Hardest week yet. 14 hrs 40 training, 76km running/hiking and my first wild camp. 19 weeks to go to JOGLE woohoo!

It’s been a tough but amazing week in training. It was the hardest week in my training month but it was full of special moments like this.

One of those magical moments

The week started off with a full hour at the gym followed by a 11km run carrying nearly full kit. It weighed in at 8kg which was more than I was aiming for. I’ve tried all along to keep everything super light but I think the reality is that is light for ‘self supported’. Despite the weight, my Tuesday run went well and it’s definitely ‘doable’. I jog with it on the flat and downhill then I walk the uphills. I can just about jog with it if its a shallow uphill.

Photos 1&2 from Friday run and photo 3 from the backpack run.

Wednesday was an hour on the turbo. Its not exciting on a turbo but it’s serving its purpose as I generally feel better after. Spinning with a low gear eases my tired muscles.

Thursday I do a half hour run at a really slow pace. This is definitely a recovery run. I generally want to go faster but I know its good for me to keep it slow. After work on a Thursday I have a strength workout with my PT Emma. This week was mainly arms with some core. She had me dangling and trying to do pull ups using a box to put one foot on to assist. I really enjoy these workouts. She’s an excellent trainer and pushes me to get stronger.

Friday was my long run. I’m normally highly motivated. This week I wasn’t feeling it and had to push myself to go out and run 33km (which turned into 35km due to diversions). It was gorgeous weather. Perhaps too gorgeous as I was a sweaty puddle for most of it 🥵. I walked most of the uphills and ran the rest. It was hilly and quite technical in places so conserving energy on the tricky bits makes sense. By the end of it I was really enjoying it. Partly because it was flat in the last 5km 😝 and partly because I still had some energy which amazed me. It might of been the half time teacakes and Coca Cola – nom.

On Saturday my husband and I took a late afternoon train to Edale and hiked via Upper Booth, up Jacobs Ladder to the Wool Packs on Kinder plateau. It was ‘only’ 7km but it was all uphill, pretty warm and rocky. It was beautiful all the way and I really enjoyed hiking in the evening. The views were stunning (see some photos below).

Once we found a nice spot we started laying out our tents for the night. I was really excited as this was my first experience wild camping! I tried out a new footprint which was hilarious as it was so lightweight it kept trying to blow away. It also didn’t have any holes in it to pin it down (lesson learnt there). I had to put all my kit on top of it to stop it blowing away, then put my tent up on top and then slide out my stuff from underneath. 🤦‍♀️ 😆

Once we had all our stuff sorted we set about finding a nice spot to see the sunset whilst cooking our adventure meals on the stoves. Having one of these dehydrated meals was also a first. I have to say I’m very surprised and also delighted – it was really yummy! I had a creamy mashed potato mixed with vegetables and hubby had bean chipotle chilli. We will definitely be getting those again.

From top left clockwise: Our perfect wild camping spot, me making my way to Jacobs Ladder, me near the top of Kinder, the sun setting behind Kinder.

We settled down after tea for some chocolate and whiskey – great combination if you’ve never tried 😁. After a while it got too cold so we disappeared in our respective tents to read our kindles and shout out to each other about our books. I should add we have two ‘one man’ tents as we plan to go on separate adventures so this made the most sense.

Hubby nearly at the top, a quiet moment taking it all in

I got up in the night for a tinkle and the view was stunning – perhaps I should rephrase that!! The moon was so bright – it was gorgeous. It didn’t really get dark. I can really imagine it’s worth going up there with a good camera.

The view at night, Chris posing in front of the glorious sunset

We slept like babies 😴. In the morning it was amazing to wake up to the spectacular views. I think I’m a wild camping convert! We had porridge and coffees and started packing up for the days hike.

Our Easter Sunday hike was only 18km but it was really tough. On a physical level there was a lot of rocks, boulders, steps, technical ground etc. On a meditational level it was amazing. The views were utterly stunning non stop all the way. From a psychological perspective, however, the descent down William Clough dialled into my anxieties. I know I need to work on my fear of technical downhills since I’m planning to climb and descend the 3 peaks.

Today, however, was a reminder of how tough its going to be for me. It’s hard to describe how uncomfortable I get when staring down at a steep descent when it’s rocky and especially if the rocks are wet. I have to take my time, a step at a time and just try not to look too far ahead. One of the hardest things is knowing that others find it so easy. I wonder why I cant find it easy also. The positive to takeaway from this is that I did it. I walked down William Clough – ta dah. Hubby pointed out that I should probably do that kind of descent many times to get ready for the 3 peaks. So we will work this into the plan. I know it will get better. I will nail this – grrrr… 💪

Views from the hike today

21 weeks to go………

The last few weeks in training have been interesting…..

There was a great 32k run carrying a small amount of kit, stopping to make a brew with my new kraku stove in the warm sunshine. This run also included my fourth time filtering river water using my mini Sawyer filter which filters out 99.99% of all bacteria. It doesn’t filter out viruses (but you wouldn’t unduly expect many in UK rivers) and it doesn’t filter our chemicals (simply dont use river water near factories).

Photos from the beautiful 32k run

The day after this run I became ill – very ill. Probably the worst case of gastroenteritis (assuming thats what it was) I’ve ever had. Following the initial gruesome bit (details spared here) I carried on feeling sick, a bit dizzy and generally rubbish for several days. Was it the water? Or did I just eat something dodgy? Or did I make contact with something undesirable on my run and then eat my sandwiches. 🤔

To say that this experience made me paranoid is an understatement. I’ve been second guessing everything I’ve read about water filters. However, I’ve regrouped and done some more research. Well I contacted an amazing Adventurer on Twitter and she advised that she uses purification tablets on top of a filter unless she is high up in the mountains. Following my mini ‘hiccup’ I’ve decided this is also what I shall do.

After my “recovery week” I intended to cautiously step back into training for week 1 of my new workout plan. My coach at North_Endurance sets out a new plan every month. Week 1-Week 3 build up gradually with week 3 being the hardest. Week 4 is then a recovery week where sessions are halved or made easier in terms of intensity. Each four week plan might incorporate a new element or goal and will generally also include a new strength workout.

This months plan includes the following new elements:

  • One weekly run including the rucksack with full kit and weight
  • A longer gym session to test muscular endurance
  • A 3 day weekend of aerobic endurance. Fri is long run, Sat long (well ish) bike and Sun long hike.

My long run will build to 21 miles by the end of this plan. Next month the coach will put me on back to back runs Sat/Sun but reduce the distance (then rebuild it again).

I’ve been very impressed with my coach. He’s kept me injury free so far (my own attempts to poison myself aside). Long may it continue!

I absolutely loved this last week of training, although I will admit it left me shattered by the end of yesterday and I’ve had today off to rest with another rest day tomorrow.

On Monday I did an hours workout at the gym. I’m really enjoying the gym and strength work so this was all about the fun for me.

On Tuesday I ran with my rucksack for the first time. Well technically speaking its not the first time I’ve run with a weighted bag but it was the first time with this particular bag and the first time its been that full. I managed to pack it with 6kg. In reality it’ll be more like 7-7.5kg for JOGLE as I will pack adventure food, a tracker and yet more water in a bladder. I simply don’t have these things yet but I should get the bladder soon at least.

I was pleasantly surprised to find I was not only able to jog but to keep this up for a full hour quite easily. It felt really comfortable on the whole. The only issues to resolve are getting a bladder as the pockets at the front are not large enough for soft water bottles and finding a way to stop the small ridge in the back of the rucksack from rubbing me and causing chafing when I run.

Wednesday and Thursday included a turbo session, a short run and a death by Emma session with my PT 😬😆. She worked me seriously hard but its good to feel I’m getting stronger.

On Friday I ran 23km, mostly on road. It’s amazing how easy road running feels when you always run on hilly trails. Having said that I was still slow as a) I got lost (as always!) and b) I was bollocksed 😆.

Lovely view from Broadbottom just before the getting lost episode

On Saturday I went on a hike with Emma and some of her friends. It was a really lovely day and we walked through beautiful places on undulating trails. We parted ways at the top of Jacobs Ladder and they continued onto Castleton finishing a long day of 24km and I finished my 19km in Edale meeting up with hubby who had also hiked 22km from a different starting point (so clearly I was the laziest that day 😆). We were both carrying full kit and camped in Edale at a lovely place called Fieldhead Campsite. I can highly recommend.

Top left and clockwise: Vegan brownie after a long hike, stopping for lunch with the ‘girls’ on our way up Kinder Scout, me first thing enjoying a cappuccino in my tent, two of us having a good natter on the hike yesterday.

Thankfully my lovely husband brought me a second sleeping bag as it was -1 degrees and my season II sleeping bag just doesn’t cut it in those temperatures. I was toasty warm and had a lovely sleep listening to the sounds of a nearby stream as I drifted off. The pint of beer and nip of Martell brandy at the Nags Head helped though. A lovely finish to a lovely week.

Beautiful photo from the hike

24 Weeks to go – 3 Peaks JOGLE

I’ve been suffering from writers block lately. I know there is a jumble of words in my head but its difficult to spit them out in any particular useful order. After some dithering and focaccia bread making, I decided if I just start typing perhaps the thoughts will spill out and the writing will take care of itself. We will see – miracles do happen.

With 24 weeks to go till JOGLE, training has been increasing. I’m still covering 3 runs and a hike a week – this will no doubt increase in the next months. The runs are one hilly one, one short slow one and one longer one that gets longer each week. This one is following a marathon plan. This last week it was 24km and next week it’s 27km. The long run is my favourite run. It allows me to get out onto the trails and lose myself for a few hours both in mind and sometimes literally 😆.

A lovely moment on this weeks run – cute donkeys awww

On top of the runs, I do a long hike with my husband carrying a 30L rucksack and full camping/JOGLE kit. Longest to date was 30k but todays was “just” 19k. I say “just” because they are genuinely really hilly and often include some technical ground. By technical I mean loose large rocks, slippy muddy steep hills or boggy fields. This is all the norm for most trail runners or hikers but its definitely more energy sapping than running or walking on roads.

My husband was routing the hike today so all I can tell you about these is somewhere near Rowarth (top and left), not too far from Etherow (middle) and no idea 🤷‍♀️

My coach plans in all the training runs for me. He also sets out one bike session and two strength sessions each week. Recently my strength workouts have become more advanced. Where I previously did a plank, I now do a plank with leg lift. Where I previously did calf raises I now do them on one leg holding weights. In addition to these two sessions, I see my PT each week who gives me exercises that push me to my limit.

It’s good to see that I’m starting to progress. I can do moves I couldn’t do before and the stronger I get the more my PT introduces something new to push me again. Currently she is also working on my back strength. This is something I will certainly need for carrying my rucksack day in/day out.

This last weeks training totalled 12 hours. In my head this doesn’t sound a lot when I consider I will need to run/walk for 6-8 hours a day. But it is a lot and my body is tired today. I’ve had achy hips, a twinge in my ankle and my right shoulder makes lovely cracking sounds when I rotate it. Hopefully my body will adapt to this loading and start getting less tired – of course then I will add more training and hours 😉.

Kit:

The only addition to my kit has been some merino wool liner gloves with touchscreen compatible pads on the thumbs and index fingers. I absolutely love them. Considering how thin they are they have kept me warm when its been 2 degrees and I’ve still had them on when the sun is shining and my hands dont sweat in them. I also love the pads which mean I can take photos or check for messages without taking off my gloves.

My stove has arrived. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet though. I’m still waiting for the accompanying gas cannister to arrive – kind of essential. I should hopefully get a camping opportunity in April so this would be a good time to try it out. Fun times 😀.

This week I practiced with my Fenix watch for the first time using my own route. Or rather using the route that Komoot found on the app. Picking a starting point and an end point and letting the app choose something suitably ‘traily’ I found myself on new paths, exploring steep steps in a wood, jogging up paths that looked like dry river beds and crossing fields with no obvious path. All the time you simply make sure the little arrow is sitting on the purple line on your watch. It’s easy to use. It just feels odd to not know where you are and simply trust it. Fun though 😀.

I also used my water filter again this week. The more I use it the faster the water will flow out. So its good to practice. You simply screw on the blue filter onto your bag (in which you’ve collected river/stream water), turn it upside down and squeeze. You can squeeze into your own clean bottles or just drink directly from it by sucking on the blue filter at the other end. Now my runs/hikes are getting longer I’m finding this gadget very useful and the water tastes really nice too.

Great place to get some fresh water

Charities

I’ve had emails and information from both Mind and The Menopause Charity now. I can set up just giving for both. This is something l will set up circa 3 months out from the run.

Thoughts

I’ve had some nervous thoughts lately. Will my body allow me to do this? What if my hip/Achilles/back gives up? What if this/what if that? Two of my friends told me ‘you’re catastrophising’. So true – clearly something I’m guilty of. Oops. It’s good to have that honesty from friends. I need to be positive. I need to remember I’ve been in pain before and I dont give up easily.

It also makes me think though I need to train my mindset as much as I train my physical ability. Both are so important, perhaps the mind is even more important. I’ve seen some interesting books on Mindfulness and The Chimp Paradox that I might give a go. On a lighter note, I’m currently reading ‘ducking long way’ which is a really funny, easy to read book on Ultra running. I highly recommend it if you are into running.

30 weeks to go

Been busy with admin today setting up a new facebook page for my 3 Peaks JOGLE run in September.

I was sat with my husband in a cocktail bar yesterday (yes I know Human League reminder….) debating what to call the run. After a number of drinks involving rum, fizz and glacier cherries we came up with 3 Peaks JOGLE – as you can see its completely unoriginal and basically just does what it says on the tin. Still the cocktails were nice 😝.

I’m not social media savvy or ‘techy’ I would call it. There has been a lot of ‘Chrisssss’, ‘pleassseee help’. He is lovely though and very patient with me 😆.

Hubby has rejoined me doing PT sessions. He gets distracted though 😆

It feels weird and sort of alarming that my little adventure is drawing nearer. I have plenty of kit, I’ve been camping, become reasonably fit (I hope) and done some decently long and hilly hikes. However, I’ve not yet built up really long runs. My longest (recently at least) was 16K and I’ll need to run 42K every day.

It’s in the plan of course to build up distance. It just plays on my mind sometimes that I’m not ‘there’ yet.

I have to remind myself though that if I put in too much too soon then I run the risk of injury. Better to be patient and trust in the coach.

A recent mini back sprain led me to go swimming again. It’s really good for low key mobilisation without putting a strain on anything. I’m almost glad I pulled a muscle as I’m now back swimming once a week and loving it.

Following a pretty easy week (recovery week) – next week sees a step up in training. Swimming, strength work and the long hike will be kept the same, spin (bike) sessions will get longer and the long run will get longer. Not sure how far I will run as it’s based on time. So I’ve got 2 hours down for next weekend, building up to 2 hours 30 minutes by the end of Feb. This is still a far cry from the number of hours I need to get to but patience Lorna patience.

Generally on the weekend of the long run my husband and I will also go for a long hike. I’ve started to take my rucksack filled with kit with me to get used to it. These hikes have generally been around the 3 hour mark but the last one was 6 hours (long story involving a cancelled train).

I guess the combination of the long run and the long hike start to feel like I’m getting somewhere.

A few moments below from recent hikes and runs:

Above: A foggy day in Macclesfield Forrest. Below: New Years Day Sunrise on Hollins Cross, Jacobs Ladder, Werneth Low

Boxing Day and 35 weeks to go…

Happy Christmas everyone.

My Training Peaks has the start day of my JOGLE adventure planned in, So at a glance I can always see how many weeks there are to go. I’m undecided as to whether this is a good or bad thing.

On the one hand, part of me wishes it was tomorrow as I’m raring to go and on the other hand 35 weeks sounds so soon and its a bit scary! These two different thoughts may seem like they conflict. Actually they stem from the same place. I believe that once I start I won’t feel so nervous. There will be no time to overthink and the time for just ‘doing’ and ‘being’ will be upon me and thats no bad thing.

Well its been an interesting month in training. On the one hand its definitely stepped up and also taken a slightly different direction. On the other hand I’ve had a fair few days additional rest due to not feeling well. I even joined the nation in doing a PCR test this week after having a sore throat for a while. It’s negative and I now think the real culprit is dry air/central heating. A dehumidifier is on its way tomorrow – fingers crossed that helps.

Successful steps forward this last month, include a lot more hiking, hiking with a weighted backpack, running more often and running with a weighted backpack. Furthermore I’m very excited to have discovered a new backpack, which will now allow me to take a stove with me and cook on the way when I camp. So many thanks to Jenny Tough (not only an inspirational lady but also the person on you tube that recommended the backpack). Check out her website its really amazing what she’s accomplished. http://jennytough.com/

Hubby and I have recently hiked over Lose Hill, Mam Tor, Lantern Pike, Cown Edge. We are so lucky to have these beautiful places on the doorstep. (See photos at the bottom).

Running with a tent/sleeping bag etc. Does slow me down a bit (as you’d expect) but I need to learn to slow down even more as my heart rate was a little high this morning. It’s easy to get carried away but I’ll need to perfect the act of jog/walking if I’m to continue everyday carrying weight.

My coach has reduced my bike rides from 3 to just 1 a week as we start increasing my running/walking time. However, I can switch out a hike for a mountain bike ride anytime I want (its all good for fitness). My swimming hours have gone completely (sad face). I do miss it and I could ‘squeeze’ it in somewhere just for some relaxing fun but its not easy to know ‘where’.

My main task over winter is to continue building strength. I do 2-3 gym type sessions a week (one of those with a personal trainer) as well as a minimum of one structured run a week that includes hill repeats or intervals designed to make me stronger. Being strong is the main thing that will keep me from getting injured when I run/walk day after day carrying ca. 7kg (ish ish).

After our hike up Lantern Pike we are rewarded with these views
From run today up Werneth Low – carrying tent and sleeping system
Chris at the top of Lose Hill
Stunning views on the way to Mam Tor
Morning views from Werneth Low
It felt windy 😆 – coming down off Lose Hill – steeper than it looks

9 and a half months to go 😁

No I’m not pregnant 😆. It’s just 9.5 months until I run/jog/walk JOGLE woohoo.

The Getting Fit Bit:

I’ve been training with a coach since June and its going well. I’m not yet running long back to back distances but there is plenty of time for that next year (I hope eek!). He has, however, helped me to build up my base fitness to a really good level. This last week aside, when I felt poorly for 4-5 days I feel fitter than I ever have before.

The plan for winter is to build up strength and become more injury resistant. (Even more vital at my age). I am now doing 3 strength workouts a week and have to work upper body, lower body and core (each section at least twice in the week).

I have also started to hike more and will continue to build up hiking distances, preferably carrying some weight now and again. Eventually I will need to be able to jog carrying ca. 7kg.

I’m still cross training with cycling and yoga which is good for strength and recovery. I’d love to swim too but am struggling to find the time at the moment. Next year I will be running more and perhaps cycling less as I start the ‘build up’ phase. I’m looking forward to that as I hope I’ll start to feel a bit more ‘ready’.

Kit:

I still have some kit to get but I already have my rucksack, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and a decent rain coat. When its possible I intend to go camping and establish what the minimum temperature I can sleep in is at night. After one camping experience two weeks ago when it dropped to 3 degrees (feels like -1), I can safely say my current kit was inadequate for such low temperatures. I had to get up and dance around the toilet block every hour in order to get blood back into my toes. It was not a fun night.

Since then I’ve bought a silk liner and a long sleeve merino top which should help keep me keep warmer. I would like to camp in the back garden at different temperatures (from 1-6 degrees maybe) to see what is comfortable. At least then if it’s too cold, I can dash back in the house and thaw out.

My husband bought me a Fenix watch which I’m absolutely psyched about. I’ll detail more about this in a separate blog, once I’ve had a chance to play around with it some more.

The Route:

I don’t really want to plan the trip in detail since its supposed to be a fun adventure and I would rather work it out ‘as I go along’.

However, I had to book time off work and arrange cover etc so it was necessary to roughly plot the route and establish timing. I have 7 weeks off work so I have to take less time than that as I need to get to the top and back from the bottom of the country. This means averaging 26 miles a day ish but the exact route in between is flexible. I can plot the routes for the day ahead the night before and/or ask locals for their knowledge ‘down the pub’.

Charity and Motivation:

I would like to raise money for a mental health related charity as well as a menopause related charity. This is something I’m looking into. Both mean a lot to me personally. You’ll see a few blogs on here related to menopause. It’s amazing to me – what a significant ‘event’ it is and yet how little its talked about.

My motivation (apart from the selfish need to have an adventure) is to feel like I’m in the driving seat, feel that sense of independence and gain some of the confidence that menopause sometimes strips away.

Tracking:

Yep I’ve put in an order for a tracker so people can see where I’m up to. This is a risky strategy since I’m completely clumsy and may fall over on day 2. It puts a sense of pressure on me. In some senses I sometimes think I should not talk about my adventure, not blog about it, not raise money for charity and not have a tracker. Then I could sneak off and if it all goes ‘t’ up no one would know (except my colleagues, husband and family).

However, I’ve thought about this. Sean Conway said if you are going to do an adventure tell absolutely everyone – then you have to do it. So I’m trying to go with that theory. I also think the tracker will be a nice thing for friends and family. They can follow where I am up to when the time comes.

Now I just need to keep training and at some point run a marathon distance – with a bag. The clock is ticking….. (apologies for the Sharon Gaytor reference).

101 Life Lessons

One of my 60 before I’m 60 bucket list items was to write 101 life lessons. I’m no Oracle. Some are useful titbits, most are lessons learnt as a result of me doing something stupid. Here are the first 10.

1. If you are decorating your house and have put the painting tray on the floor, remember where you put it! It’s all too easy to step backwards into your tray of very purple paint. If you get this wrong, you may need to hop all the way to the bathroom (and save the carpet from purple foot prints).

2. Always keep spare underwear in your swimming bag. You will inevitably forget them at some point and having a spare stash is incredibly handy. Particularly if you dressed that day in something flimsy, white or both.

3. Beware of trying on complicated clothing you don’t understand in a small shop cubicle. You ladies know what I mean, we’ve all been there. That top with too many holes where you cant quite work out which one you put your head through or that dress that has too many straps and maybe a tad small. If you aren’t sure put it down and step away from the garment.

If you fail to make this decision you may find yourself standing there with a large unrecognisable lump of material wrapped around your neck and face, one strap over your left ear and another in your left armpit.

The next decision is vital. Do you A) risk ripping it by pulling it off quickly? B) risk cutting off the blood supply by wiggling it slowly back off, nearly dislocating your shoulder in the process, or C) humiliate yourself by calling the assistant to come and help you, who will then of course gleefully tell their friends later in the pub in hideous detail. This decision could live with you for a while, so make it wisely.

4. If you’re avoiding cows milk for any reason, soya milk splits in hot coffee, oat milk does not. You’re welcome.

5. If you really need to pee outside when you are out for a walk make sure to do this far from the prying eyes of people on paths. Whilst dog owners may possess the tact to ‘pretend’ to ignore you when you squatting behind a tree that is clearly too close and too thin…., dogs do not possess the same tact. Being snarled at by a large dog up close and personal does not enhance the peeing experience.

6. Never ever put the washing in your washing machine wearing a sweatshirt with long toggles hanging from the neck. Better said, never ever switch the machine on if one of your toggles gets caught in the door……..thankfully for me I clicked the off button in time.

7. If you are fond of long distance trail running become acquainted with Vaseline. Your toe nails will thank you later.

8. Multi-tasking is a load of nonsense. All it means for me is forgetting I left laundry in the dryer and burning the dinner.

9. When someone waves at you in the street who you don’t recognise, look behind you first before you make a complete pillock of yourself.

10. White wine really does remove a red wine stain from the carpet.

Landmark moments! Countdown to my big run begins!; 2.5 months coached training; longest run since the face planting episode and first time drinking river water using a mini filter system 😀

2.5 months of coached training 😀

So its 2.5 months since I started training with North Endurance and it’s going really well. A few niggly Achilles twinges asides its been pretty smooth sailing. I’m still enjoying following a plan which is posted for me on the training peaks App. I generally get about a months worth of sessions in advance, although he sometimes tweaks bits here and there so you need to keep checking.

There is a comments box where you can say on the App how a session went and the coach will add his comments after that. It can be anything from the more general ‘you’re doing really well’ to the more specific ‘you need to eat more when running/cycling, increase your carbohydrates to XX grams an hour’. I take all these comments on board. I think I’m a good student 😁. To my mind; there isn’t any point in paying someone for advice if you aren’t going to take it on board. In addition to this, we have a call once a month to go over the previous month and what he expects from the next month from me.

The Grand Skiddaw Ultra

We went to stay in the North Lakes this weekend. The original plan was to run the Grand Skiddaw Ultra, which is 44 hilly miles including the climbing of Skiddaw (unsurprisingly). Unfortunately due to my ‘mishap’ earlier in the year we had to pull out. We decided to keep our booking at the lovely Thornfield glamping cabins, however, and enjoyed a lovely weekend there in the sunshine.

On Saturday we pottered over to a spot on a small rise, just 0.5km from the finishing line. We stayed for an hour ish, so we could clap and support the people finishing the Ultra. As you can see from the photo below my husband is looking and waiting to spy the next runner coming. It was really rewarding to be able to encourage people up that the last little hill, tell them they were nearly there and clap them as they went past. My husband also went up to the next gate and held it open for them. We always appreciate Marshalls and people watching and clapping when we run races, so its nice to give back a little.

They all did amazingly well running 44 hilly miles on a really hot day. There were some tired faces going past and some looked surprisingly fresh like the lady in third place who went past us smiling and seemingly with energy to spare.

Longest run since the big comedy fall

My husband and I ran 24km on the Cumbria Way yesterday. This is a stunning trail route that runs from Dalton to Caldeck. In fact it starts just before this picture above and aligns with the first part of the Ultra. We did an out and back on this run. Normally out and back routes are not my favourite but this route was so beautiful we didn’t mind at all. We didn’t take as many photos as we’d intended, but I include some nice ones below (along with general ones from the holiday).

Our mini glamping pod with the rather lovely hot tub addition
Enjoying a gin in the hot tub with a lovely fire nearby
The start of our run through the hayfields
How to maximise attractiveness wearing a backpack under your T-shirt whilst inhaling a cream scone (in Caldeck)
Running selfie on the return leg
Idyllic surroundings near the River
Husband showing his hay leaping prowess

The Sawyer mini water filtration system

In preparation for my long run next year, I’m starting to assemble some of the kit I will need to take with me. I will be doing some ‘practice’ long weekends where I run from A to B to C carrying my backpack and kit. One of the things I will need to take is a water filter so that I can drink from rivers rather than having to wait until you see the next shop/cafe.

Following a lot of reading and reviews I decided to buy the Sawyer mini water filter system. The system offers 99.99% elimination of all bacteria and is very light to carry. It doesn’t filter viruses or heavy metals or chemicals, however, I’ve read that viruses in the UK are not really an issue (in the water) and I guess I just won’t take water close to factories. So on our long run on Sunday I took the mini filter with me and filtered some of the water from the river in Caldbeck to drink on my return leg.

Honestly speaking it was the least risky test, since the water looked very clean to start with but you have to start somewhere. Apparently it will filter even dirty puddles, however, I’m not sure I’ll be rushing to try that one out!

Easy to use – you simply fill up the bag (shown in photo below), screw on your filter and turn it upside down to let nature take its course (you can lightly squeeze the bag too) and watch as your lovely clean water comes out the end. I filtered mine into my Salamon soft bottles to to put back in my backpack.

Happy with my new filter. As a follow up I should add I survived after drinking it too! 🙂

One year till the big run!

The clock has started ticking. Just one year to go until my run. Cover has been discussed at work. Kit is being assembled. I’ve started plotting a rough route. The training is just beginning really. A lot, lot of running still to do but it’s starting to feel real.

A month in Training – North Endurance

I’m sitting outside on the patio in the scorching heat typing this blog with a slight furrow in my brow.

I’m concentrating. I feel really really tired. My husband has just brought me a lovely mug of coffee and I’m hoping that its true what they say – hot drinks can refresh you in the heat.

I’ve just completed my first month of coached training in conjunction with Training Peaks. So how do I feel except for tired? How has it been following a set out plan? How easy/hard are the sessions? Well I’ve set out below the main points which answer these questions and more.

How have I felt?

Great! I feel fitter and stronger. With each passing strength session I’m getting stronger. I’m still not lifting very heavy weights but I feel a little stronger each week. Earlier in the year I was worried that my glutes were not activated. Now I can feel them when I run or do my strength workout sessions.

Cycling doesn’t feel as hard as it did a month ago. After a long break from outdoor cycling I definitely found it hard going at first. I now feel I’m getting my mojo back. It’s hard to say if speed is back or not since I’m supposed to take my long rides really easy, so currently they are very slow.

Running sessions pass quickly. I have the workout written on my hand or on a small bit of paper in my pocket. I get lost in the workout and the scenery. I don’t get bored and I don’t run out of energy like I used to.

I’ve restarted yoga lessons. These particular ones are hard strength poses with quick switches from one to another. I feel like I can do these better than I used to and they give you a really good strength workout. The picture above is not me but it is one of the poses we do.

What have you learnt?

Quite a lot in a short space of time tbh. Ive realised that most of my training (previously) was decent but lacked ‘polarisation’ as the coach called it. By this he means doing certain specific quality workouts and ensuring that workouts are either about recovery or hard work. The middle ground is gone.

I generally have two hard sessions a week. One for running and one for bike. The hard running session will include either hill repeats or sprint intervals. If its the latter it might be longer intervals at half marathon pace or very short sprints at 3k pace. It varies a lot, so its always interesting. The hard bike workout is generally hill work using big gears and grinding up at a slow rpm. This is designed to build leg strength. I find the latter really hard and have always relied on my cardio to get me up hills, spinning away in an easier gear. So I guess its a good session for me to do – one that challenges me.

I have 2-3 recovery runs or bikes a week. These have to be done at a very slow/easy pace. The aim is to keep heart rate much lower i.e. in zone 2. I found this really hard at first but I’m getting better at it and actually I quite enjoy these sessions now. I’ve realised that at this really slow pace I could run forever. Well maybe not, but it feels like it. I’ve also noticed my average heart rate is coming down relative to effort so I think thats a good thing. I assume that eventually my really easy slow run will be faster relative to the same heart rate/level of effort.

I have one long run and one long bike a week, generally done at a slow to moderate pace. Then there are two swims. These can include technique and sprint sessions but are always deemed recovery workouts as your heart rate just doesn’t get that high on a swim.

How has it been following a set plan?

At times this is difficult. Take today for example, I really really cba. But the program said I should do a 2-3 hour bike ride so I heaved myself out of a comfortable armchair, went out and got it done. The majority of the time though I prefer having planned sessions. I dont have to think or workout how to get ready for my next race or target. It’s all done for me. It takes the thinking out of it, which is really nice. It leaves me to concentrate on enjoying whatever workout is set for that day.

Do I find the sessions easy/hard?

See above about polarised workouts. The easy sessions are very very easy. The hard sessions can be very very hard. The hardest ones I’ve found were the hill sprints and a 3km test run which was ‘run as hard as you can for 3km’ – that killed me. Mind you, it was a hot day, high pollen day, which didn’t help.

So what else has changed? In the past if I’d suddenly gone from 9km max run one week to 14k the next my body would of complained – loudly. In the last two weeks I did exactly that and what happened? Nothing. I feel absolutely fine. I’ve realised this is in fact possible when you run slower, warm up properly and make sure your glutes/calves etc are switched on.

So where do we go from here? Well I’ve put my goals into the training app. They include training for a 25k very hilly trail run in September (its actually 27km), possibly doing a weeks bike touring with my husband (also Sept), cycling from Andratx to Puerto Pollensa in Mallorca in October (pandemic dependent) and a 10k run in November. Oh and the little run from John O Groats to Lands End in Sept 2022. That’s the ultimate goal that all of this is working towards.

I’m expecting my second/third months of training to focus on increased efforts on the run and the bike towards these goals. Looking forward to it.

First coached training week 😁

I’ve survived my first week of training following workouts set out by a coach – hurrah.

Training was harder than I expected and there was no day off as swimming counts as “active recovery”.

Monday: This was my “rest day” i.e. I was given a swim to do. I can totally understand the point however, your heart rate just doesn’t get up there during swimming and generally I dont get tired legs (normally). On this occasion I did feel a little tired after but thats probably because I’m not used to doing sprints. I guess I’m normally a lazy swimmer and spend half my time with a pull buoy between my legs doing a lazy crawl.

Absent minded training is no longer allowed. I will be doing either hard sessions or very very easy sessions. Everything is about quality.

So with my first swim I had to familiarise myself with a button on my Garmin watch that records rest periods. My workout was warm up, then a main set of doing 50metre sprints followed by 15 seconds rest. This was mostly done in front crawl, however, there were some lengths of breaststroke in there too. Sadly I didn’t have time for the cool down as they throw you out of the pool after 45 minutes. I batted my eyelashes at the guy behind my goggles but he wasn’t having any of it.

Tuesday: I went to the gym before work and was feeling quite smug because I’d designed my own workout to follow. Of course in reality when you get there you soon realise ahhhh I cant find the long bar or exactly the weight I need etc, however, I did my best to follow my plan. It was a total body workout and included some machines but also free weights and “floor work” which always sounds like something a gymnast would do. I must of overdone it as my legs felt like robocop for the next few days…

After work on Tuesday I had my first run session to do. I knew it was going to involve interval sprints so made the rare decision to drive to a spot I knew, where it is pan flat. I also picked it because it has some tree cover and it was a hot hot day 🥵. Again I used the lap button on my watch for each interval. It was a really hard session as I clearly just pootle normally. Going really fast one minute then very slow the next is completely foreign to my legs. By the end I had to walk some of the last easy bits as I was really flagging.

Wednesday: Today’s workout was 1hour of easy cycling. Woohoo. It’s great when you see the word ‘easy’. I was allowed to cycle indoors or outdoors but basically just needed to keep my heart rate at a certain rate (Z2 = easy/you can still chat).

I had hoped it would help my legs, which by Wednesday were more like robocop after horse riding. It didn’t.

Thursday: Ahhhh finally my legs were feeling a lot better 👏. Thursdays session was an easy run of 30 minutes. It should of been a hard bike session but I had to switch Thur/Fri round for work reasons. It felt both bizarre and difficult to run as slow as I’d been told initially. However, I finished my recovery run and will admit I did feel better after.

After work on Thursday my husband and I had our 30 minute strength session with Emma (our personal trainer). She put us through our paces with lots of arm and core work (I told her to lay off the legs 😆). As always it was a lot of fun and I really feel I’ve worked hard after.

Friday: I was dreading this session thinking it would be incredibly hard. I had to do a 50 minute bike ride (in or outdoor) using a big gear and pushing hard with a slow cadence. This was done in an interval fashion with easy spinning in between. Based on the watts I’d been set to achieve I actually found it very doable but arguably I should of pushed for higher watts and worked harder. Ah well, next time, I’m sure he will increase the watts!

Saturday: Saturday morning was a 45 minute swim switching between normal front crawl and swimming with the pull buoy concentrating on technique. This was followed by a 30 minute easy run with 5 minutes of faster intervals in the middle. I really wanted to run faster for longer. I dare say this is a good thing. In the past I was probably doing such hard or long runs I always wanted to go slower!

Sunday: Easy/steady state outdoor bike ride for 2-3 hours. I went out with my husband and rode 55k on our road bikes. I really enjoyed it but my loss of speed compared to last year is very noticeable to me. I was trying to take it easy, however, even taking that into account I’d say I’ve lost 1-2 miles an hour. Amazing really. Still I will get it back 🚴‍♀️.

For each session you do using the TrainingPeaks App you state after how you felt and how much effort you put in. You can also add general comments or questions. For the bike session I mentioned how tired I felt and the coach asked me what I had eaten. Following my response the feedback was I need to eat more, apparently around 45-55g of carbohydrate an hour based on my current efforts. That’s way more than I’ve ever eaten when out cycling. So I’ll try that next week and see if it helps. Certainly an excuse to eat more is always good 😃.