Tag Archives: walking for ultramarathons

Fast Packing. Birmingham > Worcester > Malvern > Bewdley > Kidderminster

On Sunday 14th June 2015 I decided to do some fast packing. I had been keeping an eye on the weather in the areas I would be passing, and it seemed the perfect time to go. My plan was to do roughly 90 miles from Birmingham, I would go down the Birmingham – Worcester Canal past Worcester and follow it further south to meet with the River Severn. I would camp at a camp site here. The next day I would walk to Malvern which is an area of outstanding natural beauty. I would then start the Worcestershire Way Trail heading north to Bewdley where I would then repeat the North Worcestershire Way trail for the second time this week. The idea was to do one big circular from my house back to my house. So that’s the overview.. and this is how it went.

I packed my usual stuff with me, 20L WAA Ultra Bag 1 man hiking tent, spare tshirt, long johns,spare socks, Thermarest XLite inflatable mattress, OMM Raider 1.0 sleeping bag, Sleeping bag liner, Marmot Essence waterproof jacket. For food I packed 2kg of dates (I did eat in some places along the way though) and I carried 1.5 L bottle of water which I finished off and topped up whenever I could. I didn’t bring my Petzl headtorch as I like to just sleep when it gets dark and I had one on mobile if urgent. I also carried a recharging unit which allowed me to recharge my Garmin Fenix 2 for the entire duration and my iphone about 3 times also. Finally a little cash and a card.

I set out from my house in Northfield Birmingham at 10:30am. I walked down to Wast Hills Lane where I joined up with the canal to Worcester. This path is pretty much down hill the entire time. Even though I walked a fair bit I struggled with this section. I think perhaps because I wasn’t used to carrying 8KG of stuff with me while running. Also what made it hard is that the council has started to turn the tow paths into tarmac paths instead which hurts under foot wearing studded Salomon Speedcross 3s. I have such a love hate relationship with these shoes and I have said before that I would throw them away. This time I have. For a country with little long distance TRAIL ONLY routes I find these to be pretty useless in the way of a quality long distance sneaker. Walking on tarmac roads over long distances with heavy weights on your back, with the studs on the bottom pushing into your feet every 180,000 steps or so over 90 miles really hurts. I’m going to opt for HOKA ONE ONE Maximalist trailies next time.

Regardless I really enjoyed this day. It was familiar ground as I have ran this route 6 times now. There was only the small section past Worcester down to the River Severn I wasn’t sure on but I knew from looking at maps it was very straight forward and I could just follow the Severn Way Sign Posts.
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I remember seeing this boat shortly after being set on fire by idiots. The owner has been trying to fix t for many months now. To his, and everyone else’s surprise, some bastard had let it lose overnight and it had drifted down the canal well away from anywhere to tie it up. The owner was just leaving as I arrived, he was very upset and I think had given up on it completely as he walked away soaking wet.

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In winter I went the wrong way here and it lead to a horrible dumpy looking cul de sac. I took this picture because as the seasons have progressed it looked just beautiful.

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I like bridges for some reason 😉 Hence all the bridge images.

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Happy moment. Knowing that I wasn’t too far now from Worcester and then only a few more miles south to the first nights camping spot.

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Tried to have a little talk with this swan but he got a bit aggressive with me and tried to bite me lol. Little bugger.

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Once I got into Worcester I spotted a Subway and decided to get myself a Salad Sub 😀

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It was a nice moment to get the River Severn. I hadn’t been this far down before.



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Yay first signs for the Severn Way. Another trail I must do. It’s 150 miles but it’s all downhill so should be a nice one. Right down to Bristol. 🙂


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I
 arrived at The Ketch Campsite early evening. I spoke with the warden there and paid for my hiking tent. This site was right along the river. Lovely location, though you can see why they don’t allow children under 11 here. You can just about see the tips of the Malvern Hills past the River Severn in the distance. That’s where I was heading the next day.
I did about 28 miles on this first day. Throughout the day I found myself running a few miles here and there when I could be bothered and wasn’t on stoned or tarmacked ground. I didn’t see this as a race. Just going how I felt.

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It was a hard boring 7.5 mile walk to Malvern Hills. I set off at 5am. I tried to plan a trail route but I wasn’t confident in the trail I had created through an advanced route creator online. I worried a lot of it was closed off completely to public so I opted for an A road which ran right to Malvern.

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I sort of did one of those little happy dances when I saw this sign. I knew I’d soon be off the busy A road and onto the quieter hills where I belonged.

When I arrived into Malvern the first thing I did was go to COSTA and buy a Soya Latte. I warmed up with this and chilled for a while before heading back out, to a shop to top up water and then to The Hills.

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I wish I’d have been here during the afternoon. I was on the East side of the hills and because the sun rises in the East it made it hard to get a good snap of how amazing this view was. You could just see for absolute miles on end of farm lands and tiny villages. There were even a few hot air balloons.

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When I got to the top of the hills I started the Route for Worcester Way which I had saved to my Garmin as a GPX file. I was so upset by this. My Garmin Fenix 2 allows you to set how often it records data. I had set it to record every 2 minutes on UltraTrac rather than every second. The result being up to 50 hours battery life. When I activated the route onto my current session (from day one point 1) it changed the recording frequency to SMART and wouldn’t let me decide how often. The dilemma here was that I would need to not use my phone or music anymore and keep charging my Garmin much more with my recharging unit. The alternative would be to save what I had done so far and start a new one to put the settings back to UltraTrac. As I wasn’t even sure I’d have enough recharges for the duration of my journey I decided to save that session and begin a new one. I decided what I would do instead was select “map” option on the Worcestershire Way and follow that. Sadly when I zoomed in further the line showing the route went off the watch so I couldn’t even see where I was going unless I had it at a 30 mile radius. I realised I would have to rely on way marks for the next 65 miles.

This is clearly something I’m going to have to look into. I loved the idea of Fenix 2 for it’s ability to upload GPX or create routes and have such long battery but it seems the battery wont last that long if you use a predetermined route? Why is this? If you have any alternative suggestions that please do let me know. If this wasn’t a waymarked route and I didn’t have a charged phone I would have never made it as far as I did.

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This is looking back to the Malvern Hills I had walked up and across earlier.

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I believe this is the River Teme. There’s a little Post office around there called Suckly Post Office. I’m not 100% now on locations sorry. Anyway I remember going in to top up my water and I also bought a few apples. I went outside and sat on the bench to eat them. To my surprise a young guy came up to me and asked if I was Vegan. He had spotted my Vegan Runners top and said he was vegan too. He also mentioned he had seen some of my posts on the Vegan Runners Facebook group. It was really nice to bump into a fellow vegan especially in a place like this population 10. He seemed a really happy person and said how lucky he was to live in such a beautiful place in the world. We wished each other well and on I went. Maybe he might read this post… if so say hello 😀

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I stopped at a The Talbot pub in this little village called KnightWick and had two portions of chips and a large lemonade. I piled on the salt to replace my salt loss.

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Here is another trail I would like to look up. I hope it is full of geological delights. I have a keen interest in geology 😉
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I was getting pretty tired by this point and was considering camping around here. I’m not very good at wild camping. When I was a kid I did it all the time but now as an adult and knowing it’s illegal I never know. Also I don’t know if there’s anyone around in the area. It did seem ideal as a place to camp for the night though.
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At about mile 30-32 on day 2 I was just turning to go down a hill in the forest. I spotted the lower half of a guy running. He hadn’t spotted me yet and I made a flash decision to start running. There was no way I was going to slog my way down a steep hill in my VEGAN RUNNERS top that he was running UP! So I got going and he said hey. The funny thing was that even after slogging for so many miles that day I managed to pretty much run the last 8 miles all the way into Bewdley.

About a mile out from Bewdley I ran into some danger. This was the only trail I knew of into the village and it really was a race against the sun at this point. I came across a field with what I thought was cows. They seemed relaxed and I (unknowing how dangerous bulls were at the time) decided to take the trail. As I passed about 5 of the 8 or so bulls they blocked off the was I came in. Which meant I had a longish climb uphill to the exit and had to pass 4 more  up the hill in the process. Their attitude changed and they began to group up an run in my direction. I turned to face them and slowly walked backwards. I really wanted to run but I knew that bulls are faster than people and I had already done 38 or 39 miles today! I didn’t know how to react so I faced them but didn’t look into their eyes. I opened my arms and showed them my palms. I firmly but calmly said to them “nooooo, come on now… easy boys, you’re ok, I’m not going to hurt you.”. The lead bull settled back a bit and I thought I might be ok. Then one of the other bulls took lead and they all began to charge at me again. This time he got within 2 or 3 meters of me but I managed to somehow get them to calm again. This happened 5 times in total. I really thought I was going to die. So many people get a blow to the head or their body’s crushed. I got out safely though. I managed to find the exact field on Garmin Connect. I sent an email to the Long Distance Path Association to ask who I contact about this. It is my understanding (I could be wrong) that it is highly illegal for farmers to block public rights of way with dangerous cattle and no warning signs or alternative route signs.

As I got into Bewdley I started to pick up the pace as I headed for the River Severn once more 🙂
I went to The Cooperative to top up my water and buy 600g of Strawberries. My body was craving fruit and lots of it. I wandered along the Canal Path going into my first mile of the North Worcestershire Way. I stopped on a bench and rested a while. I then put on my other top and a jacket as I was starting to shiver. The sun was going down, it was about 9:30pm now. My feet were completely bashed. It was my intention to wild camp in the middle of Worcestershire way like I said, but I decided to take it all the way to Bewdley.

This day was much tougher than my first day. It was in no means downhill. There was a total of at least 1,560 m (5,118 ft) ascent. Yet that day I felt much stronger. I wasn’t feeling my bag hurt my shoulders so much and I felt like my feet were capable of more even if torched at the end. I remember whenever it got tough I would count my steps to 20 and then repeat. I did this continuously sometimes for an hour or more non stop. Whenever my mind drifted initially I refocussed back to counting and just got lost in the rhythm of counting. When pain set in I would also notice it as just a feeling. I would remind myself it’s a feeling, it isn’t me. It’s physical and I’m just an observer of this physical body.

So day and light was ending and I needed a place to camp. I could hardly walk at this point and I wobbled up the river about a mile to find somewhere safe to put my tent. In the end I put it not too far from a main road but a really well darkened spot. This site turned out to be a car park for the private fishing anglers association. I know this because at 2:45am there were car lights coming into my tent which woke me up. I quickly opened the zip on the tent to see what it was. I could then see him get out the car and close the barrier to the car park. His reg plate was something like SLOTS or something. I panicked. I thought he had seen me from the road and now he was coming to kill me. He went to his boot and started sorting out his murdering tools. I called “hello?”. He replied “Hi you ok? I’m just here fishing. Didn’t mean to give you a fright. You do know this is the fishers car park?”. I apologised and explained I had walked a long way and ran out of light and just pitched up. I kept my eye on him a while and could finally see it was fishing stuff in his car. Then I tried to sleep again.

I only got 3 hours rest that night. I remember getting up at 3:30am and packed up to carry on the final part of my journey.
This is where the big problems started. My eyes kept dropping and I kept seeing things. I stopped to eat a shed load of dates to give me energy and drank a load of water. I kept walking along the river. There’s some grassy areas along the river and so naturally my feet and socks got soaked. I kept praying for warmth to come through and sun so that hopefully my sneakers will dry. They didn’t though and my skin soon folded and blistered which became really painful. I was only a few miles into my day and had to do 34 miles in total for the day.
11140267_1669042419993410_6109479989292645280_n I know this is nothing compared with other runners feet pics I have seen lol. This has now become a top priority for me to master, not only to deal with blisters (I’ll use my Fixing Your Feet book), but also how to keep them dry. I have T184 mile Endurance Race in 2016 and I know that the grass will be wet in the mornings along the River Thames. It was enough to knock my morale and make me stop my journey.

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As I walked up hills in the forest there was a big drop to the right of me and I didn’t see the drop but I saw a lake and kept hallucinating. I kept thinking how I’d like to take a dip in the lake but it wasn’t really there and the picture eventually became clear and all I saw was a the big dip that was really there.

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Here I am looking exhausted and feeling it. I was sat on one of those wooden cross over fence things. It felt so nice to have something to sit on and get my feet off the ground.

At about mile 8 of today I remember just starting to cry. I kept slogging along at like 3mph. I kept thinking about how I wanted to just lay down on the ground and sleep. Even just for an hour. I realised that 3 hours sleep after 40 miles isn’t enough to sustain another 34 miles the next day. I wanted today to be the last day and reach the end. At mile 12 I kept losing the way marks and getting lost. I felt disorientated and realised I was walking around in circles.
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I only continued another 5 ish miles and then I decided to come off the trail and head to a local pub to eat and call for a taxi home. I was 15 miles away from finishing my planned journey. Although when I got home and calculated the distance I thought it would be 89 miles and it was 89.9 for what I did. So I had actually done more than expected. This stands to reason as I got lost on a few occasions.

I had told myself that it comes to a certain point that when you believe you have found what you where looking for there’s no real need to keep looking. I had learned so much for future events and adventures that it was now time to go home and analyse all the information that I had absorbed from this experience.

I want to thank my husband who helped me along the way with the odd text of support from him. Also I want to thank everyone on my Facebook friends. I made a post to ask for their support as I was feeling it emotionally at the end of day 2. I had so many replies. I was absolutely gob smacked. Thank you so much for your support it meant the world to me and still does. You made me cry… just a little 😉 Xoxo

My hat goes off to those out there running 100 milers and more. I can’t wait to get to that point. I have had little training due to injuries lately. I’m seriously looking forward to getting some proper training behind my belt for some ultra events and some more fast packing.

Who knows that’s next? I am now tapering for the Birmingham Black Country Half marathon on July 4th. As I write this it’s only a day since I got home and I’m feeling much better already and hope to be back out running as normal tomorrow.

I have the JW ultra coming up in September it’s 30 miles on the canal from Stratford Upon Avon to Birmingham. My friend has offered for my to come and practice the route with him soon. I think we are going to after we have done the Summer Round the Reservoir Marathon on 26th July in Northampton.

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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


Running on New Turf

Hey everyone
I went for a run first time in 3 weeks yesterday. This run went very well and so we decided to go for another run today on new lands I haven’t covered before.

s (1) Philip doing this thing.

We have moved to a new area on the edge of many trails; including the North Worcestershire Path, which is a long distance path running at 35 miles through the midlands. Sadly we saw a notice saying that this path had been closed just near Wast Hills Lane due to slipperiness and erosion. This sign had been attached to a tree since Spring 2014. I hope that this sign will be gone some time soon as I’d like to follow this path. We decided to head back and follow some different public foot paths as there are many to pick from.
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Obviously with the time of year there was a lot of mud, I love running through muddy fields I think it adds a whole new dimension to a run, a lot of fun and a bit of a challenge. Sadly Philips Merrell trail sneaks weren’t up for the mud and he found it very slippery. He did admit he liked the challenge though so I think next time he needs some sneaks he will be looking for something with a bit more grip in them. Any recommendations would be much appreciated.

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It’s been a while since I have managed to get out in the country. I’m from the countryside originally I was brought up in a small valley on the edge of the Pennines. I forgot what the white fencing if for around farm land. I soon remembered when a bolt of electricity went through my hip and pushed me to the side haha! 😛 Needless to say we avoided any other fencing. They were obviously to keep these beauties out of harms way… I just hope to them it’s just a little annoyance rather than a shock like I got :O
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As always with new public footpaths and no maps it can take a while to learn which end of the fields the path continues on so we did a lot of running back and forward on this occasion, but that was welcomed over such lovely surrounds.

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This kind of surround is much better than running around the city center or just being stuck to the city canal towpaths. The canal paths are beautiful and I enjoyed much of my running there, but I prefer the more technical terrain.

Obviously I had to go out sporting my Vegan Runners top 😛 Nothing like shoving it in farmers faces. :O Although the farmers we came across were nice enough.

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Mucky 😀

It only ended up being 5 miles. I’m glad I didn’t do too much though having just returned to running and it being more technical terrain.

You always know when you have had a decent run when you get home and anything below the waist looks like this 😛 (although they do look a little cleaner than they were).

Good to ‘hopefully’ be back.
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.


The Running Bug

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“I never knew I’d enjoy running so much. I can run 15 minutes non stop now! I’m awesome… how far is a marathon?”
“26.2 miles”
“OK I’m going to run 100!” – ScottyRunner

This is how my mind works. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing because as soon as I was able to run 30 miles I decided I wanted to run 184 miles. So I registered onto the T184 Endurance Race. A 184 mile self supported challenge across the entire length of the Thames National Trail. This starts in London at the Thames barrier and ends at Thames Head in the Cotswold National Park. Every time I am able to run a little further my goal becomes less important and I set myself an even bigger task than before.

So running 15 minutes back in 2013 was a huge deal for me. I was that typical guy who got out of breath walking up stairs or chasing down that bus! Oh and the bus journey would only be for a half mile! I never exercised. I began smoking when I was 13 years old. From 16 I started drinking a lot going to nightclubs and bars several times a week. When I was 18 I started to use a range of drugs including amphetamines, cocaine, LSD, ketamine, ecstasy and MDMA. On most weekends in London I would take these all on the same weekend and in large quantities! Along with 40-50 smokes and what seemed like several barrels of alcohol.

So that was hitting rock bottom. Trying to scrape through the emotional scars of an abusive childhood! Trying to find myself and who I wanted to become. It was a long journey and the journey ahead is even longer but as my path begins to unfold I see who I am becoming and it’s much greater the human I once was. I am here to share my experiences with you.

In my head I am a pro! But I am really not. I live and breath ‘pro-ness’ as it’s what helps me keep going. Just a word of caution not to try some of the things I do without careful consideration. I believe I may be bipolar so I will do some extreme things which seem completely reasonable to me….. it’s one way to learn I guess. I believe my abusive childhood along with my mental health issues are what are pushing me to become much more than I told I’d be as a child.  I have tried everything and given up on everything I ever did, mainly because I didn’t love it. My mental health tricked me into believing I loved something and then when my poles switched I gave up and loss interest. Even after convincing everyone around me that THIS WAS IT. This is what I loved!. Often times I am not sure if I love something or just manic. I do know that I never do things that I do not enjoy. I never listen to the norms of “this and that is life get over it”. No I’m sorry life is to be enjoyed and to enjoy every moment you can. When I’m manic, I want to run, and when I am depressed I want to run. Running is my life and the one of those few things I have truly stuck to.

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