Wild Glamping and the Kinder Scout Run

I’m chilling out in front of the Tour de France after a few days away um chilling out. We went “wild camping” in Edale, which was so much fun, especially the mini log burner and full double bed in the tent 😆.

Our bell tent, double bed, log burner, some nutter and the cooking area

It also made a perfect spot to walk and run from. On the day we arrived we walked up Grindsbrook Clough which was stunning.

Me on Grindsbrook Clough 🙂

Yesterday we ran from the campsite along the Pennine way via Upper Booth and ascended Jacobs ladder to Kinder Scout. Admittedly I did a lot of walking initially on this run. The combination of the everlasting ascent and not feeling fully well made me quite out of breath so I took it easy.

On Jacobs Ladder

Once on the top we ran past Kinder Low End, I was keen to push on and run but this proved intermittent as the ground was very technical to run on in places, small rocks were sticking out in the gaps between the larger rocks and boulders so you had to watch your step. We both tried to pick up pace but did do a ‘near fall’ or kick things numerous times.

Kinder Scout

We ran on to view Kinder Downfall and then further along a river with an idea to find a way back to Upper Tor and Ringing Roger. The path we were on ended in a peat mud fest so retraced our steps back to Kinder Low End.

Kinder Downfall

At this point I decided I’d prefer to return the same way we came as I was beginning to tire and at least I knew it would be 18km by doing this. Heading back meant we could run a lot more, especially where we could find grassy slopes which are so much easier to run on. We took the bridal path down Jacobs Ladder and at this point my husband went over on his ankle, hearing a crack as he did so. I was concerned but he insisted it was ok. At the bottom of the slope however, there was a nice frosty cold river and we both agreed it would be useful for him to bathe his foot and help early prevention of any swelling.

My husband feeling tempted to do a full naked immersion Sean Conway style but there were people watching 😆

We ran all the way back to the campsite from this point even though my stoic husband was in some discomfort. I’d of suggested we walked but in all honesty I’m not sure that walking the remaining 5k would of been any better really.

It really was beautiful in Edale so we have mutually decided to go back sometime, we can run there from our home, (25K), down some ales and whiskey, camp and run back.

Running was often over ground as per right below

How does swimming work during Covid? 🏊‍♂️

So I took my first ‘splash’ at the leisure centre the other week in many many months. I wasnt sure how it would work when I got there other than that I needed to wear my costume underneath my clothes and take my snazzy lime green hat just because you know it looks snazzy.

Once at the leisure centre I wore my mask although it clearly wasn’t obligatory as not everyone did. We were all pointed to the one way arrows which directed us to the ladies changing area (so everyone including men go through here). They had cordoned off a group changing area for men and a separate one for women within the ladies changing room by clearly hanging signs up on the wall. It did amuse me that there was a gent in the ladies bit and a woman in the gents bit, clearly people didnt read the nice little bits of paper cellotaped to the wall. I already had my costume on so simply stripped down and threw my stuff in my bag. You then went through to the pool with your bag as the lockers are all sealed off with those criss cross yellow tapes that make it look like someone got murdered in the lockers.

The swimming pool itself was split into just 3 lanes. Two wide ones labelled slow and medium and a narrower one in the middle labelled fast. I had already signed up to my swim online by using the booking appointment system and noted that two of the lanes would take 7 people maximum and the third lane just 4. I aimed for the middle lane and set off initially on my own as nearly everyone headed for ‘medium’. They should perhaps ask people to sign up to slow/medium/fast whilst booking so they can take this into account as to my mind there were too many people in the medium section.

Once you’ve finished your swim you collect your bag from the side of the pool and follow the one way signs through the men’s changing room. Again this has a group area for ladies and gents within it and there are also some individual changing rooms. There are no showers again more yellow tape, clearly it was a serial killer who liked taking out people in the shower and shovelling them in lockers.

So you dry off, dress and leg it out of there. It was seemingly the quickest swim session I’ve done as it all seemed pretty efficient with no opportunity to faff with shampoo or particular need to go searching for that old hairbrush at the bottom of your bag thats been there forever.

Outdoor swimming by comparison is easier again in some ways, trickier in others. I love outdoor swimming and this was opened up sooner than pool swimming in the last month or two. Again for outdoor swimming there are no changing facilities or showers. Arriving in your costume you stand wobbling on one leg trying to don your wetsuit in a car park or by the quay or lake depending on where you are (dont try one legged action whilst standing on the end of a pier though). After the swim is done the ‘tricky’ bit begins. Trying to dry off and get dressed without flashing everyone, which reminded me of getting changed on the beach where you end up holding the towel in a circle around yourself and trying to put your bra on unsuccessfully and end up strangling yourself with it instead. In the end I gave up on that and just threw a T-shirt on. I’m not Houdini.

Beautiful Lakeland trail race – Derwentwater 15k

I’m just digging the mud out from under my nails a good 7 hours after finishing this race. If you want great views, all types of terrain and all types of weather this is the race for you.

Beautiful views during the trail race

I was excited about coming to do the 15k challenge which starts in Keswick Fitz Park and undulates around Latrigg out towards Blease Fell and back via Lonscale Fell to Fitz Park. I did this race 5 years ago and it took me a long 1hr 53 minutes to complete so I was certain with my increased fitness and training I would easily beat this time……. 🤨

All masked up ready for our run

We set off in lines of 5/6 people maybe 3-4 metres from the next line of people and at 1 minute intervals crossed the start line. Everyone had to wear masks at the start until out of the park and put them on again after the finish. It was incredibly well organised and hats off to Lakeland trails for managing something so sophisticated where you felt completely safe in these times and yet still able to do the thing you love.

Hubby is in his line and I’m getting ready to join the next line before the start

I knew the first mile would be different to the last time I did the race as the start had changed due to Covid, this is so the exit and return did not cross each other. However a few kilometres in I was thinking hmm this feels completely different and most definitely tougher. There was a slow ascent in the first 2km, nothing difficult particularly. After that we went onto trail and the narrow path undulated up and down steeply with an ample supply of slippy mud to navigate as you went along. This made for slow progress for me as I’m a bit of a ‘slipping phobe’. However admittedly I was also suprisingly tired quite early on. Strava tells me my heart rate never dropped below 160 for the entire race even when walking. I have felt a little under the weather this week so its hard to say if this affected me or if it was the drinking the night before, (oops), lack of water or just not being quite as fit as I would like.

At one point this guy was running just slightly in front of me and I asked him if they’d changed the route and it felt different. Oh yes he says, there was a landslide and a part of the old route was flooded/buried. Oh right says I looking down at the drops as I run hmmmm.

We seemed to run up and down over and over for quite some time before finally coming to a part of the run I recognised from last time – welcome to Bogland. They should seriously have a sign here that says exactly that! ‘Welcome to Bogland, beware of losing legs and shoes’. Bogland went on for at least a mile maybe two. There often seemed to be no path at all, you are simply trying to either walk or at best ‘trot a bit’ over long watery grass, mud and avoid the sink holes where your feet disappear down up to your knees. Of course you dont succeed but its great fun trying 🙂

At this point I stopped a few times to take a number of photos. For one thing I already knew that a) I would be considerably slower than last time, b) I had no chance of currently making up the time and c) I may as well look up and take in the fantastic views around me; after all thats why we run right. Every now and again you have to remind yourself to stop and take it all in.

As I was navigating the bogs and the river crossings (did I mention those?) and bearing in mind this is all on a slant as you are running on the side of a hill but also going uphill at the same time. The rivers run from your right uphill to your left downhill so you have to cross them ‘carefully’. Anyway as I was saying….as I was navigating through the here I saw this lady pass me who was managing to make faster walk/trot progress than me. I decided to follow her foot placement and style to catch up a bit. She clearly had it ‘down’. I should add that running at this point was pretty much impossible even for the die hard fit crazy people. So we all plodded, speed walked and bog jumped our way across this never ending mire.

This photo doesn’t do the bogs justice or the depth of them!

Eventually we escaped Bogland and a chap with a lovely smiley face and dreadlocks said ‘its all dry ground from here’ and I thought oh cool. Unfortunately he clearly hadn’t actually verified this statement as a mere minute later I was running puddles, I mean 6 inch deep puddles. In fact there were so many of them linked together, lets be honest we just seemed to be running through a river.

Another river like section but very fun

We then turned a corner and started the ascent up around Lonscale Fell. Ironically this was the first time in a while I was able to run again. It’s not an impossible elevation to run and the number of stones make it easier to run on. It does get narrower though and the drop on your left gets ever higher. As we moved up the hill, I found myself finding my ‘groove’ but I was also exceptionally tired considering I’d only done about 9k by this time. None the less I very much wanted to press on now having lost so much time in the first half of the run, however, the speedsters doing the ‘race’ (I was doing the challenge) who started 10-15 minutes behind us from the start had now caught up and were wanting to pass me. There weren’t really many passing points along the last bit of the climb. It’s quite narrow and there are smooth, slippy stones that you have to navigate. However, I respect people’s need to pass so would step to one side every few minutes to let another one of these fast people pass. I would watch in awe at their technique on this terrain. They run with very little kit and clothes in some cases (well the minimum shall we say) and run with a fast cadence and effortless glide over stones, rocks, mud and seemingly oblivious to the drop on the left. I guess if you can run the race in an hour you dont need things like clothes and water…

Just after the bogs and before the ascent around Lonscale

Once over the top I felt an increased high as the knowledge hits its all downhill from here. Although tired in a way I haven’t been in quite a while and already reaching for my cliff bar having knocked back two gels already (which over this distance is just ridiculous really) I then managed to step it up a gear and speed my way down the hills for the last 4km into the finish line in Fitz Park.

Me on the downhill section
Chris on the downhill section

Unfortunately it took me 2 hours to run 15km which saying this out loud sounds crazy and my very fit husband did it in 1hr 35 so chapeau to him. It was incredibly technical I would say as races go so I’m pretty happy with my performance on balance.

I would recommend not only the race but the Lakeland Trails in general to anyone. They are well organised and very well signposted. I did find myself at the front of a group a few times navigating the way and anyone that knows me would know that this is a bad idea but I didn’t get lost as its just so well flagged and there are also plenty of Marshall’s on the route to show you the way.

Running into the finish line and realising when the commentator said ‘I think she is smiling, I cant tell’ that I didn’t need to mask up until after finishing. Whoops 😬

Trail running adventures and getting lost

I had a fun and productive week with “training”. With no big coming up it’s really just ‘having fun’ at the moment but I did have 7 hours of cardio fun and 2 gym hours. Strava tells me my weekly intensity was up so I’ll have to have an easier week next week (well bar the little trail race we are doing).

We’ve been doing more home gym workouts again, one with our personal trainer (early one before work) and some on our own. We are gathering more kit for this.

Looking forward to playing with these big balls 😝

I missed out on my swim sadly but I did sign up for my first pool swim next week which I’m quite excited about. I’m not sure how its going to work other than the fact I have to turn up to the pool wearing my costume under my clothes. I have no idea what happens after the swim or if I can shower? It amuses me that they are ‘restricting’ numbers to 7 in each lane. In non pandemic times this would be high and irritating as everyone goes at different speeds etc. It looked like not many had booked on though so I will see and am hoping I’ll nab the lane alone or maybe share with just a few. I assume I don’t have to wear a mask 😷 😂

Hubby went off on his long trail run on Friday and managed 21k on hilly terrain in horrendous weather so chapeau to him. I did a shorter 16.5km on Saturday. It was supposed to be all trail, 14km and flattish but being clueless it was longer, hillier, 50% road and I got lost twice. In fact I ended up using my google maps on my phone so much I ran out of batteries so resorted to the old fashioned method of finding people to ask the way in the last few miles.

The first time I got lost I’d jog/walked up this really steep hill (you know the kind where cyclists are grimacing) for about 1km only to discover I was supposed to be going down instead. Running back down was joyous however 😁. The second time I went wrong I’d run across a field and down a path to a farm only to discover it wasnt a public path and no I wasnt supposed to be there. The farmer was thankfully amused rather than cross. After that I was just generally uncertain as to where I was and stopped to ask the way a few times. I finally found the park near our house and a cafe moreover, so stopped for a lovely latte 😁.

Today hubby and I did 64km on the bike which would normally feel fairly easy, especially as it was mostly flat (ish). However, I started to zonk out on the return leg and had to partake of two gels to get home. Since then I have inhaled, a veggie English breakfast, a spinach/blueberry smoothie, a slice of hubby’s banana loaf with pumpkin seeds (so so nice) and a few mouthfuls of his homemade granola (well it was supposed to be flapjack but it went a bit wrong 😆).

Lovely views on my run, before I got lost and ran out of batteries

Outdoor swimming 🏊‍♀️ and a beautiful trail run🏃‍♀️

Since we currently have no race coming up soon (well apart from one 15k trail run that is) there is no real need to work out for 8-10 hours a week as would of been the case had I been training for the Ironman (well and the rest tbh).

So this week I only did 6 hours training which weirdly feels on the light side now. You definitely notice the difference; I don’t feel tired enough today. Still I should savour these moments really, since I normally reach Sunday afternoon completely wiped out and stuffing my face with flapjacks.

The 6 hours of training were all super fun hours, however. I spent just over an hour on the turbo which was great as I hadn’t been on it for a while so it felt like a novelty again. I managed an hour of physio/strength work (generally core) which I enjoyed as my shoulder is now recovering from the rotator cuff injury and I’m allowed to do press ups again woohoo. Having said that I do mean baby/girly press ups and I can only do 10 but you have to start somewhere so I was still thrilled 😆.

I went swimming for the first time in half a year! It was also the first outdoor swim in over a year. I felt quite nervous and excited about it. I used to, and still do love outdoor swimming but there is something slightly uneasy about swimming out into a lake when there is hardly anyone in it and you cant see the next buoy. My prescription goggles have broken so I had to wear normal ones and even though the buoys are huge orange things I genuinely cant see them that well when I’m initially setting off from the last one. Unbelievable I know!

I started off drafting off my husband as it gave me a chance to be pulled along and take it easy at first (its a bit like drafting on a bike); it also made me feel safe as I only had to follow his legs so if there was some kind of evil creature in the murky water it was going to get him first 😆.

After the second buoy I pulled away and felt confident enough to carry on alone but promptly then stopped at the third buoy as I couldn’t see where to go next. Chris caught up with me and his friend also came zooming past and Chris shouted follow him! Well his mate was a bit too fast for me but he was usefully towing one of those orange float things behind him (I think people put there possessions in them). So I followed the moving orange blob in the water until I had to then return to the jetty whilst both his mate (and Chris) carried on to do further loops.

Unfortunately my physio had said only do 100metres at first and build up. Naturally I did 600 metres and will do more next time (well the loop is 600m so what was I supposed to do?). Anyway my shoulder is fine 👏 and Im very excited about doing more next time and rebuilding my swimming.

I find swimming, particularly outdoor swimming so very relaxing. I need to work on my sighting though. When you swim in open water you have to lift your head slightly out of the water (crocodile eyes they call it) in order to see where you are going (well this is for people who can see 😆) and then you turn your head to the side to breathe and continue with your front crawl. This looking up and taking a breath to the side is ideally done in one smooth flowing movement. I haven’t done this for a year so I guess I was lifting my head too high as the muscles in my neck were really tight and sore afterwards.

I have got my weekly running mileage up to 31k now. It’s not much for most runners but I’m building it up slowly to avoid injury and I should now be able to add 10% to this amount every 3 weeks out of 4 (in week 4 I’ll drop it back a little to recover).

18.5k of this was done today on a beautiful trail run. Unfortunately my husband is poorly so couldn’t come after all which was not only a shame but also he had planned the route. Following advice from him I set off to do 50% of the planned route and then diverted off half way through to do my own route on the return leg. I passed through an area called the Roman Lakes. I’ve never run there before and it’s really lovely and he was in fact right when he said it was easy to follow the signs and you cant get lost. Initially when he said this I was thinking but yeah I can get lost in Marks and Spencers so…….you know I’m pretty useless with directions 😆. Honestly, though, even I couldn’t get lost on this route. I included some canal running on the way out and back and then finished off by running up Werneth Low and down again. It was very muddy and a lot of fun.

View from the canal
Actually cant remember where this one was 🤔
The Roman Lakes
I was trying to capture an interesting backdrop in this selfie as well as my face (complete fail on both counts!).

Training Plan Whore

I’m a training plan whore – I love writing training plans! No seriously I really love it! Once I know I’ve signed up to an event, my palms get sweaty at the mere thought that I will soon be able to start designing my training plan. Why o why would you love that I hear you say? I’m not sure, maybe I’m a planning nerd, maybe its motivating for me, if I set it out I know I’m going to do it or maybe it just makes whatever madcap dream I now have feel realisable. Whatever it is, it feels like the starting point of a new adventure to me.

I’ve written quite a few plans now and would consider myself reasonably good at it 😆. I will generally start by looking online or in books for ready made plans and then change it to suit me, my strengths and weaknesses, my available time and finally build in lots of buffer weeks* to allow for injury/getting ill/holidays. It’s also essential to be mindful it has to be as flexible as a Yogi in a Ashtanga class, as you will never be able to stick to it religiously all of the time and it would be like watching paint dry to do so. Mind you being a spreadsheet nerd, flexing it about is half the fun for me 😆.

*Buffer Weeks: If the set training plan is 20 weeks I’ll make mine 24 weeks. I generally add 4 weeks but might add more if the training plan is longer. I insert buffer weeks at intervals or keep them spare on the side (as you wish). If you don’t need to use them then just do week 5 (for example) twice. If you are poorly and cant do anything for a week but weep under your duvet about missing your training then hey presto use a buffer week or two, do some easy training in the second week and then go back to your training plan thereafter. In this way you are not going back to something that has moved on too much from before and thus you don’t risk making yourself ill again by getting back into it too soon. So thats my buffer theory, adopt it or not as you will, but its a useful tool option in the planners box.

So this last year I was working my way through Lorna’s Ironman plan which was loosely based on the Fink competitive plan as a starting point but I switched it up to include more strength work, more cycling and less swimming as this meant I would spend more time working on my weakest areas. There is simply no need for me to swim for 3 hours a week. The marginal gain of 10 minutes on the swim isn’t worth it. When it comes to the bike, however, additional TITS and I’ll cut my Ironman bike ride by 30-45 minutes, possibly more.

I’ve also learnt that I can make a big step up in my swimming/cycling mileage without running the risk of ending up on someone’s physio table whining about aches and pains. Running, however, is SO different for me. If I miss a run or increase my running by more than 5-10% volume per week my Achilles, hip, back or some other new part of me with a long name I never heard of before will say hey ‘what the hell are you doing?’ and stop me in my tracks.

I realise not everyone is like this (my husband can run 10 miles in one week, 20 in the next with nothing more than tired legs – not an injury in sight) and I envy that but for me I stick to this rule like a fruit fly in honey. Experience has taught me if I ignore this and go oh I’ll be fine I’ll just do this extra 5 miles; I’ll end up bathing my feet in ice, booking in for a massage and moaning yet again that I didn’t listen to my own advice 😝.

The odd thing is missing running and going back to it suddenly can be just as detrimental to me as doing too much. It’s as if my feet/ankles say “hey I thought you’d stopped this prancing uphills lark? You are not in fact the hoppity skippity mountain goat you’d like to think you are, chill your boots please.”

I’m hoping in the future to increase my running days to 4/5 days week as not only will this be the minimal requirement for Ultra training (we can’t all just slide in on a shrimp sandwich – Swedish saying for having things given to you without working for them) but I believe it may also help reduce injury for me. Ironically I believe that more constant motion will make my body adapt and be less ‘shocked’ or seen another way spread the heavy weekly mileage over more days. This is the theory I’ll let you know how it pans out 🤔. Ice buckets at the ready…

Since I’ve now decided that next year will be the year of Ultras but I still want to do the Olympic triathlon I signed up to; I will need to come up with a new plan that focuses on trail running and building up my running miles. However, I will need to balance this with the need to don my wetsuit and go Buoy dodging occasionally as well as keep up my cycling without the risk of burnout. This may be a tricky balance but I look forward to the challenge of planning it. I am giddy with excitement already, bring me my spreadsheet, a mug of tea and some chocolate digestives; I’m ready…. 😁👏.

An interview with Maz – Fitness extraordinaire

And so to my latest fitness interview. I’m chatting to my friend Maz, aged 72, who has the fitness of a 30 year old, is easily the coolest person I know and truly an inspiration to me 😘.

Maz at the top of Kinder

What do you do to keep fit?

A variety of exercise classes. My philosophy is to do something that works every part of my body. I do HIIT, GRIT, Circuits, Spinning, Pilates, yoga, bodybalance, body pump and sometimes throw in some dance based classes.

Maz working tomorrow out with weights

That sounds like a lot of classes, how many do you do a week?

I just do 5 a week, Monday to Friday and then walk on the weekends. I will vary which classes I do but always do 2 cardio based, 2 stretch and tone and 1 for strength. The leisure centre where I go have been running brilliant Everybody LIVE classes online during lockdown; the Les Mills classes are really good too.

What is your favourite class?

Definitely spinning. I love it!. I always do one of these a week, although I haven’t been able to during lockdown, so have resorted to hoola hooping and skipping instead; I’ll always find a way 😁.

I started spinning 13 years ago when I retired. Spinning classes are an indoor bike workout, classes last 45 minutes and are quite structured in style although they take place to music which makes it so much fun. We can emulate gears with a wheel dial which corresponds to the resistance you feel and you use different RPM (revolutions per minute) for different sections of the workout; 100-120 RPM for a sprint for example. I love spinning and feel inspired to work hard even when I’m tired.

What has been your biggest achievement in fitness?

I would say qualifying as a spinning instructor when I was 70. I wanted to set myself a target that was fitness related. It was a brilliant course. I went along with a gym buddy who had qualified with another company but didn’t find them as good so joined me at Performance Cycling who were great. There was a lot to learn; you have to ensure you understand the varying positions such as standing climb, hover, standing sprint and why/when you would introduce them into your class. I’m very proud of my certificate. My husband framed it for me (so sweet).

When I asked Maz about whether she teaches spinning she said no she wanted to do the course for fun and to see if she could. She loves to challenge herself and has also done courses on computers, wine, massage and recently started one on hairdressing. (I must ask her about the wine one again sometime 😝). She also told me: “I’ve also been learning to play some tunes on the Ukele 😆”.

Maz during her spinning training

Do you have any aspirations/dreams in terms of fitness, maybe for when you’re 80?

I want to be alive this time next year – does that count 😆? Seriously I just want to maintain my level of activity as long as possible and maintain both physical and mental wellbeing.

What is your approach to nutrition?

I have a really addictive personality. If there is a packet of biscuits I have to eat them all. It’s the same with anything, a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine. I have to be really strict otherwise I’d be 20 stone. I try to be good during the week and then will allow myself some wine and chocolates on the weekend. When I retired I experimented with cutting out carbs like bread, pasta and potatoes. I felt so much better for it. It just suited me I guess. I still have muesli in the morning though, with lots of seeds, nuts and soya milk.

I also tried to start drinking more water when I retired. I immediately noticed how energised I felt. I’m generally eat pretty healthy to be honest. I was laughing with my husband the other day that we’ve had fish and chips 3 times during lockdown. Before that I had it maybe once in every 10 years!

When did you first get into exercising?

I started off with yoga when I was pregnant with my daughter, so 43 years ago. Also during the 1980’s there was the whole Jane Fonda thing and I got into aerobics classes. When I think back to those classes it reminds me of that Victoria Wood skit – do you know the one? I do……

Later on I moved onto swimming and gym and I always managed 3 activities a week whilst working. I really progressed this more after retiring. I guess I’m very self motivated; not competitive mind you but determined.

And there you have it folks, Maz extraordinaire – inspiring 😘

Maz hanging out during the Tour de Yorkshire

Ultra running world magazine and I’m in it!

I’m in a magazine! Woohoo, I am so very excited about this and must admit to doing a little dance in my pants this morning 😆. A while back I was both delighted and amazed to be contacted by the guy that runs the magazine and asked if I would write an article. He wanted a multi-disciplinary view on Ultra running. I mentioned I’d only done one but he said that was fine and welcomed my views on my experience etc. Initially unsure how to set about writing an article I really enjoyed the experience. Its a kind of selfish therapy where you relive certain moments and process your own thoughts; a bit like blogging! So check it out if you wish, the article is called ‘Finding Peace’.

https://ultrarunningworld.co.uk/wp-content/downloads/Ultrarunning_World_25_web.pdf?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ultrarunning_world_25_out_now&utm_term=2020-08-20

The magazine is well worth a read if you are into running. It’s run entirely by dedicated volunteers and its such a good read; I’m now a subscriber and will look forward to each forthcoming release. There are plenty of interesting articles and a number of interviews, information on races etc. I find myself completely in awe of the incredible Ultra races people run, the sheer length and duration of them is inspiring. I’m also interested in multiple references to FKT (fastest known time) in the magazine. I’ve only just recently heard this phrase whilst watching a running documentary and there is a website where you can go to see what FKT has been set for a particular route anywhere in the world. Hats off to all those speedsters out there who go after these records.

https://fastestknowntime.com/

It’s funny all this writing malarkey. I have never been good at writing and struggled in English at school. I was better at Maths and Art and managed to scrape a pass in English O Level only after getting extra help from a tutor. For some reason though I am really enjoying it and the more I blog the better I want to get at it. I find myself reading lots of other blogs, articles and even books thinking ooh that sounds good, oh my this person is so witty, so articulate, so inspired etc and wishing I had that natural gift too. I guess its something you have to work at. The realisation for me now is that I want to get better at it and I’m enjoying the (sorry for the forthcoming word……..wait for it……) journey 😁.

Included in the magazine is an article called Conformity where the writer talks about getting lost during a race. It’s so brilliantly written, take a peak. The article describes getting lost in a race; something that has happened to many of us but his take on it is excellent, so true and so funny. It reminded me of the time I cycled to Hayfield to do a fell running event……

It was my first fell race (and last actually thinking about it; note to self must do another) and I got completely lost after 6-7k and had to backtrack to the start thus ended up running about 13k by the end. Obviously everyone else had finished the 10k by this stage (having not got lost) and they were all waiting for me facing the other direction in a big group when I ran up behind them with a ‘woohoo it’s me I’m back….’. I later found out that one of the farmers had taken out the flags that were near his farm (still not on his land though) and so the others (being locals) knew the way but I simply had no clue where to go.

I might do another fell race one day but some upfront knowledge of the area would help. I don’t want to be ‘that’ person again that the marshalls have to go looking for 😆.

Ultrarunning here we come 👏

Before the lovely pandemic came along, I was all set to do my first Ironman in Mallorca in two months time. Of course the chaos causing, ill making and sadly sometimes fatal Covid is not lovely but wit and sarcasm are essential to get through this time plus in some aspects there has been upsides. It has been a soul searching time for many including me.

The Ironman was of course cancelled and initially I thought oh sod it I’ll just do it the following year and maybe even get an ok time rather than just trying to finish it without dying. But the more time has passed the more I have found myself dreaming about the things I wanted to do after my Ironman was done, namely a few ultras and some ultra running dream runs from here to there. I’ve watched so many documentaries, read many books and felt my Achilles relent and give into my will as I take it on more hilly trail runs than it used to allow me to do.

So after a wonderful night celebrating my birthday with my husband and many many many drinks we came to the conclusion why not just do the Ultras in 2021 as always planned and he might even join me too as he has also developed a keen interest. I will just have to do the Ironman later on once I have another year or two of running under my belt. Just put that bucket list into reverse baby its still all doable yeah.

Unfortunately the Ultra I really fancied is already booked up for 2021. Can you believe that?? Still, we will look through many others and have a think. There are a surprising number to choose from. Ideally we are looking for one in the UK to minimise the risk of foreign adventures being cancelled etc, you know Covid and all that. We also discussed simply running the West Highland Way or Coast to Coast. As you do when you are knocking back multiple brandies and feel like you are invincible.

I’m sat here listening to another album from the top 100 Rolling Stones list. It’s Bruce Springsteen ‘Born in the USA’. The album is really great, loving it so far and a big improvement on the Pink Floyd album ‘The Wall’ which (sorry) bored me to tears. I’m told on good authority I should, however, listen to the Dark Side of the Moon so will do that soon.

I’ve not managed much in the way of cycling this week. I got out for just one, one hour bike ride but it was hilly at least. I’ll try and manage more next week. Running wise it was a great week though. I did a very sweaty, hot and hilly run on Tuesday up Werneth Low and down. This run never gets boring, stunning views, varying trails, soft fields and usually a lot of sheep to look at on the way. We are so lucky to have this beautiful countryside on our doorstep. Thursday saw a cooler, flatter 4 miler along a local canal. I really enjoy running along the canal. The wonderful combination of trail and flat makes it quite fast and easy on the joints and you are usually protected from the sun by the trees too.

Today we went out on the train again and then ran back 16km over hill and dale. It’s a lot of fun even if it was a little fast at the beginning (my porridge belly complained slightly). We found some new hilly paths to run along and the views at the top were spectacular, especially up on Lantern Pike, see pictures below.

Probably tmi but I’m delighted now that I’m able to take a pee outside on a run. For some odd reason this was not something I could do before and its very useful if you are running a long way with no pubs in sight! So I will admit to having a little ‘hands in the air woohoo’ moment after, get me I’m a real adventurer now 😝.

In our last few kilometres we were running downhill through Forrest and I noticed my eyesight go blurry. This is not the first time this has happened, I’ve noticed it a few times. I’m not sure what causes it. I am short sighted and don’t wear my glasses running but I can see perfectly fine until I’m in the woods. It feels as if a mist is in front of my eyes and its not overly pleasant or useful when you are negotiating wet/stony ground on a slant. Still it clears again as soon as the trees part and the sun gets through. I can see this view below though, perfect 😍.

Why I run
The happy smile belies how out of breath I was moments before 😆

So this coming week I will finally get to try my hand at swimming again (hurrah hurrah!!). After a few months of physio and doing my exercises to rebuild strength in my shoulders I’ve been given the go ahead and I may try swimming. It’ll be outdoor swimming as the pools aren’t open yet but I’m very excited about giving it a go again 👏😁.

An interview with Christine and the Inca Trail

What do you do to keep fit?

I walk most days, between 45 minutes and an hour and then do a 8-10 miler one day during the week when it tends to be quieter. We have walked locally during lockdown obviously. There is a beautiful walk via Etherow Park, Ernocroft Woods, Glossop Road then to Mill Brow, Marple Bridge and back via Peak Forest Canal home.

Since lockdown has eased we’ve been able to walk in Derbyshire, walk up Mam Tor etc. I lived in Bakewell for many years so I know the Peak District well. We also like to walk in North Wales and have walked up and around the Orme with our Nordic poles. Walking is something we’ve sought to include on holidays and really enjoyed walking part of the South West Coast Path and then up North from Whitby to Robins Hood Bay.

How different is it walking with the Nordic poles?

We went for training on how to use these; in Marple Bridge. They make you stand straighter and use your arms more and automatically walk faster. It’s a really good workout.

Have you any other fitness activities?

Yes I was swimming regularly before lockdown. I’m not fast but would swim 40 lengths in a session. I’ve also just started doing Zumba and yoga on Youtube.

Have you ever had any injuries that have held you back from your fitness goals?

Yes I have Mortons Neuroma in both feet. I had orthotics for a while which helped. Now I know I can walk roughly 8 miles before the pain starts so I have to keep my walks to this length.

What is the biggest walk you have done?

Well I climbed Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scarfell Pike in one summer. We completely ran out of water on Ben Nevis, despite carrying 3 litres each, but we were lucky to get great views up there that day. I’m told its mostly too cloudy to see.

The biggest and most important walk I did though was the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It had been a life long dream to do it. Machu Picchu is located in the Andes mountain range in Peru. The route is a trek through the mountains with three major passes that ascend to 13,775 feet, 12,955 feet and 11,970 feet. After each pass there is a steepish descent with a beautiful trek through the mountains and cloud forest before the next ascent starts.

The total route is only around 25miles so it can be done slowly whilst taking in the amazing scenery all around. Along the way there are several Inca ruin sites which were amazing to see as the only access is on foot so it was very quiet, in contrast to Machu Picchu which is a busy tourist site.

I’d mentioned to someone that it was a dream and he just said book it and then you’ll have to get ready for it, so I did! I started walking a lot more, going to the gym and doing leg stamina exercises. When I came to do the Inca Trail you have to acclimatise a little first. We spent a few days in the Amazon to get used to the climate and then flew to Cusco for our first taste of altitude – an interesting experience where you seem to lose control of your legs. Following a few days of acclimatisation in Cusco we travelled to Km88 at Qoriwayrachina Bridge, which is the start of the trail and the adventure.

You then only walk maybe 5 miles a day due to the altitude. I wore a heart rate monitor to ensure I monitored my pace and level of exertion. We saw people far fitter failing as they went too fast and then couldn’t cope with the altitude.

I was blown away by the place, everywhere you see beautiful Incan ruins along the way and the views of the mountains are just breathtaking. It’s steep going up especially Dead Woman’s Pass where the path is just 2 metres wide with a sharp drop next to you. We camped every night with amazing porters carrying all our stuff, tents, food, cooking stoves etc. One campsite was particularly memorable as we felt as though we were on top of the world camped right on top of an escarpment overlooking the Andes. We got up at 5am to walk up a hill to see the sunrise – the porters brought a kettle and gave us tea.

Campsite overlooking the Andes

I made some great friends on this trip and also met my now husband Gary 😁.

Reaching the Sun Gate and the first sight of Machu Picchu was very emotional and I confess to having a little cry.

Christine on her way up to Machu Picchu
Clockwise from top left, Christine at Whistler in Canada, Christine with Gary cycling in Vietnam, in Spain, Northumberland and at Mam Tor.