Fell running on the Trans Pennine Trail

I wanted more out of this week than ‘just’ running, and I made this happen.  Monday was my easy day, a bit of a cycle commute to and from work, but with a twist….I went to the pool and swam a kilometre before getting a relieving sports massage for 40 minutes that I’d managed to get for a steal on Groupon with KTJ.  I did my usual cycle and run commutes (well only 2 run commutes) and managed to get to Bioticfit on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  Tuesday was supposed to be get started fit, which I thought would be perfect after my mileage on the weekend, but it certainly didn’t feel like getting started, got walloped as usual! And I went back for more on Wednesday night, this time trying out one of the newer venues at Crossford Bridge Park in Sale.  Lucky for Gillian Haworth that I turned up as it was just the two of us, so PT Kev put us through some serious paces, including bear crawls, scorpion walks, sprint drills and planks galore to name a few.  I was seriously shattered at the end of that!

My hubby and I had a great visit to Race kit, an ultra running gear shop in Matlock on Thursday, spending as mall fortune but all necessary for the Kalahari.  Andy was so informative and an absolute wealth of knowledge with great advice and recommendations.  we walked away with some great kit, Raidlight backpacks, X-Bionic tops (& shorts for hubby), head torches, sleeping bag liners, water bottles and sleeping mats.

The plan was then for us to run with our new running packs to Kidsgrove, stay the night & run back…..but the weather was shocking, chucking it down, and we backed out at the last minute.  Didn’t want to ruin our bags after all! Ended up with a bit of a naughty night at home, enjoying a few beverages too many.

This change of plan then meant I was in charge of a route on Saturday, so I had been wanting to test out the Trans Pennine Trail to Edale, so what better time than now.  Leaving Didsbury we headed off to Reddish Vale and joined the TPT from there, taking us up to Broadbottom and Charlesworth before cutting through the Peak District up on Kinder, down via Jacobs Ladder into Edale.  633m climb along the way amongst others, along with varied terrain of sand, rocks, slate rocks, mud, boulders and grass made for a tough yet rewarding run.  The views were spectacular and we had an awesome day out.  We made it to Edale 2mins before the next train to Manchester so that was perfect timing.  We made the mileage up to 34 by running the last 5 miles home, as it was only 29 to Edale.  That was tough to get running again after 40 mins on the train, but all good training in the bank of pain!  A tasty treat of fish & chips finished off a great day out.

18 miles in with Manchester city in the background

18 miles in with Manchester city in the background

Is it a bird, a plane.....no it's me taking off at Kinder.

Is it a bird, a plane…..no it’s me taking off at Kinder.

Dion heading down Jacob's Ladder, absolute murder on the knees

Dion heading down Jacob’s Ladder, absolute murder on the knees

Taking a load off in the Giants chair just before Edale.

Taking a load off in the Giants chair just before Edale.

A ‘recovery’ ride on Sunday of 55 miles out to Warrington finished off a massive week of training, resulting in Sunday evening sat with my feet up on the couch in my compression gear!


Compressport sorting out my tired muscles


Longest Day Run

I’d signed up for the Longest Day Run months ago without really thinking about it, and after roping in a pal, Jen, to join me, we decided to go for about 40-50 miles.  She’d never run more than a marathon, and me not further than 34 miles, so it was going to be a test for both of us.  We’d also never run together, but knew that we had a 5 minute difference in marathon finishing times so couldn’t be that much different.

The week of the run had arrived and I didn’t even feel nervous, even went out for 2 run commutes and a sprint session on Monday night, which very nearly put an end to things as I pulled my right calf when pushing off for a sprint.  Spent some time icing that and I was blessed to receive a call from G4Physio asking me to come & have a 1/2 hr massage for free, they had a new therapist that they wanted me to try and give some feedback on, Oh yes please!  Wouldn’t say no to that offer, and boy did Sarah do a great job, she sorted out my calf and then some!


Looking pretty pleased with my delivery!

I didn’t even really carb up like I would before a marathon, normally starting 3 days before; I did have pasta for both lunch & dinner on Friday and increased my hydration on Friday.  Made all the more easier by a fantastic delivery from Vita Coco full of hydrating coconut goodness.

Saturday morning was D-Day, and I got up to enjoy my first taste of Mountain House Europe freeze dried scrambled egg with ham & potato.  See my review here.  Off for an early train to Kidsgrove where I was to meet Jen for the start of our adventure.  The weather forecast wasn’t looking promising so that meant ensuring I had some back up gear packed as well, I took a punt thinking it wouldn’t get too cold, and took a pair of gloves, buff, long sleeved tech tee and my spray jacket.  All of which thankfully I didn’t need, I did put the long sleeved tee on for the bus trip back home though, more to hide my stink than anything 🙂

I think the lack of nerves was down to the fact that it wasn’t really a race, just a challenge, so there was no pressure.  We met and hit the canal path at 8.30am.

We ran from Kidsgrove along the Macclesfield canal, taking us through Congleton, Macclesfield, High Lane through to Marple which was at about 27 miles.  We had a short rain shower along the way, but apart from that one we had pretty good weather the entire way.  My goal of today was to work on my long distance nutrition too, and to make sure that I ate something every 5 miles as this is one of my weak spots, I tend to stop eating after about 15 miles and then start to suffer after 25 when the fuel tank is empty!  I had a variety of food for the trek, with a mixture of Clif double espresso gel, 9 Bar, Salted pretzels, Salami stick & pork crackling; all of which worked really well.  I find I like the sweet options for the first few feeds, but then have a craving for salty, savoury items.  This was my first try of pork crackling along the way and this worked a treat.  I hydrated with my camelbak filled with Nuun Kola flavour and this worked really well up until about 35 miles, when I started craving plain water.  This will be solved when I get my pack for Kalahari as it will have 2 water bottles on the front, so I can have one with Nuun and one without, so I still get my electrolytes and some flavour but can mix it up depending on what I feel like.

Aqueduct Viaduct

That’s the viaduct, & the aqueduct is beside me – Thanks Jen for the lesson!

We stopped in Marple and met up with my Mother in Law and her partner for a well deserved cup of hot, sweet tea and some crumpets for me, and Bakewell tart for Jen.  After a half hour rest, sufficiently refuelled and seizing up, we made a comic departure with our stiff bodies struggling to find the momentum again and got onto the Peak Forest Canal.  Out momentum did come back after about a mile and we carried on running & chatting, with a few more stops to stretch out our tired muscles.

At about 36 miles we were onto our 3rd and final canal, the Ashton canal, one I know well as I run this as part of my run to work, so it was nice to see familiar signs.  We pushed onto Manchester and made it to Piccadilly Station spot on 43 miles in 7h39mins.  Elated & exhausted we hugged each other, causing a spectacle of people wondering what on earth we had just done.

We made our separate ways home, and I ‘treated’ myself to an ice bath before my hot shower.  OMG!  Try getting your tired body into a bath full of cold water without screaming, I couldn’t, I wonder what the neighbours thought!  My cat was in a panic, worried because I was shrieking so much!  After about 5 mins all was good and I settled in for a soak.  It definitely works for me followed by sleeping in my compression tights; my muscles the day after felt pretty good, I was taking stairs as normal and wasn’t overly sore.

A total of 61 miles for the week!  Unbelievable, epic achievement.  I am really pleased with how my training is progressing and I am becoming stronger and able to endure more every time.  It is great to see the progress happening.  As one of my colleagues put it; “Your long runs are like our nights out on the razz, you get all pumped up, go out & run, then recover!”.  I think that’s the perfect way to describe it!


From the start gazing thoughtfully at each other at Kidsgrove to Manchester Piccadilly station – 43 miles!

36 miles in 24 hours & I become ‘Bug of the Month’

The plans were set, so even without ideal preparations (a weekend of bad food, booze & late nights), the plan was executed; mostly.

The hubster and I parked up at New Mills and joined the Macclesfield Canal and ran 26 miles to Kidsgrove on Monday.  It was a good run, the sun was out, it was pretty warm (by our standards) and it was great to get this training run ticked off & test out this route.  The canal path itself was harder than we both expected, very hard rocky surface which caused the knees to suffer along the way but we persevered.  Again I suffered with the inability to eat after 15 miles.  I was doing quite well up to 15, I ate salted peanuts at Mile 5, had a salami stick at mile 10 and then had half a chocloate Clif Builders bar at mile 15, but by 20 I had my usual nauseous feeling and didn’t take any more food on; much to my detriment.  Maybe it was my hydration……I normally drink Nuun http://www.nuun.co.uk/ along the way which has always worked for me but thought I would try Elete water http://new.eletewater.com/ on this run as I had been hearing a bit about it, but it just didn’t taste as good or feel that it was giving me the same hydration kick as Nuun.  So my apologies to Nuun for even considering another product, I’m back with a vengeance, my bulk order has been placed!  Image

We arrrived at Kidsgrove and it was still 3 miles to Alsager where we had a room booked for the night at the Best Western, absolutely knackered we jumped on the train for the last 3 miles with a Mars milk in hand.  Great recovery drink!  Even when I’m feeling nauseous this manages to settle my stomach and refuel me wonderfully.  The hotel was great, always a bit hit & miss with Best Westerns, but this one is great, odd location as there isn’t much out there, but we were only there to be fed & sleep.  Food in the Stables Bar was perfect, we both had the steak, egg & chips and the meal was so substantial there was no need at all for dessert.  We will definitely  be using this route again with this hotel, the good thing is there is a pool & sauna there too which could be quite handy.

The original plan was to run the 26 miles back, but considering we both needed to be at work this was not really practical, so we caught the early train back to Macclesfield and ran the 10 miles back to New Mills, got home, showered and worked a full day.  So not a bad effort at all.  Legs felt surprisingly good after sleeping in compression kit and we managed 9:30min/miles for the 10 miles.

No rest for the wicked though.  Back on the bike on Wednesday for the cycle commute to and from work and even got to Bioticfit for a tough session of Military fit that evening.  Still feeling my abs on Sunday after monstrous V-sits!  A short 7 mile run on Thursday, followed by a day of rest on Friday left me feeling fresh for a ride on Saturday.  Took the mountain bike out and explored the Trans Pennine Trail from Reddish Vale to Longdendale.  I would have liked to go further but was running out of time, so it was a nice 32 mile loop along some lovely tracks & found a new route to get home when I am doing my long run home from work as well, so that was a bonus.  Always nice to get out on the bike to take the weight off the legs a bit too.  It was quite a warm day so I kept hydrated with my camelbak filled with Nuun & a tasty flapjack on route to keep fuelled.Image

Finished off the week with a double run commute, so a tidy 14 miles, to take my weekly running mileage to 57.  Pretty pleased with that!  I stopped via Asda on my way to work and found that they stock Milo, as my husband would say ‘Oh Yes Please’, I bought a tin of that, perfect recovery drink for me, just need to stay out of the tin for extra helpings of course!

You are probably wondering what ‘bug of the month’ is…… There’s a great website, called Running Bug where there are loads of tips, competitions, log your miles & forums for runners from all walks of life.  Take a look at the link and get involved.  It was great to be selected as bug of the month & I really enjoyed chatting to James at The Running Bug to tell my story. http://therunningbug.co.uk/rbblogs/follow-the-running-bug/b/weblog/archive/2013/06/14/bug-of-the-month-lucja-leonard.aspx




Just about getting the miles in

My training plan had me down to do 52 miles running this week, didn’t seem likely to happen considering I was having a forced 3 days off Friday-Sunday as I had my cousin visiting from Holland to go to the Bon Jovi concert, so not much chance of fitting in any exercise so I was pretty pleased overall to get up to 48 miles for the week.
It was a pretty quiet week as far as training was concerned, it really was just about ticking off the miles and not much else. Utilised my runs to work to get in the miles, making Wednesday a long run home of 22 miles. I took the route from the hotel where I work, up Ashton Canal via Stalybridge and back home via Stockport. This takes in Old Mottram Road, which is an evil 2 mile hill! Pleased to say I ran the entire hill, slow to be sure, but I did not stop! Last time I used the excuse of checking the map to make sure I was still going the right way to get a breather in! Running back down the otherside I relaxed and tried out some on the run food, pretzels. These seem to be a winner for me as I really don’t enjoy eating on my runs as my stomach goes raw and I completely lose my appetite. I know I have to get better at this eating business if I am going to survive the Kalahari. Hubby was pleased to hear from me that I don’t not eat due to ‘watching my calorie intake’ as really this does not bother me, it is purely a taste thing. But the pretzels are a winner, nice high salt content, and a fairly neutral flavour that doesn’t upset my stomach. I was getting some funny looks from the commuters coming past me though, probably wondering ‘what is she doing munching on crisps when she’s supposed to be running’. If only they knew!
I managed to get through 2 days of rest, but by Sunday I had itchy feet and managed to squeeze in a little 4 miler of ‘naked’ running – no garmin, no ipod – just pure freedom! It felt good!
So after a bit of a last hoorah of bad food (entertaining is to blame!) it is back to training along with healthier eating.

From the hills of the C2C to the hills of Wincle!

My running mileage had to drop back a gear the last 2 weeks as I was so busy with doing the C2C, and of course still having to work full-time as well, so I was quite suprised to tally up to find that I still managed to get in 34 & 37 miles respectively each week of running, along with the 137 miles from Whitehaven to Tynemouth on the bike.
I have done the C2C once before (3 years ago on the same bank holiday weekend) but that was in terrible conditions and with a hybrid bike. What a difference a weekend of beautiful weather and a great Specialised Secteur bike make! What a team as well, cycling with hubby and friends Harry & David, with Rebecca being our driver for car support, which thankfully we didn’t need, but nice to have someone take the bags from one B&B to another and of course cheer us on along the way. Only one accident (me whilst stationary of course resulting in a grazed knee) and only one puncture, so a fantastic effort. It is a great weekend, we did it over 3 days which is just nice, you could do it over 2 but that would be tough. It is not a challenge to be taken lightly, some of those hills are absolute beasts, and with bad weather could be absolutely horrible (as I know all too well) but definitely should be on the bucket list for many of us!
Legs were feeling a bit tired all week recovering from that, however I attempted a 20 mile run on Wednesday morning, failing to reach the target and only making 17 miles. I could have finished if I’d had to, but I also had to work a late shift at work, so thought better of it! Was still great though to be out along the river in the sunshine, but you sometimes have runs that just don’t go as planned, but in the scheme of things that’s all alright!
Finished off the week with a highlight of my running calender, the annual Wincle Trout Run, which is a great 9km fell run through Danebridge trout farm in Wincle, near Macclesfield. It is a short run by my standards, but what a toughie! Lung busting fell climbs, muddy patches, creeks and half a dozen stiles to climb over make for a very tough run indeed. The reward – a fresh trout! No t-shirt or medal here. There is also a great little fete in the village, with hundreds turning up to partake in cake eating, Pimms drinking, burger eating along with dancing, dog show, plate smashing and many more family fun activities. I took the Mother in Law along who is over from Australia, and she described it as something she has only ever seen in the movies! She didn’t think these sorts of things actually existed, but they do! I also had a new friend join me for the run, and for her first ever fell run, boy did Niamh do well.
So the training is fairly well on track, hoping to get a couple of big runs in this coming week, but with Hubby suffering from the flu, not sure if this will proceed as planned but we shall see!