The Fell Runner’s survival kit

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.

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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.

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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.

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Grizedale Forest Night Runner

Some parts of the Lake District have been hit by some serious floods in the last few days so checking and rechecking to see if this event was still on was the order of Saturday morning. This is a 10km night run in the stunning setting of Grizedale. There was a break in the weather and we were lucky enough to run this with about 250 other runners under a clear sky albeit a freezing cold night. This has to be one of the best organised events I have ever been on. We had the luxury of sitting down in a really nice visitors center in the warmth before the race.

The first 3 miles were done in a state of shock because it was just up and up but when we got to the top we were rewarded with a really nice decent through a woodland track in the heart of Grizedle Forest. It was great seeing lots of head torches bobbing up and down in the pitch black of night. Some people were dressing in festive gear (we had Santa hats on).

We got a really nice t-shirt and a fine medal. Running in events like this with such a great atmosphere is so rewarding. I will be doing this again.

grizedail night 10km 2015

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Salomon X Celerate 2 GTX

The new Salomon X Celerate 2 City Trail Running Shoe ( exclusively available in Intersport stores ) is probably the perfect running shoe for this time of the year in Northern Europe especially here in the UK. Right now we are experiencing a series of storms coming in with a new name (I think we are on Storm Desmond) every few days or so. The GTX in the name is there because these trainers have that wonderful fabric Gore-Tex in them which will keep your feet nice and dry when you splash through those frequent puddles. Salomon are well know for building trainers that are more technical and aimed at a more dynamic sort of runner who may choose to do things a bit more differently than just pure road running. These fit that bill really well.

The shoe itself is comfortable, lightweight and packed with lots of neat features. I really like the Quicklace system (remember to tuck the plastic bit away in the pocket). The grip is Salomons own Contagrip sole which has sufficient depth for some off road work. The fabric as mentioned before is Gore-Tex but it’s also well constructed with some flexibility that really hugs your feet in a nice way. They are truly light in weight. You don’t need to get the scales out it’s that obvious but at the same time they feel robust. Salomon have done a great job here there is no doubt.

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The new Salomon running shoe – X Celerate 2 X, is exclusively available in Intersport stores (www.facebook.com/IntersportUK)

There approach is to make every run an adventure which simply fits perfectly with my philosophy of running. Running in this country has completely changed in the last 10 years with events like Tough Mudders and those weekend festivals where they combine lots of running in a festival setting. These trainers are perfect for such events and approach to running.

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With that it mind I’m going to do a separate post about making every run an adventure because that can literately take us anywhere.

I can see these Salomon X Celerate becoming my favorite shoe. On the runs I have done so far they have been great and I have had no problems at all. In fact I don’t think about them when I’m pounding away which means they are doing the job properly. Since I have got them I have banged out a good 50 miles on them. There has been no breaking in period in those miles at all. With no hot spots, rubbing or blisters they have already passed the test.

 

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Lifesystems – First Aid Kit and Hand Warmers.

If I cut my knee open and It’s a freezing cold day I am well sorted. I got sent these two lovely items from the great people at Lifesystems. I needed a decent first aid kit and seeing as I spend a lot of my time outdoors in the UK sometimes in a kayak then a waterproof one would be ideal. This is the waterproof first aid kit. All the stuff inside is sealed in a resealable bag. The contents is adequate for say a hike or a quick 1 days paddle. I would take something more substantial on anything more than 1 or 2 days but the point of this sort of kit is it’s light and something you can just have in your pocket or in your day-sack.

The hand warmers are 2 packs of gel that are started by pressing a disk within the packs and give off a good 90 minutes of heat. The good thing about these are they can be reused. You simply boil them for 10 minutes until the liquid becomes opaque and you have a couple of hand warmers on your hands…………….so to speak.

 

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Early Bird

I got up at 06:00 and through the dark morning and heavy rain made it to my local swimming pool for a swim before work. I haven't done this in years. It's a newly refurbished leisure centre and it's just opened. I was expecting to have the have the whole pool to myself but was shocked and bitterly disappointed surprised to find quite a lot of like minded people.

I did about 12 lengths following the one way system with a big grin on my face. It's a great way to start the day. This is going to be a regular part of my weeks fitness I just hope they keep it on the timetable.

 

 

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7 Miles Around The Great Orme

We do this run 3 or 4 times a year. The kids are at school and we book the time off to spend the morning running around this massive Limestone rock on the North Wales coast and then rewarding ourselves with something hugely calorific but delicious. It’s 3 miles up and 3 miles down with the last mile running down the prom. In February the Nick Beer 10km race is held here which we have done a few times over the years.

This Sunday in a howling gale we plodded around but despite a cloudy start were rewarded with some great views of Snowdonia. We couldn’t hang around to long at the top as it was getting a bit nippy. Great run and a lot of fun.

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Bothy Life

Last weekend I went to the Dumfries and Galloway Forest In the south west of Scotland to do some mountain biking, running and to explore and stay a couple of nights in a bothy. We had warnings of a storm called Abigail so it was going to be an interesting couple of days to spend outdoors.

A bothy is a basic building usually quite remote. They are places to escape the elements. You always find pots and pans sometimes food, wood and fuel to get a fire going if it has a fire place etc. The ethos of the whole thing is summed up nicely in this statement “To maintain simple shelters in remote country for the use and benefit of all who love wild and lonely places” These places are maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association follow that link for more information on this great organisation.

Tunskeen Bothy

On the first day we had planned a long mountain bike trail route. After driving many miles and arriving at the start point, getting all the kit ready we set off. About 200 meters into the ride my bloody chain broke. I couldn’t believe it. After all the perpetration it was stopped by a small link. My good friend Gaz laughed and picked my drooping lip up with some dark humor and his usual positive attitude. We went to a mountain bike trail center where we found a great shop called The BrakePad Bike Shop not far from Newton Stewart. This was a 14 mile drive. After the bike got fixed we headed north to Glentrool. We set of in an easterly direction from the visitors center. The weather was great and I was feeling a lot better. It was a stunning place to ride. We stopped at the Bruce’s Stone where the battle of Trool took place. A few miles on we found the first bothy, White Laggan. It was set in a stunning landscape and we found it in good order. We were running out of time so we set off to find the next bothy where we were going to spend that night.

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We parked up in woodland and set off in the dark to find Tunskeen Bothy. The wind had picked up and we were starting to get a bit of the storm Abigail. This bothy was only 3 miles away from our start point but due to the landscape and elevation it seemed more like 5. We had to negotiate some fallen trees and some rough terrain on the final mile or so. In the pitch black with head torches on we found Tunskeen Bothy. When we opened the door the place looked like heaven. It was clean, cosy and very welcoming. The previous occupants had kindly left some kindling in the fire place so it was easy to get the fire started which we did as soon as we had picked our beds in the form of large wooden planks. Fire on the go beer in hand (we brought our own) and a huge pot of food to shove down our necks I couldn’t have been happier. In the morning the wind was howling. After a coffee and some breakfast we packed up and set off back to the van. Got changed and went for a great 6 mile run from one Loch Riecawr to Loch Doon. We spent the rest of the day exploring Ayr and Alloway the birth place of Robert Burns.

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Another pitch black approach to the bothy but this time in a downpour accompanied by a strong gusting wind. About 300 meters from the bothy we had to negotiate a couple of streams. When we crossed them we jokingly said to each other lets hope they don’t flood or words to that effect. We had a fantastic evening back in the bothy out of the elements. It really is a pleasure to be inside on of those places when the weather is as bad as it can be. I had a great nights sleep. We did the usual routine in the morning and set off in storm Abigail. When we got to the stream it was no longer a stream but now a torrent of gushing water. We couldn’t cross here so we had to go up stream and find a point to get over. We chucked our rucksacks over and jumped from a large rock to get across. It seems nothing is easy here in this stunning place. Which makes it great.

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We have only scratched the surface and there is so much more to explore in this fantastic part of Scotland. Will be back very soon. We have another weekend planned in early December of this year, Cant wait!!

 

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First Ride

First proper ride on the mountain bike since the rib break. It was great to get back out in the hills on the bike and in the wet. The first mile or so was a bit twitchy but I soon settled into a rhythm and started to relax. Wet, muddy and very windy. Perfect conditions. When I got my bike out of the back of the van and the familiar wind coming off the Clwydian range hit my face I then had a big grin on my face. I have missed riding my bike so much. I didn’t realise how much until this moment.

It’s going to take a lot of riding to get back in shape. I’m off to Llandegla for some black route rides in a week or so. The crash has done me good in that I am more cautious with what I attempt. I’m not in my 20’s anymore where I once thought I was indestructible. I am very destructible, fragile and bitter. I mean happy.

 

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