Tag Archives: cross training

North Worcestershire Way

CIMG01729:00am and our alarm went off. I stuck my earphones in and sat up to do my daily meditation and let my husband rest another 20 minutes. 75 minutes later and we were out the door with our packs on our way to Northfield Train Station.

We took the train from here to Birmingham New St and then walked to Birmingham Moor Street to catch the train to Kidderminster at 11:10am.

Once we arrived into Kidderminster we walked westward to the small village of Bewdley to arrive at Hopley’s Caravan and Camping Family grounds.

It cost us only £8 each for our one man hiking tent pitches. We were shown which areas we could pick to place our tents on their map. It was a very large space and we picked an area just on the other side of a little pond in which we had to cross a little wooden bridge to get to.

We recently bought our 1 man hiking tents. They only weigh 1.4 kg, inner and outer sheet, hemmed, compact and waterproof for only £19.99 in ALDI.  We are extremely impressed with them. In fact I am more impressed with this than my Snugpak Lonosphere which was damaged and the outer sheet never touched the ground so got very windy inside. This ALDI tent not only touched the ground but was flush with the ground.  11251001_1666705740227078_3187664999759999975_n

I got my other equipment into my tent. With me I took my medium sized Thermarest NeoAir XLite inflatable mattress. This is a life saver in colder weather. Weighs next to nothing easy to erect and repack and feels suuuuper warm under your body. It pushes cold air back into the ground, while circulating warm body heat back to the body. The temperature dropped to 4 or 5oC over night but I still felt the warmth from the mattress.
My sleeping bag was the OMM Mountain Raid 1.0. I want to love this bag I really do but it’s not enough on its own in this country lol. The quality and weight is absolutely exceptional though and with my long john’s, trackies bottoms, 2 tshirts, fleece jacket and standard sleeping bag liner I was just about warm enough in 5oC. It really is a one season summer (our one week hot summer) type of bag.
Sneaks I wore my Salomon Speedcross 3s. Excellent shoes for grip and nice light weight. I feel like these are too structured and supportive for my type of landing though. I will be trying to use a HOKA trail sneak soon instead for extra cushioning and to help my over supination.
My bag was the WAA Ultra Pack 20L. I didn’t bring the front pouch. This is just enough size for my packed items and a kilogram of dates. Love this bag. Only long distances though (especially if not running) I may opt for a 45 L bag instead, so I can pack more food.
Clothing was just 2 cotton tshirts, fleece jacket and £10 trackie bottoms. I messed up with the trackies recently when I went to try the Pennine Way National Trail. Ideally I would like to take waterproof trousers, I checked what the odds were of rain this time though the day we left and it was only 2% so I took a gamble, as we were only going to be walking one day and was right. My jacket is the Marmot Essence Waterproof Jacket. Can never complain with this. I use it for everything nearly these days. It keeps me dry when shopping, walking, hiking and running. Sweats vanishes from it very easily too and it’s so breathable. I would recommend anyone to have one of these jackets!
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We then went to the local farm shop and bought some fresh fruit and vegetables for dinner and breakfast the next morning.

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How do you get to this table? ha

After we had been to the shop we decided take a walk over to Wyre Forest which was right on the edge of Hopley’s Camping ground. I have been here before with a friend night running when testing out my new Petzl headtorch around September 2014 I think. It was so nice to see it in the daylight though.
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Once we got back to the camp site we grilled our veges and then settled down for the night at about 9:30pm.
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We woke up at 5pm and packed up our items. Today we would be walking most of the 35 mile North Worcestershire Way Trail.
We headed back down to Bewdley Village and stopped off at a TESCO mini to get some nakd bars and crisps. Then we headed for the start of the Trail on the River Severn.
Navigation was pretty straight forward. The way marks where frequent ans easy to spot. There were a few turning points which where not way marked though. We had no trouble here as I was following the course I had uploaded as a GPX file to my Garmin Fenix 2. The way marks where really just a nice reassurance that we were going the right way haha.
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For the first few miles the trail passed alongside the River Severn curving around it. It was nice to see the river, the birds, ducks, swans etc and also the other bridges that had collapsed or crossed over the Severn.
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We were even privileged enough for a beautiful horse to come to us and allow us to stroke her and talk to her for a while.
I love this picture of Philip stroking her. She was so gentle and well natured. CIMG0117

We then crossed over a bridge with love locks attached to it and then headed back on ourselves on the other side of the river, along a beautifully overgrown green alleyway.
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e continued through a forested area which was absolutely beautiful. The trail had started to get a little more hilly by this point though the views helped us to ignore this fact and keep soldiering on. I have always loved Ivy growing around large tree trunks. Especially when both are in full flourish. Absolutely beautiful.
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By about 9am it had started to warm up a bit and Philip decided to take my VEGAN hat off. His hair was a right mess. After a while we finally came to our next mileage sign…. as you can see here I had tidied his hair up a bit by then lol.
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Here’s a picture of a creepy building we passed. It was in the middle of nowhere in the woods. There was a steel door on it with a little window at the top. I was going to shine my torch through it but decided I wasn’t that interested (a little scared), so didn’t bother.
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Nature really knows how to provide. This tree has been super generous in it’s growth to decide to create the perfect seat for hikers such as ourseleves 🙂 Thank you.

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From here it was miles of miles of trails inbetween farmers fields. I hadn’t walked on trails like this before they were very sandy and I felt like we were walking down to the beach.

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We came across more of those type trails along with walking through the middle of farmers crops too.
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Philip spotted a really big caterpillar. He asked me to take this pic with his foot in it so you could see the size of him clearly enough.
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We were now at about mile 25. Philips achilles had been hurting him for the last 6 miles and the bottom of my feet were hurting by now. I always have sore feet though so didn’t care much. Here’s a snap of us when we were starting to have enough.
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I didn’t take any more pictures after this point. We just kept walking and I counted my steps to zone out a bit and forget that my feet where hurting. Once we passed through Clent Hills we walked to a pub called Swallows Nest. This was mile 28 now and we had decided that we would order a taxi from here to take us home. Had we had an extra day we would have camped half way somewhere and completed the distance though we had obligations the following morning back home as well.

When you look on Google Maps at this area and most of West Midlands, with the satellite option it looks like there’s no open green for the serious adventurer but it seems there is. All those ancient trails all over the place taking in such beautiful scenery. We hardly ever had to pass any roads and through the bulk of the first 20 miles + we only saw half a dozen people! We saw many more animals than we did people.

For us runners I’d say you could get in a few good runs on this route. There’s a few hills but also plenty of flatter sections to enjoy too. I’d opt for trail sneaks as the vast majority of it is all on trails. Very little is on roads at all. If you want it a bit easier too I’d start near Birmingham first and end in Bewdley.We missed out Lickey Hills near our home due to the taxi. So you have that and then Clent Hills (the hilly bit at the start) to consider. If you did these at the start of your run then you could enjoy the journey with the rest of it not being so bad.
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The next day I was expecting my feet to be really sore and my legs to be stiff, but I have woken up feeling fine. Refreshed and ready for action again some time soon.

I was happy to find when at the start of the trail it said Worcestershire Way, with arrows going in two directions. It was here that I found out you can take the trail all the way from Malvern Hills to Wythall just outside Birmingham. With a total distance of 66 miles. This gave me great interest in returning to do the whole thing over a few days.

I was also delighted to see that the Monarchs Way crosses through. This is England’s longest inland trail and runs 615 miles. it kinda circles parts of West Midlands and then heads towards Bristol, then to the south coast not far from  Dorchester, it then goes back inland and across past Salisbury and Winchester and then ends in Brighton.

Lots to think about for the future and I’m hoping I manage to get in another adventure or two before winter creeps up on us.

Cheers for reading
-ScottyRunner

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My Special Ingredient For Speeding up Recovery

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My story as an athlete does not differ much from any other athlete. I may have only ran a few years right now but I have had the typical problems that come with running. Typical problems I never knew I’d encountered before I started running. Sure enough as far as I was concerned I’f run out the door, build up and have no problems. Injuries, form, sneaker type, speed, distance and all the many other variables didn’t even cross my mind. I remember the first problem being a sore pain in the ass! Then I had ‘runners knee’, next it moved on to a stress fracture in the interior right tibia, then I had shin splints, next it was a pain on the top of my foot and next came plantar fasciitis (a pain on the bottom of my foot).

You have all read numerous blogs about recovery and the steps you can take to enhancing a speedy one! You know the usual; Static stretches > post workout meal or shake > plenty of water > Good rest > Sufficient hours sleep. I’m not going into detail of those because you can find them everywhere and often do find them everywhere.

I do notice that one key important factor is often missed. It occurred to me yesterday and so I began looking over all my training so far to date. I made notes of all the times I was injured and how long it took to fix the problem. I thought about my diet at the time, my stretch routines, sleeping patterns and I noticed one key thing that seemed to make me recover much quicker (besides being Vegan of course).

The secret?

HAPPINESS

You have heard the saying that stress affects the body. If this is true then it stands to reason that happiness also affects the body. Of course we can not neglect the things that science already tells us will help us speed up recovery so keep on with those. Though I believe that if you can bring as much joy into your days as possible the smoother your recovery will be. Just try not letting that joy come from doing other strenuous exercise.

Here’s a very compact list of things that may bring you joy in-between sessions;

Watching Disney films or something inspirational or funny but not sad.
Listening to music.
Reading books.
Doing.
Coloring books.
Drawing.
Jigsaws.
Cuddling your children or animals you care for.
Eating delicious raw fresh fruit or vegetables.
Receiving a massage (if your lucky) or massage yourself.
A very easy slow walk in the park with lots of stops for Photos.
Drive by photo adventure. Here you drive around country roads and stop to take beautiful pictures along the way.
Meditate. Even just for 5-10 minutes on your days off.
Drink decaff tea or coffee.
Add fresh lemon or lime juice to your water for a refreshing and very pleasant change.
Have a mid day nap! or 2 if you find chance! This one can help a great deal!
Spend time with people who need help. Great happiness can be found in helping others rather than yourself.

The list could go on and on forever because there are unlimited things that we can do for fun and happiness. Just focus on bringing as much joy into your life as possible at all times. Even when you are at work. “how can I be happy at work?” I hear you say? That’s easy… by saying “I choose to be happy today and aint nobody or anything going to change my mind”. Be aware that if you are unhappy that is your choosing. Keep in control of your emotions unless you want to be unhappy. I don’t think any of us want that.
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This little ingredient has helped me to recover from injuries and between workouts much sooner I feel. Funnily when I finally accept I overdid it and am injured, I begin to realise that I’m actually very happy about it because I have given my mind knowledge about an injury and then know how to deal with it and prevent it next time. It means that while my lower limbs are worn out my mind has grown.

So go ahead and be happy and please while you are at it spread that happiness far and wide and pass it onto all whom you come into contact with… even your horrible bosses. Who are probably stressed out to high heaven by their bosses!

All my love.
– ScottyRunner


31 Mile Canal Path. Birmingham – Worcester – Why Use a Narrowboat?

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OK So I said I’d write a report on my long run yesterday of 31 miles so here we go.

The route was across the Worcester and Birmingham Canal Towpath in the UK. With 3 off path diversions. It starts just before Bath Row in Birmingham UK and ends just along side Worcester High Street (also in the UK).

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The distance was ran in 6:31:14 (hr:min:sec) which is a similar pace (12:37 min/mi) to first time I ran it. This was the 4th time running this route. Although there wasn’t much progress on the time the terrain was much more technical than the first time. There was a lot of boggy mud and there was enough ice to top back up the Artic. Not just little bits of lite ice you that you can plod along, but sometimes thick sheets on road downhills like this. There was also plenty of ice on narrow curving downhill stone paths under bridges on the canal in which one I went right on my ass and just decided to slide down to the bottom.
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This was a ‘luxury’ route because the actual overall elevation gain was less than the loss. The gain was 768 ft and the loss was 1 145 ft. This didn’t make it any easier to the end of the course though but it was welcome of course.
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The night before the event I had a nice portion of chilli con beans and rice. I eat this all the time and I never have problems with it so was perfect comfort food for me.

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On the morning of the long run I had a smoothie with 500ml water, 4 bananas, half punnet blueberries, half punnet raspberries and a large mango. I also tossed in a handful of spinach and a tablespoon of agave nectar to sweeten it more.

For the run I had a mixture of energy bars and fruit bags. I also had a packet of Vegan cola bottles. I don’t normally take sweets with me but rather what I fancy just before and I spotted these… they did the trick for later in the day. I bought coconut also for the fat but I forgot to take this with me. Never noticed and to be fair the bars are a blend of nuts and dates anyway. The fruit bags were ok but I didn’t realise that most of them were laced with sugar so I’ll get the whole dried fruits again next time rather than this overpriced candy!
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A word on gels because someone recently brought this subject up. They mentioned doesn’t food like this take longer to fuel you when you have it as a pose to gels? Yes they might, but you should never actually be allowing your body to get to the point that you must have energy right now or things will go tits up. Eating foods at regular intervals will keep you fueled much better without so many spikes. I have only ever hit the wall once when out running longer distances. I ate a bar an hour and fruit bags as and when I fancied something a little more as a treat. I have only ever used gels once and they were vile foul things! To me (and a lot of people) eating is one of the finest pleasures EVER and if I can combine my pleasure for eating along with my love for running. Well then I’m in ecstasy. Are your gels pleasing you? Well then maybe try something different. It might just work. Then again it might not. Not everyone can hold food down when running whereas I’m known for stopping at a store and buying a large pack of potato chips/crisps and eating them all in one go plodding along still running.

After the run there was a bit of a distaster with food. I ate a big pack of potato chips/crisps from the store at the end and then later had ciabatta toast and sunflower oil and then after this I had a vegan pepperoni pizza takeaway. I did keep up with my fluids though :O

For my equipment I took with me my WAA ultra bag 20L + 4L WAA front pouch. With modifications the 20L bag was 570g the cover was 40g and the front pouch was  185g making it 795g. I probably didn’t need a bag of this size for such a short distance but I am training with it as it’s the bag I will use for my longer runs and T184 Mile Endurance Race.
I also took a very basic home made first aid kit, a few sheets of toilet paper and an emergency blanket coming to 219g. I took my camera which was 100g and my phone to connect with you all when I finished 😉 Apart from these all I took was a little dinero for the train home, a thin fleece jacket, beanie hat and dry gloves to warm me up at the end. The overall weight came to 5kg without water. Then 1.5L water was all I needed.

The temperature was not much over zero or hovering around that. I decided to wear a base layer tight tshirt, a long sleeve running tshirt over that and then my waterproof outer shell jacket ontop of this. I also wore my buff as a beanie hat and wore long base layer tights. I know some people hate it but I did wear tight boxers under these too. My reason being because when I pee I don’t always manage to fully drain off when in a rush to keep going. This extra layer makes this less important. Probably something the girls didn’t want to know but I’m certain many guys have this problem too! My sneeks choice was a pair of Salomon Speedcross 3 Trail sneaks along with a pair of gaiter socks to keep crap out of them! Finally I wore a pair of cheap running gloves.
It certainly was a cold start at 7:45am just as the sun was rising. At about half way I did take off my gloves and then around mile 20 I took my hat off too.
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The morning promised good sunny clear skies to be had throughout the day and that was true for the entire journey. In fact it stayed sunny right until we got onto the train back home! Then it rained and it rained hard and was overcast!

The lack of clouds and rain didn’t make the ground any easier for running though. The mud and ice made things a bit slower throughout than we may have wanted to go. But we soldiered on and found this tricky terrain would give us a bit more of a challenge which ultimately allowed us to enjoy the experience even more.

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The first half of the run was a doddle really. We chatted and caught up on whats been going on in eachothers lives and work etc and ticked off the miles without hardly even looking at our devices.

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That’s David by the way. David hadn’t ran anything beyond 23.2 miles before this run and he said that shorter run nearly killed him. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t capable of this kind of distance though! If you ever saw any of his training runs and races he’s a pretty fast runner even when he hasn’t had much time to put in the training! He kept mentioning how he might have the speed but I have the endurance. So I was looking forward to showing him that if he slowed down a bit he’d find that wasn’t the case.

It was absolutely awesome watching us tick off the 23.2 miles and then the 26.2 mile achievements for him and then the 30 and 31 for the finish. He kept soldiering on and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he might do at this course on his own some time.

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About half way I wanted to pick up a Geocach in the local area as I don’t often get that far out in that direction and knew it would be an easy one right on our path so I picked that up and we signed our names on the paper and gave it a new sealed bag lol. I think this along with an electrolyte drink store stop and taking some snaps probably lost us about 15 minutes of the run but it wasn’t a race and these things added to the experience.
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Once we got to about mile 18 as per usual I began getting this real burning feeling on the bottom of my feet. Well actually it was only very mild at mile 18 through to about 23 then it was really bothering me. We reduced from running long stretches to running 5 minutes and walking 5 minutes on and off. We did this for a while and then at about mile 26 we began increasing the length of the runs by a minute or two here and there.

My feet where throbbing with a burning aching pain on the bottoms and David said that we should stop if it gets too bad. I tried to remind him that I aint stopping. I’m already in pain and might as well get a reward for it… as the inspirational speaker Eric Thomas says. “if I say I’m going to do something then I do it we are finishing this run at mile 31”.
My mind was ready for the long haul and the rest of my body was. But my feet cried. Which began to show on my face.

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So we kept going and then I realised I’d completely stopped looking at my Garmin GPS watch and when I next looked we were at 30.31 miles or something. As we got closer to 31 miles I picked up the pace and started legging it to the 31 mile mark as quickly as I could. My watch marked 31 miles and I stopped and threw my arms up in arm going “wohooo”. What an accomplishment for both of us and I believe David finished much stronger than myself.
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We then went to a local store to get something to eat on the train and to Costa to grab a quick coffee. I had a nice Americano with Soya for myself.
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Overall I know this long run doesn’t amount to a great deal. According to my training plan to prepare myself for the T184 endurance run I should be running this distance another 7 times and running beyond this up to 50 miles another 4 times. Though you need these little accomplishments to keep you focused on the bigger goals. To keep you going “hell yeah I can do this…. I have done 30 I can do anything!” This is not the case right away lol but that’s how my bipolar mind works. In fact I believe partly my bipolar helps me to keep pushing on and wanting to reach extreme levels in my running.

When I woke up today (the day after the run) I was worried I wouldn’t be able to walk much for recovery let alone a recovery run. I struggled on the last times I ran this distance. But my feet seemed to be better and I managed to get out and do a nice gentle 4 mile recovery run. I then came home and did my regular post run stretch and felt my body would benefit from an additional Vinyasa Yoga session this week to flex out my muscles and aid recovery.

Bring on the next challenge!
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Geocaching

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So as part of my training I had decided from January that for every mile I ran I would also walk. Of course this is not practical on a long run weekend. It wouldn’t be very good to go out and run 30-50 miles and then walk the same that day. I would make the miles up during the week on my shorter runs.
It all seemed a great idea at first until it came to my first day running 5 miles and walking 9. I managed to walk 3 miles and run 5. I have no problem with the running part but seriously lack motivation to actually walk for training. I can’t let this continue because when I am fast packing (run/walking long distances) I will need to be able to walk long distance as well as run. I can’t solely run the 630 miles of the South West Coastal Path in England!

Then I heard about Geocaching. Geocaching is when other people place a landmark in which you have to go and find. Sometimes they will leave something there for the seekers like a notepad and pen to write your name on.  You can also log your own for others to go and find! You can set the difficulty too.

I checked out this website called www.geocaching.com . I popped in my postcode and asked them to show me all locations within a 10 mile radius and was presented with 2007 results! I tried again within 20 miles and I got 6866 results!

I have decided to use this as a means to get me out there exploring and actually walking the mileage I’m supposed to be walking as part of my training.

The website is actually free to join. There are many you can access without being a paying member. You can print out the details and clues. As a paying member you get access to ALL activities. You can also download the details to your smart phone, smart GPS watch or GPS tracking device etc.

I’m seriously looking forward to trying this out.