The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Quality not quantity.

Last week was supposed to be recovery week but this didn't happen due to a clash with Fling Training weekend.  During the weekend Marcus Scotney did a presentation, a thoroughly enjoyable but hurried presentation due to time constraints.  One part of the slideshow concentrated on recovery, Marcus emphasised the importance of recovery week and how crucial this is in the training program.  I listened but didn't think it would apply to me.  I have big targets to reach this year so must be able to do big miles I thought to myself.  I fully intended to stick to my program and do the miles requested but it didn't turn out that way.

I hit the midweek targets for a change and squeezed in a visit to the gym.  All was going well but a very busy weekend was looming.  With two days of home improvements and 28 / 15 miles back to back runs something had to give, and yep, it was the running.  This was knocked back even further when a late job came in which meant working Friday evening and Saturday morning.

On Saturday afternoon I finally got out and headed for Bennachie.  It was time for some proper hill running, the first in 2014.  I didn't feel too strong so decided to skirt the base first before hitting the hills.  The legs felt tired walking up the steep slopes but I needed some hill work to strengthen the muscles.  There was a cool breeze as I ran along the plateaux then headed for Mill Stone Hill and the Don View Centre.  The circular route was blocked by fallen trees which turned my run into an out and back. 

Food for this run was a "seed bar thingy" and packet of soft fruit sweets.  Earlier in the day, when I opened the food cupboard and grabbed another "seed bar thingy", the alarm bells should have rang.
The last time I consumed a "seed bar thingy" was the Fling Training run in November where I felt sick as a dog and couldn't wait to finish the run. Now, I ate another bar and immediately felt queasy.
With an hour to run before reaching the car I felt awful and began to retch.  I had the steepest climb of the day to do in a stiff cold breeze feeling sick.  It was getting late in the day and there was no one else around, which was just as well, who would want to bump into a stumbling, snotty, shivering runner on the hills.  Eventually I reached Mither Tap and stumbled downhill to the deserted car park.
To be honest, if that run was a race I would be in trouble, although I did feel a bit better once reaching the car park.

Sunday, home improvement day.  I intended running later in the afternoon once finished, the weather was perfect but I just didn't make it.  Even after supper I tried to rally and do a quick six miles but for some reason felt I needed the rest.  So maybe I should have listened to Marcus, this week should have been a recovery week.  The lower mileage might have been easier to accept if it was planned rather than influenced by fatigue.

Listening for this run were WHW podcasts, these are consistent high quality broadcasts I'd recommend for any ultra runner, I particularly enjoyed the latest featuring Fiona, Amanda and Antonia.

I'm determined to hit the 65 mile training target this week, with a night out planned on Saturday I will have to chop things around a bit.  I also have to fit in the home improvement work, my training  is becoming a struggle.  There's only one way to fit everything in - early morning runs so I can keep on track training for the challenges ahead. 

It's been a while since I've posted a MP3 download, so here's one that got me through the ropey hill run on Saturday - Shenzhou by Steven Price.

Tues 4  Wed 12  Thurs 6  Sat 13.  Weekly total 35 miles.


Monday, 17 February 2014

Fling Training Weekend

This was two out of three Highland Fling Training weekends.  I managed to attend the Saturday run only way back in November, but this time I had the full experience, staying over for good chat, good food, expert presentations and excellent accommodation.

On Friday afternoon I left at 1530, plenty of time for last orders at The Real Food CafĂ©, Tyndrum, or so I thought.  After driving through Perth the weather closed in, the roads were flooded with snow and slush.  Conditions got worse just after Glen Ogle where a half hour hold up put my fish and chips in jeopardy.  I made it with 5 minutes to spare where I met some runners having their supper.

After checking in, a swift pint was consumed in the local before heading back to the Hostel communal kitchen / diner.  It was good to catch up with runners, some already known and some new.
Runners were discussing their route for the next day, some heading north, others driving to Bienglas Farm.  I decided to stick with the latter for two reasons.  First - being an out and back to Rowardennan, I fancied doing the technical loch side section twice giving a good workout.  Second - my roommate was also looking to do the same run so it made sense to start together.

The Saturday dawned and rain cleared leaving a perfect day for training.  We drove to the Farm and got ready for an 0930 departure.  After a couple of photos everyone set off, snaking our way through the wood south towards Loch Lomond.  Snow capped mountains and eventually blue sky was the backdrop for a stunning day, training just doesn't get better than this.

I had a wee mishap just before Inversnaid. After dropping back to photograph the scenery, the iphone started playing up and froze.  I tried to fix it on the run, expertly switching it off and on then took a wrong turn.  Before I knew it, I was perched on slippery rocks by the loch and thinking to myself " I know this is the technical section but I don't remember it being this hard".  A runner shouted after me, advising it was the wrong way.  Before I knew it, I slid and toppled over in what seemed like slow motion.  My right knee and hand took the brunt as my left hand saved the all important communication device, I ended up practically upside down.  The usual reaction kicked in after a fall, get up and get going to save any embarrassment.  A later check found only a bruised and skint knee and bruised hand, all was well. 

We reached Rowardennan, turned round and headed back north.  A steady pace and no more mishaps on the Loch Side found me back at Bienglas at 1600, just as the weather started closing in, perfect timing.

Once all runners were back at the hostel and after some delicious home made soup it was time for a couple of  excellent presentations from Ellen and Marcus before tucking into some lovely food.
A few drinks and some social chat was had before turning in, I needed some beauty sleep before a recovery run on Sunday.

Different models of Hoka shoes were available for trial, I had my eye on the Mafate 3, an ideal opportunity to try before I buy.  A quick blast out to Auchtertyre and back was a test for the shoes which were perfect for my needs and will be the shoe of choice come May.  I liked them so much I bought them there and then.

After watching the running workshop hosted by Marcus it was time to say cheerio and head home.
I decided to go via Fort William, the scenery at Glencoe was absolutely brilliant, every layby was full of sightseers taking pictures of the snow covered mountains.  I had another reason for heading to Fort William, I wanted to check out my route to Ardnamurchan Point come July.  It's just as well I did, as the road east of Loch Shiel is quite hard to find.  The "road" is a forest track where vehicles are prohibited so I turned round and headed home, following my route in reverse along the East Highland Way and Speyside.

I would like to thank John, Kirsty, Ellen, Marcus and anyone else involved in organising such a great weekend.  It was good catching up with the Ultra Running community and making new friends.  See you all in Milngavie on April the 26th.

Tues 4  Wed 6  Thurs 8  Sat 28  Sun 5.  Weekly total 51 miles.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Short month, miles short.

Another week where things haven't quite gone to plan.  The Glee Club were running in the Glencoe area on Saturday, "great" I thought to myself, I might just make this run.  On checking my calendar I was dismayed to find out I was working, how could I have missed that.  There was another problem.
Being on call over the weekend put my long run into jeopardy.  There was only one thing for it, run home once again but do it Thursday evening this time.

The weather was a bit kinder, much better than the previous two Dyce to New Deer jaunts.
It felt good to run without wet weather gear, although the waterproofs were packed in my back pack.
Two Mars Bars were sustenance for this trip under a moonlit sky. 

I ran the first half too fast, it just felt so good and was easy to get into a fast rhythm.  This pace meant the second half uphill section was going to be hard.  Once in Ellon I stopped on the bridge over the Ythan, taking night shots with the iphone and uploading them to FB. 

After quarter of an hour I was on my way but the wind was out of my sails, the run became a chore.
I walked some of the steeper up hills, hills I quite happily plodded up on the previous drenched occasions.  I convinced myself it was okay to power walk, it uses a different set of muscles and gives the calf's a good stretch. 

On getting home I felt tired, a lot more fatigued than the previous slow and steady trips home. 
The times were all around the same which just confirms a nice steady pace will be required if I'm going to complete the Double Cateran.

I planned 13 miles back to back this weekend but it wasn't to be.  Work commitments cut the run on Saturday while family time shortened the run on Sunday, sometimes running has to take a back seat.

I'm not too concerned with not keeping on track with the program, this week is supposed to be an easy one but with the Fling Training weekend coming up the miles should get back into the fifties, here's hoping anyway.

Tues 4  Wed 4  Thurs 26  Sat 5  Sun 8.  Weekly total 47 miles.



Sunday, 2 February 2014

A Wee Dip

It's not gone quite to plan this week.  A night out on Wednesday required early morning runs, or so I thought.  Midweek training demanded 4, 10 and 6 miles.  The 4 miles were easy enough, a quick run Tuesday lunchtime at work and all was well.  It fell apart when the alarm went off 0430 Wednesday morning.  With wind and rain battering off the bedroom window it was an easy cop out to turn over and click the snooze button.  It's okay I thought, I'll make up the miles Wednesday / Thursday to stay on track.  Wrong!  Another lunchtime run on Wednesday and then a heavy night out left the midweek miles at a grand total of 8.

I was on the back foot and needed to do long back to backs at the weekend.  I decided to run home from work again on Friday night.  This decision was with a bit of trepidation for two reasons -
first the foul weather forecast and second an intermittent pain in my right ankle when walking.

Once again I was kitted out in full waterproofs and on my way for the 26 mile run home.  I said on my last blog post that conditions couldn't get much worse, but I was wrong.  It was chucking it down as I ran north and did so for the whole journey.  The Buchan line was flooded, on some sections I had to run through never ending streams and deep water in the darkness.  There's not much positive highlights from this run apart from beating my previous week by 4 minutes.

Saturday - it was important for me to try and sustain the miles, despite the midweek blip.  With stiff muscles, a sore ankle and weather not much better than the night before I shuffled onto the back roads of New Deer.  This time I had the latest excellent WHW podcast which helped pass the time before heading home into a gale force wind full of hail stones.

Sunday - family time, it was a cold, windy but a beautiful walk up Bennachie.  The stroll was good for my sore muscles and the walking boots gave support for my complaining ankle.  Next scheduled run is Tuesday where I hope the ankle has recovered. 

I use a treatment for running related injuries which (touch wood) so far has not let me down.  I have a post pending on this subject which I am not quite ready to make public.  If I can hold this niggle at bay I might consider sharing my experience.

Tues 4  Wed 4  Fri 26  Sat 12 Sun 3.  Weekly total 49 miles.