Fear of FOMO!

New post at The Running Bug, ‘Fear of FOMO!‘.

I have actually run a bit less than usual these past two weekends. All things considered, that’s probably not a bad thing in terms of letting my body recover and adapt. I spent this past weekend visiting and, on Saturday morning, I sneaked in a 10 mile run in the Quarrel Wood on the outskirts of Elgin.

Upon wakening I immediately questioned the sensibility of running due to a sharp pain in my right calf, most likely the result of overdoing a barefoot run 2 nights previously. However, I did go for the run, soon ran off the pain, and had one of those runs where you are truly thankful you went.

The Quarrel Wood was virtually on my doorstep for so long through my childhood years and yet, as a non runner, I never saw their true potential.

Returning to the woods with a different perspective, I ran trails up and over, through and around the woods. It was a frosty, sunny morning and, stopping on the far side of the woods, I was aware of steam rising from my entire body! To say that I had a blast would be an understatement – I came across a 4000 year old henge that I did not even know existed and, probably ‘the’ highlight of the run, a ‘face to face’ with a deer as I appeared suddenly from around a corner. Startled, the deer instantly took off as I watched, wishing I too could perfect such a gracious style of running!

I will definitely be returning to the Quarrel Wood for a longer session some time soon.

Saturday’s session also took my January mileage over the combined mileage for both January 2010 and January 2011 so, all in all, not a bad start to the year!

With two evening runs still to come before we reach the end of the month, I will also comfortably ‘beat’ my highest ever monthly mileage total. Given that the past two weekends have been devoid of long runs, I am more than happy with that!

Relentless Forward Progress

I have been reading the excellent Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons by Bryon Powell

According to the blurb on the Amazon page, “Bryon Powell is a former Washington, DC, attorney who left his job to devote himself to running ultramarathons full time. He publishes the popular trail running and ultrarunning website iRunFar.com, and competes in ultras nationwide.” I will wager there are at least a few of you who have just read that and thought ‘wow, cool!’. I know I did! All the more impressive when you consider the career that Bryon left behind.

But back to the post!

Working my way through the book I found myself chuckling away to myself. There is a chapter in the book that discusses FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out!

To quote the book:

“As you become aware that you’re capable of running vast distances, especially through gorgeous locales or with new and interesting running companions, you may continually add outings and events to indulge your physiological, spiritual, and social desires. While such desires are wonderful motivators, FOMO can leave you taking on additional events without consideration of traiing benefit or adequate consideration of physiological cost.

If you find yourself unable to decline invitations for a group run, you might have FOMO. If you’re unable to resist signing up for every race, you might have FOMO. If you miss a holiday meal to run, you might have FOMO. Beware of FOMO.”

On the basis of the above, I have self diagnosed myself. I have FOMO!

I live in a small town called Ellon in the North East of Aberdeenshire. I moved here approximately 4.5 years ago and, I have to say, I totally love living here. I am a couple of hundred yards away from forest trails and just over a mile from an old railway line, The Formartine & Buchan Way, which provides me with miles of off-road tracks on which to train.

Another benefit of living in Ellon is the local race, The Ythan Challenge, an 11k (approx.) mixed terrain event (road, trail, forest, mud, river) with a considerable number of obstacles thrown in along the way – everything from hay bales, cargo nets (up & over, and under!), tyres, mud pits (guaranteed to claim at least a few trainers each year! Lose your momentum for a fraction of a second and you require assistance in being hauled out!) and even the river from which the event derives it’s name – the Ythan.

Last year, participants found themselves up to their necks in the cold waters of the Ythan not once but twice! No one minds the water though. Having clambered up and down mud caked hills, often resorting to using fingertips to help claw your way up and bums on the way down, the thought of getting a good wash is pretty appealing! It’s also a good way to get rid of the stench if you have spent too long stuck in the mud pit!

The route and obstacles vary from year to year and, I would be so bold as to suggest, it could possibly be the most fun you can have whilst running! For a good number of people it is their one and only run in the year.

Last year the event sold out in 4 days. This year, it sold out in 4 hours, despite an increased capacity!

My heart sank when the date for the 2012 Ythan Challenge was announced. It takes place 6 days before my attempt at the 95 mile West Highland Way Race!

This is where FOMO kicks in!

I knew when the entry was scheduled to open and, thanks to a job that sees me ‘attached’ to a PC for most of the day, I was in the best position to get my application in.

Sensible me did wonder about the sensibility of entering an obstacle course based event less than a week before my main race of the year.

FOMO me considered those thoughts and then blatantly disregarded them. ‘This is my local run, it’s a short one, it’s fun, and there’s no way I am missing out!’

So I entered! Or at least I tried to.

Due to the volume of applications, my attempt failed.

It turns out that people spent in excess of an hour attempting to get their application accepted.

In the interim, my sensible side broached the subject on Facebook:

“Ythan Challenge the week before the 95 mile West Highland Way Race – tempting injury or not? Is an 11k obstacle course the best preparation for the WHW – probably not, but it is my ‘local’ run and I have done it the past 5 years! Choices, choices!”

Responses came in promptly ranging from:

“Do it! It will be a nice gentle warm up, both mentally and physically for the WHW Race.

Or – coming off a hay bail, you’ll break your ankle.

Hmmmm”

to

“Think of the goblet!!” (In reference to the crystal goblet awarded to all finishers)

and

“Don’t be stupid!” (Thanks Mike!)

Dilemma!

As it was, the pangs of doubt set in long enough for the event to sell out, thereby taking the matter out of my hands entirely.

If truth be known, I was erring on the side of caution but the early closing of applications helped to take the matter entirely out of my hands.

I still have FOMO – what if it is the best one, EVER!

I will still miss the event but I know that it would be too risky to attempt it. There is too much going in to the WHW Race to even think of jeopardising my chance in what will already be a tremendously tough race.

Thanks to my wife Leanne, and to my friends for showing more sense than I did.

I have FOMO, there is no doubt about that, but I am now getting help!

TIP

It is really easy to try and run everything and anything. However, other than the financial cost of entry fees, accommodation, transport etc and the potential strain on relationships with friends and family, there may well also be a cost to your health. Another aspect of the book is an emphasis on the need for adequate rest and recovery.

So how best to accommodate this: target a key race or races and set out a suitable training plan to help you reach your goal. This may involve other races along the way but only do this if they will add to your training plan i.e. if your plan suggests a race of X miles on a particular week, you could run in an event of X miles. However, it is recommended that you merely run in the event rather than race it. If a race does not fit in with your plan, then don’t do it, regardless of how much fun it is!

I hope that everyone who was fortunate enough to secure a place on the Ythan Challenge has a cracking day. I will be back in 2013 (But only if I am not running the West Highland Way Race again!)

S**t Ultra Runners Say

I came across the following video the other day on Facebook. I had to laugh as I realised how typically running centred my conversations have been of late. I thought it would be hit or miss when I played it to the wife but, when she even found it hilarious, I realised I had a problem lol! Worth watching for the laugh.

Changing Perceptions

New post at The Running Bug, ‘Changing Perceptions‘.

Have you ever heard that such and such a supermodel won’t get out of bed for less than £50,000 or some other preposterous amount? I used to be like that. Unfortunately, however, it was not great wads of cash that were used to entice me from my pit of slumber. A quick glance at the profile photo will more than serve to illustrate that no one is about to throw money at me anytime soon/ever!

In my case, it was medals.

Run 6.2 miles? There had better be a medal at the end of that; and it had better be a good one. None of your cheap plastic medals. And while you are at it, best throw in a t-shirt for my efforts; not one of those heavy cotton T-shirts either as I melt in them! I want a nice, practical technical t-shirt; and when the label says XL, can you please ensure that’s a real XL and not some boy sized XL!

Didn’t ask for much did I! Ahem!

It’s funny how things change, and all in the space of a few years.

These days challenge, experience, achievement & friendship all rank way above medals. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good technical t-shirt and medal. The difference is that my expectations have changed considerably. Especially since I started running ultramarathons, I have come to appreciate that running and training for ultramarathons offers all of these things in abundance.

There is a fairly small, though steadily growing, ultra community in Scotland, with the same faces appearing at most events. Over the past couple of years I have developed a number of friendships with like minded individuals and we all strive to meet the challenges and experiences of ultramarathons, looking to complete the event for the sense of achievement that finishing brings, regardless of race position or time.

Looking back, as I moved up in distance, from 10k through to 55 miles (and hopefully 95 miles by the end of June!), my expectations shifted accordingly. Training for a half marathon would be somewhat incomplete without, for example, at least a 10 mile run in the build up to the event and, at least the last time I checked, there were no medals given out for training runs! At each and every stage in the journey from 10ks to 1/2 marathons, from 1/2 marathons to marathons and then, finally, from marathons to ultramarathons, how I felt at each point changed, shaped by the demands of the new distance.

So, from expecting a medal for merely rolling out of bed a few years back, I now rise at ungodly hours when even the birds are still asleep and set off on long runs so that I can return at a time that still leaves time for family, something that I am sure many of you are all too familiar with.

At one point in my 2011 training schedule, I ran three consecutive weekends consisting of a 28 mile run on the Saturday followed by 10 to 15 miles on the Sunday. The only ‘prize’ was a good soak in the bath and, of course, miles in the legs to help me attain my goals.

In March 2010 I ran my first ultramarathon, the inaugural D33 race, from Aberdeen to Banchory and back. All finishers of this 33 mile race received Chocolate medals and a specially produced bottle of Brewdog Beer, embellished with the sound advice to ‘Train Hard, Pee Clear’! In 2011 the medals were slate, crafted by a local company, CraftRocks, and were again accompanied with a specially labelled bottle of Brewdog Beer. In 2012 the medals will apparently be made of something reclaimed from Hurricane Bawbag! (and no doubt accompanied by a bottle of Brewdog Beer).

I cherish those medals (the chocolate has been ‘removed’) and have them stored alongside all of my other medals.

It probably helps if you have met Race Director George Reid to truly appreciate the sense of humour but, to give you an idea, the rules of The D33 are simple:

  • If you get half way and find you can’t, phone registration with your race number, tell them you are a loser and take the bus home
  • Support, there is none required but if you want your mum to meet you half way with a jam sandwich then thats ok with us
  • Only one checkpoint that is at half way turn around point
  • You get water at checkpoint, anything else you need to carry yourself or get from your Mum
  • http://deesidewayultra.webnode.com/

It’s approximately 7 weeks until The D33, the first of my planned 7 ultramarathons in 2012 and I can’t wait! Until then, I will embark upon a great many runs most likely up to and including the distance. There will likely be a lot of weekends of double runs. My rewards in all of these weeks will, at best, be a good soak in the bath – but it will be worth it in the end!

Hopefully, come 17th March, I will add another medal to the collection. It will be cherished as much as all of my other medals. However, there is much, much more to look forward to, both in training and on the day. Four words pretty much sums it up: challenge, experience, achievement & friendship

Tip 1 Preserve Your Medals

Just a tip for any of you who do like to keep your well earned medals – I thought keeping them all together in a nice box was a great way of preserving them. At least, that was, until I returned to the box and found that the various medals of the past few years had started reacting with each other, resulting in varying degrees of corrosion. I was gutted. Regardless, I set about cleaning them up as best as I could and now keep them all in individual freezer bags which should (he hopes!) prevent any further reactions.

Tip 2 Headtorches & Lumens

At this time of year, there will no doubt still be a large number of you relying on head torches to light the way on those early morning or late evening runs. Thanks to the guys over at Hope Technology, I now have a greater knowledge when it comes to batteries. Those of you who have read my previous posts may have noticed that I invested in a Hope Vision 1 Adventure head torch (capable of a powerful 240 lumens on max power) after a run in with a tree stump that left both the front and back of my entire lower right leg bruised for over a month. Eager to avoid a repeat performance and with the 95 mile West Highland Way Race on the horizon, with a potential for two nights of running, I decided to aim for maximum brightness!

Now, as far as I was aware, AA batteries were all pretty much the same. The guys over at Hope put me straight on this one and advised me how to get the maximum performance out of my head torch. Rechargeable batteries would definitely appear to be the way to go, and most likely using some of the more well known brands, something that I would typically do. However, choosing a battery with a high enough mAh was something that was entirely knew to me. The torch performs better when using an mAh battery in the regions of 2650 – 2700 but even as low as 2100. I will leave it to Wikipedia to provide more detailed information:

The summary is ‘the higher the mAh, the longer the battery will last.’ Armed with this knowledge I am looking forward to getting even more out of the head torch and, as such, am much obliged to the guys over at Hope. Hopefully this will be of use to fellow runners.

Run Because You Can

New post at The Running Bug, ‘Run Because You Can‘.

Firstly, let me just congratulate all of the winners of The Running Bug awards 2011 and especially RespectTheStupidity and Westie for their well earned wins. I was shocked enough to even be nominated, let alone make the final shortlists. Thanks to all those who did nominate and/or vote for me, it is much appreciated. From reading the various forums and blogs one thing is evident – we have a great running community here with a lot of people who are happy to give of their time and advice and I for one appreciate it. Long may it continue and here’s to a successful 2012 for all Running bug(gers!) – doh! I knew that phrase would resurface soon!

It’s the 14th of January tomorrow, coincidentally my wife’s birthday. Happy birthday Mrs Mackintosh. I hope you have a cracking day and let me just promise – no long runs for me tomorrow!

The 14th also sees us coming up to the half way mark in January, ‘traditionally’ a time when the steely resolve of all those new year resolutions starts to wane.

It’s a time when all the best intentions may be challenged by work, weather, family, etc.

For anyone who has still to discover their running mojo in 2012, or who has missed a planned session, or even just thought about skipping a session, let me offer you these thoughts.

Back at the end of December in the final days of my 61 consecutive days of running challenge, there was one morning that I just could not find my motivation. I followed the same pre run breakfast ritual of porridge and coffee as always. However, on this particular day I found myself in no rush to get showered, kitted up and out the door. I turned my attentions to reading the news online and, at this point, found myself reading about a video that had gone viral. The video, set to the Gary Jules version of the Mad World song, was of a young boy, Ben Breedlove, who, through the use of notes written on cards, told his story. he spent his life battling hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a deteriorating condition that causes a thickening of the heart muscle, leading to cardiac arrest. He died at Christmas, aged only 18.

The moving video and story can be found on a huge number of sites.

On that particular morning, I logged off and kitted up. I ran 10 miles, thinking about Ben most of the way. It wasn’t the best run. It was cold, windy and icy underfoot. None of that mattered. I was out, despite my earlier reticence and I appreciated that run regardless of the far from perfect conditions.

You just need to read or watch the news to see many more examples of this kind of injustice, where a life has been cut short far too young.

So, if you ever find yourself in need of incentive to get out and run, just consider all those who, for one reason or another, cannot run. Once you are out the door and running, I challenge you to regret that you did it. I can’t honestly ever recall coming back from a run wishing that I had not gone out, regardless of how tough it was, how bad the weather was, how stiff the muscles felt etc. etc.

At the end of the day, running is far from the most important thing in the world (An early birthday present for Mrs Mackintosh – you have that in writing now!). However, as far as hobbies go, it’s a fantastic one and, if you are reading this now, the chances are that you share a love of running with me. It’s a great way to stay healthy, to lose weight, to be sociable with other runners, to give yourself goals… the list goes on!

Chances are things WILL get in the way of your running, and sometimes those things will even be YOU, on those occasions when you just can’t bring yourself to kit up and get out there.

Be sure to appreciate your running when you do make it out, even the tough sessions or the ones that seem bad at the time. When faced with a potential ‘obstacle’ all you need to do is remember a single word – perspective.

Perspective will hopefully show you that your obstacles and problems are not actually that bad and, in doing so, may help you get out the door for that run.

If you are anything like me then having a goal will benefit your running. It might be a 5k, 10k, 1/2, marathon or even an ultra. Regardless of the distance, the very fact that you have a goal might just make it that bit easier to get out the door and run. It will give you direction, something to aim for. If you don’t currently have a goal in mind then why not take the opportunity to set one. It really will help.

A Great Start To The Year

New post at The Running Bug, ‘A Great Start To The Year‘.

I was lucky enough to be able to extend my festive holiday to accommodate a short break in the Cairngorms. My wife was not quite so lucky in that she had to return to work briefly before we could both head up to Aviemore. Having taken a couple of days off to recover from 61 days of consecutive running, I thought it would be a great idea to run the 18 miles from our house to my wife’s work, arriving at the end of her working day. The perceived benefits of this were as follows:

  • I could get a long run in, my first of the year
  • It would save the wife having to travel all the way back (in the wrong direction) just to pick me up and head back that way again
  • As I would be running at least some of it in darkness, I would get the opportunity to test out my recently acquired Hope head torch

I was sincerely regretting the decision by approximately mile 2! My legs felt stiff, I felt generally lethargic and mentally I really was questioning my sanity!

Fortunately I settled in to a good pace and despite a fairly cold wind I began to enjoy the solitude of the run, south towards Aberdeen along the old Formatine & Buchan railway line. By the time I arrived at the end of the line in Dyce, approximately 15 miles later, I was ahead of schedule and thoroughly enjoying the torchlit run. I would even go so far as to say that it was the best I had felt whilst running South on the line – quite a turn around from my earlier feelings!

Having arrived in Dyce I phoned the wife to ask for her work address postcode. Her company had previously been situated right at the end of the railway line, perfect for those times when I would run in to meet her there. However, a recent move had seen the company move away from the end of the line, leaving me in a position of having to navigate an industrial estate and airport!

I had a rough idea of the new location and, when I ran right past the Google Maps postcode pin, I started to suspect that all was not well.

With helicopters coming in from all directions, planes landing and the general darkness of the night, I just could not get my bearings and phoned my wife again to ask for more specific directions. At this point, she admitted to having given me the wrong postcode. An easy mistake to make, and especially as she was focusing on getting things finished so that she could go on holiday with nothing on her mind. Armed with the correct postcode, I set off circling around the airport to the other side of the industrial estate.

Now perhaps they just don’t want people walking around that area, or maybe they just don’t expect people to walk there but the lack of pavements was something else. On top of this, it was not ‘just’ grass verges underfoot. The verges were as unkempt and pot holed as they could possibly be and, navigating by torchlight, it was all I could do not to trip up. Due to the long line of traffic attempting to exit the industrial estate, I felt like a bit of a circus attraction and I am sure the people in their cars were not accustomed to seeing someone bumble along the verges, attempting to run.

This was definitely my least favourite part of the run and it has to be said, it took the shine off of an otherwise cracking run. However, I finally made it to my wifes work, just in time to throw back a couple of coffees. With her work finished we were now officially on holiday and were bound for Aviemore. My objectives of a long run and of saving time in getting going were both achieved.

The following day, feeling none too worse for wear, I joined the family on a hiking trip in Glencoe. The weather was fairly kind to us and we soon ascended up into the Hidden Valley of Glencoe (Coire Gabhail is the hidden valley where the MacDonalds of Glen Coe apparently hid their rustled cattle) where the views of the valley itself and back down to Glencoe were simply stunning. With a good deal of climbing and descending, this was also perfect training for the ultramarathons that lie ahead in 2012.

The next day I was intent on running but had no set destination and no idea how far and/or long I wanted to run for. I cadged a lift to Glenmore and set off from there, off along the route towards the Green Loch. Given the wind, bitterly cold temperatures and the treacherous conditions underfoot, I opted to stay low and decided against a run up and over Meall a Bhuachaille. As the conditions underfoot worsened I realised that I had forgotten to take any form of spikes and, as such, would have to rely solely (no pun intended!) on the tread of my Hoka Mafates.

I passed The Green Loch and decided to venture on to Ryvoan Bothy. I was relishing the tough conditions underfoot, a mix of boulders, compacted snow, and ice, with the last option being the least preferred! There were times when it was preferable to run through the water streaming down the path as it was often better to get wet feet than to take any chances on the sheet ice!

I continued on past Ryvoan Bothy to the fork in the path that takes you to Abernethy (left) or Braemar (right). Despite having been to this point many times I had never continued further. Realising that there would be no easy was to return from Braemar, I opted to go left towards Abernethy Forest, the largest remaining remnant of the Ancient Caledonian Forest in Scotland. I was enticed along the way by the beauty of the landscape, made all the more glorious by a dusting of snow.

When the opportunity arose and my phone picked up a signal I texted the wife to let her know my intentions. I had experienced enough slip sliding by this point to realise that this could all go pear shaped without anyone being any the wiser to my location! Better to be safe than sorry (and to remember the spikes next time!).

What started out as a run with an unspecified destination and distance ended up as an ‘accidental’ 21 mile run taking me through Abernethy Forest (many forks, few signs, much beauty!) to Nethy Bridge and then back to Aviemore via Boat of Garten on The Speyside Way.

It was great to see a bit of The Speyside Way that I have not seen before. I am more used to the upper half of The Speyside Way thanks to The Speyside Way Ultramarathon.

It was also great to exceed the boundaries of past visits and to be able to continue running and exploring.

Finally, it was great to get some more long run miles in the legs. When I set off, I had thought that I might run somewhere between 10 to 13 miles and, as such, I surpassed my expectations by a fair bit!

As it happened, all of the family returned from their various walks, runs, and ski trips at the same time and so everyone settled down to relax in the knowledge that they had made the most of the day, in their own chosen way.

When I toed the line at the start of The D33 Ultramarathon last year, my longest run had only been 18 miles. 7 days into January and I have already matched and beaten that. All in all, not a bad start to the year.

Happy New Year to you all!

61 Consecutive Days Of Running

It’s the 3rd of January 2012 and, after a whole 2 days off of running, I am looking forward to once again hitting the trail. After 61 days of consecutive running I amassed 300 miles (145 miles in November and 155 miles in December). In doing so I achieved my aims of running on tired legs (thereby hopefully simulating the effect of running the second half of a race) and also of keeping my end of year mileage relatively high (after the slide in mileage experienced in 2010, resulting in the loss of accrued race fitness).

Would I do it again? I will most likely do Marcothon again in 2012, perhaps aiming to increase the mileage considerably. However, overall, while I did actually enjoy the challenge of running daily, I did find that I lacked the time to mix it up a bit and I missed weight sessions & sessions on the spin bike.

Time to hit the trail (and the treadmill) once again. I am heading to Aviemore this week and will hopefully get some long runs and hill training packed into the schedule, weather permitting. It looks like I had best pack the head torch and the Kahtoola Microspikes!

Men’s Running Brooks Pure Project Competition Winner

I knew Men’s Running was scheduled to hit the shops on the 29th of December and I was looking forward to picking up some reading material for over New Year. Standing there in Tesco, flicking through the pages, I was shocked to find that my photo taken at the top of The Devil’s Staircase in Glencoe had won the competition!

The photo, taken while out on a training run, shows the view looking towards the Blackwater Reservoir. Can’t wait to try out my prize of Brooks Pure Project running shoes, gilet and running tights. Thanks Men’s Running :o)

The approximate location of the photograph on Google Maps:


View Larger Map

Marcothon 2011

New post at The Running Bug, ‘Marcothon 2011‘.

So here we are in the final few hours of 2011 and, looking back on the year, I am happy to say that it has been a good one for me. Hopefully you can say the same about your year and, in a matter of hours, we will have a whole new year in which to start all over again.

If you have read any of my previous posts then you will likely already know that in 2010 I let things slip following my last race of the year, the Loch Ness Marathon. As a result, all of the running fitness accrued over the year was long gone by the time the first of the ultras came along in March. This year, in an effort to avoid a repetition of this, I set myself the challenge of running every day in November to aid in my Movember fundraising efforts and every day in December, as part of Marcothon. I completed my 61st consecutive day of running this morning, taking my total mileage up to 300 miles for the 2 months and taking my annual mileage total for 2011 up to 1386 miles, some 136 miles more than in 2010.

If the Marcothon Facebook page is anything to go by, over 700 people from around the globe joined in the shared objective:

“The rules are simply, you must run every day in DECEMBER (any other month doesn’t count). Minimum of three miles or 25 minutes – which ever comes first. The challenge starts on December 1 and finishes on December 31. And yes, that includes Christmas Day.”

The Marcothon started in 2009, when Marco Consani challenged himself to run every day in November. His wife, Debbie Martin Consani, decided to follow suit and run every day in December and posted the challenge, dubbing it ‘the Marcothon’ on her blog. The challenge has grown in popularity each year and, from reading the comments on Facebook and/or the Marcothon twitter account, it is clear to see that it has ignited a passion amongst runners in a month when running is so often put on the back burner.

If your running has ever floundered without the targets of a specific run to keep it on track then you will likely appreciate just what the commitment of signing up to Marcothon provides.

It has been great to share in the trials and tribulations of all those who have participated in the Marcothon and to receive encouragement for my own efforts. December 2011 has not seen the huge snowfalls of previous years but the weather has attempted to throw a spanner in the works at each and every opportunity, or so it would appear! From paths and trails caked in black ice to ferocious winds and even ‘Hurricane Bawbag’, Marcothon participants have had to overcome hurdles throughout December.

Well done to all those who completed the Marcothon and, indeed, to anyone and everyone who has managed to keep running throughout this hectic month. The Marcothon will likely be back in December 2012 and it really is a great way to ensure that your running does not get neglected.

So that’s all for 2011 and here’s to 2012. Hopefully you will join me as I look to improve on this years 6 ultramarathon finishes. My goal for 2012 is to finish the same 6 ultras with a new PB in each race and also to complete the 95 mile West Highland Way Race. It’s going to be a tough year for sure but I hope to meet the challenges head on.

If you happen to pick up a copy of Men’s Running then check out my photo taken at the top of The Devil’s Staircase. I was delighted to find out this week that the photo had won me some Brooks running goodies, including Brooks Pure Project running shoes which I can’t wait to try out! I am sure this view will be familiar to a lot of you and especially to those who have completed the West Highland Way and/or the Devil O’ The Highlands ultramarathon.

I hope that you all have a Happy New Year.

See you in 2012.