Thursday, 30 June 2011

Bouldering at Burbage South

Headed over to Hope yesterday for the Hope Wakes Fell Race, which you can read more about on the other blog- more of a comprehensive write up. However, we decided to get over to that side of the Peak a little bit early to get some bouldering in and get a couple of tick marks in my nice shiney new Peak bouldering guide from Vertabrate Publishing.

After a lovely Jacket Potato in the Woodbine Cafe, we drove to the Fox Inn down at Burbage South, got the still shiney and new DMM bouldering mat out of the car and wandered down toward the boulders.
The mat is well designed and I could carry it quite happily with a load of other bits and bobs, and I'll do a more comprehensive review of it later.
Attempting Puck
The boulder field (or at least, the right bit of the boulder field) was found easily, thanks to the excellent map and photos in the guide, and we were soon playing around on the rock.
I started on the Snake, warming up on the very easy back, then moved onto the Pock Block, cruising up a 3+ and a 5 (Pick and Pock) and then tried a 5+ (Puck). No way that was going to go.

This outside bouldering malarky is harder than I remember!
After saying hi to fellow climber, with the sun still splendidly out (but with some really quite menacing clouds lurking relatively close), we went up to the Armoured Car, the Sentinal and also the Tank, where I managed to tick off 2 5's one of which was Chieftan(yes, yes, I know, its not really much to shout about in the grand scheme of things, but my bouldering is rubbish- hence why I need to practice it) and Sentinal Left, a 4, but- to me, quite airy.


Not many of the problems I was doing were hard enough for names. Once I get to the stage of climbing the ones with names rather than just a number, I'll be a very happy bunny!

By now my fingertips were wearing a little thin, and I had a lovely little gash in my ankle from a somewhat failed heelhook, so after a short rest, we wandered to the Brick for a last couple of problems before heading back to the pub for a quick lemonade.

The guide is great, the bouldering mat is no longer crazy ghastly yellow, and my Sportiva Katanas are going to wear through very fast indeed. A lovely afternoon, decent weather and my delusions of grandeur in the bouldering world have neatly been crushed.

Nowt to do now, but practice!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Out with the Velo

The route

After my Thursday night hill session with Kinder Velo about a month and a half ago- which nigh on killed me, my diary has somewhat prevented me from getting out with the club. I narrowly missed out on the hill session last week, as I was just getting home in the car as they peel off out of the start point. Gutted.
This Sunday was set to be beautiful weather, and Dan was planning the route. A secret route, no less, which promised to be about 50 miles long, and a delight to behold.

There were 16 of us as we set out from the station at 10, a beautiful morning, with lots of cumulus in the sky, it was a great day for cyclists, bikers and walkers alike. Up over and onto the Woodhead, where a load of people split off to take the shorter route- which apparently ended up at about 30 miles.
Our group of 9 went up Holme moss, which I have hear a lot about, but never actually got around to climbing up on the bike. It was long, but, at the beginning of the ride, I didn’t actually find it all that challenging, just a steady grind up the hill. No problem. We stopped at the top to wait for people, where I switched my garmin off for a time, and forgot to switch it back on until we were at the bottom of the hill- which explains the lost 4 km, and the rather odd shaped hill near the beginning of the garmin profile.

We carried on north through Holmefirth, and the surrounding countryside- I recognised a lot of the landscape, not from being there in the past, but actually, I realised, from a childhood of watching Last of the Summer Wine. Quite a weird feeling!
To be perfectly honest, I cannot recount the ride from then on, except that it involved a number of horrible hills, not just long grindy ones, but short, vicious ones which I really didn’t have the gears or the legs to get up. More than once I have to admit I was tempted just to get off and walk, but I stayed on and managed to push myself to the top of each climb.
At one point on a down hill, thankfully just as we were rounding a corner at low speed, my pump came out (need to find a better way of securing it), so I slowed down, got to the curb, completely forgot that I was clipped in and lay down nice and peacefully on the curb, still attached to my bike. In front of EVERYONE.
Ah well, it was going to happen eventually.

I retrieved my pump and we carried on, no more injury than to my pride.
Shortly after this, we went off down what seemed like a muddy path rather than anything resembling a bike path- it still had a sign on it, so off we went, right down next to the M62. We had taken a minor detour, but we knew there was a path that went under the M62, and all we needed to do was go back, down and round.
I looked down over the fence, and there the path was, not more than 30 yards away. Path of least resistance always works well, so over we went, walked our bikes down the verge and there we were, perfect.
From there, it was a short ride across the dam, up another very sharp and steep hill and into the village where we were meant to be stopping. A minor issue had occurred here as well. The café where we were meant to be stopping, which had been organised specially by Dan on Thursday had texted him to say that they weren’t going to open as it really wasn’t going to be worth their while. This arrived just as we were setting out this morning. So the search was on for a pub or a café. We passed one pub, in the middle of nowhere, no cars in the car park, and when we went in it stank of stale cigarettes (do people realise when their places smell that bad? I wonder), so we swiftly vacated that one and carried on a mile down the road to a delightful pub called the Moorcock Inn. Spacious, friendly, with a decent outside area, though a tad expensive for the small amount of cash that I had brought with me. A plate of chips it was then.
Food took a little longer than we expected to turn up, but apparently the Burgers were as good as anywhere- in fact the general verdict was that they were delicious beyond compare. Though that may have been something to do with the distance we had travelled, and more importantly, the height we had ascended. Although this was a Sunday ride, meant to be chilled out and relaxed, this was the hardest ride they had done for a fair old while and was comparable to a hill session in terms of height gain.

After a refreshing lunch we set off back again. The hills were a killer. Try as I might to hold on to the front group, there was not a chance of that happening, and I was dropped. I gritted my teeth, and carried on, one of the hills was a grind, but the wind coming down it was killer, and I faded. At the top was a spectacular view, but we knew we had to continue into the wind, even though it was down hill, it was pedalling all the way. Again, I was spat off the sharp end. I really need to get fitter at the 30mile+ end of things.

At the bottom of the hill we split into 2 groups, those who were taking the “short cut” home, and those who were sticking to plan A. Realising that the short cut crew were way faster than me anyway and I’d end up pretty much with no-one around me, and lost, I went with Dan and Michael and made up the 3 who did plan A. The final few miles were on B roads, fun little roads which weren’t necessarily entirely tarmaced. And then a final drag up from Stalybridge and down into Glossop.
Epic ride.
Somewhere around 75km and 1500m climbed.
Contrast shower- well, a planned contrast shower, except there was no hot water, so I just had a cold shower instead, which was just fine by me!
I feel surprisingly good today as well, not totally destroyed, just a bit fatigued.
That’s the longest ride I’ve ever done on a road bike. All good fun. Now I just need to be concerned about next Saturday. 15 trigs on foot. Yikes.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

SPA hour logging

Not a whole lot of blogging went on last week, the reason for that is because I was really quite tired. I had volunteered to help out for a couple of days over at YHA Edale with their outdoor activities programme, trying to get my supervisory hours up so that I can do my SPA assessment at the end of the summer.
Over the 2 days I spent there, I was involved in 5 different sessions, 3 on the first and 2 on the second, all climbing except for the evening, which was abseiling, and all with different sets of kids and teachers.

As it was the first time I was out after my training on the SPA, and I had never rigged for a group before, I took the opportunity to watch and learn how the team at Edale do things. It was good to know that everything I would have done was pretty much what they did. During the time there I realised that its not actually the rigging of the ropes that is the hard bit, but it’s the keeping the kids entertained while the climbs are set up that takes the real talent.
The vast majority of the time, the activities were set up in about 5-10 mins by the instructors and myself, and I was thanked a number of times for being there and helping out as it made things pretty slick, so the kids got more goes at what they were there for.

I think that’s sometimes the issue with SPA’s. They forget that the client is there to climb, and you are there to provide the experience for them. The most important thing about the day is obviously safety, but after that, it’s the clients needs, and how close you come to giving them what they want out of the day. Preparation is one of the key points. That, and recognising where the weather is coming from and not going to the place which is going to get battered by crazy wind and rain.
Over the 2 days I was out at Burbage North- the perennial favourite, Windgather- another fave, and also Yarncliffe, which I had never been to before, and is quite a little gem. I’ll have to go back there at some other time as there were a couple of little climbs that I wouldn’t mind doing.

Respect to all the guys who do that day in day out and still find time and energy to get out and climb/bike and run. I was totally knackered by the end of the second day, but I suspect you get used to it.
If there are 2 key things about providing climbing and outdoor activities to youngsters, its be quick, and learn a load of riddles to keep them occupied…

Friday, 24 June 2011

Misty marple take 2

Misty Marple by ttbudd at Garmin Connect - Details
Out on the Marple circuit today. It was good weather and I thought that it would be an intelligent thing to get out and ride. I was intending on going out with Kinder Velo yesterday but unfortunately I was only just driving past the station on my way home as they set off, which was a bit unfortunate.

I have done the route before and it took just over 2h30, so I was intending on easily smashing that today- I didnt need to route find, and could just bash my way round the route.
Hoooo.... but my legs are still pretty knackered. Not so much that it was a problem, for the most part, but I could feel it on the uphills- and there were a fair old few of those.

Going around the route was great, I felt myself getting into the swing of it, and 3/4 of the way around, just as I got to the top of a horrible technical climb I realised that the glasses I had taken off and hung on my bag straps was no longer there.
And they were Lynnes glasses, not mine. And I've already lost 2 pairs of them in the past.
So I turned around and rode off back down the hill to search for them. As luck would have it, they were all the way down at the very bottom of the climb, so all the good time that I had made up by not having to navigate was totally negated by having to climb back up the hill again. Ah well.

After that there was another technical uphill on which I kept not being able to cycle in a straight line, which made things somewhat more complex. I'm not sure if its because I'm just not as good as I used to be, or because Im on a bike which has a very different geometry to my previous one, which I rode day in day out for about 6 years, or because the terrain Im riding over is a lot more technical than I've really ridden on before, but I feel like I've lost a bit of my ability... more time on the bike is certainly called for, and I have no excuse whatsoever.
I finally got back in just under 2h 30, so a slight improvement, but not really- having ridden 37km with height gain of 887m.
not too bad, but I really needed the chocolate milkshake when I got home!

Out with the Harriers

Went out for a run with a somewhat diminished group of Harriers on Tuesday for a midsummer run. Reasons for being diminished were probably 2 fold- firstly the Kinder Trog at the weekend was probably still in a number of legs- it certainly felt like it for me- but I didn't realise until half way up the first hill, and also on Wednesday was Round the Resers race, which is a midweek counter, so a lot of people wanted good times for that.

So only 6 of us turned up for the run, it turned out that we were going clockwise around the circuit, which meant that the start of the run was up a hill directly up to Tintwistle quarry. We started off, and about a minute and a half later I was in oxygen debt. I could feel the fatigue in my legs from the Trog at the weekend, and try as I might to tag along behind Julien and Mark- who were idly chatting as they went up the hill, I slowly got dropped, puffing and panting in their wake. It seems that Julien has Wolverine-like recovery abilities and Mark is pretty much the fastest Harrier around at the moment, Im not making excuses, Im just saying.
So we carried on up and over the bogs and round to one of the cloughs where the other 3 opted for the B route- which left me with Julien, Mark a load of bog, aching legs and a slight feeling of forboding about the next hour or so.

Off we headed out toward Featherbed moss, through the peat bogs up Hollins Clough and over to the trig point, several times being nearly tripped up by Brae- the ever present collie. Dry shoes, never an option, we pounded through the bog, and passed a Fir tree in a clough, pretty remote, which is pretty much begging to be decorated come Christmas. Over to the Reservoir at Chew. Then a turn east, I swear that Julien was taking the most circuitous and treacherous route through the groughs that he could possibly find- but I managed to keep in touch as we bog-trotted back.
My inov8s really feel like they are losing their grip- its a wierd feeling and I'm trying to work out if its in my head or if they actually are... they don't seem to be losing it if you look at them, but when I run, its like they are slowly getting slippier. Wierd.

As we came over to the wall on Laddow moss, we saw the familiar shapes of 3 other Harriers who had waited a little too long in the leisure centre (while the rest of us had congregated outside and left), and had decided that they would do the route in an anticlockwise direction. John had brought up some homemade fruit moonshine and a load of plastic shot glasses, and we found a nice sheltered grough to toast Midsummer.
A good touch.
At least I have something to look forward to at midwinter as well!

Then off we went down into Oakenclough brook and down to the bottom of the valley, then back down along a reservoir to the cars.
(where we had a minor issue with the car, a tyre that looked like it had been punctured and a dodgy jack, but it all came good in the end).

As a note to self, its a really bad idea to have Pasta AND a whole garlic and cheese bagette before heading out on a club run. Maybe one or the other, but both may have been a little silly...
Heres the link to the run. We didnt go in the reservoir, I think the map pic might be a tad out....

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Dark Peaks Roving Calendar box

A day off today, and just an hour recovery training yesterday (on the turbo), but we still managed to get out for a short walk this morning.
After a while of debating with other Glossopdale members about the location of the Calendar box this month, a place had been reckoned upon, and it was just up to someone to go out and check it.

We'd been thinking about it for a while, and didn't have the time, but this morning was just begging to be had for time in the fresh air. I'd been looking at a photography book as well, so was keen to get out and practice bits and pieces on the moors.
It was always going to be a slow one, it being a rest day after all, and Lynne is nursing a tight ITB, and a kind of bad knee, so we wandered up onto the hill, up through bog and moor- just wearing inov8s today. I had my baregrips on as I'm trying to get my feet used to the fact that they are going to be running around the place in little more than a sock with studs on it- and they need to toughen up. Or at least, not complain so much when I land on sharp stones. So walking in them seems to be a good way to wake them up- and get a bit more propioception into my day.

We wandered over the way and came across some amazing boulders, I am certainly going back there with a bouldering mat in the coming months, a lot of random little problems, and big problems, on a quick drying hillside, in an area that is pretty solitary. Looks beautiful.
As we got up to the height we needed to be at, the weather closed in quite dramatically, so we found a nice group of boulders under which we settled down until the worst of it was past. From our vantage point we could see a number of other walkers who were not quite so fortunate to find shelter, or perhaps, who needed to keep to a schedule, and they had to wander on through the maelstrom.

As the worst of it went by- we could see curtains of rain making their way up to us, and then around and passed us, so on we wended, through bog and boulder and Lynne spotted a couple of grouse.
It wasn't just a couple of grouse, it was a family of them, 2 adults and 5 chicks- so we stopped and took a load of photos. They were so well camoflaged that all you need do was look away for a fraction of a second and all of a sudden there was just heather... until they moved again. Very impressed with the camoflage!

After taking innumerable photos, we carried on until the place where the Roving Calendar box was meant to be. At this point, we were pretty sure that we had figured out the clue, and were bang on the money, it simply had to be in this little gully. It just needed to be found. So we dropped into the gully, saw a cairn and started looking around below it, and there were a plethora of excellent places to hide what is essentially a box with a couple of bits of paper and some other stuff in it. After about 20 mins we were about to give up, wandering back up the gully- and I thought... hang on, what about directly under the cairn? Surely thats too easy.
Yes, it was that easy.
Directly under the cairn was the box, with a twix in it which we shared, and well needed it was too. It had taken much longer than we originally expected- mainly because of the stopping for photos and rain.

The walk off was much more direct, though it did include a bit of bog bashing, Lynnes knee was beginning to hurt, and it was getting later than we had planned- stuff to do in the afternoon donchaknow.
And so we have found the Roving Calendar box for the first time- could not have done it without the knowledge and background usefulness of other club members.... now, I have heard rumour of a hidden whisky case somewhere in them there hills....
Anyone care to give us a clue?!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Full review of Inov8 Baregrips

So, I've had the Baregrips for a while now, and been out in them in a fair few conditions and over some interesting terrain.
They are still bright green- which is awesome and the grip is still totally and utterly bomb proof.

The first thing you notice about the Baregrips (apart from the colour) is the lack of any kind of stiffness in the sole. This is due to the Zero arrow sole- which basically means your foot is as close to the ground as they can make it without actually being completely bare. Its like the lugs on the soles are attached to your skin, which is, as you can imagine, pretty amazing in terms of grip.
Putting them on and wandering about in them is an experience all in itself, and if you haven't tried inov8s before, and more importantly, if you haven't tried barefoot running before, the feeling is going to be a little wierd. You can feel the floor, you can feel the pebbles. All the contours of the ground come up to meet the feet.
I find the shoe to be a little long in the toe box- certainly more so than my roclites- and are a bit slimmer right the way down the foot than a number of the other inov8s that I own.
roclite 268, flite 220, baregrip and mudroc280. They all fit me in a slightly different way.
The proprioceptive feel of the shoes is unprecedented, and this continues as you go from a walk to a jog, to proper running on decent tracks.

As I open up the power and wander over the hills, the lugs dig in like claws. Not as closely spaced as the mudclaws- but just wide enough that as you climb up a muddy peaty surface, they provide excellent grip and then shed the clag before the next step. I haven't had any issues with slip-slidy grip due to excess clag on the sole yet- (I haven't run in any clay yet- but when I get back down to the Isle of Wight, I shall certainly be trying them out in some of the delightful "Blue Slipper" on the Eastern coast... that'll be a real test.

On another note to do with the grip- they don't seem to have lost any of the lugs or have had any kind of degradation to the bottom at all. Ok, so I haven't trashed them for a year yet, no-where near, but unlike the mudrocs which were beginning to degrade after only a couple of months, these bad boys are still crisp.

So... they grip like a gecko to a wall on all types of surface (I must add a slight disclaimer here, wet rock. I still haven't found ANYTHING that grips to wet gritstone), you can feel the ground under your feet as if you aren't wearing shoes, and are marvellous if you're into forefoot running.

Seriously, heel strike in these shoes would not be a good thing- certainly not in the long run anyway. To be honest, I'm not so much of a forefoot striker that I would wear these on a longer run either. After about 6-7 miles I can really feel it in my bones and joints- I suspect this is generally because of the way in which I run. Any distance over that and I will certainly go back to wearing my Roclites- they provide just that bit more support throughout the foot for me when I get tired. The same goes for runs which take place over harder terrain- along the Pennine way, trail runs on hard pack, and general more solid terrain. I can cope with it for a time, but as I get tired, my form starts to waiver and then it gets painful- again, this is more to do with my form than the design of the shoes, were I a more efficient runner- I'm sure they would be fine. But I fatigue, and thats where injury will happen if I continue to pound on through a massive run in shoes like this.
As my feet get stronger, I suspect that I will be using Baregrips more, but for the moment, they have their place.

Something I have noticed, is that they take a longer time to dry out between runs than any of my other inov8s. This appears to be because of the material that is used on the tongue- it seems to be slightly more neoprene-y type material than my roclites or mudrocs. Despite stuffing them with newspaper, at normal room temperature, they take a remarkably long time to dry out.
The Zero Arrow sole

As a first pair of fell running shoes- if you are just starting out- don't be seduced by the fact these are amazing. They are. But if you're not used to running in a shoe like this, I think its fair to say that you may end up injured- you'd be best off plumping for something a little less radical, learning the ropes and buying them at some point down the line. You'll have a lot more enjoyment, and a longer, healthier running life because of it.

If you're used to fellrunning, but are a heelstriker, these will certainly teach you how not to be one, but I'd use them with caution. It might be best to get a pair of X-talons or something intermediate before going to the total Zero shock sole. I know a few people using X-talons, and they comment that they can feel the stones under their feet- these seem even thinner.

If you are into chi running/pose running/forefoot running or whatever fad you wish to call it, and you want something that is going to grip on nigh on everything and feel like you literally aren't wearing anything on your feet. This is the shoe for you.
Depending on your needs, and your experience, this is either the best thing in the world, or the worst thing you could possibly buy.
Think about your needs, be honest about your experience and then go buy them. The price may make you gasp, but so will the performance.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

argh, my adductors

Felt really good after the run last night, but there is still residual pain in my adductors. I was planning on heading over to Kettleshulme this evening to take part in one of the mid-week counters for Glossopdale, but throughout today my adductors have been giving me a fair bit of grief.

It hasnt got to the point where I can't actually walk, but having treated a guy a couple of months ago for really bad tendinitis in the adductor longus, I know that I told him to rest- and I know that he didnt, and it just got worse.
So. rest.

To begin with, active rest, massage in sidelying position, with various techniques to stop it hurting so much, followed by some proprioceptive muscular work to switch off some of the sensory endings in the adductors so that they don't stay in their shortened state.
And then rest.

I was going to head over to Kettleshulme for a fell race this evening. Its a mid-week counter for the club, however, if I were to do that the adductors would get worse, would take longer to heal, and I'd keep doing the same thing. waiting for it to heal, then going and running and heading straight back to square one. So intelligence prevails this evening. I'm not racing, I'm going to go out on a short casual bike ride with some friends. Chilled out and non-weightbearing.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

DOMS and then a run

Yesterday I did a bit of a workout-
a pyramid of 1-10-1 tyre flips, burpees and medicine ball slams. Then chased it with 4 and 8 OHS. (one arm)

I didn't really warm down all that well, and I certainly didn't engage in any recovery practice. This morning I was definitely thinking oops.
Spent the day slightly stiff, especially in the adductors, and also in the Lat Dorsi, particularly on the right. Somewhat paradoxically I then wrote a blog for Global Therapies on recovery practices...

This evening was a lovely little run with the Harriers. Still feeling a little stiff I stretched out a little and jogged down to the start point. We headed out to the actual start point in Crowden and went out over the hills. I loosened up considerably as we went up the hill. Did a little bit of interesting route finding up onto the tops and over to rollick stones, and then a brilliant blast across the top. Peaty, heathery, bog-tastic stuff. I nearly lost a shoe a couple of times- even though it was tied on very securely indeed.
The views were spectactular going down the valley into Tintswhistle and beyond.

I was trying to stop myself from going too overboard. There is a race tomorrow over at Kettleshulme, which could be fun. Im also looking at Kinder Trog on Sunday... So it was a bit annoying when I landed on a rock a bit hard in the middle of my foot, and slightly bruised it, but hey-ho, we carried on carrying on.

Part way down the path, Julien decided that it wasn't exciting enough and elected to plunge down the side into the valley and hit a small path at the bottom. The majority of the party didn't follow and went off down the path.
I looked at it, and thought.. well, I'd go down it on a snowboard. Why not? The descent, although not fast, was challenging and very fun- we wern't as fast getting off the hill as the party that carried directly on, but it was excellent practice at steep stuff.

The paths back over and through were rather tame, and it ended with very much a trail feel to the run. just under 12km in the end. A good little leg stretcher.

And this is a link to the route

Monday, 13 June 2011

SPA in the Peak

Did my SPA training this weekend in the Peak. Went through the MLTE website to find a last minute provider, and went with Paul Smith from Rock and Water adventures.
He was also recommended to me by a friend for not just focussing on the technical rope and safety aspects of the course (which, although very very relavent, can get a little dry if over practiced on the crag for 2 days solid), he also looked into the coaching and group management issues for SPA. Something that I don't think enough instructors out there concern themselves with overly much.

The first day was spent at Millstone and Lawrencefield. The main emphasis of the day was setting up anchors and belays, creating top and bottom rope systems, and critiquing what each other was doing. Although I have a fairly good knowledge base as a climber and have good confidence in what I do, it was definitely an eye-opener as to what was good practice and bad practice. (note- note Best practice, because every situation is different).

The trial and error nature of the day was good, and showed us what we were doing, and most importantly, how we could make it better. Instead of thinking like climbers- where the maximum amount of time we spend in a stance is about 10- 20 mins, think like an instructor, who may well be there for an hour or more.
Its the little things about the stances that make them better or worse.
Building belays is easy to do.
Building good, comfortable and efficient belays is the challenge.

The weather for the day held fine for the most part, though there were a couple of short sharp showers, my cheapo columbia shimmer jacket held up to it fine.
The day ended at a pub with a discussion about climbing teaching texts, what makes them good/bad/indifferent, and a look through a number of books, some of which I had not seen before.

The amount of information I processed during the day was phenomenal, and as soon as getting home, I put down a load of notes on paper, had some food and collapsed into bed.

The second day was beautiful at the beginning, we were on Burbage North before 9am, recapping the day before and looking at abseils, personal, group, and rescue situations. There were a massive amount of groups there as well, giving us ample opportunity to see good and bad examples of belay stances, and set-ups. However, within about 3 hours, the storm had blown in and we were pretty much the only ones left on the crag. Nasty. It was good, if a little cold, continuing on with set ups and working out how to do things, even in rather worse conditions than we had yesterday.

My columbia coped well enough for a while, but after about 2 hours, it was definitely letting in water- not bad for a £100 jacket that isn't meant to be waterproof.
We headed over to The Foundry in Sheffield for the afternoon, looking at movement coaching and group control, as well as teaching points and general etiquette.
Overall an excellent weekend, and very very educational (as you would expect). Paul doesn't do any advertising, but consider this a word of mouth recommendation for his course.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Hope Loop

First time out on the road bike on my own, on a ride longer than a quick 30 mins around Glossopdale. I now have a pump holder on the bike, a bottle cage and bottle, and a t-shirt with pockets in the back where I can stash my Kendal mint cake and other sundries.

I have to say that I set off with not a little trepedation, I've no idea why, I'm perfectly capable and happy wandering off to the midst of no-where with a mountain bike, but this whole road malarky scared me a bit.

The climb up Snake was fine, just a bit of a long drag, no issues at all. Apart from the hail, but that just added a little bit of character to the hill...
Coming off snake, I wasn't prepared for just how damn long the descent is. I've been over there in a car a few times, but when you're on a bike, it just goes on and on, but its not a descent that you can just cruise down, I pedalled and pedalled and pedalled, the road surface just wasn't very fast, and I was almost giving more on the descent than I was on the ascent.
Eventually I came out on the otherside over by the reservoirs, and hung a right, down through Bamford and along to Hope. It had taken me an hour up until this point, and really I didn't need to stop, but as this was the first ride out like this, and I knew Winnats was coming up, I stopped in The Woodbine Cafe for a cup of tea with a load of sugar in it, and a slice of Rockt Road.
Much needed refreshment.
After a quick chat with the staff, and also some of the staff from the Poachers from down the road, (waiting for the second hail shower to pass...) I set off on my way back home.

Winnats was a total an utter horror fest. I've been down that hill on a mountain bike before, but only up it in a car. A 1 in 5 ascent, and those of you that live around here and have biked up it. Respect.
I tried to do it in a one-er but had to stop about 3/4 of the way up for a short break and a drink of water before carrying on. Although I stopped, I did NOT walk.

Carrying on back over to Chapel-en-le-frith was lovely, the road was clear and after the struggle up Winnats, it felt like a breeze, back down through Chapel and into Chinley- where it really hit. My bum hurt, my legs were screaming, I didn't have enough gears, and I certainly didn't have anything in my legs. I contemplated sitting down by the side of the road and calling out back-up with a car.

tcha. so I MTFU'd and carried on, up and down the undulations, grinding out the miles, past Hayfield, up the hill into Little Hayfield, up the hill and over past the Grouse, and back down to home.
Crikey, I'm quite tired.
57 and a bit km over 2 and a half hours or so. Not bad for a first effort, but certainly something I can improve on.
This is the link to the route

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Out with the Harriers

So, out with the Glossopdale lot this evening for a pleasant run up and over winhill.
There were a good few of us out, and a fast early pace was set- looking at about sub 4:30 and extended periods of sub 4min kms.
I have to admit at this stage that I was at the front and setting the pace... well, I was trying to keep up with Dan and Julien actually, which I did quite well at the beginning.

The hill was a slightly different matter, and the stretched out in front of me, Paul overtook me on the early part of the climb, but I managed to keep my steady plod going for longer than him, and I got back going up the steeper part of win hill, eventually arriving at the top about 30-40 seconds behind Dan, who was about 10 after Julien.
That boy can run.

The downhill was interesting as we took a bit of a detour and didn't go down the main path, bashing through some heather and following a trod down to the north of the main path- I was too busy trying not to be blinded by the sun and not tripping over to accurately notice exactly where we were, and the pace was being kept well in the 3:50- 4:20 bracket, which I was really beginning to feel.
I think thats just about on the cusp of my aerobic/anaerobic threshold, and is a pace that I need to learn to sustain almost indefinitely on level and slopey ground.

On the way down there was a beautiful descent, through some old ruined farms, and some delightful glades.
The whole thing was capped off with a vicious little ascent at the end, which proved that I still had a bit left in my legs.
Good run, the route is linked here.

short circuit

Had this one planned for a short while, but thought I'd change it slightly after an idea poached from a tweet by Mark Twight-

The general idea of this was to help me strengthen the quads in an unstable setting, while tiring myself out, so that the muscles could get used to stabilising when not fresh.
After a warm up I was doing split squats on balance hedgehogs- slow, concentrating on form, then 5 burpees, followed by step up and step downs onto the hedgehogs,
times 5.
which was pretty good- it certainly got various muscles around the knee going, and not the normal ones. I could definitely feel it coming toward the end of the session.

After the balancey part of the workout (with the burpees at in the middle, to slightly stress the aerobic system), I had 10 Turkish Get Ups to complete- the original idea of this was just to do it with a kettlebell- only a 12kg- (mainly because I dont have a heavier one)- however, MFT mentioned alternating weight with a cup of water to balance between gross and fine muscle movements.
Most amusing, and certainly one of the more interesting ends to a short session.

Nope- Im not trying to kill myself with weight, Im going for refinement of skills. Going hard is the right answer less often than you might think.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Hill reps

Well, the idea of today was to go up to Wormstones 5 times from the road, as fast as possible and see what kind of average times I was doing. Its a 600metre stretch and knowledge of how fast I was heading up the hill is going to be useful for future training intensity planning.

Im pretty tired from yesterday- although it was a rest day we were out at Rockover Climbing Wall providing onsite massage for the competition there. We weren't going at it like an exercise thing, but the all day being up and about was pretty intense and tiring, so it was a bit of an effort getting out onto the hill.

The times for my hill reps (these are not actual times for the 600 metre drag, but rather the average of what it would have taken for 1km at that pace) were as follows
7:29, 8:29, 8:50, 8:54 and 8:41.
There was a crazy headwind going on as well- not something that you get in a gym in London- or even on Greenwich hill- which certainly slowed me down- and made breathing a fair bit more interesting.
My HR stayed pretty much at 168 throughout the reps- which is fairly high up on the scale...

Looking at it as it is, the average pace would be 8:28, which means that I had 4 reps of Junk Intensity, not so good. However, as I say, this is the first time, and actually more of a test to see what is going on with my hill speed. Don't look at snapshots, look at trends.
This is only the beginning, but I suspect that my hill climbing needs to be looked at in some detail.

The question is, how can I get to the point where I can climb a hill like this in 7mins on aerobic capacity rather than dipping into anaerobic capacity? I think that the word "Slowly" comes into it.

Just if anyone is interested, the Connect route.
Hill reps on Wormstones by ttbudd at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Pain Stick

So I've gone down to Wickes and bought a tube of 10ft guttering, and got a couple of rubber stop ends with hose clips from some random place on ebay.

Thats right, slosh pipe.
I don't have nearly enough money to go out and get an olympic barbell with all the bits and pieces associated with it, and I'm not about to spend a load of money to join a gym in the middle of summer when I can be outside running about the place doing silly things, especially with cash flow the way it is, so for less than £20 I got hold of these.

and turned them into this...

Not exactly difficult, I think you agree, and filled with 3 litres of water (at the moment, until I get used to the way it all sloshes around in there), it presents a bit of a challenge when doing the fairly normal and functional movements that I've been missing.

I suspect that within a month, I may begin to think its too short, but that might be offset by the fact its not the easiest thing in the world to grip. I can add a load more water to it as well, which- although it won't make it as heavy as an olympic bar with weights on it, the sheer awkwardness will make it an interesting thing to play around with.
Right, I'm off to find my training schedule to find places in which to fit it in over the next few weeks.
Muchos fun.

cragging in a Windy place- clothing options

First time climbing outside for what seems like (and is in fact) ages.
After a somewhat fabulous evening meal of Honeyed Lamb, (which featured rather a lot of Cayenne), we headed out over to Windgather rocks to meet some friends.

It was an easy evening, just getting back into the swing of things, and the hardest thing that was lead was a Severe. I ended up doing 6 routes, but there were a couple of interesting things.

The first was my choice of clothing- I was wearing a Helly Ice top- the one with Merino wool, a cheap craghoppers fleece and my Montane H2O velo top. And I was Toasty.
It was great because as you can imagine from the name, Windgather rocks does indeed somewhat gather the wind, making it a pretty chilly place to stand around waiting for either the leader to get the damn thing led, and a belay sorted, or for you second to get his shoes on/ fiddle with getting gear out.
The combination of climbing in the fleece, and then having a totally windproof top dangling off the back of the harness just to throw on over the top was brilliant. If it rained, it would have provided a modicum of waterproofing, but given the situation, we would have just wandered back to the car.

So that combination on a chilly evening is a winner. I believe that this is the kind of combo that vapourize and the Mountain Equipment lightweight something or other jacket (I need to look that up) have in mind. However, they don't have the option of removing the fleece. Its there, laminated to the outer windproof fabric.

So, until I manage to get hold of a Vaporise top, the fleece and Montane windproof will do just fine! It also means that I can take one or the other layer off - which you can't do with the Rab... maybe you don't need to.
Any thoughts anyone?


I mean, really.
How technical can you make a sock? I remember back in the day you had a pair of normal cotton type socks, and a pair of thick red ones, you put on your boots and off you went.
If you were REALLY rebellious, you might be able to find a pair of thick socks that WEREN'T red, ( still have a pair of turquoise ones stuffed at the back of a cupboard somewhere.
And then technical fabrics started coming in, and we had a choice of socks, and a choice of how many to wear. Some people still wear 2 pairs, a liner and a thick one, some swear by one pair, (be it wool or polyester), others are still staunchly advocating red socks and nothing but.
Old school. (Sorry, I don't own red ones)

Ive worn a couple of pairs in the past decade, some good, some bad, some horrendous, and this is a basic run down of them, with photos where I can find the socks to take pictures of.

1000 mile socks
Some people love these things, they swear by them. Bascially its a sock with a thin inner lining that is attached to an outer along a seam, and "floats" inside the sock. A sock within a sock. Theoretically friction takes place between the inner and outer sock.
In my experience, they are the worst things ever concieved and taken through to market. I wore them a couple of times and suffered the worst blisters I have ever had. As far as I am concerned they are a waste of money and are best left on the shelf.

Waterproof socks. Genius idea. Its a sock with a membrane that doesn't let liquid through. Excellent. However, they feel really odd, and I certainly wouldnt go a long distance in them without some kind of liner. I can vouch for the fact they don't let water through- mainly because I have commuted in them a few times- the rain ran down my legs and into the socks, and I ended up with a cupful of water in the socks which didnt drain out, not nice at all.
So, if you want waterproof socks- make sure that you are wearing trousers, and that water doesn't flow down your legs and into the socks- or you will have wet, cold feet. Not nice.
Personally, I see them as a bit of a gimic. I would only ever use them for cycling, never for walking or running, and their place at the back of the drawer confirms their place in the pantheon of socks. To me, a waste of money. (the gloves are a different matter altogether, and I shall talk about them in a different post).
Sealskinz- not quite new school foot mapping....

Now we start getting into those socks which have different weaves and thicknesses, the specific type I have here are Medium weight socks- called Endurance Trekkers. They are an elastic, wool and polyprop mix and have cushioning around the heel and toe areas while wrapping around the foot. I have had 3 pairs of these, the first bought in 1998, which were thrown away last year- and the other two still appear to be going strong. They have been through thick and thin, raced in, walked in, biked in and generally abused. The heels are still there, the sock is still fully integrated and I cannot think of a better general purpose sock.
My running partner says I must be mad to run in them as they look too hot, but I can safely say that I havent ever actually massively overheated with them on.
All in all. Awesome socks, and apparently indestructable. (the only reason I got rid of the first ones was because they had been washed and re-worn that many times they were beginning to literally stand up on their own).
Bridgedale trekkers. Still going strong. I have a confession. That green sock... thats the 1998 sock, I thought I'd thrown it out, but no, it battles on!

Foot mapping on a smartwool sock

I have a couple of pairs of these, from ski socks to running socks. The Mid-weight hiking socks are one of the new additions to my quiver and seem to be holding up well. The whole idea of Smartwool is that the socks are body-mapped around the foot with padding around the heel and the toe- a bit like the bridgedales, they hug the feet- (which is really quite comfortable and nice), and that they are primarily made of wool. (merino wool, for those of you who are interested- farmed ecologically and sustainably in America)- the whole idea of merino wool- especially with that in Smartwool- is that it is very fine indeed, none of that horrible scratchy itchy stuff from days of yore, but a fabric that is comfortable, soft and wicks moisture away quickly.
Excellent idea, and in the thicker socks seems to work brilliantly.
Heel on the back of a low cut Smartwool sock.

On some Smartwool socks I have found that the heels do wear rather damn quickly, having gone through the backs of a pair of them in about 6-8 months. When you're paying a tenner or more for a pair of socks, you do expect them to last a fair amount longer than that. However, others have withstood much more abuse. It may be luck of the draw, I'd appreciate some feedback from the guys at Smartwool about that...
Hole in the back of a High cut Smartwool sock.


The thicker of the Tekos are excellent and I have abused mine a fair amount in the last year. They are a much stiffer sock than any of the others that I have worn- by that I mean that the elastic appears to be a stronger material, and they even seem (to a point) a more difficult sock to put on- a wierd thing to say perhaps, but perfectly true from my point of view.

I have noticed that after some time wearing them, clumps of wool do come loose from inside the socks and fall out, not something that I have noticed from any other socks really- and I would imagine that this is because of the large loops of wool inside.
Synthetic on the left, wool on the right, both the same thickness, both worn about the same amount, but the wool showing MUCH more wear
Again, with the thinner versions- light hiker and runner socks, I have seen the heels go pretty quickly- so Im not the biggest fan of them, though while they last, they are comfortable and breathe very well.

Ive only had a chance to wear the low thin versions of these socks, and so far I am mightily impressed. There has been no wear through the heel, they are just as good as the day I bought them, and Im off to run a fellrace in them this evening. They work. Again a merino wool mix, but this time, as mentioned, no heel rub through. I'd buy these again over teko and smartwool light hiking socks every time.

I haven't talked about pHD running socks because I don't own any yet, and I know that Sealskinz have just released a new and improved hiking version of their sock- and at £30, its pretty damn expensive, so unless I get given a pair at some point, I'll be spending my money on something else that I need more urgently.

All the socks have been through much the same abuse, and I can safely say that anyone that tries to sell you a merino sock on the basis that it won't smell is a big fat liar.
If going thick, any of them will do, if going thin, I'd tend to head more along the Icebreaker route, and I will never skimp on buying a pair of socks. They are as important to a boot fitting your foot as the shape of the boot itself.
1 sock, 2 socks? you decide. personal preference is best.
and last but not least, MAKE SURE the sock FITS your foot.
You can spend a lot of money on socks, and if they don't fit, its a waste of time and money, and you'll end up paying for it in blisters and blood.

As a final note, I have recieved a text telling me that Falke socks are brilliant, though I haven't tested them myself, I know that the ski socks are awesome. Running and walking... who knows?