20 Pearls of Running Wisdom

  1. The best runners are patient

  2. There are no shortcuts

  3. Going further is easier than going faster

  4. To go further, slow down

  5. To go faster, carry less weight and try harder

  6. People get nicer the further you run

  7. To achieve a goal, follow the programme

  8. That runner over there has the same worries as you and thinks you must be faster than him

  9. to improve first train more, then train smarter, then train more

  10. there is always someone older and faster than you

  11. breakthroughs happen when you change something

  12. breakdowns happen when you change too many things

  13. the marathon gods will exact vengeance on those who disrespect the race

  14. there is nothing you can’t do if you are willing to put in the training

  15. you can’t tell how fast someone is by looking at them

  16. A big city race entry is better value than the open top bus tour

  17. Bears and ultra-runners shit in the woods – get over it

  18. running is good for your health

  19. running gets easier if you stick with it

  20. the more you put in to running, the more you get out of running

Listening to your body

When your body’s had enough of me. And I’m layin flat out on the floor…..

As runners we are supposed to listen to our bodies. Mine has taken a bit of a beating recently so I dragged it out for a 9 mile run this morning and kept an ear open to hear what it was saying. This is what I heard

Feet: My left foot was fine, no problems at all. Little toe on my right foot was nipping a bit from the wee corn on it so that needs some attention. My slightly swollen big toe joint settled down and didnt cause too much bother thought it just feels wrong still need to continue icing it.

Calves: bit tight but not too bad. no special attention needed

Hamstrings: tight, tight, tight. maybe a bit tired after some weights work midweek. Feel like they need lengthened. Must get into some mat work to remedy

Hips: tight right hip, and sticky SI joint, mean I am not moving smoothly. Too much sitting at a computer and not enough stretching.

Stomach: Too big. Still need to shift the weight I put on after Boston.

Chest: still a bit sticky from recent infection. not quite as recovered as I would like to be. Cardio is good though, heart and lungs seem untroubled.

Shoulders: way too tight. been a busy stressful week with a lot of time hunched over a machine. Should know better.

Mouth: Dry. Do not drink white wine night before a run. Muppet!

Nose: snot hanging around my sinuses. remnants of my cold or is it just hayfever season?

Head: still got a missing mojo. must try to generate some enthusiasm

Overall, performed a bit better than I expected. Legs wanted to run fast but couldnt. Feel my endurance is good but my speed has completely vanished. There is fitness in there somewhere, just need to coax it back out.

WHW Training Tyndrum

Tuesday was a day off work so Helen and I headed for the hills. We parked in Tyndrum and the ran from Tyndrum to just before Bein Glas farm at Inverarnan, before turning round and running all the way back.

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It was a cold but sunny day, perfect for being out on the Scottish hills. This is probably the nicest section of the southern half of the Way. It isn’t without its challenges! First challenge is it is a much bigger climb than you expect. A look at the elevation chart shows that the top of the forest path above Crianlarich is about the same height as Conic Hill, you just get to the height more gradually. The section through the forest goes on for much longer than you expect and has big energy sapping rollercoaster undulations regardless of which direction you run. The section on the old military road which runs from DerryDarroch to Bogle Glen is quite worn with lots of big stones sticking up so you really need to b enimble and lift your feet. That section also contains the infamous Cow Alley which is a section of path next to a farm gate where the cows congregate and it just turns into a muddy smelly bog where the biggest challenge is to cross it without losing your shoes 🙂

The day was topped off by some excellent ethically sourced Haddock and Chips from the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum.

Better Not Look Down, if you want to keep on Flying

Today I ran the Union Canal. All of it. From Falkirk Wheel to Edinburgh. A total of 32.75 miles. Does that make me a freak? I hope not, but I couldnt help but be struck by the number of old people I passed on the Canal path. They all looked like I remember my parents in their middle age, and the frightening thing is that most of them were probably the same sort of age as me. They were out in sensible shoes, hats and gloves, usually with a nice wee dug and there was me, sweating and spitting while chugging along like an old steamboat. I was horrified by how old they appeared. I don’t grudge anyone a nice quiet life but I couldn’t help but think of Michael Marra’s wonderful song Hermless.

If other people are Hermless, I most certainly don’t want to be. There are way too many new things left to do, to settle for routine and comfort. For me, the song of the day was BB King’s classic Better Not Look Down, if you want to keep on flying, a brilliant song for runners. It came on to my ipod at mile 13 while I was wresting with the fact that I still had another 20 to run. It reminded me that those sorts of numbers are way too big to contemplate, so just focus on the here and now and keep on keeping on.

Oh yes, one final thought. Don’t put salsa music on your ipod. It makes you run funny.

Running Up That Hill

This week was hill week and a good training week it has been.  A brisk fartlek on Monday, Tuesday was a mega session of Hill Reps which left me walking like John Wayne for the rest of the week. My poor adductors are still complaining. Wednesday was a hilly wee run. Thursday was a brutal tempo run.  Saturday was 11 hilly miles and Sunday was 19 miles along the Union Canal with every kind of weather the irascible Scottish climate could think of to throw at us. 50 miles for the week so the mileage is creeping up nicely.

Highlight of the week was a Saturday run into the Ochils in the snow on a clear sunny day. Dumyat is the nearest hill to our house. It is a distinctive peak at the west end of the Ochil Hills above Menstrie. I have a nice 10 mile (ish) circuit which starts in Menstrie, climbs up through Menstrie Glen for a few steep miles, on to Sheriffmuir, then along the road to Dumyat, Up Dumyat, Back down the other side to Menstrie Glen once more and back down to Menstrie. It is good running on rough farm tracks. It is a really good workout with more than 2000 feet of climb and some mixed terrain to keep it interesting.

Despite the fact that snow had started to melt at ground level, by the time we were 300 feet into the hills there was soft powder snow a-plenty. Some of the drifts were very deep and the fresh snow meant we were running on unbroken paths for much of the way. There had been one runner on the hill before us though – you could tell this by the very distinctive tread pattern of a pair of Inov-8 roclites!

There was running, walking, skipping, jumping, sliding, sinking, shuffling all in the one day. In places the snow was easily 3 feet deep and completely virgin. It was a hard run on tired legs but great practice in lifting your feet and a good workout for all the stabiliser muscles which dont get used on the roads.

Dumyat itself was busy with walkers. Some wag had even made a snowman. I suspect more than one parent told their offspring it was a statue of the Wallace Monument.

The Wallace Monument?
The Wallace Monument?

It never ceases to make me chuckle when you run up hills and pass people puffing away in full hill walking gear, complete with heavy boots and sticks and they look at you as if you are stark, staring mad when you run past in wee trail shoes, a long sleeved shirt and 3/4 trousers. It could of course be the case that they are right and people who run in the hills are stark raving mad, especially people who are old enough to know better 🙂

It was one of those days which dont come around very often when the conditions are perfect and you get to experience something very special. I don’t know if this might be considered a bit elitist, but for me it is one of the reasons I run, that you get experiences which can’t be bought, experiences which have to be earned through the sweat on your brow, that you can’t get watching tv or on your computer.  It is the pain and the elation which reminds you that you are alive, getting to places you can only get to on foot.

If you aren’t prepared to put in the work to run up that hill, you will never experience the view from the top.  And from the top you get a perspective which allows you to see the big picture.

WHW Run Rowardennan to Inversnaid

rowardennabSunday brough my first run on the West Highland Way of the year.  A straightforward run out and back from Rowardennan to Inversnaid.  Weather conditions started off perfectly but then turned to dreich smirry rain by the time I reached the hotel at Inversnaid.

I had it in my head this was a fairly straightforward section of the route but had completely forgotten just how much climbing is involved as you run up the side of the Loch.  The hill starts just after the Youth Hostel and seems to keep going forever.  The first few miles follow the forestry road so conditions are good underfoot. Eventually all the climbing is rewarded with the longest downhill!

As this was a training run, I tried to run continuously up all of the hills. I definitely wont be doing this on race day. I was pretty pleased to be able to haul myself up all of the hills withouth having to take a walk break. I had noticed my climbing getting better lately and this continued on these hills, so I guess all the squats and lunges are working.

IMG_0052I ran into Inversnaid, pottered around taking pictures of the waterfalls which were quite spectacular, then ran back a Km to pick up Helen and run with her into Inversnaid.

We ran together through the loch shore for a bit on the return leg then I slogged ahead up the hills while Helen took the sensible strategy of walking the uphills.

I made it back to Rowardennan in about 2 hours 35 for the round trip which was an average of about 11 mins/mile including time for faffing around taking pictures.

Elevation Profile
Elevation Profile

The funny wee blip in  the middle is due to me getting confused between the pause and start/stop buttons on my Garmin. The other thing which is weird is that I am using a Garmin 910XT which comes with a barometric altimeter. I had read that some people were having issues with it reporting strange readings. If you look at my graph, apparently I was nearly 100ft below sea level at one point! So much for technology.

The reward was a wee paddle in Loch Lomond to cool my legs.

cooling down
cooling down