Friday, 21 October 2011


Wednesday found me running on the road. Just a short 5km up to Hurst Reservoir at the far end of the golf course and a loop around the estate. Blimey it was chilly. The cold air was bitterly cold, it felt heavy on my lungs. I was regretting not taking my inhaler out with me as I struggled to get any sort of rhythm to my breathing. I was glad I'd only planned a short run, otherwise I would have needed to cut it short. A distraction on the way home saw 8 Canadian geese circling low over the golf course, always a delight to see. I know they head up to the reservoir at night time, perhaps these were heading that way to get some shut eye. I managed the 5km in just under 30 minutes, so my pace is keeping a steady 6min/km. I'm happy with that.

Today found me by water for the second time this week. Venue for today was Ladybower reservoir and I had a running partner, my oldest and dearest friend. We're aiming to meet up once a fortnight and run together - push each other and get some improvement in speed and distance. There was even mention of finding a fell race to do together in a few months. I'd say I'm a little faster than she is, but her ability to run for a longer time means I'm building up stamina I might not get when I run alone. We ran from Ashopton Bridge, up to Fairholmes and back down the far side - a distance of 9.2km. Our time was 58:16, averaged at 6:20min/km. For me that distance, in that time, is a minor achievement and running the whole way round feels very satisfying. It just shows that running with someone else motivates me, pushes me and gives me that determination not to stop when I know I would on solo runs.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


Last night I was undecided whether to run then or this morning. I opted to run today and have a relatively lazy evening - though not a lazy day having been down at the gym for one of my twice weekly beastings. I shall write more on my gym progression soon.

This morning dawned, and I slept in. I just could not rouse myself to get out of bed early and do anything, let alone run. I have felt a bit off it the past few weeks - seeming to have a cold but it not developing into one properly. I've got a constant runny nose and just, well, don't feel 100%. So if I do sleep in I don't feel bad about it. If the body needs rest, it shall have it. After being up for an hour or so I set a time limit. I would run at 10am no matter how I felt. If I left it any later then I risked just watching the day go past doing research and other work related 'stuff'.

10am arrived and I got changed, ummed and arrred about what layers of clothes to wear and set off. I was road running, but didn't have a goal or objective as such. That's how most of my runs seem to be. I vaguely thought I'd like to be out for 45 minutes. Any more would be a bonus. The distance didn't matter. I headed out through the estate, making my first goal Old Glossop. If I could reach the bus turning circle and back that would be about 5km - a good enough run on the roads. I kept a nice pace up, under 6min/km - that's my usual 'good' pace - faster downhill, slower up. It evens out and over 30 minutes brings me to about 5km.

I forgot all about distance as I headed towards the swimming pool. I'd thought I might turn south, work my way through the streets and back home via Derbyshire Level...but then I turned North...up North Road. Now the challenge is to see if I can run all the way up to Cemetary Road. I'm battling with a road sweeper...he's gradually pulling away from me but then the road is fairly steep. Distance-wise I'm up for around 8km if I just loop back and go home via Woodhead Road. Sadly, but not surprisingly I don't run all the way up North Road...but my average pace with just a couple of really short walks stays under 7min/km. That'll do nicely. Even nicer, I catch the road sweeper up and overtake it. OK, it had to back up and re-do some of its work, but mentally it was good for me and spurred me on to keep the pace up to the top.

Reaching the top the weather is now quite fowl. Hard drizzle coming down in big sheets of wetness. Weirdly I don't feel all that damp, and not at all cold. I'm now heading gradually downhill, turn right and then left back towards Old Glossop. I choose to go past the scout hut, up and round to the bus turning circle...and feel a little sad I don't have fell shoes on - would have been nice to go up to Mossy Lea. No worries. I'm now about 7.5km done and around 45mins...hmmm. By rough calculations I've got about 1.5km if I go straight home...a little further and I could get to 10km...and if I keep up the pace I'll be around 1 hour. My magic target time.

Through the park and the plethora of dogs...what seemed like some sort of dog walking convention going on - actually lots of owners sheltering under trees. I can hear the rumble of the river - it's very swollen, likely burst its banks with the week's worth of rain that's been lashing down. And it is...torrents are flooding through the narrow section by the foot bridge.

Instead of turning left I go right and add a loop round the duck pond. The 10km distance is getting closer and I'm sustaining a decent pace - under 6min/km. I'm almost regretful the run is coming to an end soon but after 8.5km my legs are feeling it, but not protesting angrily. I push myself around a crescent that adds some distance on. Mentally running past home to reach a target just feels weird. The last push, the last 250m are up an incline. You can't call it a hill, but it is most definitely gaining elevation (on checking the stats there's only 17m elevation gain in the last km, but it feels worse!).

Before I know it I'm home. I think there was even a spurt eluding to a sprint at the very end as I tried to get my time under 58 minutes. Not to be. But I'm very proud of my 58:07. 57:38 is actual moving time...the stops must have been for roads but I count total time. Next time. My HR has stayed steady for most of the run, averaging around 169bpm, and average pace is 5:48min/km. I must be getting faster. Lovely. An aimless run with a great result.

Sunday, 9 October 2011


I headed out onto Kinder on Friday with Tim...first run with him of any distance for quite a while and I was looking forward to it. The weather on Thursday was horrendous, thunder, hail, lightening, even reports of snow in places! Friday was better, still blustery and low cloud clinging to the top of Kinder and Bleaklow so I opted for ron hills, icebreaker long sleeved and gilet to keep the wind off me. The route was just short of 11km, pretty much uphill the whole way to the turning point, then back the same a nice downhill stretch for 5km. I found I was able to keep up a fairly steady pace on the way out, running the uphill bits without getting too much out of breath once the lungs had settled down from their initial shock of being used. we just had one steep push to get up onto Kinder which required walking, but having seen a fell race go up this way I know that most people walk it anyway. On the way down I turned my attention to making my brain stop working, something I hear fell runners saying about down hill technique - brain off, brakes off. It's not all that easy for me, but I'm practicing and allowing gravity to take hold a little more on each run. The one thing that is annoying is that I could probably let go a little more, but with the wind in my eyes and tears streaming down my face it could be quite dangerous...having to blink lots and constantly wipe my eyes takes momentary focus off the foot placement, or at least monitoring what ground is coming up. It wasn't really a day for sunglasses, though knowing they might help I wonder if running in clear or yellow glasses should be considered. Before I knew it we're back at the car...I'm slightly disappointed the run is over so quickly. It didn't feel like 1.5hrs of running but I'm determined to continue the slow build up of distance over time, rather than rushing a longer run and breaking myself. One thing I have learnt from the run is that I shall do my best to avoid running on paved paths from now on. They are not pleasant. Not at all. Wrong spacing of paving blocks, lumpy bits, slippery and no option other than to run on them in places since I do respect the reason for them being there, i.e. conservation. Best to plan them out of runs in future where possible.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Blustery Bogs

I was enlisted by a friend who's just moved to Glossop to show her a few local footpaths, help her get her bearings on the hills she can see from her garden, and perhaps a little instruction in map reading as its something she's not really done before. So, we met at 8am this morning and sat on a stone mulling over the map, looking at features and generally taking in the route we had planned - a circular walk you can see most of from her house.

Our first target is Cock Hill. No issues reaching this, just the noticeable chill to the wind which we've not had lately. There were several stops to point out features we were passing, what was coming up and what to expect from the terrain as we progressed. By the time we'd reached Glossop Low and over to Clough Edge I needed to put on my spare fleece, and was vaguely regretting not bringing more warm clothes. My friend openly admits to being a slow walker - and with the slow pace and frequent stops I was feeling the chill. Not too bad, but definitely noticeable.

From Glossop Low we headed east-ish towards Torside Castle, and turned south at the grouse butts, using them as a navigational aid to reach Dog Rock.  I was delighted the peat was fairly dry, enjoying testing my lightfootedness over the boggier parts of the path. With experience you can pretty much tell which bogs are going to be man-eaters and which will support your weight. I think my friend thought me mad constantly choosing to bash across the bogs while she avoided them. I guess I've just got used to them over the past six months. I was also in my INOV8 Roclites...enjoying not being in walking boots and perfectly comfortable over the 12km walk.

At Dog Rock the wind had really picked up, no time to sit and enjoy the view or the glorious sunshine fighting its way though the blustery clouds. A shame, it would have been nice to stop and review the map, pointing out the names of hills and cloughs but not to be today. A steady pace was set heading downwards, I was keen to be out of the wind. Soon gaining the Mossy Lea path we were almost back in Old Glossop and had been out on the hill about 3 much slower than I'm used to, but most enjoyable. Waving my friend goodbye we separated just before the bus turning circle and I did a quick jog over Shire Hill to get some warmth flowing. Home and a hot coffee sorted me out lovely.

Sunday, 2 October 2011


What a glorious morning it was yesterday....and today. We're having a blast of hot weather, unusual for October in England, and I'm enjoying the need to get out in the dawn hour before it gets too hot and humid to move. The early morning freshness is so invigorating, it makes you feel alive. And seeing the sunrise is always magical for me.

I've now run 3 days in a row. Up until now I've been doing 2 runs a week max, so 3 in 3 days is something unusual for me. Friday's run was an off-road excursion with a friend, doing about 8.5km in 1hr 15mins. No world records there, or personal best. But it's the first time we've run together for years, and the first decent catch up in months so it was easy to walk the uphill sections and chat away enjoying the easy path up to Shelf Benches.

I got the urge to run again yesterday, just an easy road run to get my legs moving and an attempt to keep a steady pace for 5km. Total time was 28:58 with an average of 5:47/km. Splits were 5:31, 5:57, 5:34, 5:54, 5:58. I'm happy with that. I had set off just about 7am, and as I looped back towards home I was greeted by about 40 canadian geese doing a few low passes over Shirebrook. Just magical how they fly and you can hear their wings beating.

I went to a concert last night, a fundraiser for Glossop Mountain Rescue Team, and bumped into a friend who's been trying to get me out running with her. I'm convinced she runs faster and too far for me so tend to pass on the invitations, not wanting to hold her back. Now, I'm not sure what came over me but I asked her if she was running this morning - I think she sometimes does on Sundays, but at about 10am. Knowing it was going to be a humid and hot day again I would only be going out in the dawn hours. To my surprise she agreed to head into the hills, leaving me to choose the route.

We met at 6.45am, just as it's not quite dark, just turning light. Heading along Derbyshire Level we turned left and up to the shooting cabin on Chunal Moor. I was surprising myself, running more of the uphill than I ever would do when I run alone. I even managed to run most of the path up to the cabin, after you've gone through the kissing gate. The sunrise was amazing - brilliant orange streaks in the sky, reflecting like neon strips on the clouds.

After heading up the path behind the cabin for a short while we took a heather bashing route and cut across towards Harry Hut - not much running on this bit, and a slight scratch on my shin from the heather. Oh, I should mention that we were running with Brae, a wonderfully trained collie. Even with sheep in the field or on the moor he has no need for a lead - just a few words and he's holding back, resisting his natural instinct to round all the sheep up! It's the second time I've run with him and he certainly helps to distract you when the hills are getting steeper.

We pick up a trod, then the path up to Harry Hut trig point. It's boggy under foot in places, but not squelchy boggy....just springy bog. Nice and easy going, easy pace, up to the trig. A brief pause to turn and look behind, admiring my back garden, then we're off down towards Wormstones. We pick up a trod to the left of where I've run before, and it proves to be a better one for running on - less stones and ruts.  That's the joy of running with someone else - you always learn a new variation on a route, even if you know the area well.

We're into our downhill stride now. I'm concentrating hard to keep up...she's running a little faster than I would normally but it's great for me to see what pace someone else runs at and do my best to keep up. I'm doing well, stride for stride...not too close but enough to watch what line she's taking. Then *bang* she's on the floor, ankle went under. And then *bang* I've done the same in my attempt to break and not run straight into her!!! I can feel pain in my ankle but sense it's not as bad as hers....but it's enough to make me sit down pretty damn quick. We look at each other and laugh....synchronised ankle sport for the hills?!

After circling ankles and rubbing them for a few moments we attempt a few tentative steps. Mine feels ok, she says hers does too. So, before you know it we're off down the hill once more...though this time the pace is a little slower and foot placement perhaps just that little bit more cautious. Down at Gnat Hole I'm taken a new route through the woods and up to Hague Street, then over a few fields I'd not yet run and down the rocky overgrown path back towards home.

Lessons learned from today's run. 1) I can run 3 days in a row and feel good; 2) I need to push myself harder as I can run up hills (perhaps I need to run with other people more often); 3) always take your phone - had my ankle turned more severely it would have been a lonely crawl back home - we were a mere 1.5 kilometres away from the nearest house but it would have turned a very pleasant run into something quite different.

Today's weather turned grey. I made the effort to get up early and I'm so glad. I had the best of the day, running in the hills and seeing a glorious sunrise.