Fell Running – Try it, love it! 

So fell running,

I never hide the fact that I’m primarily a road runner but there is something about running up and down hills that drags me back with excitement and frustration in equal measures.

A ‘fell’ for people who are not from the north of England is a hill or mountain. Fell running is the sport of running up one or several fells and then straight back down at ankle breaking speeds!

Some  races are marked and have marshals, others a map and compass are needed to help you navigate various check points and most of them have a story to tell.

This weekend I took part in a little low key fell race named ‘Race you to the summitt’ The summit is the top of a fell you think…….. Wrong the summitt  is the name of a pub that serves as the start of the race! (most fell races start at or near a local pub) 
The story goes that two fellas was arguing one night in the Summit inn about who could run the fastest to the neighbouring Whitehouse inn.  After hearing the two men argue  for some time the landlord of the pub decided to make them put their money where their mouth was and set up the race.
Fast forward 51 years and it’s was my turn to trace those famous footsteps.  My decision to run was a last minute one after my friend Scott mentioned it on Facebook Friday evening . At only 4 miles the race is a perfect one for just having a go  without any real experience, it’s mainly on decent trails and not too hilly.

After a quick registration and handing over the grand total of £5 for my entry, we got ready for the off. 

As with most fell races it was more or less straight up straight away, I held back as I have a tendency to blow up on fast uphill starts, I Settled into a steady rhythm just  as we hit a farmers track and I managed to pick off a few places.

The half way point is the neighbouring pub the whitehouse and upon touching the side it was time for a fast downhill back to the start. The return leg brought an almighty headwind which at some points threatened to blow me over ( a chap ran round in an inflatable halloween costume! How I’ll never know!). 

I had a battle with a chap on the final downhill and just managed to pip him to the finish, something I was happy with as I usually lose my bottle on the descents for fear of breaking one of my sparrow ankles! 

After only having to wait for a couple of minutes for Scott we then took part in the best part of fell racing……… A pint and a chat with other runners in the pub!

Although I didn’t break the 30 minutes the original two lads ran 51 years, I was really impressed with this little gem and will be back next year! 

Double race weekends and finding some form 

Will I ever learn?
Once again I booked two races in a single weekend, the opener of our cross country season on Saturday and the Manchester half marathon on Sunday! I really do need filofax! 

After what seems like forever my legs are starting to feel strong again, I’ve had a persistent niggle in my left calf all summer which turns out to be caused by my glutes not firing correctly. After a few sessions with my sports therapist to get everything stretched and massaged I’ve been supplementing  my running with two gym sessions a week and touch wood it seems to be helping things along nicely! 

If you have read my other posts or know me personally you will know that I love XC, I think it is running in its absolute purest form. Mud, sweat, cold and mud! 

Last year I won my clubs XC trophy and I fully intend to defend my title as best as I can this season! 

Our first fixture is a very flat and fast course with no real mud or hills and last year I absolutely detonated with my first mile being 5.40 and my last 7.40 as you can imagine it wasn’t a pleasant 10k! This year however I decided to start further back and run completely to feel.

The first 5k ticked by fairly steady and apart from the unexpected Oct sunshine I felt good so pushed the final 5k a little more, overtaking several runners (maybe they had tried my pace management from last year!). I finished feeling like I had plenty left in the tank and most importantly I didn’t have any calf pain at all!

Race Two 

The alarm buzzed at 5am  I jumped out of bed quickly before my I woke my wife, slumped down the stairs and shoved the coffee machine on. 

I met my clubmates at 7am to travel up to Manchester together, as each stopped arrived more and more sleepy looking runners boarded the metrolink all with the same nervous expression we all have on race day morning! 

After much faffing and a couple of toilet stops we got underway. The course at the greater Manchester half is not the most picturesque but it is flat and fast and has plenty of pb potential. 

My goal of the race was to see where I fitness wise so I decided to go with the 90 minutes pacer from the off and see how it felt, I have been lacking long runs recently and as such I knew my endurance would of suffered. 

The miles began to tick off quicker than expected and pretty soon I had left the pacer behind, I thought as long as it continued I would push slightly from mile ten. 

Mile ten arrived and bar a blister forming on my toe I felt strong and began overtaking runners more and more (60 according to the race splits). The finish at the half is exactly the same as the full marathon and you can see it looming in the distance for about half a mile (although it’s feels like 5!). 

I crossed the line in 1.27.32 only 18 seconds slower than last year so maybe I haven’t lost as much endurance as first thought! Onwards and upwards! 

Race splits

Winter is Coming……….

No I haven’t turned into a Stark (they usually last about as long as a cheesecake in my fridge!). Im talking long dark nights ,wind ,rain,secret dog mess hiding under the autumn leaves,the usual treats we get for the next 7 months!

Dont be put off and resign to the fact that you have to use the dreadmill over winter a few simple tips can help you battle the winter and come spring be a bigger stronger faster Athlete!

 

  • Stay illuminated – Bold bright reflective clothing should be your staple wear for training during winter,even during the day ,if the clouds come in it can get dark pretty quickly.You can buy hi viz vests for a couple of quid from places like Ebay and amazon if you are strapped for cash and the local £ shop will always have clip on cycle lights for sale. Be bright Be seen (think 1990s raver).

 

  • Wear Layers– Just because its cold out you dont have to turn into Rocky Balboa running in full tracksuit,hat scarf and gloves. Once you start moving you will be surprised how fast you will warm up,most runs if its dry can be ran in a long sleeve top and shorts. I personally find a thin hat and gloves always keeps me toasty (i dont like cold hands!!).If the weather is really terrible invest in a decent waterproof jacket but try and brave shorts,wet leggings for miles on end is no ones idea of fun !

 

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A winter training session on my local moors.

 

  • Slow Down- Now i know this may sound a little contradictory but not every session has to be a race and if you are tearing down the street in the dark you may not see the potholes ,signposts or cars may not see you !

 

  • Run in a Group- Group running is fantastic for so many reasons not just in winter but i’ve added it here for two reasons 1. Safety in numbers,cars are more likely to see ten people in high viz than just one lonely runner and 2. you are much more likely to train if you have people waiting for you to get your arse outside!

 

  • Get offroad-  I dont hide my love for XC, i think getting off road and muddy is a great all over body  workout,plus getting off road is probably safer as you dont have to contend with traffic (make sure of course you are comfortable with your surroundings,run in a group if possible and let someone know where you are going!)

 

  • Embrace the Weather- Last but not least,embrace everything that winter can throw at you  wind,rain,snow and sheer bloody Arctic temperatures .Store them in your memory and when spring comes back around you will be bulletproof! mental toughness is a big player in this sport and if you can train in sideways rain in -2 there is no way you will quit that race when the sun is shining and the birds are tweeting!