to a spectacular moon rise, I took a few pictures but the smart phone just didn't do it justice. I'm going to have to invest in a new camera by the looks of it.

 It was dark by the time I got back to Ellon, half an hour late, much to the annoyance of Coach and daughter - oops!

Next weekend is the busy one and with 32 miles to run in two days I'm going to have to adjust the training program. 18 miles midweek will be split over Tuesday and Wednesday. The 20 mile long run will have to be done Friday morning before work. Usually I do this around Aberdeen but I'm toying with the idea of running from my house to work, something I haven't done before.

Wed 4 miles Thurs 3 miles Fri 3 miles Sat 10 miles Sun 8 miles  Weekly total 28 miles.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Buchan and Formartine Way

Twenty miles, that was my long run on Saturday and it was quite a shock to the system. Like most of the country it was snowing so full winter kit was required. For convenience it was back to the local roads around Deershire, dodging the traffic until a few precious miles on the Buchan and Formartine disused railway line.
This was the highlight of Saturdays run where I had the countryside all to myself apart from Highland cattle between Maud and Auchnagatt.

Once again I ran out of energy on the long run and was forced into a run / walk strategy for the last few miles. Crikey, surely this has to improve. I'm switching between running too fast and walking, unable to run at a steady ultra pace. The fuel on this outing was two Aberdeen rolls topped with cheese so maybe the diet has something to do with it.

Sunday was 10 miles, again on local roads but podcast 30 helped pass the time. After this weekend I thought I was doing too much too soon (42 miles weekly total) but checking back this time last year I did 38   miles so not much difference there. The week ahead is a low mileage week which is welcome as I have a very busy weekend ahead.

Tues 4 miles Wed 4 miles Thurs 4 miles Sat 20 miles Sun 10 miles  Weekly total 42 miles.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Brimmond Hill

A later than usual post from me on last weekends training due to an incident that cut short my run on Sunday so I'll concentrate on Saturdays run.

I decided to do the weekend long run straight from work which would allow me to train in the forests and small hills around Dyce and Bucksburn. The rain was lashing down so I didn't mind working into the afternoon, waiting for the conditions to improve. I fueled up with a pot noodle, half a banana and a yorkie bar. Yep, I've still to sort out the diet! I set off through the industrial estate and made my way to Kirkhill Forest. The rain had abated allowing me to take a few pictures, this helped to keep me interested during the run which would take around three and a half hours.

Forest machinery had turned the track into a quagmire, there was no escape from the mud and wet so two miles in and my feet were soaked. I don't usually worry about this but my toe nails have nearly returned to normal after last years WHW race. I remind myself to take more care of my feet in future and not lose nails and suffer with blisters this year.

I had a good steady run through the forest, very picturesque in the wet and cloudy conditions. Kirkhill forest is split by the A96, locally known as the Tyrebagger. It's a fast dual carriageway so I took care crossing over    and made my way through the forest and onto the hills.

Going up Elrick hill I could see some winter sun in the distance but there was none to be had here, in fact the weather was closing in with rain turning to snow. It was a steep and muddy descent off Elrick so I took no chances and carefully walked down and made my way to Brimmond.

Brimmond is a small hill which overlooks Dyce and Aberdeen, a tarred road is in place for utility vehicles servicing communication towers. It's one mile long and a good little hill work to the top where the saltire flies.
On a good day you overlook Aberdeen to the North Sea but not today. After descending Brimmond I crossed the road and joined forest trails skirting Craibstone Golf Course. It was getting dark and I regretted not taking my head torch. The trails were carved up by mountain bikes which made running treacherous.
I slid in the mud at one section and landed heavily on my wrist face down. I'm not usually prone to slipping or tripping but I seem to be making a habit of it lately.

Right, first thing first. Get up and check if anyone is around to witness the fall. Nope, I'm all alone so pride intact.

Next, make sure the wrist is okay - I can move it without any pain.

Next, check I still have my keys - still in my pocket.

Next, check the phone - still in my pocket and intact.

Off I went, slipping and sliding again, thankful I hadn't been injured. I made my way through Craibstone Agricultural College and on to Forret Brae. I reminisced here as this was my paper round when I was young. I ran familiar routes through Bucksburn and made my way to the Howes Road. It's pitch black now but I'm perfectly comfortable running without a torch as I know the area like the back of my hand. The burn is in spate with the recent rain, noisy and fast flowing by the side of the road. I can just make out something, or things in the dark. There's a mad panic as I disturb three of four deer which splash through the burn and climb the bank on the other side. They scarper from the rude intrusion and disappear over the fields.

I rejoined Bucksburn and made my way back to Dyce, feeling a bit tired and doing a run / walk strategy. I was out of energy and had to pass a Tandoori restaurant on my way. That was torture, I pictured myself walking in and placing an order but I still had three miles to go. The rain came back on heavy, giving me a good soaking before I returned to work and finished the run, thanks a lot!

So first long training run of the year squeezed in during a busy weekend, I'm happy with that but I have a feeling there will be a few more tough runs during January and February.

Saturday 18 miles, Sunday 06 miles. Weekly total 38 miles.


Thursday, 10 January 2013


I'm a wee bit apprehensive, I don't feel as focused on the big race as I was this time last year. Looking back, it took a while to get onto the running programme due to injury so it felt such a relief to start getting the miles in and work towards my first WHW. Touch wood, I've got no injury niggles this time but I am just not enjoying the outings as short as they are at this time of year. I'm struggling to get into any sort of rhythm and don't feel relaxed enough to up the miles.

I need the structure of a training programme, this makes sure I get out and put the miles in so I did a quick search for a replacement of my usual plan. Unfortunately I couldn't find one that recommended short training runs and a loose reign to eat junk food, consume alcohol and lounge on the sofa watching TV. So I found one that is remarkably similar to the last one but with a wee bit more miles. I looked for an "Intermediate" training plan but couldn't find such thing during my 5 minute search, all were geared towards a first ultra.

I entered the schedule into my calender, 22nd June back to this Saturday and took a double take at the miles asked - 18 Saturday and 10 Sunday. A weekend on call with snow and ice forecast means I'm going to struggle with this. I need to start getting prepared, mentally more than physically, to take on my second West Highland Way Race.

Tues 6 miles, Wed 4 miles, Thurs 4 miles.    

Thursday, 3 January 2013

2013 training begins.

It was time to start training yesterday, time to burn off the good food and alcohol of the festive season. Rain and cloud soon cleared to leave a beautiful sunny day, perfect for the first run of the year. Back to the Braes for me and I was surprised to find the car park empty. Off I went, iTunes on, soaking up the scenery and happy to be trail running on my own. I tried to run down the steep muddy descent leading to the river but came close to crashing down, the Hokas had no grip at all on the treacherous surface. I ended up taking it easy, doing a sort of sideways shuffle, clinging onto the gorse and bushes by the side of the track. It wasn't elegant and not the image you would expect from someone training to run a 95 mile ultra. It's just as well no-one was to be seen as things didn't improve once I reached the river bank.

I just couldn't find grip and struggling to keep upright I couldn't work out why a track I've run plenty of times in the past was proving so difficult. It was after another couple of slippery incidents that I came upon the flattened reed beds in the valley. The Ythan had burst it's banks recently after the torrential rain. Where I was running would have been under water and the track had not drained properly.

Squirrel Bridge

Once I reached the forest track I could finally get a decent run going. The late afternoon sun appeared, showing the beauty of the Braes at its best.

As I continued the run it dawned on me I wasn't as fit as I should be. On this familiar route I found myself walking hills that would normally be run with ease, an indicator on how my winter training,or rather lack of it, has affected my fitness. There's a bit of work to do so I'll have to roll up my sleeves and get going. While on the subject of fitness, I've always followed the Hal Higdon plan for Ultras, based upon training for the Comrades Marathon which has served me well. It has to be said this is a perfectly good plan which has seen me through every Ultra race I have started but now I feel the need for a change. At this stage I'm not sure what kind of training programme I will follow or if the existing one needs tweaked but I suppose it will come down to the time available for training.

On the way back I encountered a few dog walkers enjoying the winter sunshine. I rounded the corner and startled a German Shepherd with it's owners. The petrified canine took off in the opposite direction and needed to be consoled by it's walkers before I could continue, a lighthearted encounter and end to the run.

Races for 2013 will be used for training leading to the WHW, just as I did last year.

Highland Fling

Thursday 10 miles. MP3 of the week - "I'm not giving in" by Rudimental.