Double Trouble – Back to back long runs

It had been a fairly strong week already, a session of Bikram yoga to start the week and 29 miles already with the Friday (17th Jan) as a rest day, but I was ready for my planned back to back long run.  The plan was to get going on Saturday morning about 9am, run to East Linton following the John Muir Way, stay the night at The Linton Hotel, and then run back on Sunday.

And the plan went like clockwork, except the weather!  Waking up to a fairly crisp morning with some ominous cloud around promising rain, I got given a half hour head start by the better half, and headed off down London Rd from Edinburgh to Musselburgh where the John Muir Way starts.

Ready to rumble

Ready to rumble

I had my pack on and feeling strong, I’d started the morning with a solid breakfast of porridge and fruit so plenty of energy, though I made sure I had a nibble of probably a third of a mule bar at mile 5, and another third at mile 10.  The rain started at about mile 7 unfortunately and by mile 12 I was bloody freezing.  Though stubborn me didn’t want to stop to take my pack off to retrieve my jacket, which may have helped make my run a little less miserable!  Cracking on though as I didn’t want hubby to catch before Gullane!  I had packed a ham & cheese roll, which I started nibbling on about 16miles in, a few bites here, then a few more at 20, and then a few more at 22 (about half the roll consumed, not bad for me!).

Mixed terrain on route to test the legs

Mixed terrain on route to test the legs

Coastal path

Coastal path

Dion caught up to me at the North Berwick lighthouse, so not a bad effort on my part, that’s at about 24 miles.  He was looking really strong where as I was so cold I was really starting to struggle.  Only a few miles to get to North Berwick and the promise of a hot cup of tea got me through.

North Berwick Lighthouse

North Berwick Lighthouse

Taking about 20 minutes to enjoy a hot cup of sweet earl grey tea in North Berwick, eat the rest of my roll, and check the map as we hadn’t gone as far as East Linton before, and I was feeling good to go.  Another 7 miles to knock out and we would be done, for today at least.  Dion kept me going through the last few miles, we stuck to the road instead of the trail as it was so wet & muddy we were taking the ‘easy’ option of this, running past The Law, another little mountain I must go back and climb on fresh legs, and into East Linton, where we found our hotel for the night.

Looking pretty bloody pleased to have reached East Linton - 32 miles!

Looking pretty bloody pleased to have reached East Linton – 32 miles!

The Linton Hotel was lovely, just perfect for an overnighter (except the showers aren’t the best……).  Anyhow, refreshed and warmed up, I tucked into my For Goodness Shakes recovery drink & we had some food to get ourselves recovered.  Put on the Compressport recovery quad and calf guards and rested for the rest of the afternoon (we had got in about 3:30pm)  Dinner was great, the food we had for dinner was brilliant, followed by a super breakfast the following morning.  I definitely ate too much for breakfast and paid for that later on the run back making me feel way to sluggish and full, as a result not eating every 5 miles as I should have been, resulting in lack of energy.  When will I ever learn, I am great at giving advice about eating to keep your energy up, but useless at following it myself!

So off we went, we walked the first mile out of East Linton (it was all uphill!) and stuck together until North Berwick, with Dion then going at his own pace and me following behind.  I prefer it this way as I can’t keep up with him and it is no good for him to run too slow either.  The legs felt alright in terms of recovery which I was pleased about, but I did feel too sluggish and next time I will definitely eat a bit less for breakfast!  Then eat more on route and follow my own advice!  It was a long, cold run again but by the time I crawled home to find Dion running me a hot bath, I was super pleased with our efforts and really happy with the progress I have been making in terms of my overall fitness and endurance.  32 miles each way, bringing my weekly total to 93 miles!!  That is my biggest weekly mileage to date (excluding the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon of course), so that is massive!

I have had an overly quiet week now, enjoying a massage on the Monday (20th Jan), started back on the turbo trainer and free weights at home, and only  managed to run a total of 23 miles this week.  I even had the whole weekend without running, and you know what, I’m actually okay with that.

Looking forward to Extreme Energy’s Pilgrim Ultra coming up this weekend, 33 miles Saturday on the North Downs Way, then you guessed it, 33 miles back on the Sunday.  So I will continue to take it easy this week and be ready to rock n roll on Saturday!  Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

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On track & feeling strong

What a week!

84 miles in total!  That is the furthest I have ran since completing the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon in October last year.  Considering I am training for Pilgrims Ultra in a couple of weeks in the lead up to Marathon Des Sables in April, I would say that is well on track.

One of the hardest things about racking up the mileage is not necessarily the sore legs (yes that too of course), but finding the time.  I work full time, so this does mean getting up early in the dark, or heading out later after a full day at work to get the miles in.  I got in 11 miles Monday morning nice & early, did the same 11 on Tuesday morning, followed by 9 in the evening to make up the 20, followed by a well deserved rest day, a short 5 Thursday morning and another rest day Friday.  2 rest days in preparation for the big weekend.

The plan was to run 30 miles on the Saturday from Edinburgh to East Linton via the John Muir Way along the coast, stay the night, then run back.  Saturday was a great day, blessed with dry weather and sunshine.  We (hubby & I) packed up our backpacks (6kg) and headed off.  To be fair the first 20 miles were pretty easy, felt good & strong, then of course it starts to get hard!  The John Muir Way is brilliant, well sign posted, mixed terrain of paths, sand, trail and rocks with some great views en-route.  Photos next time, my hands were too cold to get photos.  I need to look at getting some better gloves, been eyeing off Ashmei gloves……I wear gloves, but I find that once I have stopped once, my hands get cold and can never get warm again and it really puts me off.  I have been reading about the Ashmei gloves, and they have special material so you don’t need to take them off to use your phone, perfect for taking photos!  Anyhow we made it to North Berwick, 26 odd miles on the clock, and realised it was still another 6 or 7 miles to East Linton…..do we plod on painfully slow & then have to back it up again tomorrow, or jump on the train back to Waverley station (save our accommodation money!) and run back home from there to make it 27?  The train won!  Home, dinner & bed.

I woke up Sunday feeling pretty alright, so we made tracks for our planned 20 miles, we needed to do an out and back, otherwise it wasn’t going to get done.  We headed off, bit slow to start, not sure if that was from the sore muscles or the very icy paths.  It was definitely small steps or you would end up on your bum!  No packs today, just running to get the mileage in.  Felt pretty good for the first 10, so that was encouraging, even the next 5 were okay, but have to say the last 6 (extra mile as I got lost, don’t ask!) were quite tough going.  But that’s what its all about.

I’d set up my training plan to really test my endurance, and this week certainly did that.  I am hoping that by pushing my limits it will make me stronger, ready for more.  So a rest day Monday then back on it, ready for another tough week, upping the mileage slightly with a back to back 30:30 on the weekend.  I’m feeling positive though, my legs felt good this morning, but wisely I will take the rest day and maybe get some Bikram Yoga in tonight to help the recovery, and then carry on strong for the week.

Keeping the festive ‘cheer’ at bay

The festive period is a tough time for anyone who is trying to keep fit or watch their waistline that’s for sure.  Which is why I am so proud of my efforts over the festive period.  Not that I need to lose weight necessarily, but what woman isn’t pleased when the weight comes off, and I have a goal to lose a few kilos before Marathon Des Sables (MdS) as it will make the running a bit easier, but I managed to lose a net 3kg (1/2 stone) over the festive period!  Yes I did!

How did I accomplish such a seemingly impossible concept?

I guess it is made a bit easier that we live far away from our family & friends in Australia, and after just having moved to Edinburgh from Manchester, friendless up here.  That resulted in less nights out, and no-one’s house to go to over the Christmas days to eat all their leftover foods either.  We kept things simple in our house, our only extra purchases apart from normal food, was 1 Christmas pudding, and that was it (which we ate on Boxing Day after a 20 miler so well deserved).  We had Xmas lunch out, so we didn’t need to get anything in for that, so no extra leftovers to deal with.  We knew we were having a load of friends come visit for Hogmanay so we consciously kept our diet in check over the other days to allow us to have a blow out from the 30th through to the 2nd.  I made good use of that blow out; cocktails, wine, fried food, 3 courses, cheese, chocolates; you name it – I ate it!  We still maintained our running throughout the time though and I even got in a cheeky 5 miler on New Years Day in between cooking breakfast for our visitors.

And the other ingredient – running!  The week leading up to Christmas week, I ran a total of 45.5 miles over 4 days.  Christmas week I ran 57 miles over 5 days, with the biggest day being Boxing Day with a 20 miler!  The week of Hogmanay (New Years), which I knew was going to be my worst week, I still managed 42 miles over 5 days.

This week I am aiming for 84 miles (see my training plan), which is quite a stretch and is going to involve a seriously long run, backed up with another seriously long run over the weekend.  Tough mileage, but I have got the Pilgrims Ultra coming up on the 1st & 2nd February, which is 33 miles each day along the North Downs Way, so there is no rest for the wicked!

I am back on the eat clean & train hard regime, and aiming for the next few months, until after MdS (12th April) without alcohol as well, to ensure I am in the best state possible both physically & mentally.  The lack of alcohol & the prospect of a cold beer at the finish will no doubt make me run faster!  In all seriousness, I really notice a difference to my running without it.  My husband, Dion, went most of December without a drink, and he was absolutely killing me on the hills around Edinburgh, I know he is normally quicker anyway, but this wasn’t just quicker; he was doing it with absolute ease where as I was seriously struggling to breathe & run at the same time!

We have found some great training runs around Edinburgh, making full use of the sand at Portobello beach, and have hijacked a farmers paddock full of ankle deep mud.  It’s a mile around the circumference of the paddock, and it kills you, especially after clocking up some miles already in the legs.  It really does mimic how you feel after the long day out running in the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon, energy & muscle sapping, so perfect training for MdS.

Me in the mud, sweating my a**e off!

Me in the mud, sweating my a**e off!

Me running through the muddy paddock

Me running through the muddy paddock

Muddy Shoes with funky socks

Muddy Shoes with funky socks

Sand running at Portobello Beach

Sand running at Portobello Beach