Wednesday, 30 March 2016


I get knocked down....
Its March. I'm finally back to running again. I can do hill reps on a tuesday, and run a couple of times in the week and have a decent day out at the weekend.

Its taken me 2 months to get back to a vague semblence of fitness since the Spine Challenger. I'm sitting down and looking at my times and training from this time last year and realising that I'm way off the pace that I was. Not only that, but the time it is taking me to recover from efforts is longer, and I still feel pretty damn tired after decent days out.

All this is fairly understandable, but prior to doing the Spine I did think I would be a bit more immune to the effects than I have been. There was me thinking I was going to be back running in January and racing in February.
Not a bit of it.

Even now, the speed and climbing stamina feels a long way off - with the Welsh champs having started last weekend, the English champs started a couple of weeks ago, and a whole raft of stuff lined up in April/May/June, I am starting to wonder if this year might be a "run around, take it easy and see what happens" kind of year, not worrying too much about results.

Despite being able to jog around and do bits and bobs in the hills I still feel an overwhelming heaviness of legs when climbing hills and attempting to do anything approaching a decent speed. I wonder if it is because of the continued recovery (even now) from the Challenger, or if, perhaps, it is simply expecting to be at another level.
This time last year I had put in a significant amount of training right the way through the winter. My reps were faster, I was generally stronger, and this may well have been because of the continued progress that was being made through the winter months.
As it is, I feel almost like I'm a couple of months behind where I should be (about right seeing as there was little I could do in terms of running in Jan and Feb), though don't want to be making excuses for performances in races and in training.

At this point, it really is a case of recognising that going out and hammering reps as hard as possible might not be the only thing I need to do. Having had a couple of colds in the last few months when I normally get none has shown a possible reduction in my immune system, as well as general fatigue, nutrition and intelligent training are just as important, if not more so, now that I feel a little behind.

The nice thing is that I am still enjoying getting out on the hills, even if I'm not quite as sharp as I think I should be.
Recovery is a long road.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Llantysilio Fell race 2016

Its been a while since I posted. The main reason for this is that I was pretty broken after the Spine Challenger. January was a write off, February wasn't much better, and I only really started getting back to being able to run (let alone run properly) in late Feb, early March.
As such, I guess I'm pretty much about 2-3 months behind where I would like to be fitness-wise. The Spine took a LOT out of me - but I think it has been the inability to train at the intensity and distances that I want to which has really taken its toll.

The start - thanks to Mary Jeal for the picture
Luckily these last 3 weeks have been pretty much ok, and I have been able to put together some decent back to back week distance and height gains. Llantysilio was always going to be on my race list this year, as it's the first North Wales Champs counter. Al and I haven't actually raced (as in, short, hard race) since the final Counter last year- the Breiddan hills, so this was going to be an interesting experience.

The usual suspects were around at the start of the race, deep in the Valleys which contain the River Dee. The hills looked pretty steep, though apparently the route is quite forgiving and an awful lot of it is in fact, horribly runnable. Although the weather was promising to come in with a bit of a vengeance later on, at the start of the race it was mild, but breezy, and with the promise of considerable more breeze across the tops. Al, Carl and I drove down and met up with Chris J down there - so a decent Glossop turnout for a race in the midst of the valleys. (It took less than 2 hours to get there, to be honest)
Al and I discussing the route - thanks for the picture Carl

At the gun the race set off at a fairly sedate pace (ie. not totally balls out from the get-go). It winds up and around a farm before heading up to a steep hillside climb which I powered up, ended up at the top in 3rd place, a considerable distance behind the first 2. However, my enthusiasm for hammering up the climb as hard as possible was met by the unfortunate prospect of legs giving out on me before a kilometre and a half had gone. "Move!" I told my legs. "nope". they replied. Over the course of the next section (mostly on the next uphill) person after person came after me until I was hanging onto about 8th/9th place with Chris Jackson pushing me hard for the place.

Jez Brown from Buckley had shot off earlier on, in hot pursuit of the Mercia guy in the lead. A North Wales Road Runner was up there in the top 4 (though I couldn't for the life of me detect any hint of compulsory kit on him). The next few places were being duked out with a very on-form Karl Steinegger and Clive (insert whichever name he is using this week here) who seemed to be trotting around in a waterproof.
The beginning of the "runnable" hills started, and it was all I could do to run a bit of it, and walk the rest. Fairly soon a 3 way battle for 7th started between me, Chris and an Eryri runner. We swapped leads, pushed each other hard and generally had at it as fast as possible.

The breeze got up, and for a time was to our right, then behind us as we made our way across the ridgeline. The path is massive - landrover track size, so no possibility of getting lost. Again and again on the uphills I was reduced to a walk, and it wasn't until the penultimate downhill where it radically steepened that I managed to put some time into Chris. Not so the Eryri guy, and we battled it out up the final rise to Moel Gamelin, with him topping out first by a few seconds.
The Sun inn- a lovely location for a race HQ

The Marshal at Moel Gamelin was leaning at about 45degrees into the wind - so strong it was there- and we turned to go down a delightful singletrack section with heather on either side. Again, the wind battered us, and there was no way to stay in the singletrack - the Eryri guy was getting buffeted about, so I took my chance and blasted past him down the hill, hoping to put a decent gap between us.
Past another marshal, a tight turn around and into a surprisingly calm section in a sheltered bit of the hill. Karl was a bit too far in front of me to contemplate catching him, so it was mainly a question of keeping the Eryri guy off my back.
Round the corner, down the hill, another technical downhill section, and then flat out into the field before the final road section- about a kilometre long.

Then the dreaded stitch hit- slowly and surely I began tightening up on the left of my torso. Stride reduced in length, and it was all I could do to keep running at any pace. It seemed like I had enough time behind me not to be caught, and slowed down radically in the last couple of hundred metres.
Thankfully I had enough time, and painfully stumbled over the line in 7th.

A couple of lessons today-
If you're going to Llantysilio race, get there early, there really isn't a lot of parking.
Its a superb race put on by Tattenhall runners.
I need to get better at running uphill again... strength-wise and psychologically as well.
Jez is on FIRE this year.

Well done to Chris in 9th, Al- top 20 and Carl Bedson in 33rd.
Grand day out.