Tag Archives: scotland coast to coast

Becoming a runner

1000 miles done

If I could summarise this year I would say it’s the year I stopped being a man who runs and became a runner. That may sound a bit odd but despite having run for as long as I can remember I think it’s only this year I’ve truly become a runner.

In the past my running has always been in fits and bursts, picking up either when I’m feeling fat and unfit or when I have a race to target. But this year it’s been truly consistent, week in and week out always running. I’ve only had maybe 2 or 3 periods of 7 days where I haven’t run and they were either through injury or a conscious decision as recover after a big race.

At the beginning of this year I set myself the challenge of running 1000 miles, mainly because it sounded like a nice round number but also when I did the maths of what that meant for weekly mileage it was at a level that would push me to be consistent without needing to go way beyond what I could manage. It’s been amazing the impact running so regularly has had on my fitness, that consistency should never be underestimated. (Incidentally Bracken has done at 95% of those miles with me and probably more given he never runs straight!)

I feel like a completely different person to the one sat this time last year planning the year ahead. I’m a good couple of inches smaller on my waist for a start, but more importantly feel good. I’ve never felt this fit before and it’s a great feeling isn’t it? Feeling lean and strong and mentally healthy too which is potentially even more important.

Traditional Christmas day run!
Traditional Christmas day run!

I’m also feeling fairly satisfied at ticking off a couple of races from my bucket list; finally doing the Scotland coast to coast is awesome, such an amazing race across incredible scenery. Also enjoyable having done it as a pair with my brother, having someone to share it with makes it somehow more real I think. I feel like I learned quite a lot about myself doing that race as well, not least from being able to keep going for over 11 hours and covering such a huge distance under my own steam.

Then of course there was finally popping my marathon cherry and all because I got my London marathon rejection letter through. I decided to just get on with it and do a marathon rather than talking about it and hoping to get into a big city race. Doing the Broadway marathon was more in keeping with me anyway and the stunning Cotswold countryside certainly made for a nice backdrop to the race.

Beyond those 2 big races there was a half marathon PB in the Neolithic half marathon, a race that was an awful lot hotter than I expected but finishing at Stonehenge is a pretty cool experience. There was also the race that started the year; a 10k in Bath in thick snow covering the other extreme temperature wise.

In journalistic terms this was a breakthrough year, one where I learnt an awful lot about running and definitely one that has given me the confidence to take on bigger challenges. As we move into 2014 that’s exactly what I’m starting to think about, what’s the next thing to tick off the bucket list? I know I train better with something to aim for so time to start getting some races in the diary. Plus I hope 2014 will be the year that I manage to get to a Write This Run conference, gutted to have missed the first 2 due to other commitments so the next one is a must do!

Happy new year everyone, I’ll leave you with my running motto.

Race review; Scotland coast to coast

At the start in NairnSo I did it, I crossed Scotland in a day. Well 11 hours, 8 minutes and 3 seconds to be precise. 11 hours of continuous exercise starting in Nairn on the east coast and finishing in Glencoe on the west coast. It was brutal, challenging, spectacular and exhausting. The Scotland coast to coast I salute you.

What more would you expect from 28 miles of running, 85 miles of cycling and 2 miles of kayaking with the small matter of 4,000 metres of climbing (and the equivalent descent)? It’s the longest I’ve ever cycled and for the stat lovers amongst you also featured the slowest half marathon I’ve ever done at 3 hours (if you’d seen the ‘hills’ you’d understand why).

Continue reading Race review; Scotland coast to coast

Scotland coast to coast – 2 weeks to go

It’s now less than 2 weeks until the Scotland coast to coast, the panic is set in. I’m in that period where it’s too late to do much about any fitness worries but not close enough to say ‘fuck it, let’s do this’.

Checking kit listSo I’m doing what I always do in moments of stress, I’m writing lists and organising my gear. Because you know being organised is worth at least 2 weeks good training. It’s probably not a bad idea though as I have the added complication that we’re having 2 weeks holiday in Scotland at the same time so we need to pack and organise 2 babies and a dog as well.

Continue reading Scotland coast to coast – 2 weeks to go

One month to go

Exactly one month from today I shall be (hopefully) finishing that little race I’ve signed up for. *whispers* you know the one that involves crossing Scotland from coast to coast. Which means I’m at that point before a big challenge where I’m part excited and part in denial about exactly what I’m going to do.

I’m also having a small panic over whether I’m fit enough, I think I am but the cycling still worries me as I haven’t done as much as I would have liked. Work has limited my plans for evening rides, not to mention the 2 weeks of travel to the USA. But this was also why I found myself setting an alarm for 5.30am today to get out for a 2 hour ride before work. The advantage of working from home 1 day a week is I can be a bit flexible with start times on those days and not worry about commuting to the office.

My legs felt terrible all the way around the ride, but when I got back it was not only my highest average speed (16 MPH) but also the longest at 28 miles. Not even halfway to the distance I’ll do in the race but good to know that even when feeling that my legs have no energy I can do a good pace and one higher than we plan for the race anyway.

Continue reading One month to go

The Running Dad – fitting it all in

All of us have to make choices about where we allocate the minutes and hours of our days. Work and family clearly consume a good chunk of that time leaving relatively small opportunities to do hobbies or other activities. For me blogging obviously takes up another part of the day (and can consume every evening if you let it), there’s a bit of gardening and home maintenance in there, dog walking every day and maybe even some time to actually talk to the lady of the manor occasionally.

Which means for this running obsessed dad I have to work hard to get my daily fix in. I love running, I really do, but can I justify going for a run instead of spending time with my children for example? Difficult to justify that to yourself long term unless if you want to be any sort of real parent.

Barbury castle trailThis leads me to, what is for me, the only real conclusion. Exercise early in the morning before anyone else gets up. It’s perfect, I take the dog so he gets exercised too, the children never really notice that I’ve gone and I get a quality run in while most people are still tucked up in their beds.

It’s definitely not easy dragging yourself out of bed at 5.40am every day come rain or shine, putting a head torch on in the dark winter mornings so you can see where you are going. But on days like today it’s just fabulous. Mother nature puts on one hell of a show as the sun rises and the mist slowly clears from fields. We see deer, rabbits, hares, pheasants and cows most of which Bracken will attempt to chase.

Continue reading The Running Dad – fitting it all in