It’s my day off work so I have volunteered to go to the Salomon training day.
Hoping to pick a few tips up, I arrive early with a couple of work colleges at Castleton Youth Hostel.
A couple of gazebos are set up in the car park when we arrive: this looks professional I think to myself.
After the formal introductions, who's who all that kind of stuff, we are introduced to Salomon’s latest kit. It all sounds very impressive and I’m eager to get the nice looking blue shoes on.
These are Fellraisers, I’m told. I’m also given a waterproof top as it’s blowing a gale and raining outside.
Out of the centre we go, GPS watches set and off we go at a nice chatty pace through a stile and up the hill. All the time the talk is of how the running shoes are performing. We head down a steep grassy bank and a further steep concrete farm track along the lane and back to the centre.
Upon arrival we are given a tick sheet with ratings out of 5 on various comments about the shoe we had chosen. For me the Fellraisers scored a perfect 5 for all categories; fit/grip/comfort etc. etc.
Next up I chose a pair of Sense 4, which most of the group had been impressed with on the first run. The rain stops so I take off the waterproof jacket and put on a wind proof. Again GPS watches set, off we go through the stile up the hill. Almost immediately I notice pain in my calves. I mention this to one of the other members of the group who is running alongside me and he explains to me the difference. The Sense 4s have a low drop and my calves are stretching. When we reach the top and turn down the hill I don’t feel as confident in the grip on these shoes. Also when we reach the farm track I feel the shoes are much less comfortable on the concrete as we descend at a fair pace along the lane and back to the centre. Again forms to fill in, boxes to tick; I give my honest answer and the Sense 4 scores an average 4 for me, not bad.
Speedlace tied, watch set, off we go only this time we go up and up and up. Bloody hell, I’m thinking to myself, I hope we are not going to the top (Lose Hill). I’m relieved when I’m told we’re only going halfway up - phew! When we gather at the halfway point one of our group has carried on to the top - a local fell running legend named Stuart Bond wow! One day that could be me.
Anyway we traverse the side of the hill and start to descend to a path. I am totally not happy with the Speedcross I have on; they feel far too high and unstable so I slow down and get to the path safe. Down the path and along the lanes back to the centre; the Speedcross perform fine on flat non-technical terrain.
Back at the centre it’s time to mark the shoes and I give these an average mark of 4, only letting themselves down by feeling unstable on the descent.
By this time it’s time for a late lunch and a general chat about how things have gone.
All in all I had a great time testing Salomon’s kit and listening to some good advice. If you get the chance, I would highly recommend trying some shoes out before buying them. I’ve come away with some good knowledge of products and training tips which will help me in my marathon training.
Currently at the shop we have some Scott shoes available to “try before you buy”. If I were looking to buy some trail shoes I would definitely head over and take them out for a trial run before making a decision.
Next week on the blog I’m looking forward to the lighter evening runs after work.
Oh by the way Stuart got back to the centre before us. Maybe he ran to the top because he couldn’t maintain my pace.
So it was Easter Sunday, it was scorching and I was working (brilliant). The shop was super busy but when I could grab a minute I did a little map research to see where to run that evening.
Sorted, I picked an area called Bretton Clough. It was new to me so it would be interesting.
It was still warm as I parked the car at Leadmill Bridge a little later than expected. I’m sure Rob mentioned an hour’s overtime or it may have been just the hot sun getting to my head. Anyway off I went at a nice steady pace. As soon as I turned off the road and into the first field there were the sheep again, only this time they had babies with them. Quick as a flash I got the camera out click/click what a glorious sight new born lambs, it really felt like Easter.
On I went at a slow pace as I wasn't too sure of the area and I was knackered after a busy day in the shop.
I was really enjoying this run. Discovering new paths added interest and the weather was amazing, but all of a sudden travelling downhill at speed on a steep, muddy descent, I was down on my arse.
I couldn't help but laugh knowing I would have to get undressed on the driveway again when I got home (new carpets).
I decided at this point to turn back and head to the car. At the top of the hill after a steady run up a well-marked path I headed off in the direction of Hathersage. Dropping down to the river I followed it downstream back to the bridge, listening to the sounds of the lambs in the nearby fields.
Arriving back at the car I was grinning from ear to ear. I really am enjoying these runs and I’m starting to notice an improvement. I’m now running every other day – fast paced short runs of around 2-3 miles, usually followed a couple of days later by a steady 6 miler. I try and run one long run a week, which at the moment is about 12 miles. My pace is varied, around fast 9 min miles up to 14 min miles steady.
This week I did a long run in the afternoon on my day off and it felt really good, a nice change from the early morning and after work runs.
On Saturday night when I finished work I ran back to Hunters Bar roundabout (Endcliffe Park) which was around the 10 mile mark.
On this outing I picked up some company: an Everest mountain marathon runner, a Lakeland marathon finisher, and a little bloke from Dronfield who's done a 10k. I would have asked them for some training tips but I was too far away to hold a conversation.
Also this week I met Stuart Air, a sponsored trail runner who runs for Scott. We are going on a training run later this month and I’ll get to try out some new products. He’s a Hardrock 100 finisher, so if I can keep up with him for long enough it should be a good opportunity to ask some questions!
Well it looks like it’s my last evening run having to wear a headtorch.
I’ve been using a Petzl Nao over the winter and it’s been great. I’ve often heard people say that when it’s in reactive mode it can be frustrating. I have to admit I have had some trying moments when running in a group and or when condensation from my breath rises up and obscures the path ahead. However these problems have one very simple solution: I just put the headtorch into standard mode with the flick of a switch.
My other top tip for dealing with this is to run at the back. I do anyway but only because I’m steady. I've found you can use the light to see the trail from other peoples' lights and save your battery. When they have all left you, put it back into reactive mode.
On this last run I’m moving along at a fair lick (ha ha) and I’m thinking to myself what can I do to make the time and pain pass by quicker?
Up ahead I see them; SHEEP, lots of them on the trail. Quick as a flash I go into sheepdog mode and I’m down on all fours, setting the camera up. This might seem to be an odd reaction to fairly common traffic on a Peak commute, but I'm in photo snapping mood.
Camera set ACTION: I move forward 3 paces to get in the frame. Only on the 3rd step, the sheep disperse; result empty.
This goes on for several more attempts before I get the shot.
Feeling smug about sheep herding I up the pace (well start jogging)
I execute a quick body swerve to the left (ok I tripped) and they’re off in all directions. I spend a couple of minutes sat on my arse assessing the chaos that spreads out before me.
Clearly I’m just not fit enough yet, so I carry on with my run making a mental note to watch re runs of one man and his dog when I get home.
The rest of the run goes without a hitch and I stop off to see the lads bouldering at Plantation. Some of them are laid down on their beds (pads) hmm!! bouldering looks relaxing I think, before making my way at a fast pace up on to Stanage.
Next week I’ve been invited to test some running gear with Salomon. Check back to see how I get on woof woof!!!
I have a confession to make: I am a Nuttall’s Completer. No, not a complete nutter although some may argue the point.
According to criteria established by John and Anne Nuttall there are currently 444 summits in England and Wales over 2000ft. I finished the list with an ascent of High Willhays and Yes Tor on Dartmoor in 2003. [Chris was the 108th completer] It was a memorable occasion because Jane and I were escorted off the hill having strayed into a military firing zone!
Other summits were less memorable either because they were undistinguished tops in the middle of a moor, the weather had obscured all views, or I had done them so long ago that I have simply forgotten the occasion.
So although by default I have done at least part of any hill walk that involves a 2000ft summit, the nature of the UK climate and the vagaries of memory almost guarantee a different experience every time.
Last week’s two-day escape to the hills started with a round of summits based in remote Swindale, accessed via Shap in the north east Lakes.
Sublime weather that vacillated between blue skies and snow showers ensured a typically picturesque Lake District. Large cairns, old survey pillars, a herd of deer and Mosedale Cottage Mountain Bothy helped maintain interest all the way to the final surprise viewpoint as we descended back in to Swindale.
On day two we drove south to the Yorkshire Dales and were inspired to ascend the snow splattered Ingleborough from Clapham. A nature trail (65p entrance fee) up Clapham Beck with its grotto and show cave, followed by the limestone ravine of Trow Gill and the awesome chasm of Gaping Gill (with the highest unbroken waterfall in England), make this the best way up Ingleborough.
At the top we were treated to the timely passage of a steam train over the distant Ribblehead Viaduct. The way back took us through The Allotment which features more cavernous potholes and an area of outstanding limestone pavement. Wandering through the Norber Boulders, a field of erratic Silurian boulders dumped by melting ice-sheets, provided a suitably dramatic finale.
Since doing my first, first ascent a while back I have started looking at the rocks nearby a bit differently. The Peak is definitely not climbed out. Over the winter I have been running to work a fair bit and along the way spied this small block off the Houndkirk 4x4 road. It looked good, if rather dirty, but surely its been done? Its so obvious! My internet research says it's possibly unclimbed, certainly unclaimed. I've been meaning to check it out for ages but yesterday I went for a walk with my wife Danni. It also happened to be the due date for our first child and we thought the walk might help. So we checked it out.
It's a great place for a picnic! Danni could sit in the sun with the rock in the shade, plus a flat landing so one pad is fine. The problem took some cleaning, but otherwise it's great climbing on cool holds. Just don't allow the side walls for your feet (you wouldn't anyway) and its great fun. The only issue is it was easier than I hoped, choosing the name was too! Due Date font 6B.
I made the most of the rock and also climbed the arête to the left from the same start. Around the same grade, Late Arrival? (question mark is intended as at the time the day wasn't over!) Font 6B. Both problems are fun and worth the short walk, however both may feel harder if your feet have to come of the back wall sooner than mine. If you want to find them, they're around grid ref 278 821, just off the Houndkirk Road.
Climbing (and anything to blog about) will be slow for me for a while now as I patiently wait (gulp) for my biggest adventure yet!
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