Sunday, 26 January 2014

Reasons to be fearful. Reasons to be cheerful.

A week of ups and downs that has been dominated by an injury to my foot which started off a couple of weeks ago as what I thought was bruising. I dismissed it as just a 'knock' and carried on training. After a long rough run last Sunday it was quite sore so I had my usual rest day on Monday. A combination of Charleston dancing (don't ask!) and a hard, rocky club run on Tuesday left me hobbling and in some pain on Wednesday. It was that sore I thought it was a stress fracture which I knew would mean 6 - 8 weeks out and seriously put the Munro round in jeopardy. Needless to say I was very nervous as I waited to get it x-rayed in A and E. An excellent doctor saw me and diagnosed it straight away as metatarsalgia - inflammation of the foot joint. So not fractured, but no running for 2 or 3 weeks. Not great, but not the end of the world. Training this week has been on the bike with a bit of pilates and a swim thrown in. Quite nice for a change actually. I'll give it another whole week of no running this coming week then see how it is after that.

M: Rest
T: Club run 1 hr 45 mins
W: Rest
T: 1 hr bike + 30 mins pilates
F: 1 hr 15 mins bike
S: 2 hr 30 mins bike + 30 mins pilates
S: 2 hrs bike + 30 mins swim

Totals:     Run 1 hr 45       Bike 6 hr 30          Pilates 1 hr         Swim 30 mins

The up side of this week has been the support I've received from Wheelbase Cycles and The Climbers' Shop. Toby at Wheelbase has very kindly offered to service my bikes before I set off to make sure they're running well. I've bought all my bikes in the past ten years and plenty of other kit from their shop and would recommend it to anyone.

I had not met Nick, the manager of The Climbers Shop, before today, but found him to be friendly and enthusiastic, with a wealth of knowledge and experience of gear and ultra running. He gave me a few useful tips on eating on such long days on the move and purifying water with iodine tabs which I've never used before. The shop will hopefully be able to help me get some of the kit I need for the trip at a reduced rate. Again, I think you would struggle to find a better all round technical mountain gear shop anywhere!

Getting support in this way has helped to keep the costs down a little bit and is hugely appreciated. The next big spend will be on the motorhome which we need to get within the next couple of weeks ideally before a trip away in it over half term. Anyone selling one?!

12 weeks to go

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Getting out of the door

Usually at this time of year I'm not in great shape due to a November and December break from running but am raring to go for the year ahead. There are often a couple of races in April/May time to get me focussed and I always enjoy training, particularly the hard sessions like club nights and hill reps. I love the transition to fitness probably more than actually being fit.

This year it is a little bit different as my target isn't a race and doesn't require me to have any speed in my legs (which is something I never have anyway, as anyone who's ever ran next to me on the flat will tell you - pathetic!) As my end goal is likely to require a much more leisurely pace, mostly purposeful walking with a bit of trotting on the flats and downs, the training needs to reflect this. Putting it like that makes it sound a bit of a doddle until you look at the size of the days. I would say an easier day will be 6 or 7 hours on the go and the harder ones getting towards 10, maybe more.

Simple then, plenty of hourage required with not really much need for any faster runs. I am certainly doing 2 or 3 more hours than I usually would in January. I did think I'd enjoy not having the pressure of thinking about hard sessions and easy days, but actually I'm really missing it! Every run recently has been the same pace and I've been yearning for a bit of variety.

This coupled with the weather this week has made it all a bit of an effort to stay motivated. Usually training is something I look forward to and I bounce out of the door, but not this week. Every run and ride has been in the rain and the majority in the dark. A few of them mid-week I could easily have binned but that's not an option. Everyone knows that those first steps out of the door are the hardest and I'm chuffed to have got my miles in despite the low motivation.

Today's run was the perfect antidote. Three and a half hours around Langdale, Scafell Pike and Great Moss (my favourite part of the Lakes) in the clag and snow without seeing a soul, and I'm reminded of what I love about running in the mountains.

On top of the world - well England!

Great Moss from Cam Spout

The top of the Band 

So thats one 3000 footer this year - 282 to go. This week:

M: Rest
T: 1 hour 30 mins Club run Loghrigg and Wansfell
W: 50 mins Sout Scar
T: 45 mins Scout Scar
F: 45 mins Scout Scar
S: 2 hours road bike
S: 3 hour 30 mins  Scafell Pike loop from Langdale

Total:      run 7 hours  8000ft ascent          bike 2 hrs

13 weeks to go

Fingers crossed for good weather next weekend as I'm pacing on a BG leg.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Full steam ahead

When people find out about my Munro round plans the most asked question has been a rather practical 'How did you get the time off work?'. The answer is that I am lucky enough to work in a school with a brilliant Head teacher and governors who have agreed to me having half a term's leave unpaid. I would like to think they see the long view and appreciate that I will be a better person, and therefore better teacher, if they give me their support by giving me this time 'off'.

People's response beyond this depends largely whether or not they like doing the things that I do in their spare time. Runners and outdoor people are generally a mix of jealous and (dare I say it) impressed. I keep having to remind them that I haven't done anything yet! But even that's not strictly true. I've spent many hundreds of hours thinking about it on runs over the past fifteen years. Indeed one of the main reasons I love running is the head space and thinking time it gives me. I can set out on a run with all sorts on my mind but can straighten most things out by the time I get back; it puts things into perspective and makes day to day concerns fade away. Some people find it boring, I've just never  understood that!

Since I first set the date a year and a half ago, getting things sorted has come in fits and bursts. But there's no doubt about it, it's full steam ahead from this point. Maybe my biggest worry is balancing work, family, training and planning over the coming months. It hasn't really happened yet, but I know there will be stressful times ahead. While watching a favourite film of mine 'Into the Wild' this week I was reminded of one of the main reasons I'm doing it.

For those of you that don't know the book or the film, it is the true story of Chris McCandless who shunned his privileged middle class lifestyle, burned and gave away his sizeable trustfund and lived off the land, travelling the USA and living a life free of many of the trappings of life that he felt stifle the human spirit. His last great adventure was to live off the land in the Alaskan wilderness. I won't spoil it for you by telling you the rest, but he had this to say:

The core of man's spirit comes from new experiences

What he did makes my efforts look paltry, but there is a small bit of that spirit driving me to have this adventure of my own.

Training has gone well this week and I managed my target hourage. It looked like this:

M: Rest
T: 1 hour 30   Loughrigg and Wansfell
W: 1 hour   Scout Scar home from work
T: 50 mins   Scout Scar to work
F: 50 mins   Scout Scar 
S: 2 hours rd bike Langdale
S: 3 hr 20 big run from Kentmere

Total  Run: 7 hours    9000 feet of ascent          Bike: 2 hours                  Pilates: 30 mins

Still not 'flying fit' but getting the milage in so I know its coming. Pleased to get out on the bike for the first time in a while as well. Really need to increase the stretching and core work now to help me stay injury free as the milage increases.

14 weeks to go

'The lads' on Kidsty Pike today

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Taking shape

2014....what will it bring? Well I hope it brings me a successful Munro round! This week has taken me a few small steps closer to realising that dream. Although I did manage my target of 7 hrs running last week, the main focus of my efforts has been getting people on board and keen to support. I have plenty of friends who are runners and have been blown away by how keen some of them are to be involved. It's a big ask to trek all the way up to the north of Scotland; it certainly makes supporting a BG leg look like small fry. Add in the fact that the age I am, most of my friends have young kids so it won't be easy for them to get away from their busy family lives. Nonetheless quite a few have committed already and I'm sure others will in time. My plan really is to get as much support as I can on the hills. I don't mind being on my own but I'd rather be out there with people, having a craic as the hills fly by (that's how it is when I imagine it anyway!) If you are reading this and fancy a few days out on the hills this April and May contact me and it would be great to have you along (whether you know me or not).
danmunro 2014 at gmail dot com

Another concern of mine has been the kayaking, particularly day 1 which involves 2 crossings on the same day - Sound of Mull and the Corran narrows. Very kindy, Tony from Sea Freedom Kayak based in Oban has offered to see me across both sections. I'm not a kayaker by any stretch of the imagination so this is great news as having expert help sorted so quickly will help put my mind at ease. Ominously he has advised me to practise in advance 'when it's choppy'! You can support their business here

As well as getting help sorted, I have also done more work on the route. I have known the order of the hills for a while now but have finally got round to plotting the route on 1:50000 maps this week. As a self confessed map geek I can't claim that this is onerous; quite the opposite! Pure pleasure. However it has given me a real taste of what lies in store. Some of the days are HUGE and none are soft. Whether I can stick to the schedule I have set remains to be seen and I guess there's only one way to find out. Gulp.

Days 1 -5

Like I said the training has gone OK. I've still a long way to go to get to peak fitness but then I've got a lot of time to do it. Don't want to peak too early! This week was:

M: Rest
T: Rest
W: 1 hr 20 round Wansfell
T: 2 hr 20 Fairfield horseshoe plus a bit
F: 1 hr Potter Tarn loop
S: 1 hr Scout Scar
S: 1hr 40 Loughrigg Silverhow

Total 7 hrs running    9000 feet of ascent

None of it terribly fast. I'll try to up it a bit next week although being back at work will make everything that bit harder, as it does.

15 weeks to go

Fairfield summit on Thursday