It has been not quite 72 hours since I finally crossed the line of the iconic West Highland Way race and I am just about coming to terms with returning to reality. Did that actually happen? Was it just an awesome, really long and tiring dream, or did I actually get to to take part and finish this amazing race? Continue reading →
It has been a long and tough 6 months since I first heard I had got a place in the iconic West Highland Way Race. There had been years of training before that, but the moment I got the place everything got switched up a gear and I have worked my butt off to get to where I am just now. I’m tired, I’m sore, my feet are a mess, I’ve gone through countless pairs of trainers and I’ve had the best tan lines from training runs for months. But I’m strong, I’ve got more power in my legs than I’ve ever had, I’m (just about) mentally prepared and now all I have to do is focus and get to the start line in just under 3 weeks time…. Continue reading →
So my plan to write up all my training week by week fell flat on its face. Mainly because a lot of the training was in the dark, in the rain, on the pavement… and I really didn’t think it made very entertaining reading. However, now that my wonderful Exercise to Music course is out the way (which I passed by the way…woohoo!) and the clocks have gone forward, I’m more compelled to get out and run in the mornings and after work…. even when it’s raining!
The main point is that training is going well. After a fantastic run at the D33 and a pretty strong run at Alloa the following week, and with only a few aches and pains and creaky joins I’m feeling slightly more confident about everything. My only worry is how quickly time is passing; less than 3 months until race day now!!
Although I haven’t been updating the blog much with my training, I keep a note of everything online and I’m pleased with how consistent my training has been. But I won’t lie; It’s tough. Knowing the long term goal is fast approaching is more than enough motivation to get me moving, but it’s definitely a mental challenge as well as a physical one. My body has never known this many miles so early on in the year – it’s the beginning of April and I’m already over 600 for the year. Add in all the extra strength classes, core and spin training I’m doing and my body has developed muscles in places I never knew I had muscles. And it hurts. Clicking the submit button on my application just over 6 months ago now seems like a life time ago and yes I knew what I was getting myself into when I did it and it was the kick up the bum to knock my training up a gear but I don’t think I realised how mentally tough it would be. My running friends are amazing and tracking their progress online and seeing how well they are doing at races spurs me on to give my everything as well, but once home I just want to sleep. I went out on a rare night out with Craig and my friends on Friday for a meal and to the cinema, and not even half an hour into the film and I was asleep…. I’m amazing company just now!
My family are more than supportive although they think I’m totally daft. My brother Duncan and my sister-in-law Jemma are both running the Highland Fling at the end of this month, and understand my obsession for running but the rest think I’ve totally lost it. My ever-patient husband Craig understands my passion for running but as he’s not a runner himself he does question my sanity when he sees me hobbling around the house daily, grumbling to myself and scraping myself out of bed at silly o’clock to go to the gym.
Why do we do it?
The dream of being part of the West Highland Way family has been deeply embedded in my mind since I first heard about it 5 or 6 years ago. When I first started running someone mentioned that people actually ran the whole of the West Highland Way and I scoffed – the way people do when I tell them that that is now my plan, and I asked all the questions people now ask me; where do you stop to sleep? How many days will it take, 4 or 5? And the biggy – Why?! I still don’t know the answer to the last question and I’m sure I’ll question myself many times as I stumble across the hard parts of the course, doubting my ability to finish. Through every big race I have ran that eventually made me decide I could actually try and race the whole of the West Highland Way, especially the Devil O’The Highlands last August, I have had a major low point where I question what on earth I’m actually doing. But at the other side of the low, there is always the most amazing Ultra High, where you feel brilliant and know you have the strength to finish. When I do finish the WHW race, (if everything goes to plan!) and I am awarded my goblet…..I’m sure I’ll have the answer. We need to remind ourselves we do this because we want to. No one is making us, and in the end all the training will pay off. And then I can rest. 🙂
For now the training continues and I’m having one last big push until we go on holiday on Friday and then I’ll reel the miles in before London (which I will just bimble around) and the Fling (where I don’t have a time in mind but hope for a strong race). I can’t wait to spend a few non-running days with my husband and (hopefully) get some sunshine. We’re off to Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro with a few days in Norway either side… so no doubt we’ll be marching miles every day to see all the amazing sights, but I can’t wait.
The last few weeks have flown by! Training is going pretty well and I’m still really enjoying it, but I can’t believe it’s now less than 5 months until race day. I’ve had a bit of a set back in the past few weeks as I’ve been taking part in my Exercise to Music qualification which has taken up my entire weekend for the past couple of weeks, but even though I haven’t been churning out the huge mileage I usually do at the weekends, I’ve been busy learning how to grapevine, boxstep and even Chasse (without crashing into the person next to me, which is a huge thing for me considering I’ve got 2 left feet!) and taking part in approximately 8 classes a day on every day of the course. It definitely counts as time on feet, even if I’m not running anywhere!
My positives for the past few weeks -I’m feeling strong! I started back at my strength and conditioning classes at Renegade Fitness in Stirling and I have some of the best coaches working along with my training programme and trying to get the best out of me. It’s working, I had DOMS for about 3 days after last Friday’s set and trying to perform my full routine at the ETM course for my mock assessment on Sunday proved somewhat hilarious!!
Anyway, I digress. The training programme for the past few weeks has looked a bit like this; WEEK 3 (11th-17th January) Monday 11th – Total rest. Well, running about after 3 year olds at work, but as rest-y as it gets on an average day! Tuesday 12th – 3 mile lunch run with the dog and then 7.2 miles of hill rep loops with the club in the evening. My coach pushed me hard on the last few and I felt empty but delighted at the end. Hills at speed are still not my friend, but they’re getting easier! Wednesday 13th – it snowed again, so this run was lovely and slushy. 6.1 miles at about 8/min miles and managing to stay on my feet! Thursday 14th – 6×5 minutes at club training. I wasn’t sure how I felt when I first got to training as it was FREEZING, so considered taking it easy, but ended up giving it about 75% and feeling good after. Didn’t get any warmer though as I wore shorts and it snowed… 6.7 miles averaging 7.51 min/miles. Friday 15th – Rest. Saturday 16th – 8.1 miles on the flat at a reasonable pace. Still a bit icy, so being careful not to over do it! Sunday 17th – Went up to Balmaha for an out and back to Rowardennan with Karen Wallace and Derek. Amazing run in ankle deep snow – it was so crisp and quiet and the Loch looked like glass. A bit cold, but a fantastic run! 18.1 miles.
Total – 49.4 miles
Week 4 (18th-24th January) CUT BACK WEEK #1 I’m loosely following Bryon Powell’s programme (from ‘Relentless Forward Progress’) of training up to 70 miles a week for a 100 mile race, and every 4 weeks or so he fits in a cut back week. I’ll happily follow this as I don’t want to over do it and come race day have nothing in my legs, and if it’s recommended by an expert then it’s worth looking at. Monday 18th – Rest Tuesday 19th – A long over due crap run. I still struggle with winter training straight after work as all I want to do is go home, eat and lie down. So I went home, had some food and then decided to run. Terrible idea. I managed about 6 miles, but I felt sick for about 5 of them. I struggled on, knowing there will be a lot of hard miles on the WHW and I could feel like this a lot of the time, but gave up after 6 and went home. Wednesday 20th – Feeling fresh, I went for a speedy 3 miles at lunch time at about 7.30 min/mile pace. Thursday 21st – Felt great after work and made the decision to go straight out when I got home, instead of sitting down and eating something first. Had a brilliant 6.1 miles at a pretty fast pace and had to turn around and go home even though I felt like I could have carried on for much longer! Friday 22nd– 6.3 miles steady. Saturday 23rd – Got up early and ran 11.1 miles with Skye. Attempted yoga on my return. Sunday 24th Strength training in the morning followed by a steady 6.7 miles in the evening.
Total – 39.5 miles
I’m noticing a big difference recently. I’m tired, but I’m not wiped out like I used to be after a hard week of work and training. I look forward to my runs and every training session I find I’m trying to push myself further. Nights are starting to get lighter which is always a bonus, and before I know it, it’ll be light when I’m leaving work and I’ll manage to get a couple of hours training in after work while it’s still light. It’s only 4 weeks until the D33, 5 weeks until the Alloa half (which is already full and we have about 80 runners from the Wee County Harriers entered!!) and 11 weeks until the Fling. This year is going too fast and even though I’m excited about all the upcoming races, I also want time to slow down a bit as it’s now only 18 weeks until the WHW race.
I’ll be totally honest. I’m exhausted! Battering out high mileage training for the West Highland Way Race and teaching 3-10 year old children to swim for 8 hours a day is pretty hard, both physically and mentally. I knew this would be hard work from the word go, and every single mile I have churned out so far is being ticked off as me being another mile closer to being ready for the hard work I will have to put in come race day. But it’s going to be another gruelling 5 months of hard work before I’m even ready to toe the start line. I’m currently in week 5 of my training plan, but I’ll not bore you with the whole load in one go!
Week 1 (28th Dec – 3rd Jan)
I had a nice rest the week leading up to Christmas after taking a course at work right up until the 23rd of December and not having much time to fit in long runs. Monday 28th – I had the week between Christmas and New Year off work and decided to make the most of the mild weather and bank some miles on the WHW while I had the free time. I took my dog and ran backwards from the road crossing just before Tyndrum towards Beinglas. My plan was to go all the way to Beinglas Farm and back again, but about 6 miles in I came across a huge heard of cows and had to jump off the path and squelch through a bog to get around them, and then found more blocking the bridge in the direction I was going. So I had to abandon that plan and head back to the car. I’ve had far too many near misses with cows and the dog, so I wasn’t taking any chances! (10.6 miles). Tuesday 29th – Another day off, another chance to bag some more WHW miles. Minus the dog this time, I drove down to Milngavie to thrash out some flatter fast miles out to the Beech tree and back. Lovely run, so many people out walking and I had great day singing to myself and reminding myself how easy it is to go out way too fast in the first few miles! (14.1 miles). Wednesday 30th – The weather turned and I was tired, so I went for a short recovery run and then had a good few hours on the couch catching up on American Horror Story! (3.2 miles) Thursday 31st – Rest and some foam rolling. Quickly abandoned when I re-discovered how painful it was! Friday 1st – Rest and my first long lie in a long time! Saturday 2nd – A lovely hill run with some friends from the running club. I haven’t been up the Ochils in months, so it was lovely to get a good leg stretch up Ben Cleuch and Ben Ever in the slush and catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. (7.9 miles). Sunday 3rd – Another club run with some other WCH friends. Nice steady pace on the flat. (8 miles).
Total – 44 miles
Week 2 – 4th-10th January
Monday 4th – Rest. A nice long dog walk and some beginners yoga. Tuesday 5th – I decided to break my daily miles into 2 runs today as I really wanted to make the club speed session in the evening, but knew I would be shattered if I did a few miles before and totally knackered afterwards. I took the dog out for a few miles in the morning then gave it my all at the club sessions in the evenings of 8×3 minute sprints. I haven’t pushed myself that hard in a long time and I was delighted with my splits afterwards! I know speed work isn’t high on the agenda just now and I’m reeling it right in the closer I get to race day, but it was good to see I could still pull it out the bag! (10.7 miles). Wednesday 6th – My new Brooks Ghost trainers arrived, so of course I had to test them out on my mid week steady run! (8.2 miles) Thursday 7th – I was late out of work and missed my favourite hill reps session, so I took the dog out and did it myself later that night. Much heaving breathing included… (6.7 miles) Friday 8th – The day everything froze! It was far too icy to do a proper run, so I cut it short instead of breaking my neck! (4.6 miles). Saturday 9th – Enjoyed a lovely hill run up and around Dumyat with some friends from running club. It was so cold! (11.2 miles). Sunday 10th – The run you put off all day and then when you go out the heavens open. I was soaked to the core within 4 miles, but decided to carry on, as you can’t turn off the weather on Lairigmor! (10.3 miles).
Total – 51.9 miles
I’m finally getting back to my strength and conditioning training as well after a shock to the system at circuits on Sunday and realising my upper body has given up the ghost! Squats – no problem. Press ups and core work – FAIL!