Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run Update

Helen Hall, top Vibram Barefoot coach who has worked with many of the top barefooters will be on hand to introduce newcomers to the art of efficient running. Sign up to the attendance list and let them know if you are interested in getting some coaching.

Find out more via:

20,000 A Whole Lot Of Views

Further to my recent post on Blogging Stats & Thoughts, I just logged in to my Running Bug blog and found that the blog has now surpassed 20,000 views (20,090 to be exact at time of writing). I started writing the blog back on September 20th 2011 so it’s coming up to a year now and what a year it has been – 7 ultras completed, including my first West Highland Way Race, and 6 PBs. Here’s to 2013!

Glenmore 24

It may well be UTMB weekend but there’s still plenty going on back in Scotland. The Glenmore 24 is back after the success of last years event and there are more than a few familiar faces from the S.U.M.S. regulars, including Ian Minty, who supported me so well in this year’s West Highland Way Race.

The weekend consists of a 12 hour and a 24 hour race, with approx 30 starters and 40 starters respectively. The event takes place in the Glenmore forest, not far from Aviemore and just beneath the Cairngorm mountains, on a 4 mile loop, the majority of which is on wide forest trails and landrover tracks. It’s an excellent location, and, as anyone who reads this blog knows, I have a particular fondness for Cairngorm trails.

All the best to everyone running the Glenmore 24 this weekend. Definitely an event that I plan to do at some point in the future. I will be thinking of you all as I head off to (hopefully) sunnier climes!

Speyside Way Race 2012

There were 95 finishers at the 2012 Speyside Way Race, with times ranging from Donnie Campbell’s amazing 4:31:15 through to the group of 5 (Geraldine Curry, Marion Summers, Andrew Fyffe, Christine Fyffe and Catherine Wardlaw) who finished in 8:30:39.

The race was won by Donnie Campbell, followed by Gareth Mayze and Terry Forrest in times of 4.44.20 and 4.46.19 respectively. Charlotte Black, Emma Baker and Judith Dobson led the ladies with times of 5.34.36, 5.38.00 and 5.47.43, and in overall positions 15, 16 and 22.

I finished in a time of 7:16:33, in 68th position, an improvement on my 7:23:45 and 81st position at the previous years race.

I had mixed emotions as I toed the start line at the 2012 Speyside Way Race. I was glad to be at my 7th and final ultramarathon of 2012, with the potential for a much needed break awaiting me at the end of the race. With the relative close proximity of many of the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series of races, the signs had been there that my body was in need of a rest. In fact, it had pretty much been telling me this since the 95 mile West Highland Race and yet, ignoring this, I had managed to squeeze in the Clyde Stride, the Devil O’ The Highlands and, now, the Speyside Way Race.

On the other hand, I was sad to be at the finish of what has been, for me, a very successful year. 6 new PBs and a West Highland Way Race completion on the first attempt. What’s more, having got to know many more of my fellow ultramarathoners these past few months, I will miss the camaraderie and the shared sense of purpose. It seems such a short time ago that I was looking forward to the first race of the year, the D33, and yet, here we are, coming to the conclusion of the 2012 Scottish Ultra Marathon Series. There is 1 more race in the series to go, the River Ayr Way race (RAW), but I will be sitting this one out.

Unlike the Devil O’ The Highlands, when I didn’t sleep a wink the night before, I enjoyed a long and uninterupted sleep before waking just before 5 am for the Speyside Way Race. What a difference it makes to feel well rested, even at that ungodly time of day!

In previous years Leanne has driven me to Buckie to register and then down to the start at Ballindaloch. However, this year, I opted to make use of the transport laid on by the race organisers. I ended up sitting next to Angus, who I first met at the Cateran. On that day, Angus stuck with me over the final miles of the race as I nursed an achilles injury up and over Glenshee when he could easily have sped off for a faster time.

The journey passed quickly, as we reminisced about surviving the West Highland Way Race and various other races. If nothing else, the crazy weather conditions experienced at some of the races this year have at least served to add to the tales of woe and of triumph in the face of adversity.

Back at the Speyside Way Race, it may have been chucking it down outside, but, by West Highland Way Race standards, this was little more than ‘light rain’! It’s amazing how the experience of a single race can redefine your perception of the weather!

I started at the back of the field, as I like to do. The first 12-13 miles were extremely muddy and very wet. Large parts of the route resembled a stream more than a path, and it was often difficult to judge exactly what lay beneath the water and how deep it was (I was surprised on more than one occasion!).

Moving on to a road section after the first checkpoint at Craigellachie, conditions improved underfoot and I soon found myself back on forest trails climbing Ben Aigan. I met up with Neil who I met properly for the first time at this years Clyde Stride. We covered approximately 20 miles together at the Clyde Stride, from the mid way point to the finish, both suffering from the exertions of the West Highland Way Race from a month previously. The Speyside Way Race was a final ‘training run’ for Neil before heading out to Chamonix for the UTMB this coming weekend. I hope that all goes well for Neil in this, surely THE toughest and most iconic of races, a race that I aspire to – one day!

At the second checkpoint, just beyond the evil hairpin bend that throws you downhill and trashes the legs, I was just about to get going when Alan and Tommy arrived. I waited the couple of minutes required for the guys to get the contents of their drop bags down them and we all headed off together. It was good to see Alan back on form and enjoying his running after a short absence and he soon shot off and left both myself and Tommy. Alan went on to finish in a time of 6.51.28.

Running through Fochabers I was surprised when one of the spectators called out my name. It turned out to be someone who had been in the year below me back at Elgin High School some 20+ years ago. I don’t know who was more surprised but, if you had known me 20+ years ago, an ultramarathon would certainly be the last place you would expect to find me!

I ran with Tommy until the final water point at Spey Bay. I slowed considerably over the last few miles, especially, over the long grassy stretch that takes you up towards the coast. You can see for miles on this long, straight part of the route and, for some reason, I have always disliked this stretch. However, this year, I did not seem to mind the long slog towards the coast as much as usual.

Despite slowing in those final miles, I crossed the line in a time of 7:16:33, recording a new PB by approximately 7 minutes.

As always, everything about the Speyside Way Race was excellent, from the friendly, welcoming Race Directors to the smiling, happy marshals (despite the far from perfect weather) and the finishers goodie bag and medal. It’s a great way to finish the year and I look forward to returning to this race time and time again.

So, 7 ultras done and dusted. 6 PBs and 1 non PB (Clyde Stride, by 12 minutes). Only a few days left at work and then it will be holiday time.

Upon my return, it will be time for me to turn my attention to things that I hope will help me to improve further for next year – mainly weight loss and speed work – though there may well be some additional factors to impact on my running next year – More on that to follow!

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc

The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) takes place this coming weekend. Having completed some 13 ultramarathons these past two years, many of which contribute anywhere from 1 to 4 UTMB points, I now have considerably more points than the minimum entry requirements. However, realistically, it will be a few years before I tackle this, the pinnacle of European trail running.

Whilst my own assault on the UTMB is some years away, I can, however, thank Chamonix for inspiring me to tackle ultramarathons in the first place. Back in 2009, Leanne and myself visited Chamonix and were inspired by the stunning terrain and multitude of routes. This led me to find out about the UTMB and, finally, to find out about and then participate in the Scottish ultramarathon scene.

The UTMB is accompanied by a further 3 races, from 98km up to 250km.

  • UTMB: Ultra-Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc (166 km +9,400 m)
  • CCC: Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix (98 km +5,600 m)
  • TDS: Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (105 km +6,700 m)
  • PTL: La Petite Trotte à Léon (250 km +18,000 m)

Further information:

A good many participants in the above races will come from the UK and I am aware that there are a number of S.U.M.S. participants over in Chamonix both racing and supporting. With a forecast of snow down to 2000m on the Friday night, an already challenging race will be that bit tougher. Best of luck to you all, stay safe, wrap up warm and enjoy it.

 

The Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run

New post at The Running Bug, ‘The Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run

Thanks for all the views on my ‘Tips For Running In The Heat‘ post last week. Hopefully there was something of interest in there and you got another run in the sun before our summer came to a premature end (did it ever really start this year?).

Ironically, after my experiences at this weekends Speyside Way Race, this weeks post should be titled ‘Tips For Running In Torrential Rain, Mud & Waterlogged Paths’ but, as catchy as that sounds (not!), I am instead going to make use of this opportunity to plug an event that will hopefully become a regular feature on the running calendar north of the border – the inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run.

You may already have heard of the event but, in case not, I figured that with enough notice you might just be able to participate. So, here goes!

Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run

The innaugural Scottish Barefoot Run will take place in Edinburgh on Saturday 15th September at 12.00. The event, incorporating not just barefooters but all minimalist runners, aims “to gather a bunch of like minded runners together and help promote the natural running movement”, and is based on the NYC barefoot run with no fees and no competition, making it very relaxed.

Starting at 12 with a run of approx 6.5 miles, the event will include a BYO BBQ (weather permitting) in the Links and the chance to try new products in the barefoot world, including Teko Natural Running Socks, before a conference element in the afternoon.

The Run

The route for the run is from Bruntsfield Links down to Holyrood Park entering by the Commonwealth Pool, up on to Salisbury Crag and along the top, providing excellent views of the Castle, then down to the Palace and on to the Royal Mile at The Scottish Parliament. The route then heads up to the Castle and drops into the Grassmarket. From there, it is up some old town steps to Lauriston Place past the spectacular Heriots School, into Middle Meadow Walkway and back to Bruntsfield Links.

Runners can do as many laps of the course as they want. Faster and more experienced runners will be encouraged to do a second lap with the aim of helping slower runners to achieve the goal when they catch them up.

The Conference

The afternoon will include a presentation from Matt Walden of Primal Lifestyle, the UK distributor of Vibram Five Fingers. Heather Hall, one of the leading barefoot coaches in the country, will also be there to offer seasoned and newbie barefooters tips and advice from her wealth of practical experience. Inov8 will be on hand to advise on their range of shoes and will be bringing along some try on shoes from the new range of 3mm and zero drop to let you have a go on the day. Vivobarefoot will hopefully be in attendance.

More Information

The event has been put together by Colin from local Edinburgh shop www.footworks-uk.com, a specialist running store with a large range of barefoot and minimalist gear and a commitment to the natural barefoot running cause.

It is hoped that this may become a regular event so please do attend and support the event if you can. Final details including times etc. will be revealed closer to the event, and will be dependant upon total numbers attending, so get your acceptance in early so that all the arrangements can be made in advance.

Hope to see some Running Bug members there and, if you do attend, be sure to introduce yourselves and say hello.

Find out more via:

Running Bug Barefoot Resources

Back Soon

I am off to Menorca shortly for a much needed holiday, to relax and also to run some of the Camí de Cavalls trails so I will be back in a few weeks with some words on a successful season of ultras, how my tips for running in the heat fared for me in the hot temperatures (I hope!) of Menorca, and with a review of the inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Running

Drymax – Dry To The Max!

I posted a few days back about the arrival of some Drymax socks from www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com. Despite the advice never to use an item for the first time in an actual race scenario, I put the Drymax Trail Running Socks – 1/4 Crew High socks to the test, at the 36.5 mile Speyside Way Race.

For long distance runs I always lather my toes in Sudocreme. However, thanks to some information obtained initially from the blog of fellow SUMS runner Silke which was confirmed by Keith from www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com, I knew that you should use no lubricant at all.

“Vaseline or other lubricants or powders actually create a barrier between the sock and the skin. In this case they inhibit the Drymax fibres from working to their full potential. This is why Drymax recommend not to use them.”

To be honest, I was sceptical! However, I broke with my usual race ritual and opted for the 1/4 crew sock, a high density protective padded sock, with no lubricant on the feet at all. Just in case of any problems, I put a small tub of Sudocreme in the second of my checkpoint drop bags.

Talk about putting the socks to the test! The Speyside Way Race Race Directors advised runners to use trail shoes via Facebook as large parts of the route were very muddy. Torrential rain overnight merely added to this. As a result, the first 12-13 miles of the route alternated between a mud fest and a river, making for a tricky, testing start to the race. There was no way anyone’s feet were staying dry today!

As I found my feet totally submerged for the first time, I have to admit that I feared the worst and that my break from the convention of not testing new gear in a race situation was going to cost me dear.

There was, however, something different about the feeling in my feet. The feet were being soaked continually but there were no signs of aggravation or hotspots.

36.5 miles later I was relieved to cross the finish line in this, my 7th and final ultra of the year.

Removing the socks, I was delighted to see that they passed the litmus test, with flying colours. Not a single blister! My feet also looked a lot drier than usual and especially so given the conditions.

So, no faffing around with lubricant, 36.5 miles run, many of which in soaking wet, muddy conditions, and not a single blister. I will most definitely be adding to my ‘collection’ of 3 pairs of Drymax socks. A definite success and I can see now why they are held in such high regard Stateside.

The 53 Runner’s Commandments By Joe Kelly

I came across the excellent ’53 Runner’s Commandments’ by Joe Kelly today. Well worth a read!

  1. Don’t be a whiner. Nobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners
  2. Walking out the door is often the toughest part of a run
  3. Don’t make running your life. Make it part of your life
  4. During group training runs, don’t let anyone run alone
  5. Keep promises, especially ones made to yourself
  6. When doing group runs, start on time no matter who’s missing
  7. The faster you are the less you should talk about your times
  8. Keep a quarter in your pocket. One day you’ll need to call for a ride
  9. Don’t compare yourself to other runners
  10. All runners are equal, some are just faster than others
  11. Keep in mind that the later in the day it gets, the more likely it is that you won’t run
  12. For a change of pace, get driven out and then run back
  13. If it was easy, everybody would be a runner
  14. When standing in starting lines, remind yourself how fortunate you are to be there
  15. Getting out of shape is much easier than getting into shape
  16. A bad day of running still beats a good day at work
  17. Talk like a runner. “Singlets” are worn on warm days. “Tank tops” are worn to the beach
  18. Don’t talk about your running injuries. People don’t want to hear about your sore knee or black toe
  19. Don’t always run alone
  20. Don’t always run with people
  21. Approach running as if the quality of your life depended on it
  22. No matter how slow you run it is still faster than someone sitting on a couch
  23. Keep in mind that the harder you run during training, the luckier you’ll get during racing
  24. Races aren’t just for those who can run fast
  25. There are no shortcuts to running excellence
  26. The best runs sometimes come on days when you didn’t feel like running
  27. Be modest after a race, especially if you have reason to brag
  28. If you say, “Let’s run this race together,” then you must stay with that person no matter how slow
  29. Think twice before agreeing to run with someone during a race
  30. There is nothing boring about running. There are, however, boring people who run
  31. Look at hills as opportunities to pass people
  32. Distance running is like cod liver oil. At first it makes you feel awful, then it makes you feel better
  33. Never throw away the instructions to your running watch
  34. Don’t try to outrun dogs
  35. Don’t trust runners who show up at races claiming to be tired, out of shape, or not feeling well
  36. Don’t wait for perfect weather. If you do, you won’t run very often
  37. When tempted to stop being a runner, make a list of the reasons you started
  38. Never run alongside very old or very young racers. They get all of the applause
  39. Without goals, training has no purpose
  40. During training runs, let the slowest runner in the group set the pace
  41. The first year in a new age group offers the best opportunity for trophies
  42. Go for broke, but be prepared to be broken
  43. Spend more time running on the roads than sitting on the couch
  44. Make progress in your training, but progress at your own rate
  45. “Winning” means different things to different people
  46. Unless you make your living as a runner, don’t take running too seriously
  47. Runners who never fail are runners who never try anything great
  48. Never tell a runner that he or she doesn’t look good in tights
  49. Never confuse the Ben-Gay tube with the toothpaste tube
  50. Never apologize for doing the best you can
  51. Preventing running injuries is easier than curing them
  52. Running is simple. Don’t make it complicated
  53. Running is always enjoyable. Sometimes, though, the joy doesn’t come until the end of the run

If you are anything like me, you will have read through that list agreeing with most, if not all, of the commandments.

Final Race Of The Season – The Speyside Way Race

This Saturday I will be joining approx 110 other runners in the penultimate race of the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series, The Speyside Way Race. This will be my last race in 2012. With so many great ultras still to come this year, it seems almost premature to be discussing my final race and I know that, for many of my ultra friends, there are still at least a couple of months of training and racing to complete.

However, assuming I make it to the finish line on Saturday, I will have completed 7 of the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series of ultramarathons and, at least according to my body, I am in need of a break. Fortunately, this will come soon enough as I depart for Menorca on 3rd September. My idea of a ‘break’ does involve some trail running, on the Camí de Cavalls trail around Menorca. However, I do plan on ‘mixing it up’ with plenty of walking, swimming (hopefully avoiding jellyfish – this time!) and actual relaxing as well! Once I return, I am going to focus on shorter runs, speedwork and minimalist running for a while.

This will be my 3rd time at the Speyside Way Race and am hopeful of improving on my previous times, 7:46:00 in 2010 & 7:23:45 in 2011, but will, as always, just take it as it comes. At this point in time, the forecast is varying between light and heavy rain.

The route follows the Speyside Way, from Ballindalloch to Buckie, including Ben Aigen.

The Route

  • Ballindalloch to Craigellachie:
    12 miles: Mostly old railway line, Suspension bridges
  • Craigellachie to Fochabers:
    13 miles: Some road sections, Woodland paths, Forestry tracks
  • Fochabers to Spey Bay:
    6 miles: Riverside & forestry tracks, Grassy paths
  • Spey Bay to Buckie:
    5.5 miles: Shore line path, Some pavement, Old railway line, Woodland paths
  • The route continues into Buckie town centre for approximately 0.5 miles

Best of luck to everyone running The Speyside Way this weekend and also to those who will be missing Speyside this weekend as they are tapering for the Glenmore 24 or UTMB races, both of which are on my bucket list.

Happy running.

The Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run

The inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run will take place in Edinburgh on Saturday 15th September at 12.00. The event, incorporating not just barefooters but all minimalist runners, aims “to gather a bunch of like minded runners together and help promote the natural running movement”, and is based on the NYC barefoot run with no fees and no competition, making it very relaxed.

Starting at 12 with a run of approx 6.5 miles, the event will include a BYO BBQ (weather permitting) in the Links and the chance to try new products in the barefoot world, including Teko Natural Running Socks, before a conference element in the afternoon.

The Run

The route for the run is from Bruntsfield Links down to Holyrood Park entering by the Commonwealth Pool, up on to Salisbury Crag and along the top, providing excellent views of the Castle, then down to the Palace and on to the Royal Mile at The Scottish Parliament. The route then heads up to the Castle and drops into the Grassmarket. From there, it is up some old town steps to Lauriston Place past the spectacular Heriots School, into Middle Meadow Walkway and back to Bruntsfield Links.

Runners can do as many laps of the course as they want. Faster and more experienced runners will be encouraged to do a second lap with the aim of helping slower runners to achieve the goal when they catch them up.

The Conference

The afternoon will include a presentation from Matt Walden of Primal Lifestyle, the UK distributor of Vibram Five Fingers. Heather Hall, one of the leading barefoot coaches in the country, will also be there to offer seasoned and newbie barefooters tips and advice from her wealth of practical experience. Inov-8 will be on hand to advise on their range of shoes. Vivobarefoot will hopefully be in attendance.

(Updated 23rd August 2012: Inov-8 will be bringing along some try on shoes from the new range of 3mm and zero drop to let you have a go on the day.)

More Information

The event has been put together by Colin from local Edinburgh shop www.footworks-uk.com, a specialist running store with a large range of barefoot and minimalist gear and a commitment to the natural barefoot running cause.

It is hoped that this may become a regular event so please do attend and support the event if you can. Final details including times etc. will be revealed closer to the event, and will be dependant upon total numbers attending, so get your acceptance in early so that all the arrangements can be made in advance.

Find out more via: