Being on gardening leave for 6 weeks has its perks, one of which is being able to spend a day in the Brecon Beacons learning all about trail running navigation and mountain running skills in general. And what a day it was, quite honestly I don’t think it’s possible to have better winter weather conditions for spending a day running around this stunning landscape. Just look at this view.
As you know I love trail running, 99% of my running is off road and while it isn’t all in such exciting places as the Brecon Beacons it is possible to find remote and interesting places to run even in Wiltshire where I live. Most of the running I do at home I know broadly where I’m going and where I am without needing to read a map, plus most of the races I do currently are on marked courses so navigation really isn’t a concern. But I want to get a bit more adventurous with my running (more of that later) and challenge myself more and one logical way to do that is to go somewhere like the Brecon Beacons to run.
Trail running navigation course
However while I’m reasonably comfortable looking at an OS map and following footpaths etc I’m not experienced enough to really read the detail of contours, or follow an unmarked route in these wilder areas. That’s where JT Expeditions come in, I found them via Twitter and duly got booked in for a day with Jake one on one to learn some trail running navigation skills and get some good advice about planning days in the hills. There really is no substitute for practical, hands on training when it comes to learning these type of skills and as it quickly became apparent Jakes huge depth of knowledge as a Mountain Leader and also mountain marathon competitor was exactly what I needed to learn.
Sometimes you have those moments in life where everything slots into place and for a short while it feels like the puzzle is complete. The last 7 days have been precisely one of those moments and I’m going to keep surfing the wave for as long as a I can so make no apologies if this post is very happy and positive!
Broadway marathon 2016 goal achieved
Last week was my last week working for a company I’d worked for since graduating 11 years ago. I’ve taken voluntary redundancy and been job searching for the past month which I can confirm is exhausting when you have a family and a day job to keep going too. But last Tuesday I was offered a new job that is just perfect, no commute and a really good role that will challenge me. Already a great week hen on Sunday I took on the Broadway marathon 2016, a final goal race for the year and one where I’d racked up more miles than ever training for. My goal was sub 4 hours and a top 10 finish and I smashed it finishing in 3:53:49 for 5th place. I’ve never been in the top 20 of a race before let alone the top 5, so bloody happy.
I’ve used the Hanson method for the first time to train for the Broadway marathon this weekend, clearly I need to wait and see what the result is in the race but from a training perspective it has felt awesome and really clicked for me. But it is a plan aimed at road marathons given how the pacing’s work for the various sessions so I wanted to share a few thoughts about how I’ve adapted the plan for a trail marathon.
What is the Hanson method?
If you haven’t come across the Hanson method before I do recommend buying the book on Amazon and having a read. At the very least it’ll get you thinking about your approach to training even if you don’t follow one of their plans. In essence their approach is all about building fatigue in your legs so that when it comes to your long run you are tired. The longest run you do is 16 miles but it should feel like the final 16 miles of the marathon given the running you’ve done in the days before it. There is also a big emphasis on different paces with easy runs truly being easy and then strength and tempo work done around marathon pace.
I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed a race as much as I enjoyed the Lincoln half marathon, a great route and perhaps more importantly a race where I had no time goal at all. Although ironically one where I got a PB, but more of that later. I’d entered the Lincoln half marathon with my wife with the idea being that I paced her to her first sub 2 hour finish, but she got injured in August and so didn’t manage to get enough training done. We’d booked a weekend away without kids so decided to come along any way and I’d run the race for fun.
I’m in the middle of training for Broadway marathon in November so while I hadn’t trained specifically for doing the Lincoln half marathon I’ve done plenty of miles and actually it was the perfect Sunday long run for me. Plus of course nice to be running with 3,000 other people rather than on my own and it turns out racing is a lot of fun when you have no goal set to achieve.
3 years ago today I did my first ‘proper’ endurance challenge, the Scotland Coast to Coast, which feels like a lifetime ago. But good to remind myself that I really haven’t been doing this running thing for very long, before that race I’d run 3 half marathons, a couple of 10k’s, a little dabble in adventure racing and that was pretty much it. But I loved the idea of taking on a challenge and where better to do it than the Scottish Highlands? I roped my little brother into joining me and that was the beginning of both of our journeys into the wonderful world of endurance sport. Since then I’ve run 9 marathons (with no. 10 in November), 2 ultra marathons and 2 half ironman’s. Plus of course multiple shorter races and lots of training adventures.