Lakeland 50 Training: weeks 1 to 6 (of 12)

I have approached my training for Lakeland this year with a view to covering the distance in a shorter time and with a view to making gains on the uphill sections of the race, where I was strongest last year. I believe the key to covering the distance quicker will be to race shorter distances often and the key to uphill strength will be regular, testing treadmill hikes.

The key sessions each week during my first 4 weeks of training were  treadmill hikes, 3 races over three weekends at various distances and then a long weekend of back to back to back long runs on the South Downs Way.

Weeks 5 and 6 saw racing as the key workouts – first of all a successful attempt at lowering my road half marathon personal best and then the following week another crack at my 5 mile personal best, which although not successful proved to be a very good race for me as I finished 4th!

After a 2 week break from treadmill sessions, this week (Week 7) saw their return and another preparation race too – this time the North Devon Trail Marathon. The plan for this particular race is to condition the quads and to run hard on the downhills, particularly on the second half of the course. Depending on how that goes I may write a race report which has become something of a rarity on this blog!

But now, onto a breakdown of Weeks 1 through 6.

Week 1

The day before Lakeland 50, session 1 happened to be the Hertfordshire County 5 Mile Road Championship and I was very pleased to line up with my club. My aim was to get the legs turning and to keep the speed up with a view to running under 31:00 on a tough course – I ran hard off the gun and felt good all the way, my legs felt heavy going up the first climb but they soon got into the swing of things and I was really pleased to remain calm and focused to secure 24th place in a time of 30:58!

I took a rest day after the race and then started my Lakeland 50 training with the treadmill session outlined above.  I was trying to emulate the ascent profile of the 4km section out of the aid station and up to the top of Fusedale but I fell short by 90m or so when all was said and done!

I carried on past 4km really focused on hiking strongly and breathing deeply, the run sections at 10kmph weren’t too tough but once I dropped to a 5% incline and increased to 12kmph I started to struggle so I decreased the pace and incline further for the final kilometre ‘cool down’.

I felt it was a solid start to the training block and it left me feeling strong, focused and confident.

By the end of the week I hit 73.7km having set a 70km goal.

Mile 4.2 – Herts County AAA 5 Mile Road Championship

Week 2

I took a very low mileage and low impact training approach during Week 2 as I knew I had the North Downs Way 50 miler to contend with. It was a big race for me because I was going into having not finished an ultra since Lakeland 50 in 2016.

Redemption is sweet and I finished the race in a pretty respectable 40th place with a time of 9:03:20 – not a PR and clearly not a sub-8 but that really didn’t matter to me for once! After two ultra DNF and one ultra DNS since July 2016 the time came to put it right. I was, and still am, 100% happy with how redemption feels – my pacing was solid and my heart rate was consistent throughout. No big surges of pace or HR, just a solid [very] long run effort!

For the first time ever in a race my A-goal was just to finish and I repeated often: ‘You’re running with and for you, not against yourself, anyone else or the clock’.

The weather was perfect and the scenery was beautiful and it was amazing have Sarah out on course crewing me at 2 Aid Stations and a Crew Access Point.

I finished the week feeling really pleased and with a growing confidence that my 2017 Lakeland goals were achievable.

By the end of the week I hit 111.6km having set an 80km goal.

Week 3

After a decent shakeout run on Sunday after NDW50 and a pretty great rest day on Monday I felt it wasn’t beyond me to get in a fairly hefty treadmill workout early in the week. My legs felt really good post-race but my quads were still a tiny bit sore but as the week went on that faded and I got back to my pre-race condition.

Everything clicked during the first treadmill session of the week and I felt really relaxed and focused.  But then, well, then life happened and I found myself battling through a pretty tough week at work!

By the time Friday rolled around my brain was so frazzled that I couldn’t even begin to think about a route to run outdoors so I decided instead for the sometimes easier option of a treadmill session. I had no real aim at all for the session and I was too tired to figure out zones, goals or anything so I just ran and listened to techno! It’s not often that I will make a treadmill workout easier as it progresses but as I felt the workout getting more difficult I reduced the incline at first, and then the pace as I just wanted to switch off my mind and relax. After 30 minutes it worked, so I stopped and shifted my focus to my third race in three weeks which would follow two days later!

‘All trails, roads and treadmills lead to Lakeland 50’ – that is the mantra I repeated from about the 3km point of the Wheathampstead Trail 10km when I started to feel really tired. I hung in and at about 4km I put in a surge to break out of a little group, 2 other guys came with me and then we battled it out to the end. I felt pretty much spent at the 7km mark after putting in an effort on a downhill stretch and then the race came to a gravel section and it seemed to suck the life out of me. This was followed, cruelly, by probably my least favourite surface to race on and a further loss of energy – we hit grass. Ugh.

I pulled myself together mentally and physically at 8km and focused on maintaining my pace and my position. This was a success and I finished in 16th place in 40:47 which I felt was not a bad effort at all considering the previous week’s 50 miler along with some tough treadmill sessions leading into the race – definitely good tired legs speed training!

Wheathampstead 10k, final 400m

By the end of the week I hit 47.6km having set a 40km goal.

Week 4

I started the week on Tuesday with my customary Lakeland treadmill session. I began this one with a 5km ‘warm-up’ – for the first 2km this was the case but it got very hot as the sun beat through the windows of the gym right onto the treadmill. It got pretty tough then! I was glad of the ‘respite’ when I got to 5km and then slowed to a fast hike as I increased the incline. The 3km hike section was also pretty tough but only really for the first mile or so – after that I settled into a rhythm, concentrated on my music and when I felt like I was struggling I fixed my eyes outside and admired the sky and the trees. It’s workouts like this one that I will draw upon during the race itself this year – it is always possible to distract the mind if there is something to focus on aside from running metrics or the physical body…and, if the mind still wants to stay locked into a negative aspect, you can always force it to think back to the tough times on the treadmill when there wasn’t really anything to look at and there was no fresh air to breathe!

I covered 25.5km on Friday straight after work and set in motion the plan for a back to back to back long run weekend. The Friday run was great, with the vast majority in zone 2 under a beating sun but with very light legs and an empty mind – it set up the rest of the weekend perfectly.

On Saturday morning of Week 4  Sarah and I set off for the south coast for the weekend – this was certainly the highlight not only because we got away from ‘real’ life but also because the Saturday and Sunday long runs on the South Downs Way were amazing – a great way to get in some ‘off-treadmill’ ascent in beautiful surroundings! I haven’t run on the Downs since South Downs Way 50 miler in 2015 and it brought back many memories as it was my first 50 miler.  I ran 20.2km on the Saturday and rounded out the weekend with 24.4km on Sunday – both runs were on the SDW50 course which got me to thinking about entering it again at some point in the future…

With the B2B2B long weekend done I felt really good both mentally and physically. I knew that the following week was going to be a low mileage affair and I had come to peace with that during the course of Week 4 – as I’m sure many of you reading this will know, it is so difficult to dial back the mileage at any point during a training block but I focused on the fact I really wanted to put in a PR performance at my local half marathon!

South Downs Way

By the end of the week I hit 93.1km having set an 85km goal.

Week 5 

This is probably the first week that I haven’t hit my mileage target for any other reason than injury in a long time! I dialed back the mid-week miles and spent a lot of time undertaking mindfulness practice, visualising what for me constituted a perfect road half marathon in preparation for the weekend’s attempt!

When race day arrived on Sunday it was very, very hot out. Which works well for me because I absolutely love running in the heat and I think I I took advantage of it – I locked into a pace just in front of the 1:30 pacers and stayed there. If I could choose a few words to summarise: surprising, comfortable, ecstatic. This is the first time I’ve run with pacers and it took about 8km to get used to it – at first I felt pressured but in the end it was cool and I felt really comfortable from 10km onwards, chatting with the pace guys. I left them with about 2 miles to go and starting catching people up and racing in over the final 800m.

St. Albans Half Marathon, final 200m

I loved the run, loved the weather and I was really happy to finish the race with a 10 mile and Half Marathon PR on a tough, hilly course! The finish line was great and pretty special too as Sarah and her nieces were waiting at the finish chute – they surprised me and spent the wait time making banners for me which was so cute! It was a great end to a race that I ran 5 years to the day before in 1:38:05 – my first half marathon and only my second race. I finished the 2017 edition in 61st place with a PR of 1:28:49!

Isla & Elsie – creating cheer banners!

By the end of the week I hit 53.2km having set a 60km goal.

Week 6

The last ‘no treadmill’ week before Lakeland and the reason again was to save my legs the incline training before attempting a 5 mile PR at another local race!

I had some pretty good runs during the week, although Tuesday’s start was a little sore as I didn’t take my post-race recovery very seriously after St. Albans Half Marathon so I found myself suffering with DOMS over the course of 18.2km on trail and road! The rest of the week I spent a fair amount of time in the local spa pool, foam rolling and shaking out my legs on gentle trail runs.

Saturday rolled around and with it, race day too. The only goal I had was to give 100% and considering it was 31°c I think I did okay and gave a good account of myself! It wasn’t my fastest 5 miler but it was certainly a good hard, 100% effort and I was delighted to finish 4th place in 31.22. I went into 4th place around the 1.5km mark and decided to put in a surge over the next 800m or so to stay in touch with the front three and hopefully drop the small group I was at the front of. It worked but around 5km I found myself running solo as the front 3 broke away. That was probably the hardest thing – feeling like I was being chased down – I couldn’t tell if I was because there were no turns on the course that allowed me to see who was behind, or how close they might be! I always try my hardest to follow Paula Radcliffe’s advice during road and cross country races: ‘Never look behind, focus on running as hard as you can!’ Anyway, it was super hot and as the gradient increased at the 6km mark my pace began to suffer but I gritted my teeth, pushed on through Zone 5 and was very glad to see the Finish arch when I got to it.

The Harpenden Oval Race, finishing sprint.

By the end of the week I hit 85km having set an 85km goal.

That’s it then for the first half of my Lakeland 50 training block. For the most part, so far, I feel very strong both physically and mentally. There have been a couple of wobbles but I would say far fewer than in previous training blocks in years gone by. I am confident that whatever happens come race day on July 29th I will be ready to put one foot in front of the other, give 100% the whole way and as long as I cross the finish line knowing I’ve suffered well I will be happy. The likelihood is I will post a summary of the second half of my training the week before Lakeland (Week 13) as I’m not counting that in the block – that week will be purely tapering, probably not cold turkey, but a massively reduced training load for sure!

Thanks for reading guys! For newcomers to my blog, I hope you found this useful and/or interesting and for those regular readers – thank you so much for your continued support.

Peace & Blessings

Steve Birkinshaw’s 12 Tips for a Wainwrights Attempt

In 1986, the legendary fell runner Joss Naylor completed a continuous circuit of all 214 Wainwright fells in the Lake District, covering a staggering distance of over 300 miles – plus many thousands of metres of ascent – in only seven days and one hour.

Those in the know thought that this record would never be beaten. It is the ultimate British ultramarathon. The person taking on this superhuman challenge would have to be willing to push harder and suffer more than ever before. There is no Map in Hell tells the story of a man willing to do just that.

In 2014, Steve Birkinshaw made an attempt at setting a new record. With a background of nearly forty years of running elite orienteering races and extreme-distance fell running over the toughest terrain, if he couldn’t do it, surely no one could. But the Wainwrights challenge is in a different league: aspirants need to complete two marathons and over 5,000 metres of ascent every day for a week.

With a foreword by Joss Naylor, There is no Map in Hell recounts Birkinshaw’s preparation, training and mile-by-mile experience of the extraordinary and sometimes hellish demands he made of his mind and body, and the physiological aftermath of such a feat. His deep love of the fells, phenomenal strength and tenacity are awe inspiring, and testimony to athletes and onlookers alike that ‘in order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd’.

  1. Have a background of running over the fells for many years – decades preferably. You are less likely to get injured and will be able to move faster, especially when tired, over the rough Lake District terrain.
  2. Recce good routes between as many of the Wainwright fells as possible. Alternatively, find supporters to help on sections they know really well.
  3. Find a lead support person who is happy to drive round the Lake District for a week with very little sleep (!), who will sort out your every need, and also the needs of up to fifty people who will be running with you. They need to put up with continual stress and hassle for the whole week, and yet stay calm and be able to make good decisions. A pretty big ask.
  4. Find up to fifty people who are happy to be out with you at any time of the day on sections of up to ten hours. If there are at least two on every section it makes it much easier.
  5. Eat as much as you can while running the Wainwrights. On a run of this length with twenty-hour days, you will never be able to eat as many calories as you consume. The pace is slow, so the type of food is not really important. All that matters is finding something you can eat – that you fancy. At the support campervan I enjoyed pizza, onion bhaji and tepid soup. Whilst running, Torq gels went down well. But everyone is different in what they feel they can stomach at times like this.
  6. Make sure you stay hydrated. With a support team carrying water for you this should not be an issue.
  7. Avoid getting blisters or any over-use injury. I changed my socks and shoes regularly to keep my feet dry and I still got really bad blisters – even though I have never had bad blisters before. I also got tendonitis in the front of one of my legs above the ankle, despite decades of running long distances over similar terrain.
  8. Accept that things will go wrong, and don’t stress about it when they do. I was badly sick at one point, which I could have got quite stressed over, but I took it easy for the rest of the section and after a rest in the campervan my stomach was OK again.
  9. Make sure all the shoes and clothing items have been tested beforehand and do not rub.
  10. Have a campervan (or even two like me) at every support point. This allows for hot food to be made easily, provides a nice place to change away from midges and also gives the possibility of sleeping if necessary.
  11. Remember that everyone out helping you has volunteered and given up their time to be there for you. So be nice to them and thank them.
  12. Pick a week with a really warm, dry weather forecast. It will make your support team much happier and everything easier to organise. If only it was that easy! By the time fifty people are sorted and ready to help it is very hard to change the date, you just need good luck.

Good luck to anyone that does try and run round the Wainwrights. The key things are to have run long distances for many years on the fells and to find a great support team so that all you need to do is think about putting one foot in front of the other.

So there we have it, some tips from Steve and Day 4 of his 9 day running blog tour. Next up, a post on Andy Mouncey’s blog tomorrow.

Onward, to Lakeland 50!

Last night I wrapped up a successful Spring training season during which I bounced back from the dismay of not finishing Country to Capital and the sorrow of not being able to start TransGranCanaria.

Coming back from these set backs was a gradual process and I began building up whilst I was in Gran Canaria – I started undertaking daily yoga practice again and my mileage slowly began to increase in the weeks following. I entered 3 races in a bid to get back into the racing mindset and to face my anxiety that I might be losing my edge!

Those three races were pretty successful and distances I don’t normally run. The first was the Ashridge Boundary Trail – a local trail race with a friendly atmosphere and plenty of hills. I finished the 16.5 miles in 2:12 in 25th position which came as quite a  surprise because I felt unprepared to say the least! A month later I visited Cornwall with Sarah and found Cornwall’s only fell race (Category C) – The Five Tors on Bodmin Moor is an 8 mile race with a loosely marked course and some fast descening. The race was tougher than I expected but I finished in 1:07 in 33rd place, I’m not sure what I found so difficult but I had a bit of a mental wobble over the final few kilometres and I just couldn’t get my pace to pick up to anything approaching competitive. The main thing for me was to get it done though and I eventually finished happy and smiling!

Finally, the culmination of my training over Spring – the Hertfordshire Amateur Athletic Association’s 5 Mile Championship road race at Pednor. I ran hard off the gun and felt good all the way! My legs were heavy early on but that didn’t stop a sub-6 minute first mile and then into the first climb at 3 miles my legs warmed up and started turning over nicely. My aim was to run under 31:00 so I’m really pleased, considering it’s not a flat course, to have registered a 30:58 for 24th place at the meet and 8th in the County!

I was the 5th Watford Jogger to cross the line – our first 4 won the County Team Championship and our second four were 4th in the County and 6th at the meet. We also swept up so many awards across the board! A brilliant night for the club and I’m proud to have been part of it. The race probably marked the end of my really fast stuff until after Lakeland 50 but I suspect I’ll be back on the roads training for a road marathon before the end of the year.

Lakeland 50 training this year will be pretty similar to last year as I still believe it to be the best race I’ve ever run in terms of strategy and pacing! I think the lead up really helped.

The training kicks of fully with two race weekends back to back – first up the North Downs Way 50 followed the weekend after with a local 10km trail race. I’ll be focusing on just finishing the NDW50 as I haven’t actually finished an ultra race since Lakeland last year! At the Wheathampstead 10km the weekend after I will be aiming to push hard from the gun and see what happens – much in the same way as I raced at Pednor.

I’ll train for two weeks after this and then it’s the St. Albans Half Marathon. This is another local race and run on road. It is also the first half marathon I ever ran five years ago and I haven’t raced one since! I ran 1:38 the first time out and I’d only been running for about 8 months so I didn’t really know what I was doing. The course is undulating [tough] and I’m hoping to push on again and see what happens – I would absolutely love to run under 1:30. Two weeks after this it’s the North Devon trail marathon.

I’ll be racing the North Devon Trail Marathon and focusing more on trail running speed as opposed to fast hiking speed as I did at Mont Blanc Marathon last year and I’m hoping to run a competitive race.

Two weeks before the race last year I ran the Chiltern Hills 50km Ultra but this year I’ve decided not to race and instead I will be traversing the Rhinogydd range with my friend Matt on the Saturday – it’s about a 20 mile route with 1800m of acscent. On the Sunday it’ll be a further 10 miles before beginning my taper into Lakeland.

The main staple of my training, alongside the racing, will be a weekly progression incline run on the treadmill. I did this sporadically last year and I wish I’d done more of it! I have been building this up over the last three weeks of my Spring training season and I’m seeing the benefits.

I’ve put a lot of thought and time into planning this year’s Lakeland 50 training and I am confident that it will produce a decent showing on the day – hopefully it will translate to a 10 hour if the conditions are anything like last year!

Time is precious, use it wisely.

It’s been a while, a long while. A long while indeed since I wrote a blog post, finished an ultra, practiced yoga regularly, or just felt like myself.

The reasons are many and varied: a DNF at TDS started the downhill trend in my general feeling of wellbeing, a new job in November with some pretty big responsibilities, a further ultra DNF at Country to Capital and then moving in with my [wonderful] girlfriend a week later all conspired to make me feel quite anxious. New routines, new responsibilities, a new found running vulnerability and a new home town!

For about the last month I’ve started to come around again and to feel like myself. I have started practicing yoga regularly again, albeit at home as I have been unable to shake the anxiety that came from nowhere relating to going to yoga classes – it’s a start. A good start too as I’m feeling a lot more grounded, my body and mind feel stronger and I believe it’s helped me to get back to running form.

I have still yet to finish an ultra, haven’t done since July last year but I did enter two after TDS: Country to Capital in January which I DNF’ed due to shot quads and then a DNS at TransGranCanaria Advanced in February due to aforementioned trashed quads messing up my training. However, for about a month now I have been training regularly and gradually increasing my weekly mileage from around 3 post-Country to Capital to currently around 40 – I’m aiming to hit a peak week of 80-90km before my next ultra which is in May. The return to regular running – in addition to what is now a weekly hike and daily yoga – put me in the frame of mind where I felt I could possibly finish a race over 10 miles so I entered a local 16 mile trail race this Saturday. Lo and behold, I finished. In fact, I did quite well considering everything that’s happened since my DNF at TDS back in August! I was aiming for a 2:15 finish, if the day was good, a 2:30 or ‘just a finish’ if things conspired against me. I finished in 26th place from 241 runners in 2:12 and I felt really good afterwards – I definitely held myself back which bodes well for the rest of this year if I can keep my consistency.

Over the past month I’ve also started to look at how I spend my time. I wanted to find out what I could do differently to stay motivated and more positive for longer periods. I wanted to find a way to try to stave off the anxiety that creeps up occasionally and to fight the depression that seems to set in for a couple of months each year. With this in mind I have taken the decision to stop offering my services as a running coach – Flowers Endurance is no more. On close inspection the venture added undue stress and pressure to my life without really adding anything positive be that in terms of income for myself or outcomes for my [very small] client base. I used to cram my weekly training plan creation into a Sunday night and Monday’s after work would be spent adjusting these, e-mailing clients and generally feeling a bit pushed for time. Instead Sunday’s are now spent hiking with Sarah and I am looking to volunteer my time on Monday evenings to a local Cub Scout group as I feel it’s a great opportunity to instil a love of the outdoors, and the skills required to enjoy it to the maximum, into a younger generation.

As I mentioned above, the Sunday hikes with Sarah have added to my motivation and positivity. I know that should I become injured again and unable to run, I should at least be able to hike and explore on foot, albeit in a slower and more genteel fashion! The hikes that we go on usually follow circular routes as Sarah purchased the Ordnance Survey Pathfinder guide for Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire as we moved to the border of these counties – I’m so glad she did because that book really started to pull me back from the brink of a deep depression and got me back outside! So, at present we follow the basic maps and the route descriptions but in the future we are looking to buy area maps and to start planning and navigating our own routes. For me, this means I can start working towards the goal of running the 10Peaks double next year! The 10Peaks Lake District is in June and requires competitors to visit the 10 highest summits in the Lake District, covering about 75km with 5600m of ascent. The 10Peaks Brecon Beacons follows in September and requires competitors to visit the summit of the 10 highest peaks in the Brecons covering around 89km with 4800m of ascent. For Sarah this means feeling more comfortable when we visit Dartmoor in April and the Southern Highlands of Scotland in August!

So I’ve started to feel like me again. Yoga’s back, running is back and I’m settled into my new living arrangements but the writing has not been with me since late last year. I can’t put my finger on why but it’s probably the build-up of anxiety and the fact that I really haven’t made time for it due to getting used to all the new things happening. I’m writing these words today though, because I wanted to at least make a start at getting back to doing something else that I love. But the reason I’m writing right now is mostly because the inspiration was sparked earlier this week when the world lost a great writer, and a great friend, who unfortunately is no longer with us. Dan Lucas.

Dan was a proper writer. A journalist. A sports writer for The Guardian covering rugby union and cricket (I always told him I’d read more of his stuff if he’d pay at least a bit of attention to rugby league). A music writer for Drowned in Sound, Louder than War and other great independent music blogs. What I write, and what  a lot of us bloggers write is pretty much stream of consciousness but what Dan wrote was heartfelt, witty, knowledgeable, entertaining and regularly sparked debate amongst peers, friends and fans of his writing! I think I’ll leave that there because whatever else I could write wouldn’t do Dan justice. I guess that’s goodbye sir – I’ll miss the random meetings for a pint here and there and I’ll miss your outlook on life.

“Maybe, just once, someone will call me ‘Sir’ without adding, ‘You’re making a scene.’” – Homer J. Simpson

Here’s to more writing, more yoga, more running and more exploring. Time is precious, use it wisely.

2017 Goals & Resolutions

I’m going to keep this short, sweet and simple! Below are the things I would like to achieve by the end of 2017 in life and in sport:

Endurance Sports

  1. Finish every race I enter
  2. Win a race (I say this every year…). Alternatively, reach the podium!
  3. Gain another coaching qualification
  4. Buy a decent road/Time Trial bike
  5. Swim at least once a week
  6. Race an Aquathlon, a Duathlon and a Triathlon
  7. Improve my 50k or road marathon PR

Life

  1. Expand the Flowers Endurance client base
  2. Finish my Hatha Yoga teacher training course
  3. Drink less alcohol
  4. Commit to a plant based diet
  5. Build on the foundations of a brilliant 2016 to make 2017 an even better year!

2016 in Review

The annual review of the year past from the ‘26.2 & Beyond’ perspective.

Overview

Although the world seems to have been in turmoil this year with so many unexpected political changes , my year has probably been the best I’ve ever had in terms of the direction of my life and the direction of my running and endurance.

Best Race

Mont Blanc Marathon and Lakeland 50.

I couldn’t pick between the two! The Mont Blanc Marathon was my first ever race in the Alps and my first visit to Chamonix and Lakeland represents my best ultra performance to date!

Worst Race

TDS (Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie)

Perfect weather, beautiful surroundings but some poor pre-race preparation and a bad stomach led to a DNF. I still pulled it together the day after the race and enjoyed my time in the Alps though so it wasn’t all bad – definitely a learning experience.

Best Moment

Bushey 5k Road Race

I didn’t write a race report for this one but it was my first ever podium at any distance! It was made all the more special because it is my local race and my Dad and Sarah were there to share the experience.

I didn’t set a personal best but I stayed in 3rd from about 500m in, right to the end – not bad considering the weekend before I ran the Mont Blanc Marathon!

Worst Moment

I could choose a few of these all from TDS which I noted above as my worst race of the year! It could be arriving at the first checkpoint and seriously considering dropping from the race then and there. It could be lingering at the second checkpoint hoping that I would be able to use the toilet and then have enough time to refuel, gather myself and get back out on the course before being timed out. Or it could be the descent into Bourg Saint Maurice during which I totally gave up on the idea of racing and committed to dropping on arrival at the checkpoint there. Then again, it could be the depressing bus journey from there to a car park in Courmayer and having to wait there for two hours for a bus back to Chamonix…before making the hour long drive back to my chalet in the neighbouring valley! Not a good day. Definitely one to learn from.

Favourite Run

I woke on Sunday 28th August at dawn and set off on my last Alpine run of 2016. I covered 12.3km (+684m) and made it to the summit of Mont Joux just as the sun began to rise over the distant peaks of Mont Blanc and the Aigulles. It was the most serene I have felt on a run for a long, long time – I saw no other people and heard no sounds but the wind, cow bells and the hooves of semi-wild horses grazing on the side of Mont Joux as I passed them on my descent.

Favourite Kit

If you want to run long in a hot climate and all you really need is some water and some gels, Shot Bloks or other small items I HIGHLY recommend the UltrAspire Speedgoat waistpack!

 

Vote for me! (please)

Click to vote!

For the second year running (Ha!) I’ve been nominated to the shortlist for the RunUltra Blogger Awards.

I’m honoured to be nominated alongside some great writers/runners/adventurers/endurance athletes! 

I have been writing ‘26.2 & Beyond’  since 2012 and although the layout has changed and the frequency of my posts has fluctuated over the past two years, my commitment to the blog and to the process of writing, has remained. 

I love being able to write things that many of you seem to enjoy reading so thank you all for your continued readership and support! 

I would really appreciate it if you could take a couple of minutes to click the image above and vote for my blog. All you need to do is click my name, enter your own name and e-mail address and then click to submit. 

Peace & Blessings