As a youngster, I would get home from School, get changed and go out to play with my pals.
Now I'm older, I get home from work, get changed and go out to play with my pals, but now I call it training.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Newlands Race

Wednesday saw the Keswick AC promoted Newlands Valley Round. A 6.8 mile road race from Kewick school including the hills over by the Swinside Inn and from Stair village up to the Newlands Pass road before a descent then flattish finish back through Portinscale to return to the school.

Following my disappointing performance at last weeks Moffat race when I didn't think I ran hard enough throughout, I was determined to 'race' this race from start to finish.

Setting off in the first half dozen but immediately letting the two leaders pull away (I knew them both well and knew they were A LOT faster runners than me), I was pleased to get to the first decent uphill as the gradient was enough to get my heartrate up to what I would call 'racing effort' of 170+ BPM (beats per minute).

Hills used to be where I would pull away from those around me but these days it seems to be the opposite and I often struggle to stay with lads I am comfortable with on the flat. I know I am heavier than I was say two years ago. I also know it is inevitable that we all gain weight as we age but I am determined to get back below 11 stone. Hopefully this small loss will not be accompanied by a loss in power and I will once again be a decent climber.

Anyway, back to the race......

After about 2miles I was in 7th place along with another lad who was constantly on my shoulder. A quick glance behind on the corners and turns told me that not far behind was a group of 4 lads I knew well and who I knew would love to beat me. I constantly checked my pulse to ensure I was on the effort. Uphills and flats were OK but the downhills were hard to stop pulse slipping under 170. Although my Garmin was also displaying pace I never looked at that once. The only important thing was running hard- whatever pace that turned out to be.

Nearing the end I allowed my companion to gain a few metres. I should have maybe tried to pull him back and beat him but I knew I wasnt going to be caught as the group behind had splintered. So rather than run myself ragged and collapse over the line in exhaustion I ran the final 5minutes or so with the same effort as the previous 35 and finished comfortably, 8th overall, 1st Veteran 40.

Once home and downloaded the stats show an average heartrate of 170, max of 175. I would like to think i could run a flat 10k at slightly higher HR, perhaps 172/174. 10k coming up in the first week of September so we shall see then.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The LONG road

Yesterday I ran continuously for the longest time I ever have. Four hours, with only a couple of very brief stops for essentials. The idea was preparation for the Lakes 50mile ultra race in two weeks time.

The first 19miles comprised 3laps of a very hilly road circuit I have used for many years. The pace was a good 10minutes per 50minute lap slower than when I was training hard for marathons but this was the whole idea - to train at a pace which I am likely to run at in the 50miler.

I was MUCH MORE tired after this 4hr run than any of the 5 and 6 hours fellruns I have done. The walking sections up the steepest fells obviously allow some recuperation from the weight bearing encountered when running constantly. I ate regularly throughout the 4hrs and didn't feel I was low on blood sugar at any stage, I just had wrecked legs! Of course, the start was less than 36 hours since I finished Fridays BGR Leg1 so this would account for some of the fatigue. I now plan to walk the steeper sections in the 50 in a bid to complete it in decent shape.

Resting up today (Monday). Feeling a bit run down to be honest but the only hard run this week will be a hilly 6mile race on Wednesday.

Bob Graham leg 1

Friday evening I was helping two lads on leg 1 of their Bob Graham Round attempt.
It was a filthy, wet night but thankfully also quite warm (as long as you kept the water out).
The contenders were going for a 23 hour schedule so it was no more than a steady walk up Skiddaw. Unfortunately one of their friends and helpers - Mike, wasn't quite able to keep pace and dropped behind by a couple of hundred metres. I was tasked with dropping back to him to collect gear he was carrying and also ensure he knew how to take the shortcut to miss out Gt Calva and meet us again at the Caldew crossing.

Gear collected, a jog to catch back up again and we were soon approaching Skiddaw summit - 5 minutes ahead of schedule which was good going considering the rain and strong headwind. I waited for Mike on the summit and took the chance to don my water proof overtrousers as it was rather uncomfortable in the wind and rain at 3000ft.

We then descended and easily picked up the trod leading us over Hare Crag. Unsure he could regain the others Mike thought it best to skirt around Calva and I stayed with him as he wasn't really so sure of the area.

Crossing the Caldew was very tricky as it was in spate. It was also VERY COLD. Once on the far bank we took stock and looked out for the rest of our party descending off Gt Calva. Spotting them, we chose a better point to cross the river and guided them towards it. To ensure safety, myself and Mike stood in the river and grabbed hands with the others as they crossed.

As they set off up toward Mungrisedale Common me and Mike collected our backpacks, watches etc which we had shed in case we fell in and rushed to catch up. Mike was unable to catch up and as we headed ever higher, eventually into the cloud he ventured marginally off our line. I had been checking he was still behind every so often but with hindsight I should have waited for him.

Upon reaching Blencathra summit plateau I was far enough behind the contenders to know they were already descending but too far ahead of Mike for him to know where we all were. Several tense minutes were spent wandering along the plateau between the point I expected him to emerge and the trig point. Thankfully there was finally a response to my calls and he emerged out of the mist.

Knowing the others would only be stopping for a few minutes I was keen to see them off on Leg 2, so suggested we take Halls Fell Ridge as it may allow us to catch up as they had gone down Doddick which is a bit longer. This was a REALLY BAD idea, as in the fading light and with every step onto wet, slippy rocks, WE probably took far longer than they did.

Anyway, eventually we were back in Threlkeld with the road support crew. Mike was straight into the back of a car to be taken back to base and I chatted briefly over a cuppa to the helpers. We had missed the lads setting off for leg 2, but as I jogged through the village to my van i could make out their faint headtorches picking a line up Clough Head.

The rain was atrocious on the M6 North of Penrith - far worse than we had encountered on the fells. I seriously doubted that they would continue the round far beyond leg 2 in such poor conditions. As i write this on Monday I understand they DID both complete the round. Well done Duncan and James.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Back again

A wee while since posting - here's an update of the last few days
Saturday - BGR leg 2 as previous post
Sunday - No training (planned rest day)
Monday - No training (looking at new motor)
Tuesday - 9.3mile road race at Moffat, Scotland. Didn't race very well at all. possibly started out too hard then paid for the effort later on. Really struggled on the VERY STEEP one mile off road climb at about halfway. I wonder if this is because I am always walking steep climbs on BG training days? Anyway, still got first Vet 40, so made £15 profit for the day.
Wednesday - Too tired to train due to late in bed after race and lots of hot driving for work.
Thursday - 3miles of intervals split into 3minute effort, 90 second rest x5. Managed 5:21 pace for the efforts which I am happy with as its a touch faster than last time I did same session.
Milly with me for this session - he's getting back some speed too now. I think about 5:26 pace.

Tomorrow is a planned BG support on leg 1 at 1830hrs. 24 hr schedule so should feel easy - may do some or all of leg 2 too if all is well by Threlkeld.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

BGR Leg 2

Seems like an age since I ran on the fells. Skiddaw race last week was good training but not particularly enjoyable in terms of the scenery. Today the weather was good and the views quite spectacular throughout the day. As we headed away from Threlkeld I glanced at magnificent Blencathra directly behind us, my favourite mountain.

Popsy was with me today. Its over a year since we first ran leg 1 together. That day was his idea, and despite him never really getting back to the fells since, that day was the start of my interest in the BGR.

First ascent on Leg 2 is Clough Head, a tough start. I had made notes of the time taken between the peaks for a 24hour schedule and despite some 10seconds breathers for Popsy we made the summit 10mins up on this pace. A great start, continuing in the same manner as we progressed South. By the time we were ascending Fairfield Popsy was tired and had slowed notably. I was feeling weary too but knew I still had a long time to run as I was planning to return to Threlkeld on foot.

We reached Dunmail after 3hrs 55 mins which is something like 19:30 pace for a full round! Probably too fast for proper BG training but it seemed OK at the time - walking hard uphill and running easy on the flat and downhill.

The 9 miles back on my own were tough. At first I followed the fellside track constructed by UU. This was very undulating so I seemed to be walking more than running. Then, by the time I reached the St John In The Vale road I was really knackered and admit to walking when often the road was flat. As I neared Threlkeld I rallied a little and lowered the average for that section to just under 10min miling.

23 miles, good crack, great views, great weather and some more experience and knowledge of the 'Round'.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


That's the best word to sum up todays training.

I took the dogs for a run around the 6mile River Eden circuit. We found an orange bouncy ball in a field and all had great fun with it thereafter. Running was very easy pace and never for longer than two minutes between stopping to throw the ball or paddle/get a drink.

Afterwards my pal Stu was round to give me a leg rub. Couple of tight spots needed ironed out but it was generally quite relaxing. I like to get a proper sports massage every month or so, it helps to identify any problem areas that I may not feel myself when running and might prevent an injury coming on.

Other news - car is broken, may be fixable or may have to look at a replacement.

Tonight I will be finalising details with the other lads regarding Saturdays fell outing.

Tomorrow will probably not run - unless it's too wet to work in the garden in the evening in which case I might run a steady 6 or 7 miler.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Session I decided on was to run three 2mile intervals with a four minute recovery. Have been doing four by 1mile the last few weeks but I don't feel that is enough although usually its been so hot that I could never face a fifth mile. So I thought that this 6mile session may be more beneficial.

Didn't go exactly to plan however. I think I was realistic in aiming for a pace between 5:40 and 5:50 per mile ( as the one mile x4 has been averaging out at 5:28 pace) but in the event only managed an average of 5:54 with the third effort being the fastest at 5:50. Pulse was low on the first effort - possibly not thoroughly warmed up. Pulse higher on the next and on the last it was where i expect it should have been throughout.

I am taking this struggle to perform as a sign I am possibly a bit tired, most likely from the tough race up Skiddaw on Sunday, so will take it easy now until Saturday.

Milly with me for this session. He did first and third efforts, jogging while I did 2nd.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Good training day

Today was a good training day. As it wasn't terribly hot for a change, I decided to do my 13 mile run. I was joined my Plucky for this. Milly was unsure he would manage the pace so trained alone.
Plan was for anything under 7min miling - not difficult to achieve but the emphasis was on heart rate, keeping it low rather than blasting away for the fastest time possible.

According to the Garmin we ran at 6:58 per mile. Pulse was an average of 154 and didn't raise above 155 until the final third of the run - ideal.

The reason for these 'slow' longish runs is because I dont want to get straight back to the sub-6:30 12 to 16 mile efforts that form pre-marathon training. With very long runs/races in the coming months I would prefer to run 7 pace every week and look for a lower pulse each time rather than run faster each week for a high pulse. This should build upon my base which I feel is as good as it has ever been.

Tomorrow will be something much faster.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Back again

No promises that there will be as much posting in the future but this is all new fangled at present.

Man turned up to do the insulation - it was very noisy in the house and upsetting for the dogs so we went for a walk to the river. Dogs swam for sticks and generally had a great time as usual.Made a couple of calls with regard to arranging this coming weekends run. Plan for Saturday is to run leg 2 of the Bob Graham Round, Threlkeld to Dunmail with my pal Popsy and possibly some others. This will be approximately a 4 hour run over high fells including Englands third highest peak Helvellyn. It is a one way (rather than circular) route necessitating either a vehicle left at the end point prior to beginning running, or an additional 10miles or so to run back to the start point. It is my intention to run the extra 10 miles back but it may prove difficult in the event to watch Popsy get into his car to drive home while I set off for another couple of hours running. We will see.

It's important that I get some very long runs under my belt over the next few weeks as I have entered a 50mile event at the end of July. I have never ran 50 miles before. 26.2 miles plenty of times but never more than 40 (and that 40 included lots of walking as it was over the fells).

My long term goal is to complete the Bob Graham Round or BGR as I will refer to it henceforth.

The BGR is a 65mile route visiting 42 named Cumbrian peaks. There are very few rules to this challenge. You must start in Keswick at the Moot Hall, on foot visit the 42 peaks in any order you like (though there is an optimum route) and get back to Keswick within 24 hours. Anybody can do this anytime they wish, its not an organised event. But to be included on the list of successful BGers (currently less than 2000people) you have to register your attempt with the BG club and have somebody with you on every peak to record the time and verify you were there.

Over the last year or so I have spent a lot of time running the BGR route, either on my own or as a helper for someone attempting the full round. Currently I still consider myself a relative novice BG contender and envisage a lot more time in the hills getting to know the route and improving my endurance/stamina.

Before my interest in Fellrunning was sparked I was a keen roadracer/runner. Living in Carlisle is great for getting to the fells at weekends but is just a bit too far away for regular evening fellruns. This means that most weekdays I train on the pavements, roads and parks of the city. Handily, this also means I still possess a reasonable turn of speed which pure fellrunners tend not to have unless they are top class elite athletes winning events. I will occasionally enter an event on the roads but prefer to race the fells as much as possible, the exception being marathons which I enjoy immensely and which tend to be nearly all road based.

No training planned today. Legs are quite bashed following a race up and down Skiddaw yesterday. Man has gone without finishing job - his machine seems to have blown up.
Tomorrows training will be decided after lunch and will depend on the weather. If it's hot and sunny then an interval based session will be ideal so as to allow drinks to be taken and stashed for in between efforts and afterwards. If it's raining or cool then probably a 13mile circuit at steady pace. Training pal Graham Millican should be with me tomorrow but often has to work late.

Going to hang out washing now as dust has settled and it's nice 'n' sunny

In the beginning

Let me start with a bit of background info.

I'm Steve, 40yrs old, Cumbrian born and bred. Interests include gardening, DIY, cycling and running. But mostly running to be honest. And mostly fell running whenever possible. I live in Carlisle with my partner Janet and our two dogs, Scamp and Daisy.

I have absolutely no idea wether this blog will interest anybody else, or even if I will keep it up to date with any regularity. I am beginning it today, now, as I sit in the garden eating lunch. Normally I would be at work but workmen are due to complete the cavity wall insulation today so I am home waiting. Hope they turn up soon.

I used to keep a training diary, in which I would log such details as how far I ran, where, who with, intensity, time/pace etc etc. Nowadays though I don't bother with a diary so perhaps this blog will serve a similar purpose.

In a bid to keep you dear readers interested and not bogged down with a literary tome in the first instance I shall publish at this stage and resume my gardening activities whilst keeping an eye out for the expected visitors with their drills.