Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas Week

Last Week
59.6 Miles; 4400 feet; 10:09:29 - all run
Fourth week of winter training when I aim to do 50-55 miles and whatever climbing happens. In a month of two I'll start to target climbing but for just now I will be happy to hit a weekly mileage target, avoid injury and remain enthusiastic. The week before last was disrupted by a cold that hasn't quite left me but is considerably less troublesome than it was then. Last Saturday I went out to do a 16 mile, 3 ascent Tour of Winter Hill and found my climbing legs were almost empty and in the end I did about 12 miles and 2 ascents before calling it a day. On Sunday Pauline (who had a longer Saturday than my measly 12 miles) and I went to run round a local LDWA route starting and finishing at the Balcarres Arms in Aspull, planning on a recuperative beverage at the end. It is a pleasant run apart from a couple of very muddy fields and when we got back to Aspull we were somewhat disappointed to find the pub closed. Sunday lunchtime obviously isn't as busy a session as it used to be as the next nearest pub (as opposed to bar-restaurant) was also closed.

Our week finished with a short run up the mast road to the summit of Winter Hill from the Jolly Crofter on Christmas Day. No time for a recuperative refreshement as we had to get back to get the Sprouts on.

Next week we are in Keswick for a few days and with good weather forecast we should get plenty done.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Just One More Roll Of The Dice

Last August was pretty disappointing and sitting at Threkeld looking around at three support teams I was grateful to the Leg 4 people (Rae, Phil & Suzanne) for getting me there from Dunmail, grateful to Pauline and Keith (and Ed & Julie) for looking after me at road crossings all day and that Paul & Ros were still prepared to go on to Keswick, if I wanted to, was overwhelming. I wasn't confident of getting to Keswick and I really didn't want to blow up in the Back o' Skiddaw at 2 o'clock in the morning so really there wasn't any other sensible option.

I didn't race much for the rest of the year although Pauline and I did plenty of running and walking together and we began to formulate our plan for 2009. With fair weather and good preparation I think just one more roll of the dice is worthwhile. The year is filling up and, like last year, there are plenty of other long days out in our diary already including a  "Joss" or two, another BG to help on and some other things that are still only in the very early planning stages.

Winter training started after a bad day at Pendle when a 'turned ankle' resulted in a long, slow, painful jog back to the DNF Bucket to hand in my unused tags. Four times I have done the Tour and twice I have come away with injured - perhaps there is a lesson here? Things improved and a day on Helvellyn a couple of weeks ago with Colin Jones reminded us why running in winter is so good.

Few days out will be as quite as much fun as this was and thanks to Colin for both the photos and for a memorable,magical day in the hills.

Monday, 1 September 2008

51 at 55

Utter exhaustion at Threlkeld after 51 peaks, 23 hours, 62 miles and 25,000 feet and a dash of common sense (although I have little idea where that came from) called a halt just after 23:00 on Saturday night.

Thanks are due, in particular, to Pauline & Keith Foster for fantastic road support throughout as well as to Ed Swift and Julie Laverock for helping them. For navigating, thanks to Richard Scott, Dave Bateson, Bill Williamson and Rae Pritchard. For company on the fells and for carrying food and drink: - Richard Baker, Albert Sunter, Karl Taylor, Suzanne Budgett, Philip Dewhurst. Dave Bateson is due a special mention because a no-show meant he had to carry everything as well as navigate and in the worst conditions, by far. Great Gable was so wet and slippery that we had to sit down in places to get enough traction. Thanks also to Paul and Ros Murray for waiting at Threlkeld and for being prepared to start the final leg and drag me to The Moot Hall. It seems I missed a party (and Billy Bland) at Dunmail - thanks Eileen, George, Mary and Andy for stopping by, it makes a huge difference.

What happened? The conditions underfoot were difficult - wet, heavy ground and greasy, slippy rock and too much bracken. I reached Wasdale, where I was due at 08:14 and had reached in June despite struggling since Grasmoor at 08:47, at 09:38 - almost an hour slower than June and nearly an hour and a half behind the schedule. From Wasdale I stayed with the schedule until the Langdales when I started slipping further behind. After Dunmail the schedule started to prove too much again and by Clough Head I was utterly exhausted, more worn out than on either of my two previous rounds.

Paul Murray suggested afterwards that it was probably just too late in the year and certainly the bracken was much more difficult on the first leg and there was fewer hours of daylight. My revised food/drink worked much better and although it can still be improved I avoided the nausea and managed to stay very close to the required calorie intake. I had wondered just how much harder this could be and now I know. There is always next year, of course, and I may have identified the 56th summit.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Final Taper

Last Week
15 miles, 950 ft run, 5 miles, 1100 ft walked

The 5 mile walk was a stroll up to Gaping Gill to the caving meet where, for a tenner each, you get dropped by bosun's chair into the cavern (the £10 includes the ascent too). Good waterproofs are recommended because it is cold wet experience and
much as we prefer the outsides of hills to their insides, this is really worth doing - worth every penny. Two meets a year, one at the end of May and the other at the end of August, open the cavern to mere mortals. Despite all the boundless enthusiasm of the cavers we managed to avoid the bug and won't be adding it to our outdoor activities.

Support Teams are sorted after being ravaged by illness and injuries and now just kit to be packed and butties to be made. Forecast looks fairly benign with just a little rain on Saturday afternoon. The cloud cover seems pretty complete and, at least, overnight will probably be lower than the tops. Wind could be strong enough to be a nuisance but probably not much more, I hope.

I feel more relaxed about this attempt than I did for all my previous attempts although tomorrow will change, I am sure.

Road Support: Pauline, Keith Foster, Julie Laverock, Ed Swift

Leg 1: Richard Scott, Richard Baker

Leg 2: Dave Bateson, Keith "Splinter"

Leg 3: Bill Williamson, Albert Sunter, Karl Taylor

Leg 4: Rae Pritchard, Suzanne Budgett, Philip Dewhurst

Leg 5; Paul Murray, Ros Murray

Thanks to you all and I am looking forward to seeing at different stages throughout Saturday.

There are, at least, 3 other (clockwise) "Bob Graham"s scheduled for this weekend and I wish you all the very best of luck.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Sedbergh Hills

Last Week
33 miles, 7062 ft, 05:56:52

Sedbergh Hills race might seem an odd way to start to taper but way back in 2004 it was my first long fell race and it seemed a pity not to have another run round the route. Four years ago I the descents were a shock and I didn't really know what 6000 feet of ascent really meant, especially in only 14 miles when it was accompanied by 6000 feet of descent in the same 14 miles. This race is as good a way of finding as any. I had run further in a day (in LDWA events) and climbed more on long days in the Lakes but neither really prepare you properly. The whole experience confirmed my (then) recent decision to join Horwich RMI because I couldn't train myself to run this sort of race and I hadn't even considered Ennerdale, Wasdale or a Bob Graham then.

I mis-remembered the number of climbs between CP3 & CP4 (that was disappointing, I can tell you) but this time the descents were less intimidating and the whole thing was much more enjoyable. Being a club championship race there were plenty of Horwich vests, a couple to chase in the closing stages and the race was won by Darran Kaye. I took half an hour off my 2004 time to finish in 3:04 and I think a sub 3 hour time might have been achievable had conditions not deteriorated over The Calf. I was reluctant to contour Calders in the clag and I think a more direct descent from Winder would have been quicker but that is what next year is for. A welcome massage for my quads on Monday made a big difference to their recovery and then just a few more miles and last night's hills session to finish the week.

Next Week
I am still looking for one runner for Leg 2 and the details of everything else need finalising but there is little running left to do, perhaps just a short run out over Winter Hill on Saturday and two more short road sessions at the beginning of the week. These last two weeks are the most difficult weeks of the preparation - I would rather be running - but I have reached here, injury-free, looking forward to it and now I really just need to rest and remember there is a whole week's running to do a week tomorrow.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Last Full Week

Last Week
77 miles, 11745 ft, 14:45:50

Last weekend it seemed like Autumn had arrived early. 14 miles over Winter Hill with many of them in pouring rain and on Sunday in the Lakes the weather was even worse. Heavier rain and stronger winds. Descending Fairfield to Grizedale Tarn was unpleasant as the wind kept trying to blow me down into the tarn but a bit later, on the way back, there were two occasions re-ascending Fairfield when the wind was simply too strong to make any progress into. I had intended, having started just above White Moss CP, to go to Helvellyn (or perhaps the Lower Man) but when I reached Dollywagon Pike (from Seat Sandal) the wind was troublesome and again threatening to blow off my feet. Progress to Helvellyn wouldn't have been too bad but I was concerned about getting back when I would have to run into the wind which strengthening as the day went on. Back over Seat Sandal would provide enough climbing and so I turned on Dollywagon for the big descent to Greizdale Tarn. There were very few people out on the hills and it was eerie to cross Fairfield's summit twice and see no one, even allowing for the poor visibility in the clag. Two sessions a day for the rest of the week and I accumulated almost eighty miles for my last full week.

Next Week
Sedbergh Hills on Sunday for a last run out before a two week taper and I think it is the taper I like least. After getting used to this sort of mileage and two sessions a day it is unsettling not to be doing them both. I hope I will be able to finalise support arrangements next week - Leg Two is still a bit thin so if you might be able to help, please let me know or post a comment below.

Friday, 8 August 2008


Last Week
52 miles, 9138 ft, 12:56:43 (includes 16 miles on bike)

Last year Borrowdale was shortened on advice from MRT on the summit of Scafell Pike and in 2006 I was resting in preparation for my second BG and so it was 2005 when I previously ran the full route. I had a poor run and so have waited three years to put in a better performance on this rough, tough route. These must be amongst the h
ardest 17 miles in the Lakes and in 2005 I was a pair of Inov8 Mudclaw 270s for their first serious outing. I mention this only because some of the ground is so rough that the uppers of the shoes were shredded - in places they had been ripped open - so not 270s this year. Last year I found 330s survived rather better although without the scree descent to cope with it isn't a fair comparison but 330s it would be again.

Ground to Esk Haus
e was wet and very soft but the rain had all but cleared through by the time the race started. The clag was down on Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Green Gable and the rocks were wet and slippery almost everywhere and especially around Scafell Pike. Most of the walkers descending to Esk Hause seemed pretty uncomfortable on the wet boulders which wasn’t encouraging but by staying clear of other runners I didn’t struggle as much as others around me. Approaching the summit was a little eerie, there were no other runners ascending but those descending were heading in all directions appearing and then disappearing into the clag - most made their way to the scree and thence to Sty Head where the usual crowds awaited. Swapping an empty bottle for a full one which Pauline had carried up I set about the serious business of eating and drinking my way to the summit. This must have gone well because I picked up a number of places on the way up and reached the summit chasing after Horwich vest (worn by Mick Crook). Most of the navigation errors seem to have taken place on the Great Gable descent with others going wrong between Green Gable and Honister. Leaving Great Gable and knowing we weren’t on the fastest descent route I decided not to go and look for it on my own (better to loose a few minutes rather than getting seriously lost, which was very possible) and stayed on the ‘tourist route’, passing Mick on the way down. A lapse in concentration and I went over Green Gable instead of round but again I avoided getting lost although it cost me a little time. Down out of the clag and route finding was much easier into Honister. Dale Head was never going to be easy and I struggled to stay with the group I had joined at Honister and then on the way down saw another RMI vest. Passing Steve Jackson and then Richard Baker (who was having a major bonk although it wasn’t obvious at the time - Richard has recovered enough to help on my 55@55, thanks Richard) I reached the flat run to the finish – only to lose 3 places. One to another V55, the second to Mick Crook and the third to Steve Jackson! All I can say is “well done, guys” because I had almost nothing left in my legs at the finish I had taken 30 minutes off my previous best (2005) time and ended up with 12 English Champs points which is 11 more than I have ever had before.

Results are here

Edwin Coope enjoying Borrowdale a little more than I am

More photos here and here

In an attempt speed up recovery we tried mountain bikes rather than running and I don't if it helped but it was much more fun. The rest of the week was little more than a series of recovery runs until last night's Hill session that more or less proved I need a rest day today.

Next Week

Winter Hill on Saturday morning and Lakes on Sunday for what will be my last full week before my second attempt.

Support Teams

Coming together now but I could still so with a bit on help on Leg Two (from Honister to Wasdale). I know it is an early but there is the promise of a sunrise that won't be seen on any other leg! If you might be interested in helping please contact me or leave a comment below.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Coope's Dozen

Last Week
42 miles, 4189 ft, 07:40:19

Coope's Dozen is the traditional, last, long (18 miles) 'pre-Borrowdale' training session - a round of the 12 tops of the Winter Hill massif - run in a group (or groups) until Healey Nab the 12th when it becomes a race back to the Upper Barn at Rivington. A small "Fast Group" (these things are relative) of Albert Sunter and myself and a larger "Slow Group" of Pauline and others. More details and some photos are on Ed's blog Albert dragged my round almost half an hour quicker than I had managed previously, showed me some better routes and graciously waited as I shuffled the last leg back to Rivington. Always a good day out with its 'trying moments' and this year the vegetation is particularly profuse - the climb to Counting Hill is never good but the bracken is the worst it has been for many years. We tried to find a near-direct line to Old Adam and again the vegatation made us suffer, this was a bad mistake and, as a consequence, I am sure I could improve on the 03:32 we recorded on Saturday.

I allowed Sunday as a recovery day but my legs were so tired on Monday and, especially, at the track on Tuesday I decided to rest for the remainder of the week before Borrowdale on Saturday. Last year it was shortened and on the only other occasion (2005) I have run it I had a pretty dreadful run taking over 5 hours and only just managing 18 minute miles which is my slowest ever race pace. I ought to be able to improve on that although if it as hot as it has been for the rest of this week it could be a 'close run thing'. Beyond Borrowdale I'll do what I can on Sunday and thereafter in what should be my penultimate training week before a couple of easy weeks.

After this weekend I need to finalise the logistics and support arrangements. The end of August that seemed a good weekend clashes with an English/British counter as well as the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc so a number of runners who have helped previously are committed to other things.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

17 Munros from Braemar

Last Week
Running: 14 miles, 1853 ft, 02:15:03

Walking: 73 miles, 16963 ft, 26:09:25
Cycling: 20 miles, 2000 ft, 03:00:00
Total: 107 miles, 20736 ft, 31:27:28

Cycling figures are estimates as they were part of the 'walk in & out' on two days. Apart from last Sunday which cold, wet and pretty miserable (typical Scottish summer, in our experience) the rest of the week was wall-to-wall hot sunshine. Some days we did only 1 Munro (Mount Keen) but on two other consecutive 8 hour days we managed a total of 11 (Lochnagar and the other 4 around Glen Muick and the 6 on the east side of Glen Shee. Away from the Ski Centre the area around Glen Shee is quiet and remote although the mountain hares keep you company, under very watchful eyes. The first few were a bit of a novelty and their number just kept increasing from groups of 3 or 4 then, perhaps, a dozen and finally we saw a groups that must have numbered 50 before it 'exploded' with hares running in all directions. Around Lochnagar we came across several herds of deer but came closest to them walking out along the lochside when 5 stags were within about 25 yards of the busy path, quietly eating and ignoring everything else including us. Altogether a fantastic week and we both needed the 'rest day' on Friday when we travelled back for "Coope's
Dozen". If only all training could be like this.

Loch Muick with Broad Cairn in the background


Next Week
"Coope's Dozen" on Saturday and then a fairly quiet week before Borrowdale.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Even Easier Week (in Barcelona)

Last Week
23 miles, 2670 ft, 04:07:03

After a steady run over Winter Hill in the rain on Saturday morning we headed off to Barcelona on the first flight on Sunday morning for a few days of sunshine and sangria - we didn't touch any sangria but I am sure you know what I mean. Home very early this morning and in time for another run in the rain.

Next Week
Off to "Royal Deeside" to see if we can find some Munros and Corbetts - probably not much running but lots of climbing - and then back for Coope's Dozen next weekend.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Easy Week

Last Week
54 miles, 3929 ft, 08:03:55

Almost all on roads because family commitments last weekend precluded any long outings to any hills. My Dad has been down staying with us and we went down to my brother's at the weekend to celebrate a joint 18th/21st/50th 'birthday'. Back to the track on Tuesday and a Hill Session last night just to make sure it wasn't too easy a week.

Next Week
We are off to Barcelona for a few days then Braemar to bag some easterly Munros (and avoid midges, we hope) and back for Coope's Dozen, Borrowdale and a second attempt on August 30th. This is a bit of a mid-season break, a chance to rest and enjoy some Spanish sunshine and Scottish hills before a couple of weeks to complete the final preparations for another long day out. This break is really very welcome because it is a long stretch from mid-Winter to late August to stay injury-free and motivated. Retiring in June was the right decision and retiring early meant I didn't need long to recover physically. Now, having sorted my food and drink, I really just wanted to have another go immediately but it couldn't be arranged so to have a couple of weeks away from will mean I will come back refreshed and ready for the final countdown

Friday, 4 July 2008

Food & Drink Sorted!

Last Week
72 miles, 9302 ft, 13:36:27

Last weekend's experiments with alternative food and drink were completely successful. By avoiding the combination of Go Bars and Maxim drink I consumed the required number of calories for a four hour session on Saturday and a 3 hour session on Sunday without any nausea and it was good to be back on Winter Hill for the first time in a while. I am sufficiently happy with these two days to start planning another attempt with confidence that a repeat of last month will be avoided. With no dates available in July I am considering some dates in mid and late August. The initial indications are that mid August is probably not going to work because of holidays and other commitments. The end of August is my least favourite - I would like to get it done earlier because the days are shorter, the bracken is higher and I have to stay injury-free for longer.

Next Week
Family birthdays preclude the possibility of my usual long fell run on Saturday morning so I'll be trying to squeeze in some extra miles every morning, aiming to finish the week with around, or a little short of 70. I hope also to be able to finalise the date of my second attempt so I can get on with making the required arrangements. The end of August seems a long way away but with holidays, our own and others', it will come soon enough.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Back To Training

Last week
68 miles 13586 ft 14:33:58

With the disappointment of last weekend out of the way and a rest day on Sunday to recover the remainer of the week was pretty much as normal. Last night's heavy rain slowed the traffic so much I couldn't get to the hill session. I should have waited on it easing but I didn't and ended up running in the worst of it and even then didn't reach 70 miles!

Next week
Saturday's run over Winter Hill will be an experiment with different food to make sure I can eat/drink at the required rate with the nausea that scuppered last week's attempt. If the weather doesn't worsen we might go and have another look at the first half of the first leg, on Sunday, to try to improve the descent time. My Dad is staying with us for much of next week so all the miles will be before work.

Next Attempt
If Saturday's food/drink combination is OK then I'll start to find out who will be available for some dates in August and then start to get organised.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

20@55 - Saturday 21 June

Not quite what I had planned but by Wasdale having suffered with nausea for seven hours and having eaten less than half the calories I should have there was little point in prolonging the agony.

The first leg was a struggle by Sail, by Grasmoor I couldn't see how I could continue but I persuaded myself that it was 'just a bad spell' and it would pass. Still on schedule at Whiteless Pike but by Newlands Pass I was having doubts about reaching the next summit, Robinson. By eating nothing and drinking only water we reached Honister 18 minutes down but I felt much better. The sunrise from Hindscarth made it all worthwhile.

A steady start to the second leg and revived by an extended stop we made reasonable progress losing only 7 minutes to Wasdale. This was achieved by eating and drinking only about a quarter of what I needed in order to contain but not eliminate the nausea. While this was successful on this leg it couldn't succeed all the way back to Keswick and anyway I really didn't think I could face another six hours of it before reaching Dunmail.

Thanks to Brendan and Richard for Leg 1, Rob and Gary for Leg 2, Colin and Albert for travelling to Wasdale for Leg 3, Pauline and Keith for the overnight Road Support and to Ed and John for travelling to Wasdale to assist them.

Once I have sorted an alternative eating/drinking plan I'll have another go.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Even More Serious Rest Week

Last Week
13 miles, 510 ft, 01:44:33

Training done and resting now. Three complete rest days after 3 easy sessions for the week. The worst of the weather looks like it will pass through today and it should fair up for the weekend with a cold clear Friday night. Injuries may force another change or two in the support teams but apart from that just about all that is left to do is to get ready to enjoy the day.

Support Teams
More changes this week but I hope to know of the final changes tonight.

Road: Pauline, Keith Foster, Ed & John Swift

Leg 1: Brendan Bolland, Phil Dewhurst, Richard Scott

Leg 2: Rob Green, Chris Heys, Gary Murray

Leg 3: Colin Jones, Albert Sunter, Karl Taylor

Leg 4: Rae Prichard, Suzanne Budgett

Leg 5: Paul Murray, Rachel Metcalfe, Christine Bland

Friday, 13 June 2008

Serious Rest Week

Last Week
33 miles, 7722 ft, 8:33:01

14 miles of the miles were in one session last Saturday when Pauline and I had a run round the last leg from Threlkeld and it was surprising to see how much the route has developed (clear runnable cairned paths) in the Back O'Skiddaw in just two years. I suppose other parts of the route "developed" in the same way but here there was almost nothing and now there is a path that will 'draw' people and wear even more quickly. Glimpses of an even bigger problem on more popular routes!

The rest of the week has involved doing very little and finishing last night with an hard hill session (what a change it makes starting a hill session with only 24 miles in my legs instead of the usual 64) other than finalising the support teams.

Next Week
Even Less - and some marshalling at the Horwich Tour

Support Teams

Road: Pauline, Keith Foster, Ed & John Swift

Leg 1: Brendan Bolland, Ali Murray, Phil Dewhurst

Leg 2: Rob Green, Chris Heys

Leg 3: Colin Jones, Albert Sunter, Karl Taylor

Leg 4: Rae Prichard, Suzanne Budgett

Leg 5: Paul Murray, Rachel Metcalfe, Christine Bland

Thanks to you all - I couldn't do it on my own and I hope we all have grand day out.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Duddon Valley Fell Race

Last Week
56 miles, 10439 ft, 11:05:05

The Duddon race went well. I finished 27 seconds slower than last year and that is easily accounted for by drink stops before Little Stand and Swirl How but more significantly I rested before last year's race and didn't this year. Climbing at a 'comfortable' pace my splits confirm I was generally slower ascending and quicker descending. Weather wasn't unkind after Harter Fell when cloud cover shielded us from an, otherwise, very warm sun. A short recce on Sunday of the Newlands Hause section of Leg 1 and a fairly gentle week with fewer miles than of late for the first of three weeks' taper. I am beginning to feel that the "hard work" is done and that the "harder work" now begins - it is easier to run than not but for the next two weeks not running will be the better option, in moderation, of course.

Next Week

Leg 5 recce on Saturday and then a serious increase in resting, aiming for around 30 miles and whatever climbing occurs.

Support Teams

I am struggling a bit for support on the Wasdale to Dunmail leg and so if you or anyone you know might be interested in helping and having a good day out, please post contact details as a comment and I'll get back to you immediately. Leg 4 starts at 08:20 from Wasdale and should finish at Dunmail at 14:47.

Road Support: Pauline, Keith Foster, Ed & John Swift

Leg 1: Brendan Bolland, Ali Murray, Phil Dewhurst

Leg 2: Rob Green, Chris Heys

Leg 3: Karl Taylor

Leg 4: Colin Jones, Albert Sunter, Rae Pritchard, Steve Barlow

Leg 5: Paul Murray, Rachel Metcalfe, Christine Bland

Friday, 30 May 2008

John's "Joss" and more

Job Done

Last Week
71 Miles, 14287 ft, 19:21:57

John's journey began at Pooley Bridge 10 years ago and finished last Saturday in time to have a cup of tea with Joss and Mary. You can read more and see more photos at

Pauline (on Leg 4) and Rachel (on Leg 3) hadn't previously supported a challenge like this (on the fells) and both did admirably and thoroughly enjoyed the day. Fortunately we were blessed with good weather, not least, because this was the first time I had navigated a leg and while I was fairly happy about Leg 4 (although I remember being unable to find Scoat Fell on my first BG) there were a couple of bits on Leg 3 that would have been difficult in clag. Thanks to John for another grand day out.

Sunday was a bit of a struggle and on Monday we headed off to Whalley to have a flatish run to Blacko Tower and back. 7 miles into the wind was about enough and the paths past Bull Hole provided an easy way to cross the valley and return on the opposite ridge with the wind behind us. The remainder of the week was an increasing struggle and by about halfway through last night's hill session my legs were gone. Last week was the fourth week over 70 miles with an average climb of over 12500 feet so I am happy with that. Apart from a slight niggle on one shin which is probably just over-use I remain injury free and looking forward to next week, next month and the 21st.

Next Week

Duddon fell race on Saturday and a recce of the Newlands Hause section of the first leg. I want to see how much the bracken has developed since looking at this with Paul Murray in April and to have a close look at the climb out on to Robinson. With three weeks to go I am going to start reducing my mileage, target around 60 this week and back off much more the following week. If this goes to plan I will still have one or two long hard days at the weekends but do much less in between and finally do very little in the last week. It has been a long hard road to get here and with the start line almost in sight I feel very different to this time two years. I am not completely relaxed about the 21st June but I am looking forward to it although the logistics still need some attention. Two years ago the logistsics were all sorted but I was getting more and more worried about the whole thing and was a nervous wreck by the Moot Hall. Anyway, plenty to enjoy at Duddon tomorrow and Buttermere on Sunday.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

John Swift - Successful "Joss Naylor", 24 May

Running strongly towards Sty Head with Rachel

On Middle Fell and "Its in the bag" according to a local

Yesterday John successfully completed the "Joss Naylor Challenge". Pauline and I were very pleased to be able to help, particularly having seen in recent weeks how much work John had done in preparation.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Paul Murray's 65@65

Last Week 72 miles, 11392 ft, 15:43:00

Leaving Pillar Rock for Pillar summit with Kath and Paul
(photo - Rae Pritchard)

"I won't be early" were Paul's last words when I confirmed I would meet him at Sty Head, with Kath Brierley, for the second leg of his 65@65. Postponed from last summer this is a continuous traverse of the highest 65 summits in the Lakes. Leaving Seathwaite a little earlier than I planned I was confident of having time for bite at the Ambulance Box before setting off up Great Gable and so it was something of a surprise when approaching Sty Head to see Edwin pointing towards Gable. "They are not coming down that way, I am sure" I thought and then the awful realisation began - they were going up, having already left Sty Head. Quick confirmation with Edwin that I had everything I needed and then it was like the Borrowdale race but with a rucksack! Before long I reached them to learn we were an hour up on the schedule - just as well Paul was taking it steady. The ignominy was shared as they had left before Kath arrived and so Rae, who had been with Paul since the start at 02:00, carried on as far as Pillar Rock. The rest of the day was spent taking it steady to reach Buttermere 2 hours ahead of schedule. Kath left us in Ennerdale and Paul continued on through the night with his daughter Ros and on through the following day with others to complete the traverse in 46 hours 17 minutes. A huge achievement and, I am sure like everyone who helped over the weekend, I feel fortunate to have been involved. Kath and I waited on the col while Paul, Rae and Rob went up Pillar Rock and although dry it wasn't terribly warm, hence all the clothes.

Recovery run with Pauline on Sunday and then twice a day, including a track session on Tuesday, to reach this week's targets by close on Wednesday to ensure two days rest before the weekend.

Next Week

Saturday is John Swift's "Joss Naylor". I am meeting him at Dunmail with Rachel Metcalf for her first outing as a support runner (I am hoping she enjoys it and that she will then help on my 55 in June) and staying with John to Greendale Bridge and navigating from about Rossett Pike. Pauline will join us at Sty Head for the last leg. This will be the first time I have formally navigated a leg and so the 'weather paranoia' has been (is still) extreme this week. Right now it looks dry until lunchtime, light cloud but strong winds on the summits - but it is only a forecast. The weather for the rest of the weekend appears changeable but if doesn't deteriorate we will go to the Howgills on Monday to avoid the crowds and revisit some grassy slopes we haven't seen for a while. The rest of the week will be working towards another 70+ and 10,000+ with half an eye on Duddon on the 31st. I shouldn't taper for it and just treat it as another long training session. This week is a bit different, as was last week, when being rested for Saturday is important.

Finally a big "well done" to Paul and an equally big "good luck" to John

Friday, 16 May 2008

Kentmere Horseshoe and a bit more

Last Week
71 miles, 10600 ft, 14:10:15

The Kentmere Horseshoe provides a great run and a great walk but there just isn't enough of it. Previously I am extended it by dropping into Mardale and ascending High Street via Rough Crag (the "connoisseurs' route" according to Wainwright) and a really extension it is but even this was far enough for another Saturday run with John Swift and Pauline. It isn't just that, even with the Rough Crag extension, the route is short, the route is also a bit short of climbing and since Winter Hill too is a bit short of climbing we go to the Lakes to get the climbing.

Fortunately the planning map suggested another extension after dropping into Mardale. Instead of taking the 'short cut' over Rough Crag, climbing out over Kidsty Pike and Rampsgill Head offered the possibility of dropping down to Hawes Water and another climb out over Gray Crag before Thornthwaite Crag and the traditional finish to the round over Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke. On the day, last Saturday, even that proved not quite far enough and I had to pull the last 'ace from my sleeve' by way of an extension over Sour Howes and Sallows before finishing at Kentmere Church with 20 miles and 6800 feet of climbing done.

Sunday morning saw a rather sluggish ascent of Winter Hill via the Two Lads and The Pike before replanning on Tuesday after the M60 prevented me getting to the track session. Realising I could do a few more miles and reach 70 by Thursday morning I did just that to squeeze in another rest session (Thursday night) before the weekend.

Next Week

Paul Murray is attempting a long birthday walk/run - a 65 summit south west to north east traverse of the Lakes (a 65@65 or it would have been last year had the poor summer not wrecked training plans and "65@66" doesn't have the same ring or symmetry). I am fortunate enough to be supporting him, with Kath Brierley, on a long leg from Sty Head to Buttermere. Hence the extra rest session. It will be good to meet Kath, not least because we both left the Moot Hall at 08:00 on a June morning a couple of years ago and neither of us made it back within 24 hours. Kath went back a week or two before I did and returned to the Moot Hall within 24 hours but we have never met other than briefly, running through the market place in Keswick on that June morning.

Support Teams

Places are beginning fill up and I will probably publish the details next week but, in the meantime, thanks to all of you who have agreed to help. I think this week's sunshine is helping because I am beginning to look forward to June 21st.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Friday 9th May 2008

Last Week
74 Miles, 14694 ft, 18:21:20

Long day on Saturday with Denis, Pauline and John Swift having a look at part of the "Joss Naylor" route from Red Screes to Steel Fell. Long, long climb into the wind to reach the top of Red Screes before the fun of the ups and downs over Dove Crag, Hart Crag and Fairfield to reach Seat Sandal and the descent to Dunmail. Not content yet we climbed out of Dunmail to Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag. From Helm Crag, after scrambling to one of the summits, we dropped into Grasmere and slogged round the back of the mere and Rydal Water to the car in Ambleside for a 21 mile almost 7 hour day that finished in warm sunshine.

After a brief leg stretch of little note on Sunday, Pauline and I met Keith in Ingleton to do teh "Other Three Peaks" (Ingleborough, Whernside and Gregareth). By Whernside we were enjoying the hazy sunshine (something of a contrast with the snow we encountered here in March) so much we decided to go to Great Coum by way of Green Hill and Crag Hill before Gregareth. By Ingleton we had finished another 21 mile day and decided we had 'earned' fish and chips at Settle on the way home.

My calfs seem to have completely recovered from the Three Peaks and my chest has only the slightest of traces of stiffness left - not enough to provide an excuse to miss either Tuesday's track session or last night's hill session.

Next Week
On Saturday, Pauline and I are going back to the Lakes to do an 'extended Kentmere Horseshoe' with John Swift followed by something on Winter Hill on Sunday to provide the foundation for another 70+ miles and 10000+ feet week.

Road Support is sort and so far, Colin Jones, Rob Green and Brendan Bolland have agreed to navigate a leg and while I have another couple of navigators 'pencilled in' I would still welcome other offers of support. I will start to confirm other offers next week and finalise my nutrition schedule. I have been trying marzipan, as recommended by Mark Cudahy, and it is very easy to eat and so I will be using it on the day - thanks Mark.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Three Peaks in 04:29:29

Last Week 60 miles, 6590 ft, 10:00:35

An easy week, mostly recovering from the Three Peaks and trying to run off tight calf muscles and bruised ribs from the weekend before. 10 miles on Sunday with Pauline to try run the hills out of my legs seemed to have worked although my calfs remained stiff and very tight. Twice daily short runs, and lots of stretches daily massages seem to have done the trick - my calfs seem fine which is something of a relief because my right one (the one torn in February) was really very tight and stiff. My chest is easing but even tonight is still inhibiting deep breathing.

Last Saturday - Three Peaks - A Roller-Coaster of route and race to match. Rested but troubled by bruised ribs I doubted last year's 04:14 was under threat and so it proved. A steady climb un Pen-Y-Ghent to post my slowest summit time and a steady descent, a fearful descent because I was really concerned about falling again but after checking my GPS track I found I was no slower than last year. Without Albert to drag me to Ribblehead I was around three minutes down on last year but about 80 places further up the field than I had been at Pen-Y-Ghent. From here I just continued to lose a few minutes between every check point and having unsuccessfully tried to remember last year's splits I believed, by the Hill Inn that I was looking at being more than 30 minutes down on last year and in danger of posting my worst time. Next time I'll write the splits on my hand or not bother looking at them - either way would have been better than mis-remembering them.

Beginning to get depressed about my performance I began to wonder if I needed to cancel my 55at55. By the summit of Ingleborough my chest which had been uncomfortable most of the way round was beginning to ache a bit. As well as losing time compared with last year I was losing places, about 30 in all, and although I was passing one or two, I was being passed by three or four which wasn't doing my morale much good. Somewhere around Suber Pot I promised myself I would never do this race again and then, almost immediately, started to realise I had got last year's splits all wrong and while I wasn't going to get a PB I could still get under 4:30 if I stopped feeling sorry for myself and concentrated on the job in hand. With some runners just in front to chase I sorted myself out and caught 3 or, perhaps, 4 in the last mile to sneak in just under four and half hours.

While I drank almost all my carb drinks and the cramp attacks were brief I think I may not have eaten enough although I didn't feel hungry at any time during the race or for more than an hour afterwards. After Whernside I found it more difficult to concentrate on maintaining a reasonable pace, trying to lengthen my stride when appropriate and trying to catch the runner in front. The discomfort in my chest was a constant distraction and while I remembered to keep drinking I don't recall even thinking about eating.

What is done is done and there is no point in dwelling on it - it wasn't a bad performance, it could have been better but no matter what I do now it isn't going to change anything.

Next Week
On Saturday we are going to the Lakes with John Swift for a look at part of the "Joss Naylor" which John will be attempting later on the month. On Monday we will probably go to the Dales and run over the 'other 3 Peaks' (Ingleborough, Whernside and Gregareth) and in between, squeeze a few miles in on Sunday morning over Winter Hill and try to get back to 10,000 feet and around 70 miles.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Barbondale Round

Last Week
52 miles, 6254 ft, 07:58:47

Barbondale was blessed with a cold 20 mph wind that contrived to blow down most of the two big climbs on the LDWA "Barbondale Round" last Saturday. After struggling into what seemed like a direct headwind to the top of Great Coum we thought we could look forward to some assistance during the second half, returning to Barbon. Most of the climb up Calf Top was into the same wind and then on most of the descent it was a tail wind constantly threatening to knock you on your face - so no assistance at all. Most of the way round we thought the wind was going to put paid to improving on last year's 05:22 and the splits suggested the same (2007, 2008; Great Coum 01:15:43, 01:33:24; Calf Top 04:06:53, 04:35:14) but a super effort on the last descent and run in enabled us to make up all the lost time and finish in 05:18:18, suggesting a sub 5 hour time in good conditions should be achievable.

Sunday I went out at first light to find the wind was almost as strong in Horwich as it had been in Barbon and on the way home took a fairly heavy fall slightly bruising my chest and smashing my garmin watch. Not sure which was worst - I managed to run home and again later in the day, mainly to see how restricted my breathing was. Quite restricted but it eased (a little) as I warmed up so I needed to rethink the week's training because a track session wouldn't be possible. I intended an easy week, to recover from the last 5 hard weeks and to prepare for tomorrow's Three Peaks so with almost 40 miles done by Sunday night I settled on three more short easy sessions, mainly to see how my chest was recovering and then two complete rest days.

Next Week
Three Peaks tomorrow and, at the moment, the forecast looks dry and not too warm. Is last year's 04:13 under threat? I doubt it. I think I improved on my 2005 time, last year, with a fast (in my terms) run to Ribblehead courtesy of Albert Sunter and I am unsure about being able to repeat it without a pacer. I may try though because it was surprising how many people we passed but I may also try to remember to eat and drink a bit before Ribblehead. The rest of the week is going to depend on how quickly I can recover

Friday, 18 April 2008

Friday 18th April 2008

Last Week
W: 27 miles 6078 ft 09:17:15
R: 51 miles 7873 ft 10:28:50
T: 78 miles 13951 ft 19:46:05

Another big week, 5th consecutive week with over 10,000 feet of climbing and the second consecutive week with total miles over 70. The "walking" miles were with the Rucksack Club on a long walk around Ullswater at an average pace of around 3 mph (including the climbing and stops) which, being faster than a BGR requires, almost justifies including as 'running' miles. The following day Paul Murray took me through the NW fells to Newlands Hause for a first look at the 'new' night section. Paul's daughter Ros and Rae Pritchard joined us for part of a really worthwhile morning. I think I have descent route that is 'do-able' in the dark but it still needs a bit of practice and the climb out, although well provided with handrails, needs a close look to confirm they are as good as they seem from a distance. With so much done over the weekend I didn't feel guilty about not going out on Monday morning and even after two recovery runs when I set off running to the track session on Tuesday I realised I didn't have a 'track session' in my legs and so just went for another long road run. By Thursday morning I was so weary I decided to sacrifice the morning run to try to get something worthwhile out of the evening Hill Session which was probably a good call.

I am happy now my climbing has caught up with where I would have wanted to be, had I not had any injuries and so I am starting to confirm the Support Teams. Pauline and Keith Foster will be the main road support and Colin Jones will lead Leg 4 to Threkeld. Other details will follow as they are confirmed.

Next Week
An easier week starting with the 23 mile LDWA "Barbondale Round" on Saturday. something on Winter Hill on Sunday and then some tapering, from mid-week, before the 3 Peaks on the 26th. I think after the last 5 weeks I need a bit of recovery so the timing is good and Barbondale is always a good day out. Pauline is running well and so last year's 05:22:36 ought to be under threat if the weather holds and the clag doesn't wreck my route finding.

I have paid little attention to my Nutrition Schedule as yet and will experiment with marizpan which is highly recommended as being easy to get down, on the run, and according to the "CalorieKing calculator" a 3.6 ounce serving is worth 427 calories or 48 minutes of jogging. The split is fat 31%, 63% carbs and 6% protein - the high fat content may make it relatively slow to digest but it is worth a try even if it only provides a change from carb bars.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Friday 11th April 2008

Last Week
73 Miles, 11030 Feet, 18:38:44

Three pictures from Saturday, first two from Steeple and the last from Middle Fell as we were descending to Greendale Bridge having jogged round the last leg of the Joss Naylor Traverse in some very entertaining weather. On Sunday Pauline, Keith and I set off round the Duddon race route but ran into some heavy snow on our way up Hard Knott and in the face of deteriorating weather decided to head back down Duddon Valley instead. I managed three morning sessions this week to lift my miles and, as my training enters its final phase, I have increased my target to 74 miles a week without losing any climbing. This is a bit of a step up from the 55-60 I was aiming for before and so to be only a mile short on the first week is neither here nor there. Traffic was so bad last night that I couldn't get to the Hill Session but the way my legs felt it was probably a blessing.

Four consecutive weeks of over 10,000 feet of climbing and I now feel much happier about the whole thing, so much so that I am starting to confirm support arrangements. If you want to help or just want to come along and say hello somewhere round the route then please post a comment below and I'll be in touch.

Next Week
After very welcome rest day today we are off for a long, probably fast, walk round Ullswater with the Rucksack Club on Saturday and then on Sunday (if the weather holds) a recce of the North Western fells bit of Leg 1 and perhaps a little more. The rest of the week will be working towards 74 miles and 10,000+ feet on two sessions a day. As well as confirming support details I need to sort out food and water for each leg and the for the road crossings. So far everything has been easy - just running - now the logistics have to be tackled and they are much more difficult.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Friday 4th April 2008

Last Week
58 miles, 12110 ft, 13:01:44
Third week with over 10,000 feet with starting with what turned out to be a hard weekend. 18 miles and just under 4000 feet (3991 feet - mustn't miss Noon Hill next time) and a further 7 miles and 4600 feet on Sunday. The weather is unpredictable that planning is almost impossible - we met Keith at Threlkeld on Sunday with a 'plan' to run back from Rydal but the clouds were so low and the rain so heavy we went to a pub for coffee. By 10:30 it was a bit better but we decided just to go to Dunmail and as soon as we got there the 'heavens opened' and we went to Windermere because Keith needed a new sleeping bag! By about 13:00 it was beginning to fair up a bit so we set off from Dunmail only to meet a runner descending Seat Sandal. He described conditions on Helvellyn as difficult and found it impossible to get beyond Little Man and having crossed Helvellyn twice in a white-out, he recommended we run towards the Langdales. The weather was improving and having climbed Seat Sandal we thought we could get to Dollywagon then back to Fairfield (now the clouds had lifted) and having reached there we dropped down into the valley below Seat Sandal and crossed it again on the way back to Dunlmail. With shredded quads we crossed the road back to car and slumped.

I hadn't recovered sufficiently to tackle a track session on Tuesday but I did manage another recovery run - one that worked, unlike Monday's. Wednesday's slog up New Chapel and Foxholes Road went OK and the week was finished (as my legs were) by a particularly fierce hill session last night - first off-road one of the year.

Next Week
Forecast looks good for Saturday and a not quite so good for Sunday but I hopeful of two days running in the Lakes, again looking for 10,000+ feet and about 60 miles. With three consecutive big climbing weeks in my legs I am beginning to feel as though some 'lost ground' is being made up. I don't think I need much mileage beyond my weekly 60 and if I can keep getting the climbing and remain injury free then I'll begin to feel a bit happier about my fitness than I have for some weeks.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Friday 28th March 2008

Last Week
60 miles, 10380 ft, 14:49:04
After a reasonable performance at Calder Vale and a long slow run over Winter Hill on Saturday morning I had almost nothing left in my legs and the Pike Race was a real struggle - over a minute slower each way than last year and although I picked up places descending I was still a minute quicker coming down last year. Ah well, my string of 5 consecutive PBs is ended - as it was bound to, someday. Allowing for Easter being so early and the missed weeks of training this is more a reminder of how much there is to do rather than a cause for panic. On Sunday we had a gentle run over Winter Hill and then went to tackle "Winter in The Dales" on Monday. The, sometimes fierce, snow showers were unexpected and the knee deep drifts were a surprise but in between the snow provided some fine running and spectacular photographs. We had a long steady day over Ingleborough and Whernside to pick up another 18 miles and almost 4000 ft which seemed good enough to warrant a rest on Tuesday before a hilly twelve miles on Wednsday and a Hills session on Thursday for a second consecutive week with over 10,000 feet.

Next Week
Weather forecasts suggest a poor day on Saturday with Sunday being, perhaps, a little better. At the moment my plans are 'fluid' and will change with the weather with the intention of another 10,000+ feet and around 60 miles.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Friday 21st March 2008

Last Week
70 miles, 10880 ft, 14:22:45
The first 'big' week for quite a while and after a long session on Winter Hill on Saturday we went to Great Langdale on a very cold Sunday intending to go over the Pikes before dropping to the bottom of Rossett Ghyl from Stake Pass and then on to Bowfell. The fourth photo shows the area of the route up Bowfell but it fails to to show the wide, icy and difficult snow patches we encountered before reaching the flat ground below the summit after some diffuculties. This took so long we had to forgo the final climb over Pike O'Blisco after descending The Band. The rest of the week was spent on the road and a rest day on Thursday avoided some awful weather and on Friday we did the Calder Vale 10. A strong cold wind made things difficult and I was pleased to get my best place with a time just inside last year's while Pauline ran a PB on her first outing in Horwich colours.

Next Week
The weather looks too bad for the trip to Scafell Pike on Saturday morning before the Rivington Pike race in the afternoon. Sunday's provisional trip to the Lakes looks like being dropped for similar reasons and a visit to the Dales on Monday looks much more likely. I need a few weeks like last week, at least in terms of climbing, to measure my progress. I had a shocking Pike race yesterday. We had a slow run, in terrible wind, over Winter Hill in the morning and I just had nothing left in my legs - a minute slower to the Pike and a minute slower descending than last year. Allowing for Easter being so early and February's injury I am not concerned but I am, perhaps, more aware of how much needs to be done by the middle of June

Friday, 14 March 2008

Friday 14th March 2008

Last Week
45 miles, 4250 ft, 08:21:52
After Saturday just about anything was going to be better and easier and so it proved. On Sunday Pauline and I had an easy run over Winter Hill to Lead Mines Clough from Rivington (Google Earth Route) and that helped loosen, or gently stretch, my tight abductors and the weather was altogether better. Monday & Wednesday were just gentle recovery runs, each followed by assisted stretches to try to keep everything relaxed. Tuesday's track session was 300 m reps - one of my two favourite distances, the other being about 70 miles and it is only the distances in between I find difficult - in a pretty trying wind. My times were slow but nothing was too uncomfortable afterwards which is much more important. The M60 traffic prevented me getting to Horwich in time for the hill session and when I saw the rain, I wasn't too disappointed. Missing the session gave me an excuse to get out this morning before work and it was really good - what was left of the frost made it a little slippery under foot but it is good to watch the sky brightening and see the sun lighting up the fields - you could almost believe Spring is on the way.

Next Week
Saturday on Winter Hill and Sunday in the Lakes. Weather looks as though it might be too poor for a recce but good enough for a "Great Langdale Roller Coaster" - about 13 miles and 7000 feet over the Langdale Pikes, Bowfell and Pike O'Blisco returning to the valley floor in between each. This will be an attempt to hit 10,000 feet and exceed 60 miles for the week. With Easter next weekend we are doing the Caldervale 10 on Friday so I may rest Thursday because Easter weekend looks pretty demanding.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Saturday 8th March 2008

After last week's progress I was optimistic about a couple of runs on Winter Hill over the weekend - I didn't feel ready for a big run in the Lakes on Saturday and a family 18th birtday party on Saturday night meant an early start on Sunday seemed unlikely. The weather wasn't encouraging and the wind seemed vengeful - not strong enough to blow you over but cold and strength-sapping. My calf stood up to everything and my hamstrings seemed fine but my right abductor is still tight and uncomfortable. I met Ray (one of the runners I trained with for my 2006 BGR who occassionally features on Ed's Blog) just below the trig point and he cheered me up because I hadn't been enjoying it much until then. The morning turned into a long(ish) slow run that made begin to wonder about my fitness and doubt if there are enough weekends to get long days in the Lakes.

Part way through the very tedious Scotland v England rubgy match I saw the sky over Aspull clearing and decided to go and test my legs again. Just four miles on the road through Blackrod, just enough to realise that apart from my slight groin strain my legs were fine and showed no effects from this morning's run (that could be a measure of just how slow it was, of course). This was also an opportunity to think about my training plan and to remember that my target date in June could be delayed by a couple of months. I also concluded, after much pondering, that I should give next weekend's Hobble a miss. Not because I couldn't get round but because it might make my groin worse but more significantly, if I do the Hobble on the Saturday I won't do much on Sunday and I need days in the Lakes.

My training records show that at this stage in

2006 604 miles 78972 ft
2007 380 miles 30810 ft
2008 413 miles 32846 ft

I am still on schedule go get over 110,000 by mid-June in the weather allows so I think I need to start taking every opportunity, starting next weekend.

Yesterday morning
13.6 miles 2300 ft 02:58:20

If you have Google Earth you can have a look at the route (use 'Tools Play Tour' to fly along it). Otherwise the picture above will give you some idea of where I went.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Friday 7th March 2008

Last Week
45 miles, 3875 ft, 07:31:19
More difficult week than expected. Saturday was terrible - I didn't enjoy it at all and this was made worse because I had looked forward to it for so long and then it was made even worse because I didn't enjoy it at all. By lunchtime I was wondering if I would ever enjoy running again and when Pauline came home from her run over Winter Hill so full of joie de vivre I felt even worse. Sunday was much better and it was good to be out again. Monday was just a gentle leg stretch and a massage to try loosen my, still tight, hamstrings. A tentative, 'sensible' track session on Tuesday more or less confirmed that while my calf is still tight all but the very last traces of the strain have gone.

A number of people asked how my calf was and Gaynor asked "How was your first run, I bet you hated it?" and then said "You just wanted it to be over and know your calf was OK. It is always the same, the first one, it is terrible." I hadn't realised. This was the first time I had rested with an injury that I couldn't really feel getting better and that I wouldn't know if it was OK until I ran on it and as I ran on it every other muscle in the rest of my legs protested and tightened up. So thank you Gaynor, I felt so much better on Tuesday. Another gentle recovery run on Wednesday and then I warmed up, somewhat nervously, for last night's hill session. I reached the point where I needed to start pushing a little harder but, obviously, without doing any damage. Long reps on Chorley Road was the session and a good one because the incline varies the reps are long enough to be able to either pushing on or hold back. Starting gently and pushing a little harder on each one without every hitting 100% was the plan and it seemed to work. My best for the final rep is 5:03 and last night I managed 5:13 and my calf felt better for being pushed with only a very little residual tightness afterwards.

Next week
No targets again but a couple of runs over Winter Hill on Saturday and Sunday and if the improvement continues I'll be looking forward to the Haworth Hobble on the 15th.

Other Blogs
These are are also worth a look

as is Mark Smith's "Paddy Buckley" blog

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Sunday 2nd March 2008

9.6 miles, 1610 ft, 02:05:03

Back to Winter Hill, with Pauline, after three weeks and despite the wind and tight legs (from yesterday?) it was really good to be out and enjoying the sunshine and views. Yesterday's blister developed more than I would have liked with peat and Pennine grit ensured a black, bleeding hole in the top of my foot - sorry I have just finished reading Dean Karnazes' "Ultra Marathon Man" which is big on the details of suffering but I'll be over it by tomorrow. Something very gentle tomorrow - an extended warm up essentially - before a massage to improve recovery from these two outings. The Howarth Hobble remains my next target; no longer as measure of winter training rather a long steady training run to measure recovery.

Saturday 1st March 2008

10.6 Miles, 450 ft, 01:37:16
First run for almost three weeks and, of course, looking forward to getting out but nervous about my calf. In the event my calf was fine, well a little tight afterwards, but the rest of my legs were "ring rusty". Tight hamstrings, abductors, ITBs almost everything it seemed. Abductors, especially on my right leg, were (was?) still tight afterwards and as I don't have a high-knee, long stride running action this is a surprise. However my calf was fine and I'll try it again tomorrow on Winter Hill, not too far or too fast but with a bit more climbing.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Friday 29th February 2008

Last Week
0 miles, 0 feet, 00:00:00

Back to obssessively checking weather forecasts for the weekend and although I have seen better it doesn't look bad enough to have to stay indoors - I don't think even if it was, I would. The novelty of 'resting' has worn off and I hope the three weeks (less a day) will be sufficient for complete recovery. The calf feels fine and I'll start to find out on Saturday if it really is with something short and gentle. If all goes well, something a little harder on Sunday and then a gentle week. No mileage targets just a "go with the flow" week, a "glad to get out even in the rain" week and if all goes well, back to something more serious the following week.

I spent too much time playing with computers this week but much of it was stuff that would have to be done sometime and it is done and out of the way now. On-line Jazz radio is pretty good and perhaps it is going spell the end of Digital Broadcasting which, not helped by high hardware prices, hasn't captured the imagination, even of those who can receive it. I have been enjoying Jazz 90.1 as well as the excellent Jazz88 FM and you just can't beat NY rush-hour traffic reports - if you thought the M60 was bad you should try these on a bad Monday morning.

Can't wait for Saturday's run.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Friday 22 February 2008

Last Week
0 miles, 0 feet, 00:00:00

Now the rain has returned my calf feels as good as new, well very nearly. I struggle to find any tightness in it when I stretch it and all the tenderness that was there when it is prodded has gone so I am tempted to conclude it is ready to run on. Another week's rest will only do it good and so I am beginning to look forward to next weekend - talk about wishing your life away!
I have been able to avoid gaining weight much to my surprise - perhaps it is the stress!

We missed the LDWA "Beacon Bash" last weekend. Not a favourite event despite being well organised and supported but it is a tricky, picky route that requires a deal of concentration all the way round. Pauline decided her route finding skills were probably not up to the challenge and parts of it have overwhelmed my own route finding skills on occassion (there are a couple of sections I suspect we have followed a different route each time we have done it and on one, less than glorious outing, we would almost certainly have been quicker walking and getting lost less) so perhaps it wasn't a bad decision.

It has been an interesting week, in some ways. I found a small piece of software that allowed me to catalogue all our books really easily. You enter the IBSN number and it fetches all the details from Amazon (author, title, etc) and all you have to do is confirm they are correct (or edit them if they are not) and it saves them. A little bit of work and I downloaded the list to my Psion (an MX5 that must be about 8 years old - a vintage computer and apart from not having a colour screen it is still better than all other handhelds because it has a proper keyboard) so that I can take it to bookshops and check whether I already have a copy of the obscure mountaineering books I delight in.

The last few days, in particular, have been strange as I haven't been obsessively checking weather forecasts for the weekend trying to decide whether a Lakes recce would be worthwhile. I hope those of you who enjoy the outdoors have thoroughly enjoyed the recent good weather - what a fantastic break in winter training the sunshine provides.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Friday 15th February 2008

Winter Hill Fell Race

No miles since last Saturday's Amble apart from a very gentle stroll up to Rivington Pike on Sunday morning to watch Rob Hope win the Winter Hill fell race. The prospect of a Saurday and Sunday without either running or walking is pretty daunting and I daren't even think about next week and another weekend the same, especially when the weather is so good. I just keep telling myself to retain some sort of perspective - if all goes as it should, it is only another 2 weeks!

Things I have been 'thinking about doing' for a while have actually been done this week. I found a copy of AH Griffin's "Inside The Real Lakeland" which I had forgotten we had and it is a real delight to re-read it. I wonder what lurks forgotten in the depths of the garage? Perhaps I'll have a look tomorrow when Pauline is out enjoying the sunshine, running on Winter Hill.

The most poignent moment of the week was putting away my kit after the Anglezark Amble when the realisation struck that not only would I not need any of it for Sunday, I wouldn't need any of it for another 2-3 weeks. It took a few seconds to come to terms with this new paradigm and a few minutes longer to appreciate I needed to think
somewhat differently about the next few weeks - the plans to shift weekend training to the Lakes aren't going to happen as intended, just yet.

Almost a week later and this week hasn't been too bad except my "never very good sleeping" pattern is disrupted (check the posting time for this, for instance). Pauline even observed last night that I looked very tired, "worse than you do on 70 miles a week". I keep thing that tonight's sleep will be better - well, perhaps tonight's will be.

Anyway, my calf seems to be improving. Some massages, some stretching and lots of rest have got it to the stage where I am only just aware of a slight tightness sometimes. Even that eases after a little walking so I am aware of an improvement and it feels better than it did this time last week which means that resting it is working.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Anglezark Amble and a torn calf muscle

Last Week
24 miles, 2900 feet, 04:02:25

Glorious conditions even if a little soft underfoot in places. Lying 3rd on the way to Darwen Tower and the long drag up Cadshaw Valley proved too much for my right calf and it tightened ominously again. By the Tower it had eased and the ground improved and the gradient eased and so I decided, perhaps unwisely, to continue. Just missing a sub-four hour time but faster than 2005 I finished in 4:02:25. After finishing I began to realise how much worse things might have been - my calf shows no signs of swelling or bleeding and by the next morning after a massage was much improved. Slightly worse than a week ago but still causing no more than slight discomfort.

This time however I am aware that without a complete recovery it could become more serious vey easily so complete rest for two weeks which should be enough time for it to recover and tehn one more week, just in case. I can afford to lose three weeks now but if returning too early extended the recovery period to five or six weeks that would be a different matter.

The really good performance was Pauline's. First attempt at running the Amble and finishing in 04:54, faster than my 2004 time.. Chuffed to bits she is, and rightly so.

Next Week

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Friday 8th February 2008 - Best-laid schemes ....

Kentmere Fells last Sunday morning

Last Week

47 miles, 4503 feet, 9:31:01 run
7 miles, 800 feet walked

"Gang aft agley" as Burns wrote. Starting with the snow on Friday night which prevented the walk leader from getting out of Todmorden and thus causing the cancellation of the Rucksack Club meet last Saturday. No matter as the news spread early enough to be able to get a 20 mile session over Winter Hill instead. All was well, well apart from the two and a half hours in snow and hail showers, until two miles from the end when my right calf tightened ominously. Not quite reduced to walking but the discomfort was enough to banish any plans for running on Sunday. The gentle stroll before lunch on Sunday was uncomfortable enough to confirm that not running was a good call.

The rest of the week was a series of gentle sessions each between 5 and 10 miles long, missing both the track and hills sessions on the grounds that they wouldn't be gentle. The calf improved during the week and it now feels as though it should be fine for the weekend. The easy week I planned turned out easy enough but not in the way I had intended.

Next Week
The main reason for taking an easy week and nursing the strained calf is, of course, the "Winter Hill Weekend" - Anglezark Amble on Saturday followed by the Winter Hill race on Sunday. The rest of the week is going to depend on how quickly I can recover from Sunday.

Two years ago I did both and I will be trying to match the times I achieved then, 4:03:01 for the Amble (24 miles, 2900 feet) and 2:29:56 for Winter Hill (11 miles, 2700 feet). Last year I didn't do the Amble and got round Winter Hill in 2:17:45 and much as I would love to beat that I won't be disappointed if I don't. The weather looks pretty good for both days, at the moment, so let us hope it stays that way.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Friday 1st February - Thats Lyth

George at "Thats Lyth" CP3 and his first daffodil of 2008

Last Week

71 Miles, 7181 feet, 11:17:15 - all run

First hard weekend of the year. 20 miles Sauturday morning, 4 on my own through Horwich before dawn and 16 with Denis over Winter Hill followed by 21 on Sunday on Thats Lyth. The strong wind on Saturday made half the route very hard work but is has dried much of the ground, more than seemed possible a week ago. 21 miles is an odd distance for Thats Lyth but I marshal at CP1 and then run the rest of the route and since Pauline was marshalling at CP3 I ran back to there from the end - the climb up out of Kendal to Scout Scar wasn't as bad as I feared although probably slower than I would have liked. The 16 or so miles form CP1 to Kendal I managed just a little quicker than two years ago when I last did this which I am pleased with. On Monday and Wednesday I did a bit less than usual to keep the miles sensible for the week, for this time of year. A good session at the track and a particularly intense Hill Session last night completed the week.

Next Week
An easier week, not least because the following weekend will be a hard weekend on Winter Hill. We are walking with the Rucksack Club tomorrow and then before an LDWA Xmas Lunch on Sunday I'll get some running miles in Kentmere although precisely where is going to depend on the weather. Having used fairly flat routes on Mondays and Wednesdays until now I'll include Foxholes Road & New Chapel to increase the climbing a bit.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Friday 25th January

Last Week
61 miles, 6003 feet, 10:02:43 - all run

61 miles again but not all in the dark and some over Winter Hill which is as wet and soft underfoot as I can remember. The rain of the last weeks has caused severe and probably permanent erosion on a number of paths and tracks - "The Ramp" has been particularly badly damaged towards the top. The plan to go for a recce of the North Western Fells was abandoned because the forecast suggested the cloud base would be as low as 100M.
The Thursday Hill Session must have been harder than I allowed for because Saturday, even after a rest day, was something of a struggle - perhaps I need a recovery run on Friday mornings? I didn't quite miss Saturday's rain so, not least because it was Pauline's birthday last Sunday, we had a, relatively easy, day and I had a shuffle along the Leeds-Liverpool canal in the afternoon, after the rain had cleared through.

Next Week
First hard weekend of the month with a run on Saturday over Winter Hill with Denis followed by (almost all) of the LDWA "Thats Lyth" on Sunday. After helping out at the start I should be able to have a run round about 20 miles of the route. Monday's run will give me an idea of what might be achievable during the rest of the week. If the weather holds I'll try to get some photos on Sunday.

Support Teams
I am fortunate to have had offers of help already and I'll start get more organised of the next few weeks so thanks to those who have already offered (or agreed) and I'll be in touch again shortly.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Schedule for Midnight Friday 20th June

Fell Name Miles Feet Time spilts leg
Moot Hall, Keswick 0.0 0 00:00

Causey Pike 4.7 1,950 01:05 01:05
Scar Crags 5.5 2,220 01:15 00:10
Sail 6.2 2,720 01:29 00:14
Eel Crags 6.6 3,040 01:38 00:09
Grasmoor 7.8 3,490 02:00 00:22
Wandope 8.9 3,660 02:18 00:18
Whiteless Pike 9.0 3,790 02:28 00:10
Robinson 12.1 5,490 03:19 00:51
Hindscarth 13.6 5,990 03:37 00:18
Dale Head 14.8 6,320 03:53 00:16
Honister - Arr 16.0 6,320 04:04 00:11 04:04
Honister - Dep 16.0 6,320 04:10 00:06
Grey Knotts 16.9 7,440 04:35 00:25
Brandreth 17.5 7,550 04:42 00:07
Green Gable 18.2 8,030 05:00 00:18
Great Gable 18.8 8,520 05:12 00:12
Kirk Fell 20.2 9,180 05:47 00:35
Looking Stead 21.5 9,460 06:05 00:18
Pillar 22.8 10,400 06:39 00:34
Scoat Fell 23.9 10,740 06:59 00:20
Steeple 24.2 10,810 07:04 00:05
Red Pike (Wasdale) 25.2 11,130 07:21 00:17
Yewbarrow 27.1 11,730 07:53 00:32
Wasdale - Arr 28.1 11,730 08:14 00:21 04:10
Wasdale - Dep 28.1 11,730 08:20 00:06
Scafell 30.4 14,680 09:33 01:13
Scafell Pike 31.3 15,200 10:15 00:42
Broad Crag 31.7 15,350 10:25 00:10
Ill Crag 32.1 15,520 10:33 00:08
Great End 32.9 15,670 10:46 00:13
Allen Crags 33.9 15,870 11:01 00:15
Esk Pike 34.8 16,400 11:21 00:20
Bowfell 35.9 16,820 11:41 00:20
Rossett Pike 37.1 16,950 12:01 00:20
Pike O'Stickle 39.5 17,940 12:51 00:50
Loft Crag 39.8 18,040 12:56 00:05
Harrison Stickle 40.2 18,410 13:06 00:10
Pavey Ark 40.9 18,510 13:21 00:15
Thunacar Knott 41.1 18,620 13:28 00:07
Sargeant Man 42.1 18,820 13:40 00:12
High Raise (Central Fells) 42.7 18,960 13:52 00:12
Calf Crag 44.2 19,120 14:13 00:21
Steel Fell 45.7 19,470 14:35 00:22
Dunmail Raise - Arr 46.4 19,470 14:47 00:12 06:33
Dunmail Raise - Dep 46.4 19,470 14:53 00:06
Seat Sandal 47.7 21,140 15:31 00:38
Fairfield 48.8 22,090 16:02 00:31
Dollywagon Pike 50.3 23,140 16:46 00:44
Nethermost Pike 51.2 23,410 17:04 00:18
Helvellyn 51.9 23,690 17:14 00:10
Helvellyn Lower Man 52.4 23,750 17:20 00:06
White Side 53.3 23,970 17:33 00:13
Raise 54.0 24,220 17:43 00:10
Stybarrow Dodd 55.2 24,540 18:00 00:17
Watsons Dodd 55.9 24,590 18:08 00:08
Great Dodd 56.8 24,840 18:22 00:14
Clough Head 58.7 25,140 18:49 00:27
Threkeld - Arr 61.3 25,140 19:26 00:37 04:39
Threkeld - Dep 61.3 25,140 19:32 00:06
Blencathra 62.8 27,570 20:32 01:00
Great Calva 66.4 28,630 21:39 01:07
Skiddaw 69.1 30,180 22:49 01:10
Skiddaw Little Man 70.2 30,370 23:04 00:15
Moot Hall, Keswick 74.1 30,370 23:49 00:45 04:23

Based on Paul Murray's and coincidently is also a 23:49 schedule adjusted to be slightly slower initially (in the dark) and slightly faster over the last two legs when I can only hope my own two legs will still be holding up.