Running Home and Away

Last week hubbie and I went away to Oban, on the west coast of Scotland, for a few days R&R. We had decided, at the start of the summer, that taking a few short breaks would be less disruptive to our businesses and lives than taking one long holiday. We had already visited Coniston in the English Lake District for a few days at the start of the school holidays and Oban was our next destination. Mindful of how I worried about running in Coniston I contacted the Oban Runners via their Facebook page prior to leaving, just to check out some routes. They recommended a 6 mile loop around a loch about a mile away from where we were camped which sounded perfect.

With views like this I might forget to breathe! ©Julie Hollis, 2014
Gorgeous weather has followed us around the north of Britain!
The only piece of road I ran on!

I was, however, meant to do a 4 mile run on the Monday we were away, with one of the miles timed. After a reccy walk on the day before we discovered that the route between the campsite and the loch ran mostly along a disused railway track and was almost completely off road. It was ideal. Instead of running around the loch (and believe me I was sorely tempted) I decided to run out for two miles and then run back. It meant that 3 miles were largely in the shade of trees and, with the weather so warm even first thing in the morning, this was important. It also meant that I could do my warm up mile to the loch and then do my timed mile along the loch shore (which was pretty flat). For once I had it planned to perfection! The only possible fly in the ointment was that the shower block closed at 10.30 for cleaning, so I needed to be back before then in order to get cleaned up!


My warm up mile was a nice easy one at 10:40. I’ve been running 2:30/1 ratios because these seem to suit me at the moment so imagine my surprise at seeing my fastest mile of the year at 9:22 pop up! I was gobsmacked. This must go to prove that there is truth to what Jeff Galloway says – walk breaks can help to make you faster. I ran an easy two miles home at 11:32 and 11:08, making it home before the showers closed!

The view after my Magic Mile! Loch Creran is a beautiful and tranquil place.
The view after my Magic Mile! Loch Creran is a beautiful and tranquil place.

I know that run walking isn’t for everyone and my efforts are often met with a mixture of confusion and disapproval in races, but using these methods I’m getting faster and recovering from injuries quicker. I can easily sustain 9 minute mile running in the two and half minutes when I have to and walking for a minute adds surprisingly little to the overall pace. Basically it works for me.

Yesterday was my long run day again and I was down for 12 ½ miles. The weather seemed to have cooled down a tad from the furnace we’ve been living in for the past month or so (I’m not complaining, but it has made training difficult for this pale skinned Celt!) and I was looking forward to some cool running. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be and despite setting off early I was thwarted by the heat yet again. At 3 ½ miles I decided to turn back, making 7 miles and then run the 5 ½ later when it would have hopefully cooled down again. Despite the weather the 7 miles were bang on long run pace, one minute slower per mile than race pace. When it became clear that I would be running in the dark before the temperature and humidity reduced I opted to complete the run on the treadmill. Fanned and entertained by Star Trek Voyager, I ran the rest of the 12 miles at a slightly faster pace.

This morning I knew I’d almost run a half marathon! My quads, hip flexors and abductors were all complaining when I moved, but a long walk with the dog solved most of that. Whilst walking I was able to stop and take some photographs of the trail where I tend to do my short runs. The trail has changed such a lot over the last few months, with entire sections of the forest removed by the timber workers, it’s really quite odd to see.

On a nutrition note I’ve decided to ditch the chia seed gels I’d been trying. This is for a few reasons; they are expensive, have a short shelf life (great for long distance runners, but out of date by the time I need them) and they are bit too gooey for me. I’m still looking for something, but in the meantime I’m using a combination of Dextro energy tablets and jelly beans. Any ideas on this would be appreciated.



Splitting Up

nO8CjseBet that caught your attention.

No, I’m not talking about hubbie and I – I’m actually talking about what to do on long run days. At the moment Britain is experiencing some very warm weather and we have been for more than a month now. It’s actually raining now, but I’ve got doors and windows open because it’s far too warm to have them closed. Houses in the UK aren’t generally air-conditioned, usually we’re creating another atmospheric layer trying to keep our houses warm so opening windows and doors is our way of balancing the effect on the eco-system! Usually by 9 it’s too warm to run and it’s like that until about 9 at night.

Today I was down for an 11 mile run and, yes, I could have got up at 5am and had it all done by 7, but the truth is neither of us have been sleeping well lately. The weather doesn’t help, but we’ve also got an elderly neighbour very ill in hospital and we’re both on tenterhooks. Waking my hubbie an hour earlier just so that I could get a run in didn’t seem fair to either of us. So I got up at 7, as usual, and was out the door by just after half past to do just over half the distance.

By splitting long runs into a morning and an evening run I will get the benefit of the mileage,but at less cost. If I’d tried to run on and do another hour this morning, it would have been a long, hot slow slog under the rising sun. Instead I did an 11 min/mile paced 6 miles and have another 5 to look forward to later. Even if that’s 5 on the treadmill it’s only 5 miles. I can suffer a couple of episodes of Star Trek in order to get it done.

The premise behind splitting long runs is one which many middle and long distance runners discuss with opposing opinions (of course!) This article from Active sums up my thinking. I won’t always split my long runs, but whilst the weather is too warm to safely do otherwise, then I will continue so to do.