Four Munros and a Marathon: week 3

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!

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Four Munros and a Marathon: week 2

This September and October, I’ll be running two tough races, three weeks apart: the inaugural Ring of Steall Skyrace and then Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. Every week, I’ll be reflecting on my training – what worked, what didn’t, changes made, fueling, diet, sleep.. everything.

What I learned this week:

  • You can think outside of the box when it comes to mid-race fuel for long distance trail runs and ultras. It doesn’t have to be typical energy gels or chews – which for me, get sickening very quickly – it can be actual food that you can eat on the go and carry in your pack. This week, I bought a bunch of higher carb, paleo-ish, real food options to experiment with during long trail runs: dried mango, dried mixed fruit (mango, pineapple, coconut), Bounce protein energy balls (roasted almond), Kallo organic milk chocolate-covered rice cakes, gluten-free pretzels (super high carb and salty!), Nakd salted caramel bites.
  • I could take an easy week because I had already had a few training weeks under my belt, (though not all have been blogged about), and because I have a huge hill run planned for week 3, so I needed to save my legs a bit.
  • A hill running tip from my friend Dee, who is like a mountain goat when it comes to running up huge hills: she makes it straight to the top! She said to keep your torso straight up and down, pump the arms, small steps and just shut out the pain, the toll. I can do all of that, apart from the shutting out – I’m working on that.

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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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Knowing My Limits

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Pat has entered the D33 Ultra marathon for March. It is a 33 mile out-and-back race from Aberdeen to Banchory and back. He has just started training for it, and being the supportive wife I am (read: I actually just need to push distance beyond my comfort zone of 8 miles lately), I elected to join him on his long runs. They started last week with a very hilly 11 miles of landrover track through the woods of Drumtochty. This past week, Pat decided to increase to 15 miles, and reluctantly I went along.

I say ‘relucantly’ because realistically, I shouldn’t be increasing distance so much, so soon. At this time last year, I was half marathon fit and mentally, I would’ve been comfortable with a 15 mile run. This year, my current long run fitness is at the 8 mile mark – I can bang out an easy 8 mile run with no adverse effects. My hips wouldn’t ache, I wouldn’t feel tired after the run, I’d be fine to get on with writing, meal prep, cleaning, whatever for the rest of the day. And I wouldn’t feel the after-effects of stiff muscles and tiredness the following day.

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Train Low, Race High for Endurance Athletes

After a brief hiatus due to our annual summer holiday, I’m back! Kinda.

Check out my third article for Primal Eye Magazine, a fitness piece on a weapon in my training arsenal: Train Low, Race High. It’s all about training in a lower glycogen state – achieved through timely carb consumption – then racing with muscles stocked to the brim with energy. This allows the paleo or primal fat-adapted endurance athlete to use fat as a main fuel for training, and makes more efficient use of glycogen stores, which results in not hitting the wall or bonking so quickly. You can effectively run without needing to depend on pre-run and mid-run fuel, and run towards many PB’s. Like me.

Read the full article here.

And, if you’re wondering about being fat-adapted, or a fat-burner as opposed to a sugar-burner, check out my Primal Lessons post all about the two types of fuel your body can use. I also have an updated version on tap for Primal Eye as well.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my post about our trip to Ireland!

Stonehaven Half Marathon race recap

Back in April, I set myself the challenge of running a sub-2 hour half marathon. I chose the Stonehaven Half for this challenge. It has hills, many hills. And, it takes place in July when, typically, the weather is hot…. Not European continent or North America-heatwave hot, but hot enough to make it tough to run. Clearly, when I seek out challenges, I like to make things hard for myself!

I took a holistic approach to my training, which resulted in a new half marathon personal best in training – 2:04:xx, after having set my half marathon PB of 2:09:47 at the 2013 Aviemore Half. Training went well. I trained in the heat and incorporated many hills into my long runs. From what I’d been told about the race, the first four miles of the race were uphill, then the route levelled off, and the last four miles were downhill. My plan was to run the start steady with miles no less than 11 minutes (in case the hills were especially steep or long), then pick up the pace along the level section, and speed back into Stonehaven to a sub-2hr finish. That was my plan…

This would also be my first race running for Stonehaven. I had even bought a club vest to mark the occasion, and looked forward to being part of a ‘team’ and having an association again. I miss this from my days of playing softball back in Canada.

Race morning started with my usual, fatty and filling breakfast of a two-egg and vegetable omelette, fruit + coconut cream + Nutter Bomb, and a bulletproof espresso. While substantial and heavy, I ate this at 7:30am; the race started at 10am.

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Does anyone feel like June just flew by? Does anyone feel like 2015 has flown by????!??! I don’t know about you, but my life is pretty hectic by choice right now: full time work, half marathon training, article deadlines, food prep every day and every week, and trying to have somewhat of a life. It is for all these reasons my blog has been bit quiet lately, and it is for these reasons today’s What I Ate Wednesday post is going to be lazy. I’m not linking up to anyone’s blog party, nor am I posting the usual WIAW logo. Rather than going to the party, I’ll stay at home, eat my food, lie in bed and watch live-streaming on my laptop. Graham Norton anyone?

Check out what this primal eater ate one Saturday a while back…


Weekends, I tend to eat slightly different. Because my fruit + coconut cream + crumbled nutter bomb is my absolute favourite, I will eat it first. Weekdays, I eat my eggs + veg first.

This was enjoyed at about 8 am.

food 2

So lazy, I used a ‘stock’ photo

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