Sunday, 29 January 2012

Having FUN!

Pleased to say that some reasonable training is continuing and that I am having fun doing it. In fact more than fun – I ran a race, climbed a mountain, did some speed work and a long heat training session as well as firming up my race calendar for the first half of the year, deciding to offer coaching and discussing a film project. Read on for details of that little lot.

So, the race to start with. Two loops of our local park – lots of short little ups and downs, in fact its literally less than 10 mins walk from the front door and it’s where I sometimes do hill reps. A fairly low key local race but billed as the Santa Barbara cross country championships. Previously they have had a 3 and 6 mile event. This year they added the 2-loop 12 mile version as well for all of us distance aficionados. Long time since I raced 12 miles; a veritable sprint that reminded me all too clearly of the Trig Points race I used to run on the first weekend of the year. That was 15 miles with about 1500 ft of ascent this was 12 miles and those with the technology reported it at nearly 2500ft of ascent. I was pretty happy to pull up from about 5th at halfway to 2nd overall although I think one person ahead of me got lost and the speed, although very hard work, felt good. Slightly nauseous afterwards and very stiff the next day – racing like the old times!!

Actually the next day did not provide complete respite because we were in Palm Springs for a little vacation and yours truly had spotted a little trail called Cactus to Clouds that the online forums debate as having possibly the most vertical of any single trail in the USA. The start is at 400ft and the top, the summit of San Jacinto is at 10,800 odd. Lynn was game for the 6am start and so we plodded and sweated our way up. We reached snow at about 8000ft and the top of the aerial tramway a short time later. This accesses the upland part of the mountain which are like a rolling plateau. Up there it was bitterly cold. Not too much snow but icy and with a stiff 30mph plus wind so we reached the notch at just under 10,000ft and decided to head back to the tram for a swift descent that saved much knee pounding. It was a great day with amazing views, over 9000ft of vertical to add to the log and sowed seeds of an idea related to the fastest known time from desert to summit and back – this would be a 32 mile outing with 10,400 ft vertical up and down. Winter usually makes the top a challenge and summer certainly makes the lower elevations a challenge as Palm Springs in the summer is an oven.

Climbing from the desert

To a very different climate at 10,000ft

The heat training came this week when, having stashed a gallon of water, I decided to tackle the route of the 35 mile/10,500ft 9-Trails again. This time the thermometer reached 80, I drank all my water and had to work hard to keep the momentum but a hell of a good days training and, once again, I felt reasonably OK the next day. A good tired feeling but no injuries and no DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) that happens when you are untrained.

The 9-Trails route: 35 miles, 10,500ft and 80 degrees

Entries now confirmed for all my spring races – Ray Miller 50 mile, Chukanut 50k, Somona 50 mile, Miwok 100km and the San Diego 100 mile so that’s great and I also have the possibility to do the Fellsman. I may never win that wonderful event again but I really do not want to go out on a DNF which is what happened last year after I tore my hamstring so I would be excited to toe the start line on the 50th anniversary of the event. A 50 mile 2 weeks before and a 100km the weekend after will be a challenge but, if I get through that lot then surely I will be in good shape for San Diego.

...and finally, I have decided to offer Endurance Coaching. It may take a week or two to pull together the website and so on but I figure that 23 years of hard won experience in running Ultras, racing around the world and tackling some big challenges does give me a lot of knowledge and a wealth of opportunity to help others avoid some of the dafter mistakes I have made over the years. Intention is to offer assistance to anyone who wants to run long and to do this mostly as a telephone and online service covering goal setting, creation of a training plan and all those other things – hydration, nutrition, race strategy, kit and so on that go into Ultra-running.

In case you think that all sounds a bit too much then have a look at this and laugh!

Other than that, get out there and enjoy your running.

Training Log:

Sat 14 Jan 6 miles Elings Park

Sun 15 Jan 12 mile race Elings Park. 2nd place. 1hr 24 mins

Mon 16 Jan 18 miles and 9,000ft. Cactus to Clouds – Mt. San Jacinto

Tue 17 Jan Speed session – 6.5 miles (hill reps plus 3 miles at 6:10 pace)

Wed 18 Jan Rest Day

Thu 19 Jan 16 miles Jesusita to Gibraltar

Fri 20 Jan 6 miles Elings

Week: 64.5 miles, around 16,500ft

Sat 21 Jan 7 miles Inspiration plus 3 miles hash

Sun 22 Jan 21 miles (romero, Blue Canyon, Forbush, Camiono, Romero)

Mon 23 Jan 6 miles fast (beach)

Tue 24 Jan Rest Day

Wed 25 Jan Rest Day

Thu 26 Jan 35 miles – 9 trails

Fri 27 Jan Rest Day

Week: 72 miles, around 16,000ft

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Fortnightly running log

I plan to post my running log here every 2 weeks - not to show off or invite ridicule (depending on how it's going) but mainly to keep myself honest and to motivate myself.

I've never been too fussed about keeping training logs but I notice that most of the people I run with these days seem to know where they are, how fast they are climbing, what minutes per mile they are covering, how far they have been, how many calories they have used and whether their chakras are aligned. They also frequently post pictures of the runs we have been on before I can even get home and log onto the computer.

On that basis, simply recording what I did shouldn't be too onerous...So, here goes:





Pt. Mugu State Park. Ray Miller Trail





Pt Mugu State Park. Ray Miller Trail





Rest Day





Jesusita to Gibraltar Road and back





Inspiration Point





Elings Park





East Bay. Steam Trains to Wildcat loop


93 miles, around 15,000ft




87m bike

Cycle San Francisco to Pt. Reyes and back





Marin Headlands





Rest Day





Track session (stair repeats and 800metres) 6 sets





Santa Barbara 9 trails course





Romero Canyon night run





Rest Day


56 miles, around 13,000ft and 87 bike miles

The runningman returns

Well, it's been a long time since I updated this blog. All the more surprising and unjustified given that I am currently “at leisure”. Partly, I suppose, it’s because 2011 really did not turn out as hoped with much of my running so what was there to report and talk about

Since we are only 3 weeks into the New Year so it still feels OK to make updating this thing regularly part of my resolutions and to start off with a resume of 2011 and an outline of plans for 2012.

In the spring of 2011 I felt fit, recorded my fastest time to date on the High Peak Marathon and was really motivated for the Fellsman. Over the years I have been very fortunate to avoid injury – actually I have been very fortunate to have good natural biomechanics and a natural running style which has kept me away from most injury and overuse problems. I can claim no active credit for any of that since I rarely stretched, often recovered with a nice pint and frequently pushed my luck in terms of sudden mileage increases and running with niggles.

Advancing years have meant that those niggles are more frequent and, to my intense frustration, they boiled over just before the Fellsman into a hamstring injury which “hamstrung” me about 10 miles into the actual race back in May. Now, I am not saying I could have hung with Jez all the way round but we were running and chatting together and have never really raced head to head so it would be been a blast and maybe having someone to push him for at least the first half of the course would have enabled Jez to post the mythical sub 10 hour time that must be out there.

A month or so later and my second major disappointment of the year – a DNF at the 100 mile San Diego race. It’s actually about 2 hours away in the Anza Borrego area – hilly, semi-desert country at around 6-7000ft and is a cracking course. Looking back a few months on it’s clear as day that I simply had not put in enough long days to sustain a 100 mile completion - partly because of cancelled races and pulling out at Fellsman, partly because I simply did not get out there, all weathers, and lay it on the line.

One of the great things about our sport is that you cannot fake it. You can’t drop a few thousand pounds or dollars on carbon and titanium to buy an improvement in outcomes. So, through the summer and autumn, I haven’t really been racing and haven’t really been pushing it – until October or so – and then I started to get a bit more structured and a bit more motivated. With the Quad Dipsea looming for late November I finally realised I needed to start motivating rather more!!

Of course one of the other great truths is that running becomes a virtuous circle. Run and you feel more inclined to run more. Run more and you start to see things that “reward” you for your efforts – a sunset, a hawk hunting, a bobcat, a chance meeting on the trail with someone really interesting – good things happen. Upshot of some half decent training was 8th place from 233 finishers with no strollers or grandfathers in front of me. With passive cramps setting in around 3 miles from the end I knew I had given it all and I was also delighted to pick up places from around 14th at half way.

So, a 2012 race schedule is emerging based on new found motivation and, hopefully, injury free running. The main events for now are listed below and a current listing should appear on the right hand side of this blog through the year.

  • Feb 25 Ray Miller 50 mile
  • Mar 17 Chuckanut 50k
  • Apr 15 Lake Sonoma 50 mile
  • Apr 28 Fellsman? 61 mile
  • May 05 Miwok 100km
  • Jun 09 San Diego 100 mile
  • and then.....?

If all the above makes it sound as though I have not been enjoying the outdoors then I need to redress the balance a little. I have not been racing and training in a structured way but we have been lucky enough to run in some great places such as:

· Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands, California

- Sespe Wilderness, Los Padres Forest, California

· Red Rocks Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada

· Gunung Agung, Bali, Indonesia

and, of course, my now local hills here in Santa Barbara where the sun, mostly, shines!!