Exciting news!

Exciting news : it's Friday!

The impending weekend is not the only reason I am so cheery. Friday is going to be my new vlog day! I really enjoyed my recent video in the Lakes (click here to watch), and have decided to share running and fitness info, adventures etc on video, aiming for once a week on a Friday.

Good times!

I have called the series 'For Fit' Friday. This is to motivate you with your weekend adventures and maybe think about going for a run, especially if this is something more new to you. For some, the prospect of that is still daunting and may take a while before it seems enjoyable, hence the slight play on roads. But hopefully I can help you see that exercise doesn't have to be seen as a 'forfeit', and that actually, you can have the greatest times, being outside and sharing brilliant running experiences.

Go watch ! :)

 

Filmed on a Sony Action Cam

Running and climbing in the Lakes

This weekend past I headed to the Lakes! It was a great time to chill, and be active, as well as catching up with our good mate John Mason. Our first port of call was to make our way up towards Great Gable, 'the British birth place of climbing' where we climbed Napes Needle, before heading to the Summit of Great Gable. After this, JR kindly took the climbing kit back down while John Mason and I went on a very chilled run from the summit to Scafell Pike Summit, before heading back down towards the lake.

  © @johndmason 2015

© @johndmason 2015

  © @johndmason 2015

© @johndmason 2015

I vlogged the days adventures for you to see! The weather was pretty good and experienced some new challenges, as well as some good contrasting terrains.

If anyone wants to get a feel for mountain or sky running, this is certainly a good place to start!

Getting your head around your legs: you can run

The mind is a funny thing.

I am pretty fascinated with the mental game of training and racing when it comes to running. The concept that adventure, endurance or more ‘extreme’ sport requires mind over matter is common, and I know from my own training the challenges that your own mindset can provide. Feeling a bit out of sorts before a run? Under confident that you can make the distance? Just feeling a bit tired? All seems to be able to have the power to hinder achieving goals, whether your body is actually capable of doing the task or not.

I have been recently preparing a talk about my own journey to becoming an ultra-distance runner ahead of my ultra next week and it has given me the opportunity to reflect on the concept of distance and the ‘mindful’ nature of running. From signing up to an ultra in January 2014, I raced a mountain ultra that August, having only previously raced 10 miles upon signing up. A lot of those months in between involved strategic and pretty dedicated training. But if I had had the wrong mindset or lost my nerve? Well I would never have done it.

So it was an overwhelming surprise to me to be able to train my legs to be able to be fairly successful in that race, but I remember clearly on the day how much the ‘positive mental attitude’, ( aided by wonderful supporters, good weather etc. ) helped me to run that bit more confidently, and make it smoothly to the finish line. As discussed by Neil Maclean-Martin, director of Physiotherapy based in Chamonix, in our running doc ‘Running Wild’, the mental challenge is, quite arguably, tougher.

On that basis, some positive thinking. I really think running an ultra is open to all. It is not something reserved for some kind of ‘ultra-human’ . It just needs to be mentally tangible from the off. Can you run 10k? Good, four miles more and you have decent fell race distance. Get used to this, then the transition to half marathon is just over three miles. For off road runners, spending whole days out just focusing on this kind of distance (stopping for lots of snack breaks etc) would better your endurance and stamina, and then moving onto 15 miles becomes very accessible. Etc. I have mentioned this before, but this blog really helped 'keep it real' when it comes to training for long distance races, so do visit for some down to earth advice: http://yourfirstultra.blogspot.co.uk/ 

I have yet to actually take part in a marathon (nothing like going whole hog to ultra from a half – but it is doable!) but you can see how the miles rack up, and roughly 26 miles were something I tackled as part of getting ready for my first ultra. It is a fairly long way. But then, some people enter events that are 100 miles – and they finish! So don’t underestimate yourself.

When I mentioned I was writing this post to John, his take on this notion of mind and sport was “You don't eat an elephant in one sitting”. Quite. Small steps for big distance running.

Whatever the distance, never assume you won’t be able to do something.

Navigating in the Peak District

Happy Monday! This weekend was a brilliant one full of sunshine, ice cream, and a BBQ. It was also brilliant because I worked on gaining and developing a skill, which is navigation for fell running. The ultra that I am racing in this August requires map reading skills, so I was keen to take part in this navigation day course in the Peak District.

We had so much fun!

It was great to turn up and find four other ladies had also wanted to improve their map reading. We ran a bit, we read our maps, we laughed, we debated directions...it was a blast to be in an all girl group for the day proving that #ThisGirlCan, once armed with a reference point and a given a sense of direction.

 Photo: Dave Taylor

Photo: Dave Taylor

Dave Taylor was our very experienced fell running guide and was incredibly helpful and patient. We all met out Outside Shop, before heading out of Hathersage and towards Burbage Valley. I was grateful to Dave for covering a section of the race route, and for all the information he passed on to us.

We had so many laughs! A great day out, and I really recommend to anyone new or experienced in fell running to take this kind of course - having navigational skills, whether your race is marked or not, allows you to feel more confident in training and in racing.

For more information about Dave Taylor's navigation courses: http://www.fellrunningguide.co.uk/

Happy Running

Today's trip out was definitely an adventure! Possibly one of the funniest runs I have ever been on. Upon a visit to my folks, my dad, a keen walker, suggested we try a route which would work for me as a new running route when I visit. It would also give me the chance for a bit of navigation, which is a skill I definitely want to work on.

The retired charter surveyor and myself ventured forth, only to reach the first navigation challenge: one route, two paths ahead - both leading to forests, both following a stream to the right of the path...which one was the correct route? We both made our case for different paths;  venturing forward, re-considering, back to square one, etc. Weather was turning. The map itself was fairly limited (a walkers hand made document, specifically for certain walks, omitting arguably beneficial information etc.), so it took some studying.

Turned out my navigation was correct, but this wasn't before encountering one hyperactive sheep dog, and then a sheep that was having trouble getting up as it had wriggled onto it's back (which nearly involved a de-tour altogether as my dad considered sheep shifting, although there was an electric fence in the way - you get the idea of the wonderful chaos of it all (sheep turned out to be fine.)

We planned to do the route separately, but we figured out a way for me to run and my dad to enjoy the walk - keeping it a shared adventure. Signs of spring everywhere, and although the occasional downpour, was warm and full of flowers and colour.

A really great adventure out - and a good laugh!

I think it's easy to spend too much time inside, where it's comfortable and familiar. Those days spent in this way, are arguably often not remarkable.But taking the step to go outside and run, walk, or whatever you choose, makes you appreciate everything, and have some quality experiences. Get outside and enjoy it!

Bank Holiday Running

Bank holiday weekend, and we went running! As many of you know, (see my recent post on this)  I have been dealing with injury. However,  I have been persistent, dedicated and as stubborn as a mule trying to keep up with stretching, squats, cycling to work etc, and it seems injury is beginning to feel better. Yes, you heard me! Last weekend I went out for about 10km in the Peak,  ran a few miles again the next day, and felt improvement. Ran during the week, felt better still.  I've been out each day this long weekend, with only slight twinges today. Could not feel more chuffed! Really conscious not to push it/ speak to soon, as still work to do, but it is hard to contain the excitement! All being well, I am really excited to let you know about upcoming projects, so do keep up with the blog!

It has been a pretty adventurous weekend. After checking the forecast, we were deciding between running in the Lakes, or Wales on Saturday. We decided Wales, and made our way to Snowdonia. Little splatterings of rain we brushed aside in our excited chat as we headed to our destination. Then we arrived. Snow, gale winds. Hang on - was this not May?

Well - it was worth a try at least. However, I really was not well prepared for these kind of conditions in my kit. Being rather blasé I decided that May meant lambs bleating, birds chirping, being surrounded by glorious sunshine and no need for key essential items. Note to self: have always in your bag, everything for any kind of weather! I ended up borrowing waterproof trousers (thanks John)  - I don't think I had set out for a run in weather like this to date! We began our run. Head down, watch your feet (in snow and slippery rock), scrambling up, sharp snow/hail in your face...we climbed about 2/3rds of the way up before we made the decision, all of us cowering by a rock, that to persist would not have been wise. I then basically sledged my way down. Annoying to have to quit - but it would only get more exposed the further we went, and the conditions underfoot were too risky. This was us last year, around the same time in Wales - could not have been more different weather!

Saturday we went for a short run, using it for interval training. This kind of training is helpful for speed work and stretching out the legs. I was saying how respectful I am of short distance sprinters, or those 5/10km racers. Running full pelt takes stamina. Today we popped out to the Peak for an amble in the countryside! Weather consistent and fairly warm, and a good trip out with the guys.