As a result of a health screening test at work It was found I have high cholesterol. I had to have a series of blood tests and then went to a hospital for a consultation with a blood specialist. After 45 minutes of drawing diagrams and some intrusive but necessary questioning on my food and drink habits it was concluded that I need to lay off the butter and the booze but keep running.
I asked the question if running will directly reduce my cholesterol levels and I was surprised to find out that the answer is no. It’s all about reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke and putting yourself in the lower risk categories by doing all of the stuff we all know we should do.. Which actually makes a lot of sense.
It certainly focuses the mind and as a result the running has a lot more purpose and the way I fuel myself. I got up this morning and went for a 6 miler down the beach. With a change in attitude.
Way back in the old days I ran the Snowdon Marathon. This is mostly a road race and doesn’t take in the summit of Mount Snowdon. Towards the end of this July I am going to fix that missing piece by running to the peak in the Snowdon Half Marathon.
I have been to the top many times but these were all done as a walk taking in the stunning scenery in this National Park.
I had to take a week off training because of the below post and this has actually been a blessing in disguise as I needed the rest. Training has resumed and while I have lost a small amount of fitness it’s nothing that can’ be fixed in the next few weeks.
24km is an odd distance for an organised race, that’s 14.9 miles. When and if I make it to the finish line and my GPS says 14.9 miles I will
run that extra bit crawl that extra bit to make it to 15.
Coed Llandegla (Coed means wood in Welsh) is a race I am doing next weekend. This place is where I usually take my mountain bike for a run as they have some great routes. Training has gone really well with a slight drop in weight, which always helps.
Making an effort to do more trail runs as the road pounding is becoming tedious although I’m not going to stop doing those types of runs. Looking forward to this.
There are times when running is just plain grim. Usually when you first start out or after an illness and post Christmas. I find running hard most of the time but every now and then you get gems like the run I had on Sunday.
We went for a 7 miler on the trails in the hills of Llangollen near a place called Llandegla where I sometimes take my mountain bike for a spin. Late afternoon on a Sunday evening after an already great weekend this was by far the best way to put and end to the…..well……weekend.
I still found it physically hard but the environment puts all that to the back of the mind and I can honestly say this is the first time in ages where I have run with a massive grin on my face. The post run buzz was great and enhanced even further when I got home after a nice hot shower to find a really good glass of red Italian waiting for me to saviour.
Sometimes running can be heaven.
I didn’t exactly prepare well for this race so when I got up at 05:30 in the morning on a wet and cold Sunday January morning my enthusiasm was not at it’s best. After a 2 hour drive up to the Lake District we arrived in time to see off the full marathon runners.
Everyone around me looked fit, skinny and healthy and I was feeling the opposite to all those adjectives. We had a compulsory kit list which I had all the items in my running pack but it seemed most people ignored this and just took the usual fluids and a few gels. If I do it next year I will certainly hold back on all that stuff.
We set off and the first 3 miles are just up and up. This is all on a forestry track. It’s runable but when it flattened out slightly I was already feeling “it”. After a mile or so it opened up and my spirits were lifted immeasurably. You can see Conistan water from up high and I forgot about the running. Soon we were on a single track picking our way through a muddy path then It was back into the woods. At mile 10 I could feel all those days I hadn’t trained properly and I had to dig deep to run. At this stage you are rewarded with a nice decent all the way back to the finish line.
A well organised and interesting run. I’m loving the trails.
In a few weeks I’m doing a Half Marathon Trail Race in the Lake District. I work in an ideal environment to train for this sort of thing so after work I’m out and about on the hills plodding around. The ground is saturated at the moment and very muddy in places. The other week I was doing my usual run in my normal running trainers. I was slipping and sliding all over the place and basically skiing down the slope bits.
I have these Inov8 trainers that a mate had got me and they have a blocky tread. I did the same run in equally bad conditions if not worse and the confidence in grip was fantastic. No slips at all and I was able to just run instead of worrying about the ground.
I now take 2 pairs of trainers with me to work and decide what to use just before the run.
No more skiing for me.
An old friend of mine who is a really good runner used to stop at various churches on his long runs so he could get water from the hose pipes and taps that the graveyards have installed to water the flowers on the graves. If he went anywhere new with work he would get a map and plot the routes. He hated carrying bottles and belts etc. He used to say it was a great way to get to know an area and it was always new and interesting. An adventure.
The last 2 runs I have done were a bit of an adventure. There is off course the night run in the Lake District (see the below post) and today I am away from home because of work. I’ve been put in a hotel and I have hours to kill. I always take my running kit with me so soon after getting in my room I set off for a plod around the local area. At the first mile point I found a Vulcan Bomber! A bloody iconic Cold War era plane that was designed to drop bombs on the Russians. In my book that immediately excalted this run into an adventure. Sometimes you don’t plan it but I think and I honestly believe this is a great philosophy to take with you during your days of running.
Another good friend of mine always wants to tackle trails and get off road,preferably with some hills and great views because as he puts it ” I need the stimulus ” I know exactly what he means.
Salomon have integrated this into there latest promotions and Intersport have embraced it as part of there marketing campaign for there latest trainers which I have done a brief review about in another post. It’s a great idea.
So with that in mind I’m thinking about all the new routes I can take wherever I am. Sometimes try and get lost a bit, take that turn that you have never been down, you never know what you might find. If you find any Cold War bombers please let me know.
Fellrunning, as most of you know, is tough. You’re combining the sport of marathon running with the added terrain and challenge of the mountainous outdoors. As well as a great level of fitness, you need the right kit to keep you going and most importantly, safe. Every year, unprepared runners are turned back by lack of preparation when they’re training and competing. Here are a few of the must-have items for a budding trail runner.
Headtorch: Probably number one on the list, a head torch comes in handy both day and night for when conditions worsen. Losing your way on the hill can be deadly – so make sure you get one that has a decent lumen rating. Silva torches are a good low-cost option. If the battery life is suspect, pack a spare.
Clothing: Aside from a pair of shorts and a top – you’ll need a windproof and waterproof jacket to handle changeable British weather. Select a model with a high hydrostatic head so it can withstand a proper soaking and also keep on top of caring for it or you’ll wear it out.
Since you’ll be running in it, you’ll need one that has great breathability or you’ll end up caked in sweat and overheating. Something lightweight is also key, so choose a performance brand like Montane or Arc’teryx. You should also try to get a jacket that has high visibility in the dark – in case you end up lost on the hill and need rescued. Every little helps.
Your footwear will depend on preference. Some beginners wear normal trainers but fell shoes are superior as they are far more grippy on dangerous surfaces.
Backpack: A small backpack on a long run is essential. You can tuck your jacket away in the webbing or you can store a hydration pack in it to stay quenched on the go. Again, go for something small and light.
First aid kit: After reviewing life systems recently, I’d be remiss to not include a first aid kit. A small kit in your bag can be super useful – but again you’ll need to save weight so it can be worth discarding the larger kit and just packing a few plasters and a bandage kit in your backpack.
Map and compass: Can be replaced with a GPS if you have a small and dependable one, but a real map and compass and the ability to navigate with them is a practical necessity for runners.
Nutrition and hydration: At the very least, you’ll need a bottle of water with you. You can get a simple handle bottle for an easy-carry method. For longer runs, you’ll need more water so a hydration pack comes into its own.
As for food on the go, you need something that won’t upset your stomach or slow you down and can be enjoyed on the run. Making your own trail mix from nuts and dried fruit is a light and simple way to keep the carbohydrates flowing. If you want to take it up a notch, you can consume carbohydrate energy gels like MaxiNutrition Fuelmax.
Post-run, you need to consume the right mixture of proteins and good carbohydrates to help your body recover. Food such as chicken, steak, fish and pulses all have lots of protein in them. Whey protein shakes are not just for bodybuilders, and can be great for helping those aching legs get back into shape.