What do you do with a spare day, a thirst for adventure with a couple of mates, and £30!?
Why not fly to Northern Ireland, and hit up the spectacular Mourne Mountains?
Myself, Adventure Photographer James Carnegie and Discovery Channel's very own endurance hero; Sean Conway decided to go and have some fun. We grabbed return flights into Belfast at £25 each and hired the crappiest, cheapest, little car we could find for £15. We drove the short drive to the foot of the Mourne Mountains, quickly kitted ourselves up and we were off.
We expected freezing winter conditions on this trip, what we got was a balmy mild day, more like spring than winter, and this made for an even better day out. We worked our way along any trail that went up! Finally we hit the wall...no, we weren't tired, but we hit the spectacular wall that winds it's way through these mountains. To our delight, you could run ON the wall, a few of the slabs were wobbly, but for the most part it offered a brilliant way to ascend to the peaks.
The best thing about a trip like this, is being spontaneous. The route plan we had went out the window when James left the map on the plane, so we simply went from peak to peak, deciding our next step with the aid of the amazing visibility. Thankfully we were able to keep an eye on where the valley leading to our car was at all times because before we knew, it was getting dark and we had to hammer it back across the mountains to get back to the airport.
The Mourne Mountains did not disappoint and apart from the odd hiker, we had the whole place to ourselves! They are super easy to get to and I would encourage anyone with a spare day or two to go and explore.
It's amazing what you can do in a day if you really want to. Keep an eye out for the full feature in March's issue of Men's Running, out now.
Last night saw much of the UK hit by a 'huge snow storm', panic ensued as people desperately rushed to supermarkets to buy food, drink and blankets, preparing to be stuck in their homes for at least 4 months...in reality it was a bit of a dusting in most areas, now I've got 100 cans of Baked Beans to use if anyone fancies popping round for a Beans on toast party!?
All joking aside, it DID snow, and there are certainly some icy patches out there. As a result, I felt the sudden urge to share with you my top 5 tips for running in such conditions. You don't need to cancel any scheduled runs due to these conditions, but you do need to be careful. So here we go...
1. Run SLOWLY...these conditions are not ideal for your 7min/mile tempo run, that's just asking for trouble. If you insist on running fast, maybe consider a helmet?
2. Don't make any sudden directional changes, or take corners too fast, you'll simply end up flat on your face! Take the corners REALLY slowly unless you are 100% sure they are safe.
3. Avoid pavements and smooth services where black ice may be present. If there is snow on the ground, then aim for that for more grip. If the pavement has a grassy verge, run along that.
4. Run on trails if you can, they will offer better grip (although avoid notoriously wet trails like the picture of me this morning included in this post). If you absolutely have to run on roads, then try and stick to main roads which are more likely to have had treatment and the increased footfall and traffic will likely mean that the ice and snow has disappeared anyway.
5. Finally...embrace it, don't get upset that your training is being disrupted, it's nice to experience different conditions and before you know it, the roads will be back to sludgy wet rubbishness anyway!
Be careful...be safe...have fun.
Yesterday (9 January) saw Running Adventures pop 3 more ultra running cherries on the North Downs Way Ultra Run.
The longest run that I currently offer, this run is the perfect opportunity for first timers to try their hand at ultra running, as well as more experienced runners getting the chance to explore trails without having to worry about where they are going.
It was an overcast and dreary day as far as the weather was concerned, but that didn't hamper spirits as we spent the day chatting about not only running but travels, food and the prospect of falling head first into the river at the bottom of Box Hill (no one did!)
Well done to Todd, Annabelle, Jess, Jamie and Gareth for some great running. I'm sure that, like me, you are still finding mud in places that you shouldn't be!
If you fancy joining me for a guided trail ultra run, then new dates have been added to website. The next 3 dates will be 30 miles and cover a brand new route.
A long while ago I was asked to do an online Q&A about training for, and preparing for, a marathon. I though that now we are in January, a lot of people will be thinking about their training for marathons such as the Virgin Money London Marathon, Paris Marathon and Brighton Marathon.
You could also read this as...
A long while ago I was asked to do an online Q&A about training for, and preparing for, a marathon. I though that rather than trying to write a clever new blog, i'd be lazy and simply copy and paste!!
So here you are...
Q What would you say is the best training plan for a first marathon?
A One written by me! Seriously though, a personalised plan is best so that it is achievable and realistic around your other commitments.
Q I get to around 20 miles in a marathon and then lose energy and need to be sick. My training to 20 miles is ok and I’ve been managing my fuelling ok. I managed my fuelling much better at Paris marathon and it helped but I still needed to stop and heave. Perhaps it is partly psychological? Do you think running a longer distance in training might help?
A Are you definitely managing your fuelling ok? It sounds like you are getting low on fuel to me. Are you expecting ‘the wall’? There could be a psychological element happening as well. If you are ok up to 20 miles I would definitely consider trying longer in training, try 22 miles and see how that goes.
Q Can you do marathon training on 2/3 runs per week with 1 PT session and 1 or 2 bootcamp sessions? My marathon is in 20 weeks time.
A For sure as long as one of those runs is a long run to build your endurance.
Q I am a hungry runner and struggle with anything over 2 hours. I use gels but what else would you suggest eating?
A Gels are great if you can continuously take them throughout a whole marathon without feeling sick or getting stomach issue (I can’t!), shot bloks are a good alternative, as well as jelly babies, bananas, nuts.
Q I would like to try my first ultra marathon next summer. Would that be ok after a spring marathon? I’m nervous.
A A marathon in April is perfectly timed for building training for a summer ultra (distance wise). Just go for it. Any ultra up to 50km is achievable from marathon training.
Q What is the most effective way to improve my endurance for marathon running?
A Your long runs are vital for building your endurance up slowly. Never skip these sessions, without them, you’ll struggle to build the required endurance for a marathon.
Q Can you do too many miles training for a marathon?
A Many people do over train and it can be a big problem. A max of 40 miles per week is usually high enough for most people. The long runs are the most important.
Q I have VLM in April, my 3rd marathon. What is the best pre-hab stengthener for hip flexors please?
A There is a great article with exercises here.
Q I want to ask about speed. How do I increase my speed for a 26.2?
A There are a few ways – tempo runs, intervals and hill sessions will all be hugely beneficial. Make all your sessions count and mix it up a bit to keep it interesting.
Q Back to back marathons – How close is too close together?
A This depends on your training plan, your fitness levels and your goals. I would recommend a good month of taking it easier after a tough marathon.
Clever new blog may follow soon, watch this space!
If you are interested in Marathon coaching, check out the options here.
I own Running Adventures.