The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Monday, 25 February 2013

A glutton for monotony

Apologies for the negative post but I need to log the bad as well as the good. I just can't get into training at the moment. I am doing the miles but it feels like a chore. I have no spark and seem to be dreading the higher distances the program will soon demand. It was recovery week last week, the lower miles should have allowed me to recharge the batteries, ready to up the distance but it doesn't feel like it. I'm struggling to fit the runs into a busy schedule and it's such a relief to complete even the shortest of runs. I'm getting a pep talk from coach as I write this who advises me to take a week off. With a 25 mile long run to do this weekend and a night out on Saturday it looks like I will run into work on Friday morning because I'm a stubborn old git who refuses to listen to coach.

Tues 2 miles Wed 4 miles Thurs 6 miles Sat 10 miles Sun 8 miles  Weekly total 30 miles.  

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


Not much to report from the Deer camp this week. Wednesday night I did a very slippery 8 miles around Haddo Estate, falling on my backside four times in the first mile before giving up on the grassy trails and sticking to footpaths and roads. Snow on top of slush on top of wet grass did me no favours at all.

Saturday was 22 miles round the local roads taking in the Braes before heading back to New Deer. Another run with not enough to eat (a muller rice) and dehydration, I ran out of juice at 17 miles. On the way back a truck passed and left me with it's fumes, not the usual diesel fumes this time but the smell of chips, it was obviously fuelled by vegetable oil which added to my hunger.

Sunday was round the local roads but this time accompanied by Coach and Daughter who were doing their respective training mileage. Skye did 1.5 miles non stop which was a good result after pulling out of Marcothon with a chest infection. Hopefully Skye can get up to 3 miles in time for the WHW race where she will accompany me between Auchtertyre and Tyndrum. Lynne is now up to 4 miles in her training for the Garioch 10k. Coach did have some negative thoughts after her run, she needed reminding on how well she is doing and how far she has come in the quest to run her first 10k.

So all going well but I think I need a change of scenery for the long runs.

Tues 4 miles Wed 8 miles Thurs 4 miles Sat 22 miles Sun 12 miles  Weekly total 50 miles.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

City Run

Another busy weekend schedule meant an adjustment to the training program. The long run had to be done on Friday so it was time for the early morning city run before work. Getting up at 0330 was difficult but I had to be in Dyce for 0500. This hobby takes a lot of commitment, the WHW race in particular. I must get the miles in to be confident on the start line, regardless of the time of day or weather.
It was cold and dark when I set off on the run which was roughly the same route as the one blogged last April.

A bottle of juice and a banana was all I took on this jaunt. There's been a posting on Facebook regarding running on empty and whether it helps during training. I realise that most of my long runs have been done with little or no food, I really am struggling to eat enough as I never have an appetite. Sometimes I can't even face my favorite foods preferring quick (and short) sugar snacks. I've mentioned this in my blog before  
so I must get this sorted for future races.

I parked at work and ran through deserted streets toward the coast. It was dry at this point but I could tell this wasn't going to last. I reached Aberdeen harbour and the 24 hour gym where a few pristine people were on treadmills staring out the window as I passed wearing winter apparel. I was glad to be on the outside.

At the city centre I took two bites of the banana and binned the rest, I really don't like fruit. On my return leg to Dyce the wind got up and carried sleet with it. It was a dull morning where it took ages for the light to break through. At Bucksburn the traffic was nose to tail where I took great delight making faster progress than commuters trying to get to work. I had to tag a couple of miles on to take the run to 20 before reaching my workplace.

Not too bad a run if a little dull but I'm looking forward to doing long runs at the weekends again and should start hitting the hills soon.

Tues 4 miles Wed 4 miles Thurs 4 miles Fri 20 miles Sat 16 miles  Weekly total 48 miles.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013


an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment. (

Best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray. A heavy workload meant the planned midweek miles went out the window. A lowly 4 miles Tuesday, 4 miles Wednesday meant I had a lot of catching up to do if I was to stick to the mileage required last week. I couldn't make the planned run into work happen on Friday morning so I had to come up with a strategy to get the miles done before the weekend. There was only one thing for it, run home from work on Thursday evening. On Tuesday the weather forecast wasn't too bad, dry with light winds. They got it wrong once again, it rained all day Thursday which would dampen my enthusiasm for this wee trip. After work I put on the full winter running gear, this was not what I expected but if I have an idea to do something it must be carried out, the stubborn streak shone through.

Iv'e run and posted about the Buchan and Formartine Way a couple of times lately and it takes up a large part of this training run. Like many rail routes it fell victim to the Beeching cuts in 1965 which is incredible considering the development and expansion of north sea oil. There's talk lately of reinstating this line but having run most of it over the years I just can't see it happening.

At 1800 I left and ran through the industrial estate in Dyce, it's only half a mile before reaching the solitude of the railway line, away from the rush hour traffic trying to leave the area. I crossed a couple of bridges over the queuing traffic, that's where I would normally be if I drove home tonight and there's something quite satisfying leaving the motorists behind, even though there's a long way to go. I clicked on the head torch, put on a marathon talk podcast and made steady progress towards Newmachar.

Door to door by road my commute to work is 26 miles. Looking at Google maps, I figured the B & F Way was a more direct route north. I very roughly estimated a run of around 20 miles, maybe a bit more. For this reason I had no food with me and only one bottle of juice, a foolhardy decision.

Just beyond Newmachar I was surprised to come across a few deep snow drifts, stubbornly clinging on and not giving in to the thawing rain. Luckily they were few and far between, I didn't want to run through any more snow. I averaged around 10.30 minute miles at this stage which suited me fine as I was hoping to be home around 2200. I made my way for Udny Station, the place I ran to last week, only this time the snow and ice had disappeared. From there it was steady downhill run to cross the River Ythan at Ellon, my watch informed me 13 miles had been covered in 2 hours 15 minutes. 

Its an uphill gradient from here and I felt it in my legs, it also showed on the watch where my miles per minute crept up. The   temperature dropped as I left Ellon behind causing rain to turn to snow. I passed through a plantation of birch trees, their skeletal trunks reflecting the beam from my head torch. I reached Drumwhindle where I had to leave the trail and run mostly   uphill on the back roads to New Deer. It was 16.5 miles when I left the track which meant my estimate of 20 miles total for the run was way off. My juice bottle was finished which made me feel thirsty, I needed a drink. I contemplated knocking on the door of a remote house but I didn't think they would appreciate a stranger turning up and asking for a water bottle top up. Hunger was moving in as I hadn't eaten since lunch time, I was running out of energy and beginning to feel fatigued.

It was during one of the uphill walks that I asked myself what I was doing, wandering along dark country roads dodging the odd car with snow falling. I've run  much further distances in worse weather conditions but on this run my mind went a bit negative. And then it dawned on me, a parasite, I've got an ultra running parasite that's invaded and grown inside. It pops in little ideas and suggestions letting them grow until I decide to do them. An example - not too long ago I was listening to an article in the news, the Moray Coastline is among the top 20 most beautiful coast areas in the world. 
Hmmm - Fraserburgh to Inverness would be a great run to do in the future I thought, or rather ultra parasite suggested! Now the seed has been planted, the idea is going to grow, get nurtured and I'll probably end up doing this in the next couple of years. Top ultra runners are not immune, take Jezz Bragg for instance, at some stage he must have looked at a map of New Zealand and thought - Hmmm.
So what is the ultra parasite, what is is doing and why? Well it's something that's inside me so I'm certainly the host, but is it causing harm? Well if I count  exhaustion, dehydration, hunger, muscle pain and leaving me an emotional wreck then in the short term yes. In the long term it's making me very fit and healthy as I get older which is not normal parasite behavior.   And why? To show me the natural world, to humble, to strip back the layers and leave raw emotion and to be thankful for good health.

At twenty miles I could have phoned coach for a lift but there was no way I was going to give up on my target of running home. The temperature dropped even more as I reached Knaven. I couldn't see ahead for the head torch illuminating my exhaled breath. My body cooled down as I began to walk more frequently but determination got me home. It's hard to believe, but the distance door to door? - 26.2 miles exactly. The time taken was 4 hours 48 minutes for one of the strangest runs I have done, both emotionally and physically. 
Tues 4 miles Wed 4 miles Thurs 26 miles Sat 12 miles  Weekly total 46 miles.