Race Review – Hardmoors Goathland Marathon 2021

Hardmoors Goathland was an event I’d really been looking forward to, mostly because it was the only Hardmoors marathon I hadn’t yet run. I was supposed to do it last year, but like many events it was postponed due to Covid. At that time I ran a virtual Goathlands half marathon with my friend Jason, which was a great taster for the real thing.

Goathland is a beautiful village near Whitby on the North York Moors, and will be familiar to those of a certain age as the setting for the TV series Heartbeat. It seems very remote, and I was surprised it only took me an hour to get there from home near York. The race starts and finishes at the village hall, and it was fab to have indoor registration/kit check and toilets – just like old times! As usual at Hardmoors events, half marathon and 10K options are also available. The marathon route is only 27 miles, probably the closest marathon to 26.2 miles Hardmoors do; but the route had to be changed slightly this year to take account of a car rally going on nearby. Unsurprisingly this added a couple of miles to the distance!

We set off at 9 am. The weather was dry to start, but forecast to turn showery and very windy later on. After a nice downhill start the route started to climb through some woods, before a descent and slippery, rocky scramble past the Mallyan Spout waterfall.

This looked great, but I was too busy concentrating on not falling over to appreciate it very much!

A climb up out of the woods was followed by a short road section, then a long stretch of moorland track, including the first of two visits to the standing stones at Simon Howe. The sections on top of the moors were definitely the hardest part of this route; the combination of really soft mud, water and hard tussocks of grass made it difficult (sometimes impossible) to run in places.

There was another woodland section after this, including a lovely descent, followed by another muddy stretch alongside the North York Moors railway line. Whilst eating a snack along here, and not paying full attention to where I was putting my feet, I managed to fall over sideways into a big muddy puddle. I was unhurt, just pleased nobody had seen me!

A short, steep climb then took us up to the edge of the spectacular Hole of Horcum, where we maintained our height for a while. A steady climb on good, grassy ground led to the romantic ruins of Skelton Tower. The views over the moors in every direction from this high point are quite spectacular, and I stopped for a moment to take them in. I was feeling pretty good at this point and optimistic of finishing in just over six hours.

The route then undulated through the woods around the village of Levisham before climbing up to Levisham Moor, partly following the route of the Tabular Hills Walk. We passed by the Hole of Horcum once more, on a different path this time, before heading back in the direction of Goathland.

Much of the last few miles followed the same paths over the moors as on the way out, but even tougher this time as the ground was now more churned up! It started to rain, so I stopped and put my jacket on – obviously it then stopped about two minutes later! But the wind was getting up and making it feel quite chilly, so I was glad of it anyway.

We climbed back up through the woods we’d descended through on the way out, then retraced our steps across the boggy moor. This included a long, hard drag uphill into a strong head wind for about a mile and a half that seemed to take ages, finishing with our second visit to Simon Howe. I was feeling really tired by now and realised my finishing time would be closer to seven hours than six! At least from here the route to the finish was mostly downhill, albeit on very rough narrow tracks.

I couldn’t see anyone in front of me or behind, just miles and miles of moorland. I’m quite happy with this on a route that’s well marked. Remote but beautiful! However, at one point I accidentally kicked a rock with my toe and tripped over – into soft heather, so again unhurt – but immediately got really bad cramp in my left calf. I sat at the side of the trail for a couple of minutes, swearing loudly as my calf spasmed painfully. Luckily there was nobody around to hear me! After giving it a rub for a bit I managed to walk it off and carry on running.

Trail turned into road as I arrived back in Goathland and trotted through the village to the finish. It was around 4 pm by now and daylight was starting to fade. My eventual finishing time was 7:12:21 (damn cramp!), a bit disappointing, but it was quite a tough day. I did a fair bit of walking in this race and felt I’d been really slow, so was surprised not to be nearer the back. I was 52nd out of 79 finishers, 11th out of 21 women and 3rd FV50 out of seven. Despite this being a tough race I was really glad I’d done it. The scenery was amazing, the weather better than forecasted and all the Hardmoors marshals as brilliant as ever. This isn’t an easy event to get into, as capacity is quite small, but well worth the effort if you love big, rugged landscapes. Or mud!

This was my last event of the year apart from the Tadcaster 10 next weekend, which I don’t know if I’ll do yet due to the niggle I’ve had in my right hip for the last few months. I’m not sure a ten mile pounding on the road would do it any good. I’m following a strategy of running a lot less miles and doing more strength work until the end of the year in the hope that will help it. I have some big plans for next year, so want to be right for starting training in the new year!

Race Review – Hardmoors Fryupdale Marathon 2021

I couldn’t wait to run Hardmoors Fryupdale. Postponed from last year due to Covid, it was one of the few Hardmoors marathons I’d never done. It has a smaller capacity than the other events, so I was delighted when I eventually managed to get a place. Driving over the moors to the tiny hamlet of Fryup on the day the sunrise looked amazing and the weather forecast was perfect. It’s one of the longer Hardmoors ‘marathons’ at 31 miles, so I was set for a great day out!

The race starts and finishes at the Yorkshire Cycle Hub; a perfect venue with loads of parking, showers and a great café. There was a real buzz at the race briefing, and we set off bang on 9 am straight into a zig-zag uphill via the Cycle Hub’s mountain bike track.

After a couple of miles of undulating trail, with a fair bit of slightly congested singletrack, we launched into a huge hill. That got the calves burning, but was the only really steep climb of the day. Although there’s over 1,000 metres of elevation on the course, most of it comes from longer, more gradual inclines, which actually suit me better.

After the second checkpoint, the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge, there was a bit of quiet road until we turned off on to High Blakey Moor. This was one of my favourite parts of the course; good quality trail that went very gradually down then up, accompanied by amazing views. With bright blue sky and brilliant sunshine, but a cool temperature and a slight breeze, I really couldn’t have been happier. I felt very lucky, as apparently the last time this race happened it rained all day!

We continued along moorland tracks, through fields, over streams and railway lines, skirting the edge of Castleton and passing through the village of Danby. Quite a bit of the route followed the Esk Valley Walk, waymarked with a fish symbol. I would love to explore this more some time.

Just before Danby a small group of us started running together and having a bit of a chat, which is always a great part of any ultra. From Danby we all jog/walked up a long, steep road climb to Danby Beacon, which was really impressive. The 20 mile checkpoint was here.

After this our group fragmented a bit – some dropped back and others tried to push on, leapfrogging each other and exchanging a few words from time to time. From the Beacon there was a fantastic gradual trail descent for a couple of miles to the village of Leaholm. After that was a rollercoaster of three (or was it four?) long, gradual climbs and short descents – the kind of terrain that I’d probably run the whole of in training, but that really saps the legs when you’ve already been on the go for about 25 miles. There was some walking! But the reward was then another long descent to Glaisdale Rigg.

From the last checkpoint at 29 miles I could see another descent coming up and was really looking forward to coasting to the finish. But this turned out to be a steep hill of slippery mud and rock that was impossible to run, so not really any respite! It had probably been churned up a bit by the faster runners in front. This sort of stuff is really not my forte, and I minced down super slowly. The final mile or so was along the road back to the Cycle Hub, but with more uphill, and then a final steep little grassy climb to the finish line – no let up until the very end! Steve had cycled out from home to meet me and was at the top shouting encouragement, but my legs were finally out of running.

It’s always hard to know how you’re doing in a long race where runners get quite strung out. I was absolutely knackered at the end of this and, because I’d done quite a bit of walking, thought I must be somewhere near the back. However, towards the end I’d been determined to get under seven hours and pushed as hard as I could. My official finish time was 6:55:58, so I just made it! I was surprised to learn that I’d come 44th out of 87 finishers overall and 11th woman out of 28 – better than expected. And I’d missed out on being 1st FV50 by just 46 seconds. I might have pushed a little bit harder if I’d known that! But all in all I was happy with the result.

Just like most Hardmoors events, this was a tough but fantastic race and I really enjoyed it. Half marathon and 10K options are also available for non-masochists! Fryupdale is a bit of a hidden gem that I’d recommend visiting even if you don’t want to run round it, and the Yorkshire Cycle Hub is well worth a trip if you love cycling. I’m now really looking forward to the Hardmoors Goathland marathon next month, another one that I haven’t managed to run yet. Then that’s me done for this year!

Race Review – Hardwolds 40 Ultramarathon 2021

The Yorkshire Wolds are often described as a ‘hidden gem’, and it’s true that they’re not as well-known outside Yorkshire as the Dales and the North York Moors; but for those of us who live nearby they are well-known and well-loved, providing a great hilly training ground with some fantastic trails. So when the Hardmoors folk announced a brand new event in the Wolds I couldn’t resist entering!

The first thing to say about the Hardwolds 40 is that it isn’t 40 miles long. Hardmoors events always offer great ‘value’ so the route was originally planned to be about 46 miles long. It starts in Beverley, and the first ten miles follow the Hudson Way trail, a former railway line. At Goodmanham the route picks up the Yorkshire Wolds Way, which it follows as far as Settrington Beacon. It then drops down to the village of Settrington, following the Centenary Way from here to Malton. In the week before the race the finishing venue had to be changed, adding about another mile to the route. Happy days!

In the run-up to the event I’d followed an eight week training plan that Kim Cavill had done for me, with five runs and two strength sessions a week, plus some yoga. I’d used the Endurancelife Northumberland marathon as my longest training run, with the Hardmoors White Horse Half a couple of weeks later. I felt my training had gone well, but four days before the event I hiked up and down Scafell Pike whilst spending a couple of days in the Lake District and did wonder whether I’d live to regret that!

I was really looking forward to this event, and got Steve to drop me off nice and early at the start venue, Beverley Rugby Club. As I signed on and got my tracker fitted there was a real buzz in the air. Apart from the face masks and staggered start it felt almost like old times, and it was great to chat with some of the Hardmoors family. We set off from 8 am in groups of 30 two minutes apart.

The main challenge for the first section was not to go off too fast. It’s ten miles of flat trail (the former rail line) and Tarmac to Goodmanham, with the first checkpoint at 8.5 miles. I kept my pace down to around ten minute miles, knowing I should conserve energy for the big hills later on. This wasn’t a road marathon! Lots of people flew past me, excited to be racing on easy terrain. I wondered how many of them I’d see later in the day. The weather was dull at this point, but quite warm already.

From Goodmanham the route undulated nicely for a few miles through grassy farmland and the lovely grounds of Londesborough Hall. The second checkpoint was at 11.5 miles – where this most flattering photo was taken! I was really enjoying the route and chatting to people along the way. At one point the group I was running with had to take a slight detour to avoid a group of cows and their calves that were blocking a gate we needed to go through, but it wasn’t too far.

The day began to warm up as we left the Wolds Way temporarily to descend to the next checkpoint in the village of Millington at 18 miles. This is a place I know well – I sometimes park here to do training runs along the Wolds Way. It was also the first drop bag point, and I drank a small chocolate milk from my stash and then ate a ham sandwich as I walked up the huge hill from the village back onto the Wolds Way. Hardmoors checkpoints are always really well stocked with snacks and drinks, and the drop bag facility means you never have to carry lots of stuff.

There then followed two quite steep descents and climbs before a nice, gradual descent on Tarmac towards the village of Huggate. After a road climb from here the route goes down into another valley, followed by a long, grassy drag up towards Fridaythorpe. It’s the sort of trail that looks flat, but is in fact a very gradual uphill. The sun was now fully out, the weather felt hot and humid, and the steepness of the Wolds valleys meant there was no breeze to take the edge of the heat. I was pouring with sweat and don’t think I’ve ever drunk as much during a race. People were starting to suffer, and one poor chap I passed was throwing up – he thought because he’d drunk too much. Luckily he was with a group of friends. At the next checkpoint at Fridaythorpe (26 miles) I really enjoyed some flat Pepsi, plus the thought that we were now over halfway!

Next up was beautiful Thixendale Wold (another descent and climb, obviously!) before arriving at the next drop bag checkpoint at Thixendale village hall (30 miles). I drank some more chocolate milk and picked up another sandwich, but couldn’t face eating it, so pocketed it and pressed on. I did have a bit of Perkier peanut bar and some Clif Shotblok on the way out of the village though. I really love a bit of Shotblok when I need a boost!

After a walk up a couple of big hills after Thixendale all the steep climbing was behind us (thank heavens!) with some lovely, runnable terrain towards the medieval village of Wharram Percy. The amazing Wolds scenery helped to ease the pain of the climbs! I passed quite a few people on this section, many of them slowed down by the effects of the heat.

The route from here undulated gently and passed through the grounds of the Settrington estate to reach the final checkpoint at Settrington Beacon (39 miles). More fabulous views all round! There was a bit of a party atmosphere here, with music and cowbells, and more gratefully received flat pop! From here we left the Wolds Way and descended down a road for a good mile (yay!) into the village of Settrington. Here we turned off the road and onto the Centenary Way for the final part of the journey to Malton.

I was slightly apprehensive about this part of the course as I hadn’t managed to recce it and it wasn’t well-marked, but tagged on behind two guys who looked like they knew what they were up to. After a mile or so we reached an unmarked crossroads of trails and weren’t sure which way to go. While we were pondering whether to get the map out, another chap caught us up from behind, looked at the GPS on his watch and confidently said it was straight on. After we’d been running for about half a mile he changed his mind and said we should have gone left! So back we went. We must have wasted 10-15 minutes here. I don’t blame the bloke who sent us the wrong way, as navigation is everyone’s individual responsibility, but it was frustrating.

We were only about three miles from the finish now, but my calves were starting to cramp up and I was ready to stop. I had my last square of Shotblok and tried to push on. Luckily the way through Malton to the finish at the sports club was well-signed (if a little uphill!) and I managed to pick up the pace and smile as I came in. My finish time was 10:27:57. I’d originally hoped to get close to ten hours and cursed the extra off-route minutes. I really thought I hadn’t done very well as it had been a tough day – much hotter than forecast – but in the end I was happy to be 63rd out of 185 overall, 17th out of 51 women and 4th FV50 out of 12. According to my watch the distance (including the two unscheduled detours!) was bang on 48 miles. Despite the heat, I did feel stronger than I have done towards the end of previous ultras such as the Hardmoors 55 and 60, so hopefully the regular strength training I’ve been doing since last October is now beginning to pay off. I just need to make an effort to eat more towards the end of races. When I stopped running I suddenly realised I was actually quite hungry and wolfed down the sandwich I should have eaten nearly twenty miles earlier!

Steve was waiting for me at the finish, but Covid rules meant we couldn’t really hang around. The race swag was a fab wooden medal, a coveted crossed swords t-shirt (love the colour!) and a drinking bottle. Fortunately Malton is only about 40 minutes from home, so I was soon enjoying recovery KFC and a well-earned cold beer whilst watching the highlights of the first day of the Tour de France. Parfait!

So what’s next? My big challenge for the summer was supposed to be the UTMB OCC in France, but I’ve deferred my place due to travel restrictions, so now I’ll be doing the Hardmoors 55 in August, postponed from March due to Covid. Hopefully it won’t be even hotter! The Hardmoors Farndale Marathon on 1st August will be my longest training run before that.

Happy summer running folks!

Race Review – Hardmoors 30 Ultramarathon 2021

The Hardmoors 30 traditionally takes place on New Year’s Day, but was postponed this year for obvious reasons. The event usually starts and finishes at Fylingdale Village Hall, near Robin Hood’s Bay, but due to Covid regulations it started and finished on this occasion in the car park at Whitby Abbey. The route forms a kind of skinny figure of eight through Ravenscar, down to Cloughton then back to Whitby, following parts of the Cleveland Way and a disused railway line trail known as the Cinder Track. It’s 33 miles long rather than 30, but that’s Hardmoors value for you! There’s also a 15 mile option. Both are well marked and marshalled.

This was the first race I’d taken part in since I did the Hardmoors 55 six months ago and I was really looking forward to running and racing with other people. It was also my first day out at the seaside since I can’t remember when! It was brilliant to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen for ages at the start. The weather was perfect for running: cool and fair, with not too much sun or wind. The race was organised under strict Covid event regulations and we were all warned to be on our best behaviour and remember to socially distance! All runners had been asked to predict how long the race would take them, then given a start time based on this. We were called up to the start in socially distanced groups of six, where we had our temperature taken and told to remain masked until we set off.

I actually think staggered starts work really well, as it avoids congestion on the course. The first few miles were along the Cleveland Way, and it was great to take in the coastal scenery and breathe some fresh sea air. The trails were really hard, as the weather had been dry with no rain for at least a couple of weeks. I’d worn hybrid shoes rather than full-on trail ones in anticipation of this.

The route undulates for a few miles, then descends into Robin Hood’s Bay, where we picked up the Cinder Track. The first checkpoint was seven miles in at Fylingdale.

The track is flat for a while, then starts to climb very gradually to the highest point of the course at Ravenscar, one of my favourite places. It’s fairly easy running for a while, although the Cinder Track can be a quite gravelly and dusty in places, making your feet and legs really dirty! After about three miles we turned off the track and onto a road – a really steep road – leading up to the ancient beacon monument above Ravenscar; the second checkpoint at 11 miles. This was hard enough to walk up, never mind run! So it was very slow progress for a bit, followed by a drop down through a field to the village. Here we picked up the Cinder Track again, and the terrain was very slightly downhill for about five miles. This is a good opportunity to make up a bit of time, and I clocked several miles at well under ten minute pace. Turning off here towards the coast leads to the checkpoint at Cloughton Wyke, which is just over halfway. I arrived here in just over three hours. All the checkpoints are well stocked with water and other drinks such as Pepsi and Irn Bru, as well as a range of sweet and savoury snacks. The Cloughton point also had Tailwind energy jelly.

One of the Hardmoors mottos is ‘Suffering = Fun’ and the ‘fun’ in this race really starts in the second half. Heading off up the Cleveland Way back to Ravenscar, the route is like a rollercoaster! It’s constantly climbing and descending steeply, sometimes right back to sea level, via steep steps or stony tracks that really give the legs a battering!

Technical descents are really not my forte, so it was slow progress along here for a few miles, and my calves began to complain. Spending lockdown in York with no access to big hills certainly wasn’t ideal training for this event!

From Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s bay the terrain is slightly more forgiving, mostly gentle undulations. Howerver, the descent into the village is immediately followed by a vicious steep climb up the hilly main street to re-join the Cinder Track for a couple of miles. This is uphill, but gently so, and quite runnable if you take it easy. A sharp right turn down a grassy track through a field then leads back to the Cleveland Way for the final few miles back to Whitby.

By now it was mid-afternoon and the trails were busy with walkers and dogs, but most were happy to let us runners pass and give some much-appreciated words of encouragement.

After a few more smaller climbs we were almost back at Whitby Abbey, and I realised that if I sped up a bit I’d come in at just under six hours. It’s amazing how you can find that extra bit of energy when the clock is against you!

My finish time was 6:58:34. I was 120th out of 222 runners overall, 29th out of 76 women and 5th out of 19 in the FV50 category. Considering my lack of hill practice I felt OK with that, but there is definite room for improvement now we can travel to train! We had a choice of a metal or wooden medal, so I plumped for wood in the hope that it was the more eco-friendly option. I also think it looks really attractive. There was also a choice of t-shirt colour, featuring the all-important Hardmoors ultra crossed swords.

Although I’d been cursing the tricky ups and downs in the second half of the race, I really did enjoy myself. The weather was perfect and for a few hours it felt like the world was getting back to normal. Hopefully it won’t be too long now before it does!

Running’s Coming Home!

Has anyone found this third lockdown a bit tougher than the previous ones? Maybe it’s been the sheer Groundhog Day monotony of it all, the bad weather, the dark evenings… as someone who works in public health I know it’s been necessary, but I think we’ve all just had enough now. I’ve never lacked motivation to train during lockdown – maybe because there’s always been an event on the horizon and I’m a hopeless optimist – but mostly because running with some structure has been my main means of staying sane. I was disappointed when the Hardmoors 55 had to be postponed (understandably) when it was due to take place on 27th March, just two days before it probably could have happened, but there we are. Hopefully these blocks of training will pay off in the long run!

Now we have a roadmap, spring is in the air and (all being well) real races are going to happen in a few weeks’ time! The first one on my calendar is the Vale of York 10 on 18th April. This was cancelled last year, and it’s still not certain at this point whether it will go ahead, but hopefully we’ll know soon. To be honest I’m doing it because it starts and finishes in our village! Even if it goes ahead I’ll just be trotting round, because I’ll be tpaering for the following weekend when it’s the Hardmoors 30 at Whitby, which should have been on New Year’s Day. We’ll probably have staggered starts, but it will be great just to be up on the Cleveland Way by the sea with the Hardmoors family. I’ve missed that so much. Another event on the spring schedule is the fabulous Endurancelife Northumberland in May, which had to be postponed from February – so should hopefully be a bit warmer than last year!

Endurancelife!

As the year progresses, the schedule starts to get a bit crowded with events that have been postponed or rearranged following the pandemic, such as Endure 24 in July, which I was planning to run solo. My main concern at the moment is that the Hardmoors 55 has been provisionally rearranged for 21st August, which is the same week as the UTMB OCC – which it took me three attempts to get into, but I finally did! Obviously I can’t do them both within a few days; but will the OCC happen? Will travel to and from France even be possible? The French are well behind us with their vaccination programme, so it’s hard to say at this point. I guess the picture will be a bit clearer in a couple of months. The idea of running the Hardmoors 55 in summer weather is very tempting, but I may never get into the OCC again. First world problems, hey? I know I’m very lucky really, and do appreciate that.

I’ve really been missing big hills during lockdown. During this time I’ve personally felt it’s not right to travel to go for a run, but it’s given me an opportunity to really get to know the trails in my local area, and I’ve worked out routes of varying distances that I regularly run.

Luckily there are a few undulating bits! My training plan for the 55 from coach Kim Cavill featured some regular tempo hills sessions, which are basically longish hilly interval reps. They’re hard work, but hopefully helping my legs to build some stamina. I also think the strength sessions Kim has given me to do have helped me to run better and feel stronger. I’ll certainly always include this sort of work in my training from now on. I can’t wait until 29th March, when we’ll be allowed to travel out of our local areas. I’ve booked the week after Easter off work and will definitely be heading for the North York Moors and the Wolds for some ‘fun’ runs!

How’s your 2021 schedule looking?

Stay safe and keep running folks, the end is in sight  🙂

Lockdown 3: Carry On Running!

Well, here we are again – back in lockdown with all events cancelled and no idea when they can start up again. Obviously in the grand scheme of things there’s far more important stuff to deal with just now (like an ongoing global pandemic!) but for those of us who love running and racing it’s a sad time in some ways. Thankfully we can still have our daily outdoor exercise though, and I get the impression that’s keeping many people sane at the moment. Since my training plan for the (postponed) Hardmoors 30 finished I’ve been trying to carry on running four days a week and do two strength sessions a week to keep me ticking over, but not doing any really long distances.

I was supposed to be doing the Endurancelife Northumberland Ultra again at the end of February, but that has now understandably been postponed until the end of May. So I now have nothing in my diary until the Hardmoors 55 at the end of March. In my heart I know this probably won’t go ahead either, but I want to train for it anyway; there’s an outside chance it will happen, and a good block of training is never wasted. I ran the 55 last year (it was postponed from March to October) but the weather was so wet the course turned into a mudslide for about the last 20 miles and I’d love to have another go in better conditions. So I recently had a catch-up with Kim Cavill of Cavill Coaching and she’s created me another training plan for the next eight weeks to take me up to the event. The basic structure is the same as my previous Hardmoors 30 plan, but as the 55 is a much longer, harder event so there’s more mileage.

The major challenge I face during this cycle of training is that the 55 is a very hilly event and here in York we don’t really have any hills. Normally when training for an event like this I’d be heading out to the Cleveland Way or the Wolds Way for long, hilly Sunday runs, but with current restrictions in place I don’t feel that driving somewhere to run is the right thing to do. I know others think otherwise, but each to their own – I’ll be running from home until lockdown has ended. However, Kim has adapted my new plan to take account of this, with specific strength work and, from next week, a weekly session called tempo hills; this is to be done on pretty much the only decent hill I can run to from home and sounds a bit tough! But hopefully it will do the job.

View over the Three Sisters on the Hardmoors 55 route.

I’m optimistic that trail races will be able to run again soon in the socially distanced way they did for a while last year, although I can’t see mass participation road races happening for a good while yet. Our Yorkshire summer 10K road race league has just been cancelled for the second year running, which is a shame as they are such fun inter-club events. I have a solo place in Endure 24 in July, deferred from last year, but will have to wait and see whether that will go ahead. As I write this I’m waiting to find out whether I have a place in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc OCC race in France in August. I’ve entered the ballot for this twice unsuccessfully, so there’s a good chance, and if I get in that will determine my training schedule between now and then. In the meantime I’m just trying to stay positive and hoping to come out of all this madness a stronger runner.

Hope everyone is still managing to enjoy running despite these crazy times. At least there is now light at the end of the tunnel. Keep on keeping on folks!

Working With a Running Coach

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work with a running coach? I certainly have from time to time. I’ve thought it might be good for me to get a training plan tailored to my own requirements – especially as I’ve got older, as most plans don’t take account of age – but then I realised I’d actually have to be accountable to someone who might judge my cake and alcohol intake, so I didn’t take things any further. When I used to train for road marathons I’d follow my trusty Asics Sub 4 plan. Now that I’ve moved on to longer, off-road events I generally use the plan I took from the Race to the Stones website when I ran that in 2017. Both seem to work pretty well. But lately, at times such as when I’ve started to fade towards the end of an ultra, I’ve wondered “Is there a way I could do this better and finish stronger? And if so, what would I need to do?”.

Continue reading “Working With a Running Coach”

Race Review – Hardmoors 55 Ultramarathon 2020

The Hardmoors 55 is billed on its website as ‘one hell of a race’, and that’s no exaggeration! Following the Cleveland Way for 55 miles from Guisborough to Helmsley, it has over 2,000 metres of ascent (including some pretty brutal hills) and takes in the highest, most exposed section of the North York Moors. Because of this, and because it’s usually in March, the weather always plays its part in the proceedings. In 2018 the race took place as the Beast from the East swept the country and was officially stopped halfway through during a blizzard. Last year featured torrential rain, freezing gale force winds and horizontal hail, and many runners dropped out – including me! The wind was so strong we couldn’t even run on some flat sections. Soaked to the skin and dithering with cold, I’d had enough after a horrible 20 miles that took me six hours. It was the first time I’d ever DNF’d in a race, and afterwards I felt really annoyed about it, even though I know it was the right decision at the time.

Continue reading “Race Review – Hardmoors 55 Ultramarathon 2020”

Getting Back To ‘Normal’

Hello folks, it’s been a while! How are we all doing? I feel like we’ve all been in running limbo for the past few months. In my last blog post, at the end of April, I wondered if things would be back to some kind of normality by the summer, but as it turned out that was a tad optimistic! So many events have been cancelled or postponed until next year that my 2021 schedule is already looking pretty busy.

Continue reading “Getting Back To ‘Normal’”

Running in Lockdown

I last posted here in mid-March, and in the relatively short time since then the world has changed beyond recognition. At that time I’d just run the Golden Fleece Circuit as part of my preparation for the Highland Fling race, my main target for spring. Not long afterwards we were in lockdown and everything was cancelled. One by one the events I was planning to take part in over the spring and summer fell like dominos: the Daffodil Dash, the Helmsley 10K, the Vale of York 10, the York & District clubs summer 10K league, the Fling, the Windermere Marathon, Race to the Castle, Endure 24… right up until July. I don’t have anything in the diary until the Hardmoors Farndale Marathon in August now. But who knows whether life will be back to anything approaching normal even by then? It was all totally understandable, but so disappointing.

Continue reading “Running in Lockdown”