Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Snow, Ice, Wind, Rain and Floods

New Years Day, above Scout Pool Looking north towards Stuc A'Chroin
In January my training began in earnest for my next race, the 53 mile Highland Fling.  Last year I had to take building up my weekly mileage very slowly as I was nursing hip flexor injury, only logging 92 miles in January, this year I have been able to up the mileage surprisingly quickly and logged 191 miles, my second highest monthly mileage ever!

One aspect to my training last year that worked well was running 5 or more days a week and adding in recovery run before and after longer or more intense runs.  In January I started off quite easy but on the 11th I just got the training bug and decided to see just how many days on the trot I could run.  My first day off was yesterday, after 31 days running ever day, covering 226 miles and 14,000ft of ascent and descent.

Running every day introduces different mental and physical challenges - the weather through January and into February has certainly been full on winter running.  Rather than wimp out on tough days I've deliberately just got on with it, one can't choose the weather on race day, so getting my head around just going out running in wild weather is all part of the preparation.  Full on weather has it's own beauty and raw charm, not only is the physical self exposed but the mental self too.

I have one thing that draws me out everyday, I am utterly beguiled by the Trossachs, it's quite simply an awesome place to get outside and run.  As I work for myself and from home it's easy to head out for a lunch time run.  Here's a sample of my runs over the last month:

A few weeks later, same view as first photo, now available in White :-)
After climbing Bochastle Hill looking north towards Loch Lubnaig
Early morning half marathon route out along shores of Loch Venachar

Crossing the River Teith in Callander after a night of heavy snow
Looking north east back towards Callander from Inver-trossachs Road
Still on Inver-trossachs Road, now at the east end of Loch Venachar
After the snow had thawed we got flooding in Callander and surrounding fields and roads

Then to frosts, and on early run through the woodland of the lower crags path I startled a roe deer
Another batch of cold air swept through, snow and ice returned
Followed by another thaw, high winds and tempestuous squalls
And back to snow, on the flank of Ben Ledi once more, looking north
After another thaw, got up Ben Gulipen and at the summit saw a float plane
It's great uploading the photo's, reminds me just how much fun I have had getting in shape for the Fling, and how lucky I get to live and work here in the Trossachs.  Two and half months to go now and I'm already near to shape I was in when I completed the Fling last year and when I did my 10k PB back in summer.

I currently still in aerobic base building/conditioning phase, so keeping my runs modest in length and intensity, but mixing them up, lots of hills, some marathon paced runs but keeping comfortably below lactate threshold, lots of easy to moderate runs and some recovery runs when I feel the need.

The only damper is that I've picked up a niggle in my left calf that developed when running on all the ice and snow and hasn't settled yet, so will be avoiding long training runs and high intensity work for a while longer.  With snow forecast for the next few days it looks like I'll be doing more gleeful battling of the elements!


  1. Nice pictures - living here is indeed awesome! Good luck in your continued preparations for the Fling. I think my brother's running that - will come and watch if I can...

  2. I see that you've started a blog and that you've been enjoying the snow too ;-)

    If you do get to spectate/do support for your brother during the Fling I'm sure it won't be long before you get tempted too, if you love running trails then what more enjoyment can you have than running trails all day long!

  3. Fresh snow is enchanting; but it is not as delightful after being pounded into irregularly foot-moulded ice, and then later turning to grey slush. Maybe the slush is less grey in the Trossachs than in city streets. Nonetheless, there is a satisfaction in embracing the full range of each cycle of snow and thaw. The photos are wonderful and you are running well. I hope the calf niggle settles

  4. Thanks Canute. No grey slush I'm pleased to say - forest and mountains trails aren't gritted like city streets ;-)

    Some of the trails have been pretty tough going, but glad to say this last week the weather has been dry, the snow has cleared from the trails and it's been great running. Despite putting away another tough 50 mile week with lots of ascent and descent my left calf niggle is on the mend, so it does seem related to slippery and broken snow/ice. Both calves still haven't settled completely, and I've picked up a very localised strain in my right quad, nothing that will stop my training though, especially if this good weather continues!