It all went wrong. But that's ok.

I have not written here in a long while, simply because I did not have too much to say.

- Late Spring, early summer was busy with work and heavy training - so there was not much to write.

- Summer brought about injury and frustration, and I didn`t want to write.

I had been on a hiking expedition when I began to notice the aching pang in my heel. I have had Plantar Fasciitis before, so I instantly recognised it, but it was not so bad at the time. Besides, I had 40km of training to do on the Saturday of that week, and a back to back run the day after…so I needed to not let it bother me.

The 40km training I probably shouldn’t have done.

The 40km training I probably shouldn’t have done.

It`s a boring story to prattle on about how annoying and frustrating the pain became, so I won`t.

One thing I have discovered is that it is better to just “get on with” whatever the predicament turns out to be, rather than dwell on it or try and fight it. I went to the specialist already knowing racing was a bad idea - so I had shed the tears of frustration beforehand. I just need to get rid of the darn pain - and a change in plans was the best course of action.

I am extremely grateful to friends and family for their advice and support, including lending me a bike, as well as words of encouragement (and giving me golf balls, more about that later…) and I have my kept mind and body active. My aim is actually to get a bit stronger - I have become aware of some of my muscle weaknesses and it is a wake up call to now deal with them. I`m learning that I can`t really push as hard as I endeavour to without the back up, so I`m working on getting some muscle groups a bit stronger.

I have just entered a 60km race for October in the Swiss mountains which is my recovery goal now and my motivation for Autumn.I am looking forward to building up to that.

Meanwhile, I have created a little video about some of the home remedies I have given a bit of a go for PF. Not revolutionary, but a couple of things that have helped or been recommended.

To anyone facing setbacks, injury or otherwise - this idea helped me: An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards

Have a great rest of the week.

Winter training for 100km

Well, I am pretty happy, it’s safe to say, to see definite signs of Spring.

© Unsplash

© Unsplash

I really am not a winter person. Friends find this hilarious, given I spend the majority of my time in the snow covered mountains. But actually, the snow is not only incredibly picturesque, it does have its uses for training.

No, the issue with winter is the shorter nights, colder temperatures, and the fact that you have to be a bit creative with both training, and with motivating yourself to still get out there.

What is motivating me - is the summer. Both the racing element, and overall, the adventures of running by myself or with friends in beautiful, mountainous places.

A certain reason to get a wriggle on with training is the final confirmation of my CCC place. 101km with 6000m positive. Like the Tour du Fiz I did last summer, but a bit more stretched out ( an approximate marathon distance longer) and another 1000m or so more climbing. Hmmm.

This will be, by no means,a walk in the park, (absolutely not, it’s up a mountain) and at the moment I am trying to get my head around it.

The ambition to race is strong, but the journey to get there is really hard. Working full time in a job that is not your usual 9-5 schedule, the challenges of winter, tiredness, winter illness and general commitments, makes things a bit more challenging. I am not alone or some kind of hero in this though. Trail running and mountain racing is becoming more and more popular, not to mention the countless other sports, hobbies and passions that leave determined people trying to work out just how to fit everything in. But, I live by the hope that it is possible - you just need to give it a go and see what happens.

One thing I did want to do, is begin to keep a bit more of a record of adventures and training. So I had an idea, which was to very informally film some of the training, over the seasons, simply on my iphone, while on the go. Nothing special or extraordinary (there are a lot cooler videos out there let’s face it) but something to look back on, partly to remind myself on harder days that training is fun, and that for moments of feeling low like during illness/tiredness etc, there are the highs of awesome days on the mountain and great things to do.

So here’s a snapshot of some of my winter training. I make no excuse for the less-than-professional filming. All I can say is you try and run while filming on your iphone… ;)

Enjoy Spring.

Approaching Long Distance Running Like An Average Lifetime Of Sleep.

I heard something on the radio recently that got me thinking. Apparently, on average, we spend 26 years of our life asleep. 

That is a lot of sleep. Well, if done in a ‘oner’, it would mean I’d have been largely out of it for all but two years of my life so far (no need to comment…).

Obviously, we don’t endurance nap our lives this way. Yet, that’s what the average person will do overall.

If I look at the miles I run per month, I don’t tackle these in a oner either. That would be bonkers. If I thought about it yearly - well, it's a crazy thought. But a little and often, and by pushing further, more does get done.  This is how I approach long distance running – and it’s why I think it is possible for anyone to run a long way.

Two memories of transitioning into something along the lines of endurance sport. One was being dragged by my parents to do a walking challenge on the Austrian Tirol, aged about 7 or 8. I remember not being enthused by this. However, I came around to the idea on the basis of the fact you could achieve shiny badges, and it also turned out a boy from the hotel was giving it ago - and if he could do it, then so could I. 

The other was the first time I ran ten miles. I was in was my early 20’s, I had just got into running off road, and I had no idea what running ‘far’ looked like. Ten miles seemed pretty far. So I ran a circuit around where we were living (a circumference of about 2 miles or so) until the mission was complete. I remember that weekend quite vividly – going around and around until the job was done, and feeling quite mesmorized by the entire process. Also a great sense of achievement (and a feeling that I now knew that path very well).

Somehow those kind of events started to mould the concept of mountain endurance running that I now immerse myself with. Running, further, higher, and having a lot of fun.

 © C. Rowlands

 © C. Rowlands

My first ultra marathon was in Chamonix, with approximately 3000m height gain over 50km+ and my previous race distance was a half marathon (queue the joke about the fact I did not know what ‘ultra’ meant when I signed up). Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just wake up one morning, think “I’ll give this a go” and headed off onto the horizon on race day and it all worked out.  It took some prep, some injury setback, some steep learning curves… but the point is, I signed up in January, and by the end of August it had happened, with a top ten women’s result.

Race prepping pre-first 50km. Bricking it.

Race prepping pre-first 50km. Bricking it.

If you know me well, you’ll know I spent seven years in a city. I also completed the aforementioned race, while still living full time in London. I am not stating these facts to big myself up, but actually to invite you to consider the possibility that you can also do this, regardless of where you live, and however long you have run before. Want to run a long way? Well, do - it's not half as bad as it sounds!

The Big Walk Theory

Ultra races are pretty competitive (anyone ever seen Kilian Jornet race?) but ultra-marathons are also… long. So before you assume there is a sub 3-hour marathon sprint pace happening over Mont Blanc, there isn’t. Ultra marathons need a bit of thinking. You work with what you’ve got, both in your physical state at any time, as well as contending with the changing ground beneath you. You need to think ahead, think positively,  and plan a bit.

But the big point to be taken from this – racer or not – is that long distance running isn’t about a road marathon pace that happens to go on an upwards trajectory forever.  It’s a measured affair, and I bet, if you went out for a trail run, with the mentality of “steep hills I will walk, the rest I will jog, I will chill out when I want and need” – you will be amazed at how far you will have gone in a day, not to mention how much energy you will have left.

 © K. Foster

 © K. Foster

Racing of course intensifies the situation. But the Alps are surrounded by some pretty steep mountain profiles with racing happening up to 2500m+. I have never not walked, at points, in a mountain race- and I’m someone who likes to compete.

Run & Sleep: Keep it balanced.

If you slept too much you might become like a sloth, but running all your miles at once won't make you a panther.

©  C.Rowlands

©  C.Rowlands

Just because I only raced a half marathon before my ultra, does not mean I did not put in the mileage, steadily, up until my first 50km. In fact, I ended up with an injury from getting too keen to quick. So approach long distance running with the kindness to yourself that this is a progressive sport. Build up and accumulate slowly. Feel the kick of knowing you did that extra KM this time, and next time, you’ll add one, maybe two more.  Take into account terrain also. Don’t beat yourself up if you only managed 10km, feel knackered, but guess what – you actually just tackled the biggest hill in your area. Sometimes I go out for my ‘long easy run’ and cannot believe that I’ve only covered a bunch of kilometres yet been out for ages. Then I remember I’ve just been up 1000m+ ascent. So you know, peaks and troughs.

Find A Friend

This makes me laugh as my friend Sam and I genuinely used iphone ‘Friend Finder’ the other day to locate mates on the hill. Yet failed. But we still had each other for an epic outing.

Sam and I. We always have a laugh. 

Sam and I. We always have a laugh. 

One really good way to start running longer is to run with someone.

Running, bogs etc. © Jana Studzinska

Running, bogs etc. © Jana Studzinska

Tell someone you went and trained for well over seven hours and it sounds ‘hardcore’. Break down the day, and what actually happened was for the majority of it I was with a fellow Salomon girl, Jana, and we chatted, chilled and laughed our way around the mountains, and ended up covering quite a bit of mileage (and getting in a bog - standard). Take a friend, aim to go a bit further, and run, walk or indeed ‘talk’ your way around.


Tell yourself if you reach that 10/15 km/mile target, you will go and eat a cheesecake. Many of my runs finish with bakery stops. Sometimes it is all I can think about for the last 5 km.

I mean, eating is part of the whole debacle, and racing is great in this respect. You power stride, you power up and down mountains, and you without hesitation, power eat, to keep going strong.

But incentivising reaching goals doesn’t need to be about food. Buy something nice, do something nice, celebrate – you just went further. Those Tirol badges spurred me on all those years back and I am not sure much has changed.

Caught mid chew- thanks Will Steele.

Caught mid chew- thanks Will Steele.

I am not a coach nor a sports scientist, so I am not going to tell you how you, individually should run longer. But I will tell you, that you can. So get psyched about that. I did, I continually do and I know that as human beings, we are kind of built for this.

Get your watch and go surprise yourself. 

Want to join a group of girls who can get you psyched for running on mountains? Check out my mates Sam and Nikki at The Adventure Running Company

Running interview - Nikki Barnard: sport, a yeti + life in the Alps

Oh hello Monday you old friend.

I have a real gem for you today my trustee runner (or not - but do give it a go!) friends out there. Now, if you read my posts, you will know how much I go on about Nikki Barnard. She is, quite, simply exceptional. An amazing runner, skiier, triathlete,  friend, mountain dweller and a real example of a very strong lady.

I'm always badgering here about one thing or another, and we do love a good chat, both in the good times of our adventures, and in the harder times. Recently I asked her if she wouldn't mind doing a little interview for me for the blog. Like a total WAD, she readily agreed.

I will see her soon. We shall do a VLOG version also. Banter flowin'.

Running interview: Nikki B

Photo: NIkki Barnard

Photo: NIkki Barnard

MV:Why Run?

NB:This is such a simple question that I struggle to condense and offer a short solid answer, as I could go on all day about the love I have for running. Out of the sports and activities I have had a go at throughout my years, there doesn't seem to be one that has given me the same joy and satisfaction that running presents each time I head out. For me, it's a time to switch off. To think, to align and relax, to push to exercise focus and achieve. It’s so many things to me, that I would certainly not wish to be without. I've seen a lot of beautiful places while being out running and continue to look around close to home or further afield to see what else there is.

Nikki posing for their calendar, raising money for charity with   The Neverest Girls   2015

Nikki posing for their calendar, raising money for charity with The Neverest Girls 2015

MV:Nikki, how did you start running?

NB:I ran when I was a kid and got involved in track and field but never had a go at anything further than the out schools obligatory annual cross country event. I tried my hand at Triathlon a few years back and liked it. Living in Chamonix has been very influential and inspiring, and I've just enjoyed exploring and pushing a touch more as the years go on and have had a great time in doing so.

Photo: Nikki Barnard

Photo: Nikki Barnard

MV:Where is your favourite place to run? 

NB:There is a place called La Flatiere close to where I live. It is a trail through the dense forest, which is beautiful and smells like heaven. This offers you the chance to take it easy or work hard with the bonus of it being very quiet and less populated.

MV:What usually motivates you to get your trainers on?

NB:I read it somewhere in a magazine once, GO! If you feel miserable and don't want to be out 10 minutes into your run, then stop, and head home. So, I try to abide by that and funnily enough after 10 minutes, I'm settled in and usually having a great time. This little rule seems to do the trick for me.

MV:What has been your most memorable running event so far?

NB:I enjoyed the TDS Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie 120km 7200M+ . The trail was beautiful, and I just really appreciated everything about the experience. This is hindsight speaking hey; I was on my feet for 27+ hours, and my feet were torn to shreds, but the people, the support, the perfect weather conditions all came together and I just had a blast.

MV:You are a part of the Neverest girls. Tell us more about that.

NB:The Neverest Girls is a group of passionate female runners based in Chamonix. We're not elite athletes, but we push ourselves to our own personal limits. We love nothing more than running in the mountains encouraging each other and enjoying the views. We got together to make things happen, to bring ideas to life and contribute to charitable causes that may need support. Over the few years the NRG have been around, we have travelled to Nepal to run the Everest Marathon, and also over to the USA to run the Trans Rockies 6 day stage race.  In 2016 we plan to run the Haute Route, from Chamonix to Zermatt in 6 days.  In total we have raised over 26000 Euros for charity and I am hopeful we will be able to raise more in the future.  For more information relating to our chosen charities, A Chacun Son Everest and Kennedys disease UK visit –

MV:What has been the hardest obstacle to face with running?

NB:I injured myself just before the summer hit it off and sadly it forced me to draw a line through some races I was down to run. Understanding the feelings associated with having an injury was a bit tricky, and it was a whole new side of endurance sports I had never encountered. It is just that, an obstacle that you can get around, it may just take some time and patience, but I am certain it will be worth it.

MV:What have you got coming up in 2016?

NB:Running, running and a bit more running.  Well, we're off to Morocco in March for the Right Altitudes inaugural high altitude training camp , that I am looking very much forward too. I have always fancied a trip to Morocco and being able to combine it with running and hanging out with some of my favourite people and meeting other likeminded runners will be great!

After withdrawing from the 2015 UTMB due to injury, I plan to be at the start line in 2016 with all cylinders firing and ready to go. There're a few other bits and bobs going on and in the works that I'm also really looking forward to as well. Right now I am still recovering from injury and I am working hard in an effort to come back strong, so who knows what the future will bring 

Thanks Nik, you've certainly motivated me :)

Find Nikki also at:

To see a film made for the British Mountaineering Council by SevenTwenty Productions following Nikki and I ultra-marathon training + racing ,click here 

Sports Injury: a warning sign about your sport?

Some of you may need some motivating this week, as you have been dealing with injury. Yup, I've been there too.

So, let's get some perspective with it. Is is the mark of a bad sportsman? Is the experience a sign that your sport might not be all it's cracked up to be?

I have had a few run ins (pardon the pun) with injury, and this isn’t the first time I have mentioned it on the blog.  I have had moments prior to races where I have experienced those intense concerns of whether that ‘small pain’ is just nerves, a fuss over nothing or a genuine issue that could affect me and my performance.I have also in the past, felt quite embarrassed about injury, as if its something I shouldn’t be experiencing. Surely it’ssign I’ve done something wrong - that I am not up to this kind of thing.

And yet I ran this morning, I ran the day before, and even though sometimes it can be mentally and physically challenging - I'm not about to give up. Am I obsessed with my sport? Do I hate my body to carry on despite what injury risks there might be?

Quite the opposite.

My body is fallible, full stop. So’s every 'body'.  Even the fastest, most athletic and talented sports people throughout history – no matter how efficient, how strong or how capable, are not superhuman. If we work on that premise, then it’s about making the most of who we are with the resources we individually have. If you enjoy running; then run. If skiing, then ski. Horseback riding? Reading? Singing? You have to follow what the things that enrich your life and interest you the most.

Which is where the phrase ‘ get back in the saddle’ comes from. Life can be hard, unpredictable and sometimes, painful.  Sometimes,  no matter how strong or methodical you have been in your training, your body signals a change of plan. But this situation, or even the possibility of it, shouldn’t dictate the passions that should interest you. You may need to take steps to recover, but it doesn't mean you have reached the end of the road with your running.

I take a lot of inspiration from the courage and honesty of others on this matter, who show their true strength in their humility. One is my dear friend Nikki Barnard, one of the toughest and most inspiring long distance runners I know.  Nikki has battled 2015 with a considerable sports injury, having to re think adventures, plans and goals. Both of us have had good chats together about injury.

Photo: Nikki Barnard

Photo: Nikki Barnard

It’s not stopped her though. Give up where her interests lie? Not likely matey - after all, have you seen her run?

All being well, she anticipates running the UTMB in 2016. We are both helping with the running of a training camp in the Atlas Mountains in 2016.

I was also encouraged recently listening to some of the GB Park and Pipe team at the Telegraph Ski and Snowboard Event in Manchester. Some of them discussed the time they have had to take out due to injury, humbly admitting the struggles this brings and I found their openness and honesty encouraging and motivating. They still love their sport, they deal with challenges as they approach, and they keep following their passions.

Sometimes I think there is a pressure, especially in sport, to be a shining example of health, fitness and vitality. We all aim for these things, of course. But we have got to be real. Guess what, sometimes I find running mentally challenging. Sometimes, it's the physical struggle.

That's ok. It's all ok.

If you are going through injury – get help. In the form of support from great running communities like #ukrunchat on twitter for example, where so many others can share their advice and expertise on what you might be experiencing. It’s also worth, when thinking carefully about future training, to speak to a physiotherapist who specialises in your sport.

Tim Budd, from Global Therapies is someone I really rely on not just for coaching, but also in times of injury/ trying to prevent injury. As a runner (and a very strong one at that to!) he ‘gets’ it both in terms of physiology, the discipline and the passion of the sport. Seeking professional advice is a must if you are experiencing any pain while running. On his personal blog, he has also written some really insightful things about his own experience with injury.

Sometimes excrement hits the fan- as they say. Sporting injury can get you down, but don’t let it affect your strength – by this I mean, the strength in yourself to be who you are, and to follow your passions and interests.

5 Myths about running

I am really excited to be heading this weekend to the Kendal Film Festival, to catch up with friends,be humbled and inspired at the feats of others, and to get totally fired up for future adventures. Bring it on!

For my post this week, I teamed up again with Trail Running Magazine to have a chat with you about some of the claims that surround taking up running.

Eg. Is it a sport not really meant for women? Surely it’s only for the super fit?

Hope it is useful and do post your comments on some impressions you have come across which surround trail running.  How have you dealt with them?

The latest Trail Running magazine is a good read – out now, next edition: 7th January

Running questions answered

Yo. So today, my video is a 'Q & A' on questions to do with running. On social media recently (do say hi by the way, I can be found on Instagram and Twitter) , I asked if there was anything you would like to know or if you had any running questions. I got asked some great questions which I hope to have answered in this latest video.

My running story is one that changed things for me - in that I discovered something about myself: I really really loved off road running, and I had not really known this before. This was in 2013, where I got more involved in trail and fell running, signing up for my first Ultra in January 2014. The longest I had raced when signing up for this mountain Ultra was ten miles.

I love adventures; excited for what 2016 will bring (including our Atlas trip!), and here I share some answers to your questions about progressing with running, injury etc.

Have a great weekend!