Sunday, 25 July 2010


Sarah last Friday on the shoulder of Ben Narnain with the Cobbler behind

The Devil of the Highlands is now approaching quite fast and I am starting to really look forward to it. I am never one for taking peace. I reckon I'll rest when I'm 6 feet under but while there is living to be had-count me in!

Have been trying out different fuelling strategies on some of my longer runs. After speaking to Helen Johnson after the Cateran, I realise that I need to get this sussed better.My surgeon is developing a keen interest in sports nutrition - how handy is that! His tips were to eat oats in the morning but not cooked into porridge as it lowers the glycaemic value. His other tip was to buy bananas literally about 2 weeks before the run so they are nearly black and can almost be sucked out of their skins so are easier absorbed ...hmmm. The thought of that while sitting here makes me feel queasy, so can't imagine that one working for me after running across Rannoch Moor.

What I have found works well is the uncooked oats made up with complan in the morning and adding syrup or whatever into it. From about 2 hours in, or sooner, I am going to start nibbling Zipvit bars which are fab high calorie, taste ok and most importantly for me, are ultra-readily absorbed. I am going to try and nibble every 15 mins-30 mins as I go. Around Glencoe I am going to tip a sachet of Complan into my water, +/- electrolytes, so I can sip as I run. Then it will be back to the Zipvits and sweet bananas. When I get to Kinlochleven and am staring at that unforgiving ascent I am going to bring out my little secret weapon - the Fair Trade peppermint creams from the Co-op, made to lift one's spirits and help the breathing!

So that's how I am going to improve my fuelling or so we'll see! As for the hydration -I think over the years my body has acclimatised to any enforced changes and hydration is never something that has bothered me while running. I think the thing to do is to make sure I get enough fluids and electrolytes before starting to run. I don't get really thirsty when running but I am aware that I am not great at heat regulation (are any of us?) so getting reasonable fluids onboard before would seem a good idea.

I've had some great training runs in variable weather conditions- some solo, some with friends.I have loved being able to get out with Sarah and Ellen again and am so grateful for their words of encouragement and the fact that they never moan about having to run with their granny in tow! Running round the Red Bike route at Ardgartan can be bit numbing at times but I've enjoyed it these last few weeks as it has been perfect terrain for me to try and get back in sync with myself. It's amazing how quickly your shoulders start to creep forwards, altering the centre of gravity and inhibiting the hip from flexing.I have had to constantly remind myself to straighten up, but it's getting better now and I don't feel as if a bit of elastic is pulling me earthward all the time. Things are starting to feel in balance again. The other weird thing I have noticed is when I am descending at speed off hills (Cobbler/Ben Narnain) I keep catching my left toes as I get tired. I haven't fully fallen but have now worked out that I have adhesions in my anterior lower left abdominal/pelvic area which are preventing my left hip from fully extending. I don't feel it at all running normally, only on those steep descents. More stretching required methinks.

I'm not chasing a time, having never run the Devil before but I am hoping to enjoy the journey and get home before the cut-off. It's quite liberating not to be beating myself up about times but just to run for the love of running in beautiful places. It just feels like such a natural thing to do.

Next up is transporting. These last 2 ultras I have run with my OMM waist belt. It has worked ok but keeps twisting round, no matter what I try, and I feel it, in the words of a lady from Lancashire, "an embuggerance"! I just like carrying the load on my back, maybe it''s a woman thing, but I don't want to have to dislocate my shoulder everytime I want a drink and I'm not that keen on bladders. However the last 2 runs I've been on recently I have worn my Last Drop (which I love) on my back with a bottle belt below which has worked well. Had a look on the web but oddly can't find a good lightweight sac with a bottle holder on the side strap. I know there are some out there but all the ones I looked at were so bulky looking. You can by bottle holder attachments but had a go with one of those and my feeling is that unless your chest is as flat as a pancake, and mine isn't, then it doesn't stay still and starts to get really uncomfortable. I wonder what the chances are of getting Bravissimo to design an ultralightweight sac for females?

My last point of consideration is how I am going to cope with the weather. Don't mind the rain or the wind, much, but if it's a flat calm day and blazing sun that's going to be a killer. At least there are not many road sections and plenty of burns to soak one's buff/feet/entire body in. I'll just do as Mum always told me and clatch on the suncream, wear a hat and shades - even if I do look a bit like an assassin. Afterall, if these madmen and women can run across Death Valley or the Sahara surely to God I can do it on the last half of the WHW!!

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