Tuesday, 9 June 2009

All over....for the moment

Now awaiting a bone scan, but the horrible fact of the matter is that UTMB is off for me. I still can't run a mile without swelling and pain in my left knee.

It goes without saying that I am completely gutted by the way this year has turned out, but I am trying to be philosphical. My life is blessed in so many ways. Although running is a big part of it, it is not all of it. And I will run again! Just got to have some serious time out while we get to the bottom of what could be wrong with the knee.

So this blog will continue to be very quiet for a while.

Thanks for stopping by and GOOD LUCK with your running.


Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Still Waiting

Still waiting on the results of an initial x-ray, which I should get on Friday. Frustrating times, but I am keeping as positive as possible. Doing lots of cycling.

In the meantime, maybe you could vote for my primary school's blog in an online competition?! Vote Otley All Saints. Thanks!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Lying low

I wanted to say a big thank you to those of you who have been in touch to ask me where I've been over the last few weeks. It's really nice to know people notice when you go AWOL!

It started when at the beginning of the Easter holidays when I put a new kitchen in my house. This was hard work (see the photos!) and took a couple of weeks all in. During this time I could only snatch the odd run here and the odd hike there.

When the jobs were done, I was despereate to get out and went out for two quick hill runs in succession. Now I'm paying for it big-time. My left knee has flared up and I'm not quite sure what's the matter with it. It isn't sore exactly, but it swells up when I try to run on it further than 4 miles or so.

I'm going to the doctor on Wednesday (that's how bad it is!)

So wish me luck. I can feel myself getting heavier and grumpier by the minute. August isn't that far away :(

Here's my kitchen anyway!

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Nice 7m trail

Lovely 7m trail run which provided a very welcom distraction from DIY, work and poorly children :)

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Club Run

Perhaps the last headtorch club session for a while (at least at the start of a run)as the clocks go forward next wseekend. Ran with Chris and Andrew a hilly trail route up the Chevin of about 6m. Felt good tonight.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


Only managed one run last week as I was away with work for 3 days. Ran an urban 7miles in Nottingham. It was the first day of Spring and felt like it too. Warm sunny and very pleasant!

That's in stark contrast to tonight - ran a 7m trail run with the club. It felt really cold again, very windy and pretty wet and miserable. OK run though, and not too much knee pain thank goodness.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

3 peaks

Travelled over to Horton today to the Yorkshire 3 peaks with Nick and his friend Tim. Tim is a fairly prolific walker, but not a runner. His previous best time for the 3 peaks route was 7hrs 36mins. He was intent on beating that record today and Nick was trying to help him do it. I said I'd go along to help, but also to get a recce of the 3 peaks route in and just to get 7hrs or so time on my feet going up steep hills.

It was a cracking day from start to finish. Quite warm in the valleys and cool on the tops, no rain and only a light breeze.

Tim got barked at by Nick and I all the way round (sorry Tim!) but he did manage to smash his previous record and finished in 6hrs 53 minutes. A big improvement - well done!

I was impressed with Tim's determination to get round and for a non-runner, I thought he did a great job.

For me, this was quite a slow trot round, but very valuable nonetheless. 23 miles of hills, bogs and fell can't do anybody any harm. Add to that great scenery, crackng weather and good company and you've got a great day out. Cheers Nick and Tim!

Me waiting for the others at the top of Whernside

Nick and Tim descending Whernside

At the bottom of Whernside

Nick at the top of Ingleborough

Tim at the top of Ingleborough

Final Sprint!


Thursday, 12 March 2009

Late run

Parents evening tonight, so a late run up in the Chevin. A really good one too! Ran a 7mish loop listening to ridiculous electronic music.

The annoying news is (as predicted) my old headtorch turned up tonight. £60 down the drain :(

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Club Run

Nice 7m North of the river run with the club. Had to give up on finding my old head torch (how do you lose a headtorch?!) and buy a new one. Gutted. Nice to have light while running night-trails though - it isn't always a full moon!

Monday, 9 March 2009


Took a bit of a weekend off this weekend after tweaking my knee on Friday. I was only putting the bins out (isn't it always something like that?!) and had a bit of ligament pain in the left knee, so (rather sensibly I think you'll agree!) took the weekend off running.

Back into it tonight though with a good pacey 8m road run.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Club run

Nice 7m trail run North of the river. Cold again.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Short hill session

Ran a short but steep hill session. Couldn't find my pesky headtorch, but luckily the moon was shining. Chilly night.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009


Ran a 6m road session with the club tonight on a pretty miserable evening. Cold, wet and windy conditions kept most runners indoors tonight, but a few prized themselves out the front door for a trot.

I ran an old club favourite tonight. The Triangle - a 6m road route which before a few of us started running with headtorches was the staple Winter run.

Nice to run a route and notice how much I've improved as a runner since I used to struggle round this course a few years ago.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Kit test/long run

Loaded up my backpack today with the kit I'll be using to recce the TMB in July. I have thought really hard about weight and how I can keep it to an absolute minimum. My fully loaded pack was 3.8kg today. Think I may have another 4-500g on top of that.

I thought it would feel heavy and uncomfortable, but although definitely not ideal, I managed a good long hilly trail run of 20m without any problems. Used my trail poles on the uphills and on the technical downhills today too and I have to say that I love them. They make such a difference (despite the odd looks!)

Mr pack race weight for August will hopefully be much nearer the minimum allowable pack weight of 2kg, but I'm going to train with the heavier bag for my long runs.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Nice run tonight

Ran a nice 7m trail tonight and felt fit and strong.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

One of those runs...

After a really busy day today, I didn't much feel like going out running at 10:30. I did go however for a trail run up on the hill. Felt awful throughout (just no energy) but pushed on and completed 5m. Doesn't sound much, but had to really push to get that far.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009


Nice 7m off-road run with the headtorch. It has been really mild the last week or so and the ice and snow have long since departed. Felt cooler again tonight though - could there be one final sting in the tail to the Winter of 08-09?!

Hope so!

Sunday, 22 February 2009


Ran 17 miles on-road tonight as I just wanted to switch off and follow my feet without thinking about rocks, branches, puddles etc!

Forgot how tiring road-running is! Had planned to run 23m, but stupidly forgot vaseline on the thighs... ouch! 17m was more than enough!

Ok loop from Otley to Guisely, Rawdon, Horsforth, West Park, Adel, Bramhope and Otley.


Had a nice time doing some mountain stuff, but unfortunately most of the snow had gone and it was rainy and windy. Still nice to be up in the hills though!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Weekend running

Ran some nice trails this weekend before my trip up North to spend some time in the hills with Iain.

Thursday, 12 February 2009


Rubbish run, no energy, to icy to stand up on the trails, so came home after 3m! Noth bothered as have run well this week. Off for an early night.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


Ran a nice 8m road loop tonight, up to Bramhope, through the village and back down to Otley. The first half of the run was directly towards a near-full moon, just rising over the horizon. Beautiful.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Club run

Nice off-road night run with two guys from the club tonight. Bit treacherous as most of the snow has turned to ice. Good pacey run though under a cool full moon.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Short run

Intended to do a longer run today but other things had to take priority. Got out for a short run tonight however, running a hilly 4 mile circuit in more fresh snow. Going to be so sad when the snow does finally disappear. Up on the hill at night in the moonlight and snow, it's like I've got my own Winter Wonderland Training Ground! There's only me up there and I've got heactares of snowy forest to run in. I feel so lucky. Think the snow's here for the week judging by the weather forecast too :)

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Hill Loops

Ran 5 loops of a hilly circuit on beautiful moonlit snowy trails. Overall, 15 miles and 1000m of ascent/descent. Great run!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Yet more snow!

Ran another good snow run tonight with the club. The snow's a bit more compacted tonight, but still great for running. Ran a nice hilly 6m trail.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

More snow

Just back from a totally amazing run. Would probably rank it in my top ten, possibly top 5 of any run!

Ran a headlight run with a few club members up the Chevin. The icy, frozen snow in the valley gave way to awesome powder snow up top, nicely compact on the trails, but still deep enough to cushion legs while running. The trees hung heavy with deep snow and they looked stunning by torchlight.

A beautiful experience.

Monday, 2 February 2009


Did a couple of hill loops tonight. In the absence of any bigger hills, I have worked out quite a good loop which maximises local available elevation change and allows me to get a 3 mile loop in too. One loop = 3m and 200m ascent. Ran three last night and 2 tonight. Although the mileage isn't high, I am finding it a strain on the lungs so I figure it must be doing me some good.

I might use this loop (possible X 5) on a Saturday as a training session, followed by a flatter endurance run on a Sunday. Also I'll throw these loops in as walks whenever I get the chance as I suppose lots of the uphills on the UTMB wil be walks.

I'm rambling! A nice run in cool wintry conditions.

West Highland Way Race

I have made the decision today to pull out of the West Highland Way Race 2009. Having completed this fantastic event in 2008, I thought that i could manage two 100 mile races in one season. The way my season is going, I have to concentrate on one race only and I have decided to give my full committment to the UTMB.

I have offered my services as a marshall, and I hope that I have not caused Dario too many problems.

Hope to see you WHWers on the trail in June.

I am still planning to run the half WHWR (The Highland Fling) in April.


Looking forward to running in this later on :)

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Poles etc

Have been busy deconstructing my kitchen today ready for a new one to go in in a few weeks, so didn't get out for a long run today.

Instead, tonight I took the poles for a test drive. Having got the wrong size ones to begin with (110cm) I took the new ones (123cm) for a spin.

Did 3 climbs of the Chevin> Thought they were great, really boosting the legs on the climbs and light enough to carry on the returns downhill.

Knee heald up ok too :)

Saturday, 31 January 2009


Ran a late 6m Pool loop.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Training again

Bliss! Ran 7m with the club. Was really nervous about it as I had said I would rest until the weekend. Knee felt good though and the cold I have had since the weekend also seemed to respond well to running.

The great thing about it was that I don't seem to have lost too much fitness.

Ran a nice trail up in the Chevin at a steady pace. No running tomorrow and then we'll see what the weekend brings.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Tentative run

Ran a very cautious 3 miles tonight just to see what the knee felt like.

Please as there was no sign of any obvious problems. Rest tomorrow then run again on Thursday.

Think the cycling and quad exercises help.

Stressful not running for 9 days when there's SO much training to do. Glad to have run a bit tonight though. Just makes you feel so much better. It's a definite addiction!

Sunday, 25 January 2009


Left knee again. Feels a bit different. Think it might be ligament damage, but could be the old trouble.

Whatever it is I'm treating it with the respect it deserves and laying off running for a few days. It's making me grouchy and uber-stresed but it's the only approach.

In the meantime I'm doing leg strengthening exercises (carefully!) and some cycling which seems ok.

Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


Late night 15m cycle to Ilkley and back via Denton etc. Cold, windy and sleety. Nice.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

A bit of a longer run

Starting to increase the lengths of my weekend runs now. Ran 15 miles today with as many hills as I could find and coped fine. Then went for a nice hilly 3m walk with my children, so all in all a nice day of hills!

Ran two circuits of yesterday's run + a bit more. On the second circuit, I overcame my vanity and used the my new poles which were given to me for my birthday (tomorrow by the way!).

Initial reactions to running with poles:
At first it felt really alien, like I would have to re-learn how to run.
It got easier really quickly, especially once I got a bit of rhythm going.
Going up and down hills, I could feel the benefit. Very stable and definitely takes some of the strain of the quads and knees.
I'm going to need to do some upper body strength training between now and then as I could feel the added strain on that part of my body (and my poles are only 240g!), but I had expected that anyway and have already begun.

Thoughts on my poles (Raidlight trail poles)
They are VERY light.
They are collapsible (they use a kind of tent pole design with a string running through the middle)
They are slightly flexible
They are quite short

I am 5'10" and they are about right for me, but I don't think they'd suit someone much taller (they are 110cm). Also I am about 70kg and I can feel them flex under my weight...don't think I'd want to be much heavier and use them.

All in all, I'm not sure I've made the right choice. They felt quite good and I'll have to do a lot more practice with them before I know if they suit me or not. I was quite please with how they felt in my hands and with the added stability and 'pull' on the ups and downs. The jury's still out but an interesting first attempt.

Saturday, 17 January 2009


Ran a nice hilly 7m trail route this evening up in the Chevin.

Did some weights last night. Will see what effect they have after a few sessions.

Thursday, 15 January 2009


Nice 7m off-road circuit with the club. Got heaps of stick for running with my pack tonight! Not bothered. Makes no sense to train all year without one then suddenly gain 2kg on race day. Wait til they see the poles!!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Itchy Feet

Ordered myself some lightweight trail poles this week (when in Rome...) so I can get practising with them.

Had some bad experiences with online shopping recently but I have to say that Itchy Feet were superb. Good, friendly advice, reasonable prices, quick delivery.


It's official!

Got email confirmation today that I have a place in this year's UTMB. Thank goodness as I've booked my flights! The rest of the plan is also starting to come together slowly...

As for tonight, took an evening off as my legs have been feeling niggly all day. Think it's the cycling on Monday night...so left it tonight and will run with the club tomorrow.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


Well I did get up this morning to hike up the hill and to be perfectly honest it hurt! Hurt dragging myself out of bed and hurt my tight glute muscles!

Tonight I had intended to run with the club, but Briony late home so ran later. 7m average pace. Feel better for it.

Monday, 12 January 2009


Started my week with a cycle tonight. Did a 17 mile hilly route at a good intensity. Fun.

Initial thoughts on the UTMB

The enormity of the task ahead hit home today. I have nearly finished thinking about all the 'glossy bits' like booking flights, equipment, campsites, my recce runs etc and have actually begun to think a bit about how I'm going to get in good shape for this and stay injury free. Good question.

My tentative plan is to as follows:

I will start each day with a hike up the hill near me. A tiny blip of a thing compared to the Alps, but a hill none-the-less and beggars can't be choosers! I also plan to end each training run with the same climb, just when the legs are tired.

Mondays: Hilly high intensity cycling routes to allow the quads to build strength but reuce impact after high-mileage weekends.
Tuesdays: Club run.
Wednesdays: Specific hill reps.
Thursdays: Club run.
Fridays: Weights.
Saturdays: Medium runs of 10 - 15 miles with hills.
Sundays: Long runs of 20 - 30 miles with hills (incl. 3 peaks runs)

I aim to increase the intensity of each week over a 4 week period, with week 4 being a biggy and then reducing a little. Each block of 4 will also increase in mileage and intensity until the recce runs at the end of July and beginning of August at which point I'll cut it right back.

I plan to use sticks as often as possible on longer hilly runs to get used to them.

Initial thoughts only and highly flexible. Good to have a starting point though. I'll see just how serious I am about all of this tomorrow morning when my alarm goes off at 5.40 am. I HATE getting up early.

Saturday, 10 January 2009


Ran a good 13m road session home from Leeds this afternoon. No problems with the distance, in fact feeling very fresh at the end.

It's really cold still at the moment. lovely running weather!

Not so good for spiders though :(

A little about the UTMB

Most people who are into running distances know something about the UTMB. Most long-distance walkers know the route simply as the TMB, or Tour de Mont Blanc.

For those who don't know, here is a map and some information:

And the profile:

Basically the Tour de Mont Blanc is a long distance trail which circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif, passing through France, Italy and Switzerland en route. It is ca. 103 miles in distance and has an elevation gain in the region of 9000m.

The UTMB is a single stage, semi-self sufficient event and as you might be able to tell I am immensely excited about the prospect of preparing for and running this amazing trail!!

Friday, 9 January 2009

UTMB is go!

Heard news this morning that I have managed to get a place in the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc - this year's 'big race'!

Here is the word from the official website:

2009 Registrations - 08/01/2009 ; 11:54
Between 17th December 2008 and January 7th 2009, more than 5000 runners were pre-registered to take part in one of the 4 events in the 2009 edition of The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®.

For each course, everyone has to justify the qualifying events, according to a new rule noticeably more exacting than for preceding years with the objective of opening the registrations to more experienced competitors and increasing the security of everybody. That way, the pre-registrations happened without a rush and the number of available places for each event was not exceeded.

The organizing committee therefore has the great pleasure of announcing that as of today all the runners pre-registered may confirm their registration (*).Everybody will receive, at the beginning of the next week, an e-mail explaining the procedure that they must follow to confirm their final registration.

I'm really excited about this race but more than a little nervous too! Delighted to have a place.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

What a difference a day makes

Clear skies, good company, clear mind, strong lungs, tree-lined trails, bright moon, 7 miles of pure bliss.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Bad run :(

Went out for a 7m run tonight, but only managed 4m in total as bonked badly! Horrid run, no energy, sore knees and feeling generally rubbish. These runs do happen from time to time.

Will run again tomorrow!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Club run

Ran a pleasant and in parts pacey run with the club tonight. All on road and about 6m in length. Beautiful still, icy, crisp evening. I love this weather :)

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Harrogate Ringway

Just back from the relay race around the Harrogate Ringway. What fun!

It's been quite some time since I ran a fast short trail race and I enjoyed it immensely. I must put more smaller races into my training as they are so good for the cardiovascular system and also really motivational.

Managed to claw back 6 places for my team - not sure where we finished, but we all seemed to enjoy it anyway!

Well done team!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Trails at dusk

Ran a nice 6m hilly trail run this eveing as the light was fading in preparation for tomorrow'a Harrogate Ringway relay race.

December and the start of January have been the coldest months for a long time in the UK and it has been lovely to be out running in the dry, icy conditions.

Looking forward to tomorrow's event - hope I dob't get lost!

Still ticking over!

Came to the conclusion that a sustained and coordinated approach to training over the holiday period was pointless, so I adopted a more adhoc approach this year and it felt quite good.

I have been snatching the opportunity to run whenever possible and did a few short sharp walks in the Lakes too. Ran a hilly 7m course last night and it felt pretty good.

Tomnorrow I will run for Otley AC in the Harrogate Ringway relay race.