Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Just, Well, Out

Spent the past couple of days, not necessarily training, but just out and about with a couple of friends who came up from London.
The first day didn't see the best weather in the morning, so we headed out for a run up over Shelf Moor- kind of following the Shelf Moor race route- which is going to be run in Sept/oct time.
I found out today that we did it in the wrong direction... in which case I really really need to work on going up hill. The one we came down would be a totally horrific slope to run up... If I could RUN up it as opposed to having to stop to walk during the race, it would be rather superb.

So we headed out for a run up there. The wind was blowing like crazy- must have been gusting force 8 up there by the trig. We headed over to Overexposed, and also saw the remains of the Lancaster that went down just around the corner from there as well.
As mentioned, the run down the hill was somewhat fantastic, though a little stoney at times. I was wearing the 268s again, as the path at the beginning and end of the run would have played havoc with a pair of Baregrips.
I need something that is slightly inbetween them. It may well be the x-talon, but I haven't had a chance to try them out yet.

On the way back, I managed to run up the side of Shire hill- I could barely speak by the time I got to the top- and could not have run uphill much further- hence more hill training...
The afternoon saw better weather, and we grabbed a load of climbing gear and headed up to Wormstones. (I managed to get a bit of training in by carrying my rack and 2 ropes up there).
We set up a couple of topropes and messed around for a few hours, and were quite astonished when it turned out to be 7pm.

A hurried pack up and stroll down, then to the pub (The Wheatsheaf, if you must know), for their rather delightful food, and Wrens Nest on tap.

Sunday involved being fairly sedentiary for a lot of the day, and then at about 4pm we headed over to Hayfield to wander up and down Kinder. We passed a few people who seemed to be a little perturbed that we were setting off so late in the day (there was still 5 hours of daylight left) and without Hiking shoes (shock horror). Nope- inov8s all the way.

Again, fairly blowy on the tops, and the Downfall was being turned into something of an Up-blow, but the walk down the peaty trod was lovely and bouncey. Back home well in time for sunset, and a stew with dumplings. mmmm. and beer. and scrabble. Which I comprehensively lost.

Yesterday was an easy morning followed by a session down in Glossop Lesiure Centre climbing wall. The weather was horrible, and there wasn't a chance that anything would have been dry. I'd seen the wall before, but not been there to climb- its a 1990 Bendcrete wall, with a couple of screw on discs- but mostly crazy features (all of which are numbered).
We played add-on in the 3 sectors, and generally knackered ourselves out. I knew there was a list of problems somewhere, but the centre staff didn't know anything about it.

However, after a quick search about on the internet for it, I found out where it was and obtained a copy. There are a LOT of problems on that wall, ranging from 4c to 6c (British tech), so my winter days and evenings are going to be challenging to say the least!

There we go. Im now having a rest day, catching up with everything here, and on Global Therapies and waiting for the parents to arrive...
got a race tomorrow, so look out for the report on the Global therapies site.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Out bagging Bagshawe

Up early for a drive over to Hope, (beyond Hope, actually- ho ho ho)... We stopped off in The Woodbine cafe in Hope for a quick cuppa and some 2nd breakfast. Our leader for the day strolled in and after a short chat about where we were going and what to expect, we headed off up to the top of the valley above Bradwell.

Getting changed into a polartec bodysuit and then a waterresistant over suit, and a pair of wellies, industrial marigolds and a helmet with a lamp on (petzl, if you must know) we headed down.
The cave we were going down was Bagshawe Cavern, not a particularly difficult cave, as could be seen by the 2 minibus loads of kids that preceded us down into the complex, but (as reported in the Caving guide to the area) a good beginners cave, and one that had a lot of interesting stuff, if you looked for it.

I won't go into the whole oooh wasn't it scary business, mainly because it wasn't. The guidance we were given in terms of the knowledge acquired was very good.
Information about how the caves were formed, the main types of rock around us, why and how various cracks were created, and what was mined for. The obvious stalagtites and stalagmites were encountered, but also flowstone and small helictites, (which are pretty damn cool when you look at them, and even cooler when you learn about how they end up being made- which involves capillary action, carbonic acid and evaporating water).

The knowledge that we gained about the geology of the area didn't stop at what we were experiencing underground, but encompassed the entire valley and beyond- really interesting when you consider what kind of rock you are climbing on in the Peak, where it came from and how the heck it came to be there.

There were a few deeper (but not horrendously deep) puddles that we had to wade through, and a couple fo fun crawls, but nothing too technical. The helmet was ok, but very front heavy, (obviously because of the light), and I suspect that tech has got a whole lot better since that was made, but as something that I borrowed, it worked fine, protected my head, and hey, I'm not going to complain about that.
So as a beginning experience, that was good fun- I don't seem to have a head for working out directions underground yet, though I guess that just takes time and practice.
Just need to buy some of my own kit and make it work now.
More expense on kit... just what I need!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Misty Marple

Maybe this blog should be called mud, blood and sweat.

Headed out for a MTB ride today, over to Marple (on the Misty Marple route from Vertabrate Publishings Dark Peak Mountain bike rides) for a quick 2 hour blast.

I was on my Whyte 901, which has had some front suspension issues in the past- they are Reba Airs, and the air cartridge went after about 200 miles. I took it back and it was replaced, but a friend who has exactly the same bike, and the same issue, has had the replacement replaced because it blew out on him again- just from commuting... so I'm basically just waiting for the forks to go again.

I started the ride in the middle of the route in the book- at the high point. So there was a lot of going down to begin with, which is never a bad thing.

Bearing in mind that I nearly snapped my leg in half (backwards) at the lantern pike race at the weekend (if you haven't read that blog, its over in the GlobalTherapies blog), I am still a little ginger about putting excessive weight through the extended knee. On the way to the beginning of the ride- just going up the road, I thought I could feel the hamstrings tighten a little bit too much, but after a while, they loosened off, and it was all good.

Much hilarity ensued as I came bombing down a track, avoiding puddles, until there was one which really couldnt be avoided- so I thought I'd go straight through it. Nope. Man swallower. It pretty much came up to half way up the wheels. No way was I getting through that one at that speed. Not for the first time was I glad that I had flats, not spds on the mountain bike, that could have ended up a lot more muddy and wet than it did.

I carried on and there weren't too many issues for a while, the descents were only slightly technical, and going along the Goyt way was a pleasant enough experience.

It was only on the second half of the ride that the hills got really interesting.

Cycling up a steep slope, littered with stones and rocks, with step ups every so often, when you're quite tired already make for an interesting problem.

I make no bones of the fact that I'm not a brilliant biker, I certainly couldn't hold my own in an enduro- certainly not in my current state of fitness, and I take my hat off to people that can ride on this stuff non-stop for 12 or 24 hours.

My feet stayed pretty much glued to the pedals- I had the Roclites on- but they still don't feel as secure as the Mudrocs did on the V12s. There must be a very different rubber compound going on there.

On a side note, the V12s, even though they have been used for thousands of miles, through bog, rain, commuting in London etc, and they have long since lost their original colour, they are still going strong, and as my shin bears testament- they are still as spikey as the day they were bought.


I continued on, and back to the gear cave, a delightful route, but with a fair few stoppages for map reading etc. The Garmin says that I spent 2:15 actually moving, and 2:30 for the entire ride- which sounds about right- 15 mins of faff.

Now I've done the route, I think that a sub 2hour blast from home is an easy possibility, though if I do it in muddier conditions, I'm going to be needing some new tyres pretty soon.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Baregrips- first race

After recce-ing the Lantern Pike, I thought that it was easily grassy enough to get the baregrips out for a bit of angry racing.
A bonus of this one is also thats its only 1.4miles, an up and down beast on which its barely possible to get blisters, unless you have REALLY shocking shoes.

Main impression was on the way up, as expected, there was no support for my feet- under the soles that is. I could feel the muscles and lumbricals and tendons and ligaments working in my feel to stabilise it as I ran on a camber up the hill. Normally this stabilisation is taken care of quite happily with a solid base on the shoe. (this is also the case with the slightly "heavier" arrow soles on other inov8s.

The grip was brilliant, and the only reason for me falling over was putting my foot in a rabbit hole.

I'm still not going to wear these for longer races yet, and certainly not on anything that has extensive rocky paths- I suspect that will just lead to bruised feet.
Its also worth pointing out that I warmed my feet up thoroughly on a squidgy balancey ball thing before the run, to wake up my brain into recognising that my feet were there, and weren't just going to be shoved into a solid shoe and ran on. I think that proprioceptively "waking up" your feet is more important in this kind of shoe, and suspect that had I not done that, my feet would not be thanking me for the strain placed on them going up and down a hill with little or no support.

So, if you are thinking about getting Baregrips, or another type of barefoot running shoe, warm yer feet up before you head out there... we already know, but its worth saying again, if you arent used to them, they are quite likely to do you a mischief.

Friday, 20 May 2011


So I was invited to go over to a friends house to train with him- he has some free weights, and I need to get my lifting technique better- so I said yes.

My long term overuse shoulder injury appeared to have died down, and I've been climbing a couple of times without any issue- so hey- it should be fine.

We followed his general routine, which was fine, I just wanted to get into the groove again- knowing that after a fair old time out, I was going to be pretty rubbish at it.
We started with Bench press, went on to tricep curls, bicep curls, military presses, press ups and sit ups.
You may have noticed that there are quite a few variations of presses there, and that is part of my downfall.
It seems to have aggravated a bit of tendinitis in the right shoulder, which really hurts at the moment. There is a more technical description of what I have done over on Globaltherapies.blogspot.com.

So the key for today is DON'T go straight into something that you're not used to.
Its intelligent advice, and advice that I give out to people all the time. I wish I followed it, then I wouldnt be back at square one with rehab bands, ibuprofen gel and concern every time I lift my arm above shoulder height.

on the up side, I can spend more time running.
Lantern Pike on Sunday- thats a short fast blast in the park- and I'll be writing up the race report on the Global Therapies site later on.

Training- out with the Harriers again

Yesterday with the Harriers was a bit of a rare one apparently. We had about 20 people out- whether this was because we were scheduled to head to the pub afterward, there is a race on Sat and all the really fast runners were staying at home to rest their legs, or just because it was a lovely route, I don't really know.We headed out from the Carpark just below Kinder, up past the reservoir, and up to the Mermaids pool. (just beyond there we crossed paths- quite literally with the Pennine guys- and almost acquired a rather nice Collie which got confused as to which group of runners it should be following.
On we went, keeping a nice slow and steady pace over to the Downfall, and a variety of lines were taken up to the top. I favoured the short and steep scrambling, whilst others preferred the less steep, (but not leisurely at all) walk up the side.
By this time it had taken us a fair old while to get where we did- waiting for some of the slower runners, which, to be fair, wasnt a problem really.
My legs were feeling like lead, and Charlie was hammering out in front in a way that I just couldnt keep up with.

After re grouping around the top of the fall, a general consensus was made to head along the B route and back down to the pub. Although the A route would have been nice, it would have been another couple of hours or so in the running, and people had to get back for trains etc.

The run along the top was good fun- practicing my speed on rough ground work- I still need to get out and do 1km/100m ascent hill practice... - but this was neither the time nor the place. And the final downhill section was glorious- thrashing through peaty paths, and down over deep heather. It seems that my downhill speed is fine for a short amount of time, and then I have to reign it in again- I think it must be the CP system kicking in for about 15 seconds before it runs out of Creatine Phosphate, and I have to slow back down again in order to use Aerobic capacity.
Halfway down the hill we (or rather someone else... I was down the hill and had to run back up it to see) found a stone which had been carved- but it was upside down- so the carving was face down on the floor on a 1/2 ton rock.
Luckily there were some strong people in the group- who managed to lever it up so we could have a quick look at the carving.
So I took a picture of it.
Then we hammered down the hill and over a meadow and down through the wood back to the cars. In the long tradition of fellrunners everywhere, we went to the pub.
It was great to have a bit of a social run, out with 20 other people, talking and relaxing, and even better to have some time at the end in the pub.
I wouldnt want to do that every week, but it was great to do it this time.
Still dont know everyones names though....

and here is a link to the garmin connect page- if it works, and if youre interested.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Training ride- just a short one

So as Im going out with the Harriers this evening, I thought that I'd better not do anything too crazy today- but I definitely needed to get out this morning as the sun was out, the birds were tweeting, and, well, it would have been rude not to.

Also, I have had a slight twinge in my back- but more of that in a different place- so i wanted to have a quick stretch out of that as well.
So I decided to have a quick blast around the Monks road circuit- but backwards, so that the 20% hill was a downhill rather than an uphill. (cheating you may say, but I didnt want to blow my legs out this morning if Im heading up to Downfall this evening with a load of masochists as well).

Off I went on my Allez Elite, in my mountain bike shoes and baggies, with a baggy t-shirt- yes, I looked a right sight, but what the hey.
Glad to report that I feel pretty good, I know it was only a short one, but taking the route that way round was quite an intelligent thing to do.
Only out for 40 mins, but now Im at home with a new computer, Im having a quick look at Garmin Connect. In the past I have been using the general Garmin download programme- which is pretty rubbish, but quite good for getting all the stats you need, and then looking at the route/ general bits and pieces in Sportracks.
Ive just downloaded the latest Connect, and so far it looks pretty good. The only thing that appears to be missing on a cursory overview is the ability to completely cross-reference between activities. You can do so to a point, but it would be good to be able to overlay them together on a map/graph thing and play them together to see where you are gaining/losing time.

Maybe this actually exists, and I just havent found it yet.
More playing with is needed I feel.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Suunto X series

After my post on Garmin vs Suunto, I thought I'd better write a quick bit up about the X series watches by Suunto as they are another type of watch that is comparible to Garmin by virtue of the fact they have GPS.

The previous version was the X9, which you can still find on sale in various places at a discounted price since the X10 came out. (note that there is a minor cosmetic defect to these in that the actual watch itself can break away from the plastic surround. Make sure you keep the recipt as you can take it back to the place you bought it from. It'll be sent back, and you'll get the new X10 surround- which looks pretty cool, however, you do still have the X9).

So the X9 was a pretty good watch as far as it went, but it had much the same issues as the Garmin 205- which I spoke about before- in that it was a little tempermental in getting GPS signal. Sometimes it got it really quickly, and other times, it was like the thing didnt even realise there were satellites in the sky. Slightly annoying.

The X9, X9i and X10 do not have Heart Rate monitors, and as such, I would not call them training devices as such. Personally I would put them in the GPS tracker bracket- it lets you know where you have been, rather than helping you find your way.
I know that you can put waymarks into watches, and theoretically you can use them to find your way to specific points, however, I would not like to use this feature in the Lakes on a claggy night. There are a few too many precipitous drops that might appear in front of you.

The series does include a compass within the watch, which is a useful addition. It is not waterproof (but it is water resistant).

The X10M is a much improved version, and takes much less time to find satellites. I see that the battery life is meant to be up to 2 months without recharge if used as a normal watch- but again- like the Garmins its about 12 hours with the GPS on.
One of the things I like about these watches- over and above the Garmin 305 is the fact that as well as Lat/long, they also do British Grid, which I do tend to get along with a lot better than lat/long.

The official line on the battery life is that it is good for 500 discharge/recharges, and if the battery shows any signs of wear, not recharging properly etc. to get in contact with suunto and they will sort it out.
To be fair, the customer serice I have had in the past from suunto has been absolutely fantastic, and I have no doubts that they would be fine with anything you send back which is warranty.

So generally- Id say this series is a good bet if you are wanting a watch that does GPS, that is actually pretty much watch shaped and sized. I wouldnt use it as a training device, and I wouldnt use it as a GPS to tell me where to go.
Im not sure who would actually buy one, unless just to say, yes, I own a GPS watch... but then, some people want that.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Bit of training- first time in the Baregrips

So after the past couple of races I looked at my average times for Kms, and have realised that I am somewhat slower going uphill than anything else.
No surprise there, however, it was noticable that I was being overtaken and somewhat overhauled on the uphill sections on Mount Famine, and also on the semi-uphill sections. I wasn't making the time back on the descents either, with the net result being that despite quite a decent first ascent, I just couldnt keep the pace up and ended up being overtaken by a fair amount of people, ending up 29th, wheras, at some point in there, I was about 20th.

So, uphill training is the way forward. I know I need to get some hill reps done, but I wanted to go out and see if I could run non stop up that damn hill over at Herod Farm. Also, it is pretty much the closest, most vicious hill I can find which entails only a very short amount of time on tarmac if I run there from home.
This was important as I wanted to try out my new Baregrips, and really didnt fancy doing much, if any, running that wasnt on mud or grass.

The Baregrips, I have to say are excellent in terms of grip- except on wet stone. I still cant find anything to grip on that stuff, and when there is a breakthrough, I shall be there in disbelief, trotting all over wet stones and stiles.... until that day, I'll just have to blag it instead. (and fall over a lot).
I also found that, as to be expected with a Zero arrow shoe, there is not much cushioning anywhere on the sole of the shoe. This means that it is indeed as close to barefoot as you can get- which also means that if you stand on a sharp stone, it hurts.
Maybe I need to run in these a lot more in order to toughen my feet up, but Im keeping it minimal at the moment, it being peak season (my first season), and I dont want to cause an overuse injury because of a training issue.

As for the hill... I managed to get 3/4 of the way up it, even after running there, and doing the entire course (again, running), and I think I managed it a mite faster than I did on race day.
I need to stop running with my head for a bit, and just run as fast as I can, letting my body decide when I actually need to stop. I think its the brain that is stopping me from running faster, wierdly enough.
anyhow, in the end it was 10km or so in about 55mins, not a fast 10km time, but I did have 650m of ascent in the way.
To be faster uphill and keep the pace on the flat sections... thats the issue. and the way to improve?
run up hills.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

night nav

Decided at about 10 last night that I should wander out for a bit of night nav practice. It was meant to have been a rest day, but the evening was just so nice that it had to be done.
I dithered around for a bit looking at places to go, and whether or not I should actually do it, and finally walked out of the door at about 1130.

Walking out over Shire hill I noticed a light where, really, there shouldnt have been a light, and as I was walking along the path 2 random people (one of which was attached to said light) wandered over to me asking if I was ok and whether I was lost. Good public spirited citizens, evidently. But dressed in (bad) camo, and one with mud smeared on his face.
They told me that "tonight is a bad night to be out- if you take my meaning".
uh- no. Its a beautiful night, theres a bit of cumulostratos- no sign of rain, the wind has died down, and theres visible stars as there is no moon out.
"Theres a cougar out there, the park ranger told us just now that theres been a sighting this afternoon"

Right. Whatever.
I entertained them for a short while and then said- right Im off up to Bleaklow, cheers guys.
To which- their parting shot was "youre effing mental mate".

After which I got promptly and significantly lost.
Found myself on the far side of Shire hill, on the steep part- re-oriented myself and bashed downhill, across a stream and back onto the path that I was meant to have found.
So lost, and found again.

I had planned a grand massive tour of the area using rails and bearings, but considering that I had just got lost in a wood, somewhat curtailed my ideas of what may or may not be possible this evening. Starting out with a bearing, it wasnt too bad as I ensured I had a handrail to hit should anything go awry- it did. I hit the handrail, and I found myself, eventually, and was back on track.
This was generally the story for the rest of the time out. Knowing where I was, building in a fair amount of redundance into where I should be heading, and then using up that reduncance to get where I was meant to be going.

So, my bearings need to be tightened up significantly, and I need to trust myself a bit more, and not try to second guess what Im doing. (that just leads to mistakes), and not worry about cougars. That last one should be pretty easy to do I think.

The MHW Dragon jacket was damn good though. Only when I was moving though, as soon as I stopped it got a little less warm- didnt feel the wind so much in terms of coldness, but I did feel it in terms of pushing against me- odd thing to say, but its pretty much what I mean.
ME Combin pants, still doing a sterling job. Well worth every damn penny, even if they are a little old and "bobbled", not found a better trouser yet.

Just waiting to take delivery of my new compasses. (not that they'll make me a better navigator, but it'll be a bit easier without airbubbles in the casing...)