“Strong winds are expected to hit much of Scotland this weekend with the arrival of Storm Hannah.” (Herald Scotland, 25/04/2019). That’s not the weather report you want to see when you’re planning to run a 53 mile cross country ultra from 6am on the Saturday morning. However up until now the sun had always shined on Jonny Fling, no matter what the weather report said, so all would be alright on the day…wouldn’t it?
Somehow it was the end of April and Fling time again. How had that happened? Since my great run at Falkirk (also in pretty awful weather) in February, training had been up and down. My foot had hurt post-race so I’d had a bit of recovery from that, then I got the cold, followed by a horrific bout of sinusitis which knocked me for six, followed by ANOTHER cold… and then finally when training was almost back on track it somehow became time to taper for the race. Not ideal, but with the mantra of “what will be will be” going around and around in my brain and reminding myself that yes a good race could happen, but it was all just a warm up for the West Highland Way in June , I got around to planning, prepping, stressing, and eating before I was ready to hit the hay for my pre race 3 or 4 hours sleep. A bit more stressing came with the horrific weather forecast and 3 or 4 kit choice changes were made before I decided just to be brave and go with a skort but layer up with arm sleeves, a long sleeved top and swapped my lighter jacket for my OMM and thicker gloves. After all skin is waterproof, isn’t it? Continue reading →
The 100 mile barrier is the obvious next step up from the West Highland Way race, but until this year I hadn’t really seriously thought about doing it in the near future. I’m still quite young in terms of ultra-running and hope to have plenty more years of racing and adventures to come. However, when you meet inspirational likeminded people on your crazy journey, these idea come into play much more quickly that you could imagine. The 1st of April 2018 was when this ridiculous plan was hatched. Jo and I had travelled up to the North section of the West Highland Way for a big training run ahead of my WHW race in June. It had been the farthest both of us had run in quite a while; me coming back from injury and Jo getting her running mojo back after a brief dip having had a phenomenal 2017. We’d got up at ridiculous o’clock, watched the sunrise as we drove through Glen Etive, had perfect weather, a brilliant run and were totally inspired. We decided somewhere along the way that the huge distances in the races we were already doing that year (the WHW for me and the Great Glen for Jo) were not far enough, and we wanted to make it our aim to break the 100 mile barrier that year. That evening we both put out names on the Glenmore waiting list with a backup plan of running part of the Costal route supported by friends if we weren’t successful in getting in. The longer the wait, the more we really, really wanted in. We banked loads of miles, hills and even got in a wee practice run of running loops by going around and around and around Lochore Meadows for 6 hours taking in Harran Hill on each loop, which is a bit steeper than the hill on the Glenmore loop, but elevation is always good! Continue reading →
After a few months of a blog hiatus I think I’ve finally found my run and write mojo again! My recovery from the Great Glen was slow, painful and tedious and even after a 2 week holiday which was spent gallivanting around Eastern Europe and over a month of “easier” training, I still didn’t have the desire to push myself 100%. Even new kit didn’t inspire me and my lack of speed was really getting me down as I watched friends getting faster and faster and I was struggling to complete an interval session without getting frustrated.
And then something suddenly felt right again. Whether I had just taken some pressure off myself or had finally recovered from the pounding I put my body through at the Great Glen, I don’t know. But I finally felt positive about my running again, I wasn’t feeling out of breath after the first mile and I was ready to get things back on track. After a few months of deciding what races I really wanted to focus on in the latter part of the year (I think this plan changed about 5 or 6 times, but I think I’ve finally got it right!), the River Ayr Way Challenge was chosen to be my next big push. Continue reading →
The Great Glen has been quoted as being “one of Scotland’s toughest ultra marathons” and after Saturdays excursion, I wholeheartedly agree! This was to be my second biggest race to date and my ‘A’ race of this year. I had put so much into my training in the first 6 months of the year and with only a few blips in my training schedule I was more than ready to get going.
On the Friday afternoon I finished up at work after what hadn’t been an ideal week. A cold appeared on Monday, plus I was covering fitness classes and 1-2-1 lessons right up until I left at 1pm on Friday after a very sweaty aqua aerobics class, so definitely not the ideal taper. However I was raring to go so after a quick shower, a last minute packing of everything apart from the kitchen sink and then unpacking everything to make sure I had indeed remembered my trainers, I was ready to go. Craig gave me a lift up to the station and I was finally on my way North. Continue reading →
The swimming term is coming to an end and just as well as I am completely exhausted. The kids have been bouncing off the walls for close to a month now, knowing that the summer holidays are fast approaching and my staff and I are counting down the minutes until the term ends! Then it’s straight on to fitness class cover which isn’t really the perfect preparation for a huge race, but needs must and I’ll just keep the impact low and my drill sergeant voice on top form!
As ever, I’ve found the whole work/life/training balance hard and I’m still not getting it quite right. I took on a few more 1-2-1 swimming lessons in my own time, so even on beautiful nights I found myself heading home after work, putting a cushion over my head on the couch to block out the light and passing out for a good 20 minutes before getting out to do my training. I’ve been following a Neil MacNicol training programme now since March and I’m definitely feeling stronger and leaner, but also 10 times more knackered and still haven’t found my love for speed work. Does anyone ever? I do struggle with speed work on my own, but with very little time to now get to running club I find if I have a plan I will (mostly) follow it even if I don’t really feel like it. My speed will come back, for now it’s all about the endurance. Continue reading →