We had a day off today, so it seemed like a good idea to go and run this section of the West Highland Way. The weather was bright and clear so it was roof down on the car for the hour long drive to Inversnaid. Helen had been wanting to recce this before attempting the highland fling in April. She writes nicely about it here
Inversnaid is one of those places which to our modern eyes seems to be in the wrong place. Why would anyone build a hotel at the end of a single track road in the middle of nowhere? It makes perfect sense of course if you take the car out of the equation and look at the geology and its place in a natural thoroughfare which has been in use for centuries.
This section of the Way is notorious because it follows a track perched between steep boulder strewn hills and the water’s edge. The natural obstacles of rocks and tree roots are made worse by the erosion of thousands of pairs of boots, and it can be slow clamber regardless of whether you are running or hiking.
The first time I ran this section, it totally destroyed me. The physical challenge is bad but mentally, being reduced to 2 or 3 miles per hour can be devastating. Experience teaches us that everyone suffers the same on this section and that the best way through it is just to relax, be patient and keep lifting your feet. Easier said than done when your legs have already run 30 miles and your hip flexors have clocked off and gone home for the day.
We had a good day out. We passed the feral goats which totally ignored us and a young keeper dragging a culled hind off the hill. On the way back there was the smell of a fire being kindled at Doune bothy. We made it back to the car in good time and it was pleasing to get there still in daylight which is beginning to hang about a little bit longer these days.
The hotel at Inversnaid looked like it was open after its winter shutdown and I was all set for a well earned pint, when the Hotel Ferry arrived at the pier and disgorged its cargo of aged and infirm refugees from down London way judging by the accents. Now tourism is important to the economy and I am always quick to welcome visitors to our fine country, but dear God, if I ever get to the stage where the limits of my ambition are to dress head to toe in beige my wife has picked for me from Littlewoods or Cotton Traders while being ferried round the country from chain hotel to chain hotel in a bus smelling of Abernethy biscuits, moaning about the weather, the government and my fellow passengers, then please just shoot me. I passed on the pint.
So that is phase 1 of my training programme complete. I have built a good base and done some bigger mileage weeks putting in just over 500 miles since Marcothon started in December, with some good back to back runs. The next phase is a wee bit of marathon specific speed work as I begin to focus on the big trip to Boston, but with a couple of big runs to keep me on track for the Highland Fling in April.
My body is holding up pretty well to higher mileage than I have ever done before and I am recovering quite quickly after runs. I am fairly convinced that in addition to just being another year stronger, the daily dose of Spirulina is playing a part in my recovery and energy levels so will persist with it despite the horrible taste.
Here’s hoping I can keep up the work rate without getting hurt or breaking down!