Ring of Steall Skyrace Weekend

A month ago yesterday was the Ring of Steall Skyrace, part of a phenomenal weekend put together by the Skyline Scotland team, Ourea Events and the amazing people that make up the mountain running community.

This was my big race of 2016. I was trying something new (skyrunning: big ascents, tough terrain), flirting with ultra running time-on-your-feet territory, and pushing my boundaries physically, but most importantly, mentally. I learned so much about myself during the entire training period, about what I can do, how my mind puts limitations on my abilities, and how to continue to push through mental barriers. In a way, when it comes to trail running, I grew up.

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The weekend started with a drive in the dark from our home in Aberdeenshire to Kinlochleven, the location of the Skyline Scotland race weekend, as well as Ice Factor, the very important event centre. Pat and I arrived at Ice Factor with minutes to spare before registration shut. Thankfully, we were the only ones registering at the time, despite the many competitors lingering about the place. We picked up our race bibs and maps, got our dibbers fastened onto our wrists, got photos taken, picked up our complimentary race t-shirt, and got our kit bags checked by staff. We also impulse-purchased the Skyline Scotland hoodies. It was then off to our accommodation to attempt to unpack, unwind and get some sleep before the biggest race of our lives.

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Four Munros and a Marathon: week 1

In 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.

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Going into week 1, there were a few things I learned and therefore needed to incorporate into my training:

  • Because The Ring of Steall has such a massive elevation gain, all of my runs need to have vertical: there needs to be substantial, preferably repetitive, massive hill climbing every session.
  • I was still 18 weeks away from the marathon so I didn’t need to do a 4th run of the week, being the longer road run with some miles at tempo pace.
  • After reading Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run – a definite must-read for running tips, persevering, and a few paleo-friendly recipes – I learned a new running technique for uphill: take smaller steps, to the point that it doesn’t feel as though you’re actually running, but you’re still moving efficiently and quickly uphill.
  • Until the 9th of October, I’ll be working my ass off each week.

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