This September and October, I’ll be running two tough races, three weeks apart: the inaugural Ring of Steall Skyrace and the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. Every week, I’ll be reflecting on my training – what worked, what didn’t, changes made, fueling, diet, sleep, etc.
What I learned this week:
- One of the reasons the Ring of Steall has a huge elevation gain (8200 feet or 2500 m) in so little distance (16 miles or 25km) is that it starts, and finishes, at sea level. There is a sea loch at Kinlochleven, the site of the race start/finish. This means, that rather than the usual inland ascent of say 2000 feet (which is still a lot but doable), we’re climbing from the very bottom to the very top of a munro, immediately. That’s over 3000 feet. Good thing I’m still in the early phases of training.
- Take more clothes on long trail runs because you never know what Mother Nature will throw at you!
- My fitness is much better than it was a few months ago. This training is paying off big time.
- Never drink alcohol, even a small amount, the day of a long trail run. You’ll find out why!
25 January in Scotland is Burns Night: a day to celebrate the work of Scottish poet Robert Burns. People don tartan, recite Burns poetry (in Scots no less), and dine on a traditional meal of haggis, neeps (mashed turnips), and tatties (mashed potato). Across the country, local Burns Suppers are held, all culminating in a ceilidh.
While we didn’t have haggis for our actual Burns Supper this past Monday, we did have Rumbledethumps, a traditional Scottish dish originating from the Scottish Borders, close to England. Aside from being delicious, Rumbledethumps is a marriage of root and cruciferous vegetables, as well as tubers, all grown in Scotland. Typically, it contains potatoes and boiled cabbage, but this is a recipe of variables: you could also add sweet potato, squash, pumpkin, turnip, or even parsnip to the mash. My recipe adds carrots. You can add your preferred cheese too.
You’ll have seen it floating about Instagram: Best 9 of 2015 – your nine top-liked photos, put in a nice picture grid to post on Instagram. While it’s a great way to see which posts your followers really liked (food in my case!), I thought my Best 9 photos for me were lacking in any kind of substance: while delicious, the photos didn’t capture any meaningful moments for me this past year. 2015 was a significant year in both good and bad ways, so to mark the past 365 (+5) days, I’ve put together the photos that I think captured my nine most significant moments of 2015.
This past week on my Instagram account, I posted a series of running tips describing strategies I use to help with race recovery. Last week, I ran the Glen Clova Half Marathon, and my recovery started immediately after the race. If you’re looking for ways to help promote recovery, stave off illness and prevent injury, but you missed my Instagram series (or you’re not even on Instagram) don’t worry: here they are.
This race was a tale of two halves, with me relying on information from others to guide my expectations of the route. Leading up to the race, I had been told two facts about it: #1 it’s easier than the Stonehaven Half; you’ll have no problem with Clova; and #2 this race is so hard!!!! I wasn’t sure what to believe, but neither influenced my ultimate decision to just run this race. There wasn’t going to be any pursuit of a new 13.1 personal best – I think two in one year is enough – but I had hoped that I would still, based on these ‘facts,’ be able to run a sub-2 hour race in the least.
In the days before the race, I had been experiencing a dry cough in the morning, accompanied with mouthfuls of phlegm. While I had left my previous job because of how the stress was getting my entire wellbeing down, it appears my immune system still wanted to do me over. That, coupled with working with little germ ball children again, and the fact that I’ve still been more so 80/20 than 95/5 with my diet, led to a chest thing less than a month after my throat thing. Side note: I really need to get my act in gear because I don’t like all this being ill business!
Upon hearing me still coughing the night before the race, Pat queried my intentions for the next day. I clarified that I wasn’t going out to race the race, but rather just run around the route and hope for a time under two hours. I hadn’t even bought my usual Honey Stinger Energy Chews, and instead opted for the very paleo but sweet Nakd bars made of nuts and dates.
Welcome to Link Up Week at Eat Primal, Run Hard: a week of posts linking up to other blogs to spread the blog word! Today’s link up is with Jessie at The Right Fits – My Best (or Worse) of my racing history.
Best Finisher’s Shirt
Despite not enjoying the Edinburgh Marathon Festival Half, I really like the t-shirt. There’s something about the silhouette of the Mound and Edinburgh Castle on the rear bottom right of the t-shirt that I love.
I am two weeks away from my first triathlon, the Grantown Try a Tri. I’ve been training all summer for it, but have kept it all under wraps, until now. When you have so much information you want to share regarding primal eating, one gets distracted 😉
Although I’m a capable swimmer, having taken lessons and earned all my badges as a child, I literally hadn’t swam laps in a pool for about twenty years. I got back into it at the end of June, after entering my triathlon. Monday nights were designated swim nights in our house, where Pat and I would head up to Stonehaven to swim laps. The pool itself is 50m long, heated, outdoor and a combination of saltwater and chlorine, which makes for some very shriveled lips post session.
My goal initially was to just survive a session. I started swimming straight laps of front crawl, with brief rests between each length; I managed 800m my first time. And I was exhausted afterwards! As the summer progressed, so did my swim fitness to the point where each session is easily 1000m (or 1km), without rests, and even incorporating some speed intervals into the mix. I’ve done either 5 x 50m one way with 50m back as my recovery, or 3 x 100m with 50m recovery. I genuinely enjoy swimming in the outdoor pool, especially on sunny days. Continue reading
Coconut Friends is a new, monthly series I’ve started to showcase people’s journeys and success using a variation of primal eating. Primal eating affects us all in different ways, and the reasons we start doing it varies as well. The term comes from my friend Amie’s boyfriend Jamie: whenever she would talk to him about me, he called me her ‘Coconut Friend,’ especially since Amie cooks so much with coconut oil. And, as we know, coconuts and all their goodness are the cornerstone for any primal eater.
It’s only fitting that Amie is my first Coconut Friend. She is a good friend of mine: we met through work, but we’ve bonded over some running, but mainly our passion for paleo and primal eating, and spreading the message of just eating real food (aka JERF!) to others. I think Amie is an elite runner, but she’s so humble she’ll never tell you that. Amie will also be a partner in my primal business. Here is her primal journey.
I’m an athlete therefore I’m healthy!
I didn’t get into the Paleo lifestyle to lose weight, far from it; I was just over 8 stone (112 lbs = 51 kg. Amie is 5′ 1″ tall), with an enviable body fat percentage of just 14.5%. I run for a well respected athletic club: Fife AC, representing my club at regional and national events in Scotland. I have been selected to run for the East of Scotland in the international championships on two occasions. I train six days a week and sometimes twice a day. I thought I was fit and healthy. My half marathon PB – 1:24:57 – told me so, right?
In my EMF half marathon recap, I wrote about trying new races and training strategies. At that point, I’d been on the same training plan since January, and I was in serious need of something new. If you’re a follower of this blog, you’ll know I changed things up big time, with running and eating, and I now feel like my outlook on things has been refreshed. This is exactly how I wanted to feel going into the Ballater 10 mile race at the end of July. Although I had abandoned my training regime of speedwork Tuesday, hill reps Thursday and long run Sunday, I’ve still been mixing things up and challenging myself in new ways: swimming on a Monday, then the rest of the week contains a hill reps session, usually a trail run, and body weight exercises according to Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Fitness. Push-ups, pull-ups, squats and plank have been part of my routine for the last few weeks and I’ve noticed an overall improvement to my fitness based on the new changes.
Many people in my running club had entered this race, but with summer holidays and a more relaxed approach to running, only three of us ended up running. Pat and I made our way to Ballater, an hour’s drive into the Highlands of Scotland, the same route used to get to Balmoral Castle. I wasn’t sure what to make of this race as it was new to all of us running and I hadn’t properly trained for it. I trusted my fitness would be there to run 10 miles.
We arrived at Monaltrie Park in Ballater, and met up with Brian from our club. He immediately informed me that my friend, Mr Second Last Place man from the Johnston Tower Race, was also racing Ballater. I wasn’t sure what to think: would he say something cheeky again? Or would he even remember me? I just left that up to chance.
It’s been about a week since the Edinburgh Marathon Festival Half. Stress time is now over: training is finished, our school inspection has taken place (we did very well!), and our schedule of jam-packed weekend after jam-packed weekend is finished. June will be a quiet month, on purpose. I now have more time to write, and first on the agenda: this half recap!
The EMF half started at 8 am Sunday, which gave us a very good reason to book a room in a (posh) B & B in Edinburgh’s New Town, take our time driving down, and dine at our favourite Chinese food restaurant, Chop Chop in Haymarket, the night before the race. And this is exactly what we did.
Pat and I walked the 15 minutes-ish from our New Town accommodation to Haymarket, stopping for an alcoholic beverage on the way. Continue reading