Archive for the ‘running’ Category


 

After reading my friend Rachel Cullan’s excellent blog about running and injuries I thought I’d share my recent experience.

 

On the Trigger Race (I’m still finding new people to tell my story to!) I tore my right calf. Now 150ft up the side of a cliff isn’t the best place to do it especially when you’ve another 5 miles to run so you can withdraw alive and with honour intact.

 

My right calf ached after but nothing I was worried about. It would of course go away and my leg would feel pain free again and I could continue running. Except it didn’t work out like that.

 

I rested until the Thursday after and I went for a short run. Everything was fine until I got round the corner from my house and my right calf went big time. It not only hurt a lot but nearly caused me to stop and pull up completely.

 

I managed to get home and to my amazement I had knocked 4 minutes off my time running up Blake Hill / Howes Lane but I was in pain. Was it worth it? Of course it was!

 

But the next day my calf didn’t feel any better. Or the day after. So now I know it was serious and I would have to go back to my physio to find out what was wrong and how to fix it and get back running.

 

So off I trotted to Rippendon to see Joe the Physio. The verdict was a Grade 1.5 (quickly upgraded by me to a 2) tear in my right calf and between 4 to 6 weeks with no running.

 

But I could go to the gym and do stuff that people in a gym do without getting cold and wet and lost and sweaty and confused and wondering who they are miles from civilisation.

 

So I went on the spin bike. But how to make it interesting? Firstly see if I could last longer than half an hour before I lost all feeling between my legs. I found out I could and that I could go quite fast, 23.5 miles, avg rpm 101 or go for 1 ½ hours before I needed to stop.

 

Similar on the Cross-Trainer and rope pull thing. Instead of thinking this was something I had to endure I decided to make it a challenge even if some days that challenge was just to go to the gym and do it I did it.

 

And it worked. I was not only pushing myself harder each time as the copious amounts of sweat falling off me testified, but I kept the boredom at bay and found myself looking forward to going to the gym and seeing how hard I could push myself.

 

It kept my fitness up, my interest up and most important for me my flexibility. I have never been the most flexible of people but for some reason over the last 6 months I have become more flexible and bendy than I have ever been and I didn’t want to lose this.

 

But still something was missing and after a couple of weeks it twigged. The gym was keeping me physically at a good level but mentally I was going downhill fast.

 

Until this point I never realised what running does for me in controlling my anxiety and anger and stopping me slipping into depression and just being a dick to everyone I come into contact with.

 

Running it appears does a lot more for me mentally and psychologically than I ever realised. Running allowed me to deal with emotions and feelings at a day to day level without letting them simmer away under the surface until they boiled over into a near uncontrollable explosion which resulted in misunderstandings at the best…

 

Running allows me to gather my thoughts and deal with them in a rational and logical way, letting go of the stupid thoughts and focusing on what really matters.

 

But with that outlet taken away from me how would I cope? Not very for the first few weeks until I realised what was happening and what I felt I was becoming. Then I could deal with it however much it drained the life out of me I could deal with it.

 

And then salvation! Joe the Physio told me I could run again! Only for 5 minutes to start with but it was better than nothing.

 

And so today I drove up to Ogden Water and nervously took my first steps back to full running fitness.

 

I only went down to the reservoir from the car park and back but it was a start. And it felt good. In fact it felt bloody good! The fear has gone about what happens if I fall over. Tough shit that’s life. You either get up or you don’t.

 

But the uphill was even better. Only a slight uphill but it might as well not have been there. Power, power and more power resulted in a PR.

 

All my anxiety, anger and other stuff disappeared in 6 ½ minutes of running. That is what running does to me,

 

What happened most of all on the Trigger Race was I gained self-belief and confidence in myself and my abilities. I’m sure my friends will stop me from getting too cocky and maybe one day my new-found self-confidence will result in something I don’t come back from…

 

But in the meantime I’m going to enjoy life and push as much as hard as I can in my running and see where it takes me. Life is for living, live it.

 


On Sunday I took part in my first Trigger Race a tough and demanding 21 mile fell race from Marsden to Edale over the Dark Peaks of the Peak District. This is my Trigger Race.

The day didn’t start great. It felt like I had, had hardly any sleep despite going to bed early on Saturday. I was thinking about the Trigger Race and wondering if I was up to it. If I should pull out and what could go wrong. In the end despite my reservations I got up at 3:30am and began to get ready for the biggest race of my life.

At 5:00am my mate Matt Fielding and me where off, travelling down to Edale to leave one car there before driving up to Marsden where the race started. The journey down the M62 to Edale wasn’t nice. Fog and rain on the roads just added to my already nervous state about what I was getting myself into.

We arrived at Edale in time to see the competitors getting ready to go in the Montane Spine Race http://thespinerace.com/. These runners were going the whole length of the Pennine Way, 268 miles over 7 days and I felt in awe of these amazing athletes who were pushing themselves to the limit mentally and physically in one of the most brutal and challenging races in the world.

On to Marsden and arriving at the cricket club we quickly got our kit checked and registered for the race. To my surprise I had race number 1! I did feel proud to be representing my club, Queensbury and wearing number 1.

Soon we were all outside having a last minute talk from the race organiser and then we were off! I quickly settled into a steady pace and felt good as we passed Butterley Reservoir and began to steadily climb towards our first trig point at Black Hill.

At this point it was terrain I was used to. We were on the Pennine Way and this part of it was one of the easier sections to run on and navigate. Then we turned off, left from memory, and began the first of our big climbs up Black Hill. I was feeling good, felt strong on the climbs and was passing people.

And then suddenly we were in the mist. The temperature dropped and the green grass was replaced by white snow. Now was the time to take care as the paths were wet, icy and dangerous. Care was needed as one slip could spell the end of my race.

And then the mud and bogs appeared. I went from running upright to slipping everywhere and falling into bogs. I’ve been very lucky avoiding most of the bogs where I run and not falling over. Today more than made up for my previous good luck.

It seemed to be my fate to fall into every single bog on the day. I lost count of how many times I ended up to my waist in a bog full of freezing cold mud and water or falling on my hands and knees onto the cold, wet ground. Within minutes I was wet through, wet mud clinging to my hands and legs making it difficult to keep warm.

I was still feeling focused and determined so put any thoughts of feeling cold and wet to one side ploughed on, upping my pace and passing more people as I raced to the summit of Black Hill.

And then I felt something hit my side. To my surprise one of my water bottles had come out from its pocket on my racing rucksack and was banging against my side. I tried to put it in on the move but it just kept popping out so I ended up carrying it in my hand.

This was far from ideal as it upset my rhythm and meant I was maintaining my balance with one hand. Around the same time I felt an ache develop in my right hand side. I wanted to stop and check everything was ok but there was no time. This was a race and I had two timed checkpoints to meet. Any delays could cost me meeting those times so I ploughed on as best as I could.

We made the snow covered checkpoint at Black Hill, the mountain rescue team standing out in their bright red jackets in the mist and began the descent towards Crowden the first timed checkpoint. We had caught up with some other runners and was making good progress. Despite carrying a water bottle in one hand I felt confident on the descent towards Crowden and made good time on it.

We arrived at Crowden in plenty of time but in my haste to sort out my water bottle issue I tripped over the entrance to the checkpoint tent and demolished the table the marshals were using! This was one of the talking points of the day as people where asking who the lunatic was who destroyed the table!

We checked in and carried on but to our dismay we had lost the group of runners in front of us due to me sorting out my water bottle problem. The two ladies we had been running with retired at Crowden and now we were on our own with only a map and a compass to get us to our next checkpoint at the top of Bleaklow.

We arrived at the bottom of our next climb thanks to Nicky Spinks pointing us in the right direction. We looked for an obvious trail to follow to get to the top but couldn’t see one and then I spotted what looked like a reasonable trail to follow to the top. How wrong I was.

We began to climb and everything was fine. Then the climb steepened sharply and I realised I was out of my depth but had no choice but to carry on to the top. Staying focused, looking up and grabbing bits of heather I worked my way up steadily.

Then I put my right leg out and felt my calf muscle go. I was 100ft up the side of a short but steep climb with my right leg at 90 degrees, my right calf cramping up and me holding onto a clump of heather.

I looked down and realised that I had no choice but to go up. The line from the Killers song, ‘All These Things I’ve Done’, ‘when you can’t hold on, hold on’ played in my mind. Matt was now at the top, only 20ft above me but far enough away. I looked for footholds and clumps of heather to grasp onto and got myself to the top. I’m not a climber and I’m scared of heights but I did it. In situations like this before I’ve froze but this time I stayed focused and made the climb.

At the top we worked out which we to go and began the ascent to Bleaklow and it was here that the weather here took a turn for the worse. From a pleasant winters day at Crowden we were enveloped by cold mist, deep snow and the only visible trails had ice cold water running down them. We had no choice but to follow these water trails and soon I had lost all feeling in my feet as they went numb from the cold water running over them.

We made steady progress and found the waterfall that meant we were on the right route. But somewhere between starting the climb and getting to the head of the waterfall I started to feel the onset of hypothermia. My hands and feet were numb with cold and had no feeling in them. My shoulders and chest were starting to go the same way, the cold cutting right through my body. I was sweating but it was cold and clammy and my clothing felt heavy because it was saturated in sweat and water.
I had no choice but to carry on. I could feel the onset of fatigue and each footstep was getting harder to make, both my legs cramping up as I moved through deep mud and cold water. Making Snake Pass was going to be very tough.

Then we heard voices behind us and saw the mountain rescue guys who were acting as sweepers for the runners. I felt relived knowing that if I got worse I was with the right people to help me. I was carrying an emergency sleeping bag but in these conditions with poor visibility it would make finding someone difficult and time is of the essence if you’re in trouble on the moors.

We carried on with the mountain rescue guys guiding us to our next checkpoint at Shelf Moor at the top of Bleaklow. The conditions were so poor that they had problems navigating and finding the right route but they got us to the checkpoint. Everything looked the same. Mounds of snow covered earth with streams flowing through them. It really was as if we were in a whole different world.

At Shelf Moor my condition had worsened. I could feel my body and mind slowing down, moving was difficult, thinking even more so as fatigue set in. I was beginning to feel punch drunk but without the pleasure of having had a couple of beers. I knew I had reached my physical limit and all I wanted to do was lie down and go to sleep but that would make things much worse. My only option was to carry on to Snake Pass.

The mountain rescue guys knew what was happening too. There was no point in asking what was happening. It was obvious to everyone.

I didn’t have the energy to unclip my racing rucksack and get some food so the guys gave me a cookie and some hot Ribena. It seemed to take forever for me to eat the cookie but I needed immediate energy and eventually I finished it.

I knew I had to carry on and get to warmth. There was around 3 miles to go to Snake Pass and I focused on getting there and put thoughts of coldness, fatigue and hypothermia out of my mind. My only focus was to keep moving, keep talking and keep making progress.

We had some more minor navigational issues but eventually we found ourselves on the Pennine Way footpath and the gate to Snake Pass appeared out of the mist. Matt and the mountain rescue guys let me lead and dictate the pace but I felt myself get a little bit faster towards the end and the feeling was returning to my hands.

At Snake Pass I retired. I had made this decision at Shelf Moor and I knew it was the right one. This was not the time or place for being a hero and I do not regret retiring at that point. It was the right decision.

Matt carried on and finished in around 8 hours 10 minutes. I got a lift back to Edale village hall and warmth. After a couple of hours I began to feel warm and I could reflect on my performance.

I felt very proud of what I had achieved. I had done things I never thought I would do when I began my running journey two years ago and I had pushed myself beyond my limits and achieved more than I thought I ever would. Talking to other runners they said this was the worse conditions the race had been run in and this made me feel better knowing I had run in such brutal conditions and given it everything I had on the day.

My experience has not put me off the Trigger Race either. On the contrary it has strengthened my resolve to come back better and stronger in 2018 and finish the race.

Big thanks to the guys at Woodhead Mountain Rescue. Without them the day could have been much worse.

http://www.marsdentoedale.co.uk/
http://woodheadmrt.org/


You’ve done all the hard work, put in the long miles and climbed the tough hills and you’re just sat at home waiting for the race, unable to think about anything else, everything going on is magnified a hundred times. You check the route on Strava, watch videos of the run and all you want to do is get on that start line and race but you know you need to rest, lay off the beer and eat healthy so you’re ready to run and run and run and it fucking kills you because all you want to do is go out and smash it.


Been very busy lately with one thing and another and not done my Trigger Race diary for a bit.

Only done two runs of note. One a 13 ½ mile recce of the Hebden Bridge 15 a good run with plenty of climbing and tricky descents. The other was the Mytholmroyd Fell Race held yesterday a great fell race that really tests you to your limits! When you run in the Calder Valley where Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd nestle it really is up and down all the way!

The good news is I’m feeling stronger on the climbs and more confident on the descents. Feel like I’m making progress on these running fronts at last!

The other change I’ve made is to my diet. For a long time now I’ve been running out of energy on runs and in races and haven’t had the confidence to push harder and run for longer. My pace has been suffering and I’ve felt that I was getting slower.

Recently I’ve increased how many vegetables I eat and this has had a massive effect on how I feel physically. I feel stronger, energy levels have increased enormously and I am now pushing harder in my runs and my pace is increasing at last. I’m looking forward to my runs again and pushing myself.

This week just some speed work and hill reps followed by The Stoop Fell Race held at Penistone Country Park, Haworth this Sunday, a short 4 mile race with a nice big hill covered in mud thrown in for fun!

After that I’m planning on doing a long run of between 18/19 miles to see how I am over this distance. Hopefully I won’t be too bad and I won’t be put off running that far again!


Why I run is a question I’m often asked and a question I ask other runners too. I find it fascinating and intriguing to discover the many and sometimes complex reasons why people run. In today’s increasingly time consuming and fast moving society why anyone would want to run with an already crowded social and work calendar when it is easier to get home, switch on the television and watch others running round a track can be hard to comprehend.

I can only speak for myself why I run but like many others my reasons are various, complex and intertwined. What I get from running mentally and emotionally has changed too as my journey has continued and may even change again.

The best place for me to start is with some background information on my life and my running journey. This is my story of why I run.

Growing up I was never sporty. I played football, rugby, cricket and ran round a field at school but I was always the runt of the class, one of the last to be picked and usually the last to finish. My childhood memories of running are of setting off far too fast and fading quickly before being caught and swallowed by the rest of the kids and finishing at the back as usual. It’s a habit I still have today although I have made changes to curb it and ensure I have enough energy to finish the race!

Through my teens, twenties and thirties I would play 5-a-side with work colleagues but that was it as far as sport and running was concerned. Running was not for me. I did try it a few times but found what should be one of the most natural things for a human to do difficult. Having no co-ordination, no stamina and no patience meant I gave up very easily on running back then.

Into my forties and I stopped playing 5-a-side and the weight piled on. I soon went from around 14st when I turned forty to 19st 10lbs aged 45. I didn’t think anything of it. I was getting older and getting fatter was part of the process. Everybody went through the same thing and I was no different. This was life as I knew it.

But before all the weight piled on I had been diagnosed with depression in April 2001. For months before this I hadn’t been feeling well mentally, emotionally and physically. I was tired and disinterested in many things. The only respite I had was drinking with my mates at the weekends. Long term this didn’t solve anything but you don’t think long term when you get that short term fix of drinking yourself into oblivion so you can forget everything that you perceive as bad about your life. Your problems seemed solved because you can’t remember them. Until you come round the next day to realise that they’re still there, they haven’t gone away and all you can think about is the next weekend and going through the same routine.

So off to the doctors I went and with his usual abrupt manner told me I had depression, I had to ‘man up’ and get a grip and put me on anti-depressants to help lift my mood so I could ‘man up’ and carry on with life as if nothing was wrong.

Except it was. The anti-depressants are in my opinion like state sanctioned alcohol tablets in that they mask the problems causing you to be depressed because they make you drowsy, dull your senses and you are not fully aware of what is going on around you. This is my own opinion and others will have a different experience depending on what tablets they were prescribed and the dosage. I ended up on 40mg of Citalopram a day which made life bearable and forgettable. I tried Prozac for a while but not being able to stop inside because all four walls were closing in on you is not a good experience.

So I went through the new millennium living my life like this. Drugged up to the eyeballs on anti-depressants, the new sweets for a new generation and solving none of my underlying problems. Many of my problems back then centred around money of a lack of it. The ironic thing looking back is that I spent too much many at the weekend in order to try and forget that I had a lack of money. It can be difficult and frustrating for people looking in as they can see your problem and how easy it would be to fix it. For that individual though it is like being the eye at the centre of a storm. Everything is going on around you and you are largely oblivious to it and oblivious to how your problem can be resolved. Occasionally something comes and hits you right between the eyes but by and large you just carry on hoping that the storm will pass and everything will be alright. This for me was especially so when I was on anti-depressants.

But the storm doesn’t always pass and things keep hitting you, harder and harder and harder. Life was spiralling out of control even though at the time I couldn’t see it. Money and work problems were causing my stress and anxiety levels to increase and this was having a negative effect on my sleeping which led to increased levels of tiredness and increased depression, stress, and anxiety. Life was in a downward, uncontrollable spiral and there seemed to be no way of stopping it.

The depression, stress and anxiety continued to get worse despite the anti-depressants as my problems mounted up. I was reluctant to ask my doctor for an increase in dosage because I was already on 40mg a day and having problems functioning fully day to day. I was also fearful of becoming addicted to them and then asking for higher and higher dosages to ensure that I got the same hit.

So during the mid 2000’s I found myself dependent on anti-depressants to get through the day, stress and anxiety levels increasing all the time, problems with alcohol, problems with money and in a job I hated. I could see no way out. I didn’t know who to turn to or where to go. This is the loneliest place to be. I decided that the only way to solve everything would be to take my own life. I mean who would miss a loser like me? So I made my first suicide attempt sometime in 2005. I took around 25 Nytol one-a-night sleeping tablets. I remember falling asleep and waking up the next morning drowsy but alive. I phoned in sick to work and was in work the next day as if nothing had happened. I told no-one about this. What could anyone do to help me?

But life carries on regardless. I was alive and I had no choice but to regather my thoughts and get on with life so I did. Things got more and more intense and overwhelming for me though and I was in a desperate cycle of depression, anxiety and stress with no way out. This carried on for years and during the latter part of this period of my life I was somehow surviving on one hours sleep a night and constantly have suicidal thoughts all through the day. This was not good for me or anyone around me and is not the way to live your life. Something needed to change.

And change it did. For many years, I had felt different and slightly out of touch with the rest of society. I didn’t know why, I couldn’t put my finger on anything and no-one around me seemed to know either. And then my best friend Jill suggested I may have Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. I did some research into Asperger’s and for the first time ever I could identify personality traits in myself with the characteristics of Asperger’s. it was like a light switch coming on in my head. I began to understand myself in a different way and look at society and life in a different way too.

However, this was only the start of a very long and tortuous journey through the minefield of getting a diagnosis which I eventually got in October 2008 after 18 months of battling a system that was seemingly more interested in money than the wellbeing of the patients it was supposed to be serving. I didn’t give in though and I got the diagnosis I felt I needed to move on with my life.

And move on I did. In 2009 I returned to college and got my O and A Levels. This enabled me to study for a degree in sociology at the University of Huddersfield. I began writing and performing poetry which fulfilled a need I had in me to be creative and express myself. But there was still something missing and this is when I discovered running.

I was chronically overweight and unfit due to an unhealthy diet and drinking too much alcohol. I had tried going to the gym but didn’t stick at it. Lifting weights in a room just wasn’t doing it for me and I got bored easily. Then on one of the Queensbury Facebook pages I saw an advertisement for people who wanted to start running to join a new beginners group at Queensbury Running Club. The guy who was running it was someone I had worked with many years before so I decided to give it a go.

That first session was hard but I enjoyed it. It was a nice pace with some walking in-between. I coped with it and didn’t feel it was beyond me. This was around April 2014 and I carried on going all through the summer. And then autumn came, it got colder, wet and windy and I didn’t want to go out running anymore. Without realising it I had become a fair weather runner.

Over the autumn and winter of 2014 I stayed in and didn’t do any running. The weight stayed on and I was still searching for that missing something that would give my life more meaning and plug a hole in it.

March 2015 and I went to London for a professional voice acting recording. I was told I have a very good voice for recording but found it difficult to breath correctly due to weighing so much. I knew I needed to change if I was to make anything of my voice and so I went back to the running club at the first opportunity.

I soon got back into running, even more so than before. The club had expanded since my last visit and a lot more people had joined but after a couple of weeks it was as if I’d never been away. I was struggling especially with getting my breathing right but I was enjoying it and looked forward to running every Thursday night with the Queensbury Running Club gang.

I started slowly, from memory my first parkrun at Lister Park, Bradford was around 45 minutes and most of that was walking. I went to Shroggs Park, Halifax and I ran 40 minutes. I had knocked 5 minutes off my time but I was still walking part of the course. This was my next aim, to be able to run a full 5k with no stopping for hills or was I felt tired. I was determined that nothing would stop me achieving this target.

This was a major breakthrough for me. Rather than giving in and telling myself I couldn’t do it I told myself I could do it. And I did it. One summers day I laced up my running shoes and ran down one of the local roads. This was a good tactic as it allowed me to warm up without the added pressure of running uphill and get my legs ready for the long journey ahead of them.

I went down the hill and felt good. This is a nice road and at about a mile long is perfect for a warm up. Right and up a small hill before down again. Before I knew it I had run 2 miles non-stop for the first time and I was running into uncharted territory. Would I manage 3 miles or would I collapse in a heap waiting for some dog walker to come by and rescue me?

I needn’t have worried. I carried on and on and on. All of a sudden I was running very slowly uphill but I was still moving and I passed the magical 3 mile mark according to my watch. I was so happy. I had achieved my running dream and run 3 miles without stopping. I felt like a Olympic superstar.

And from that point on running became fun as well as a way of losing weight and getting fit. I started running 3 miles and more on a regular basis and hills that had previously defeated me I conquered. It wasn’t easy and I would never pretend it was but the sense of achievement I felt was like nothing I had experienced before. I proved to myself I could do something, that it was not beyond me and most of all I enjoyed the experience.

And this continued. I entered races which whilst I knew I had no chance of winning I derived pleasure from by pushing myself to my limits and beyond. I found that was capable of far more than I thought I was, I could do things I never believed I could and I discovered a new me, a better me that had more self-belief, more ability and more confidence.

This has gone over into other areas of my life. I now have more confidence in everyday life and I have learnt to be more patient. Running is a good analogy of life. It’s hard work, the results don’t come quickly but if you stick with it and persevere you do see an improvement in your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.

And now over two years since I started running I’ve been to places I would never have been otherwise, I’ve met people I would never have met and had some of the most amazing experiences all through running. My mental, emotional, and physical health has improved immensely. I’m eating better, sleeping better, and living life to the full and I’ve got running to thank for it.


Yesterday was a reality check. Me and my mate who’s running the Trigger Race with me went for our first proper recce of part of the route from checkpoint 4 at Snake Road to checkpoint 7 at Kinder Low. The Strava profile looked good and relatively flat. All the major climbs were behind us and we could get into a steady pace over the Pennine Way. However, as I know from experience Strava doesn’t tell you half the story and reality can be very different.

After a drive through the backroads of Yorkshire we parked up at the layby on Snake Pass that is by the Pennine Way. Luckily my mate was navigating or we may well have still been driving round now!

The weather was cool, no wind, with a sea of grey cloud adding to the sense of bleakness over the moors. This for me is perfect weather for running in as I don’t get too hot and it doesn’t sap my energy like the warm weather does.

Off we went on the Pennine Way at this point a line of slabs over the wet moorland so easy to follow and to run on. Our pace was good and I wasn’t having any problems with the running pack on my back and we made steady progress.
Soon we came to the short but steep climb up to the top of Kinder and here we stopped and began to try and find checkpoint 5. This wasn’t quite as easy as it sounds because on the map it says it’s a plane crash site but we couldn’t see any sign of a plane crash anywhere!

After looking at our maps (yes even I brought one!) we decided we were in the right area and we would be able to spot the checkpoint. Moving around the fence that keeps everybody off the top of Kinder and we soon found checkpoint 6. This reassured us that we were in the right area for checkpoint 5 as they are not far from each other.

We made our way back down to the Pennine Way and began the ascent up the short, steep, rocky climb to Kinder. At the moment I’m in good form on the ascents but shocking on the descents and today was more of the same. I powered (for me) up the climb and soon we were running round the edge of Kinder enjoying a beautiful autumn day with stunning views everywhere we looked.

Finding our last checkpoint proved harder though. Checkpoint 7 is a trig point on Kinder but there is more than one up there! So after one small wrong turn we decided to make up for it but taking a big wrong turn!

I had seen some rocks and for some reason we both thought it was a trig point even though we should both know better. We ran up to it and was disappointed to find it wasn’t what we were looking for. Then in the distance I saw what was a trig point and off we ran to that thinking it was the right one.

Looking at the map we seemed to be in the right place and choose to take what looked like a shortcut to Edale down a stream. After around half a mile we realised we were in the wrong area and seeing the Snake Pass and my car in the distance confirmed this. We had run to the other side of Kinder and we were off course.

This really hammered home the importance of recces to me and how easy it is to get lost in unfamiliar surroundings. Luckily for us it was a clear day and we knew roughly which direction we had to take to get back on route. In the middle of a race in rain or snow things could be very different and there is a very real risk of something serious happening…

After running through bogs, streams and over mounds of earth we eventually got back on track and after another mile we found our final checkpoint which wasn’t as far off the Pennine Way as we thought. Having found our final checkpoint I decided to turn round and head back as I could feel my energy levels dropping and my left foot was aching from running over the rocks.

This was the right decision. The Pennine Way here is just a load of rocks and it is mentally and physically challenging to pick out the fastest path and keep moving at a decent pace. At times you are jumping from rock to rock and if you’re not used to it, it drains your energy very quickly.

We made slow progress along the edge of Kinder and by the time I got to the steep descent off it I was spent. My mate went skipping down whilst I trudged down slowly as snails and sloths went casually past me with ease.

By the time, I reached the bottom I was aching everywhere and my left foot was now throbbing and painful to run on. I was determined to run to the end though and began the long run back to my car. The Pennine Way seemed a lot longer and steeper than hours ago, when we had gone the other way but tiredness does strange things to you…

Eventually we got back to my car and could rest. Even though it had been a long and tiring day it had been a very good one. We had found four of our seven checkpoints and I had once again pushed myself to my limits and beyond. This will help me when it comes to race day and I feel confident I can cope with the big climbs to come before and get to the checkpoints before the cut off times. Even though it will be a long day and it will be very tough I’m starting to look forward to race day.


After last Thursdays fourteen miler I’m feeling confident so decide to go for a run over the Calderdale Way Relay Leg 4, with runners from a local running club. Sunday morning comes round and I’m not feeling as confident.

Most of the runners who were going to run aren’t now because of the reputation of the guy leading the run as a hard and fast runner and it is bitterly cold with a layer of snow covering the high ground of Yorkshire.

My nerves aren’t helped when on arriving at the meeting point I am greeted by six runners who all look like they know what they are doing and I feel out of my depth and worry that I will be left behind in the middle of the moors somewhere!

We begin from Blackshaw Edge and immediately I am trailing behind the others. I am struggling badly on the downhills today which seem to be covered in either wet leaves or snow. Either way I’m not in a downhill mood today and this sets the theme for the rest of the run.

We go down and up some small climbs before we go through woods on narrow trails which connect the small villages around this area. We begin the big descent to the bottom of the valley and I am left behind struggling to get a decent pace going on the wet cobbles and leaves.

I get to the bottom and soon I am beginning the first major ascent a brutal climb of around 700ft to the top of the moors. On the climb I find some decent form at last and manage to keep the other runners in sight for a change!
At the top of the moors the landscape changes.

We go from paths covered in leaves and mud to a vast open expense of snow covered moorland. There is a trig point for us to aim for but the paths have disappeared under the snow and it is easy to take a wrong path as we find out a couple of times!

It is at once stunningly beautiful with a raw harshness and you know you could easily take a wrong turn or twist an ankle and nature would chew you up and leave you in no doubt who was in charge.

The only paths to follow are the occasional trail that pokes through the snow or the stream that run down to the valley below. After five minutes my feet have turned to blocks of ice. I have no feeling below my ankles, every step feels like I am running on bricks, jarring my shins and making it difficult to run. This is a new experience for me and one I may need to get used to.

Strange thoughts go through my mind, will I ever regain any feeling in my feet? Will they turn black? Will they fall off? Can I run 21 miles with this feeling in my feet if I need to?

This lack of feeling in my feet continues for around four miles. It’s a massive relief when we finally start to come off the moors and see green fields and know I will be warm again.

After another downhill on which I again struggle embarrassingly the final climb comes into view and I find my stride and manage to save some face.

All in all it’s been a very good days running with new running friends and a new route too. I’ve learnt a lot about myself, where I am strong and where I need to improve, but most of all despite struggling on the downhills and thinking my feet were going to drop off because they were so cold I’ve really enjoyed myself and hope to do it again soon.


Monday, 21 November 2016

Last Thursday I went for my longest run since the Yorkshireman Half a 14-mile run over Haworth and Stanbury Moors. I’ve decided to up my mileage now so that I have plenty of rest days and time to taper nearer the race.

I set off from Penistone Country Park on a typical November day, wet, cold, and windy perfect weather for training in! Setting off on the Withens Skyline route it was business as usual, mud, mud, and more mud! It’s a steep climb up to the top of the moors but you are rewarded with some stunning views before setting down the Pennine Way towards Walshaw Dean reservoirs.

The sky was dark grey and the atmosphere around the reservoirs bleak and foreboding. I felt as if I was the only person alive around here if not in the whole world! Places like this can be very scary sometimes! After finding a new hill to run up and down and then running around the reservoirs I saw a path splitting the hills at the top of the reservoirs and decided to take a chance and see where it went.

After about half a mile I found out. Going left I knew it would send me off course so I took a chance, went right and up a steep hill with no path and a lot of long grass to get through! At this point I wasn’t too sure where I was but sensed I was heading in the right direction to get home.

After ten minutes or so I began to see get near the top of the hill and saw some familiar views which was reassuring. As I crested the hill the Top Withens house came into view and while I still had a way to go to get to the Pennine Way I knew I wasn’t far away now.

Once on the Pennine way it was the well-trodden path back to Penistone Park. Arriving back at the park my Garmin told me I had done 12.5 miles so I decided to go the long way back to my car to make it up to 13.1 and get a nice half marathon distance in the bag for the day. I ended up doing 14 miles in the end so managed to get another mile in due to my ability to miscalculate distance!

It was a very good day training out on the moors. Some decent mileage in, plenty of running through mud and bogs and nice climbs too. Not every run will be like this, most will be a lot tougher but it’s always a good feeling to get a good training run under your belt.


body crying in pain
for this torture to stop
mind says no, go, go
through the searing
burning feeling deep
inside strong muscles
the finish line
is in sight and one
final lunge of the body
and you are over
the finishing line at last


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Went for a run round the block and tried some slow sprints on Old Guy Road. Nothing in the tank and didn’t enjoy it. Hard work today but you have to take the bad days to appreciate the good ones. Still I’ve got my first sprint session out of the way and I’m hoping they’ll get easier and faster in the future.

But every cloud has a silver lining. A friend texts me to say that whilst the run might not be fast my times for miles are quite consistent. This puts a different light on my run and I feel a lot happier about it now. I’ve got a nice little route to train on for speed and I’ve set myself a decent benchmark. This will be hard work but I can do it and get faster.