Turn Off, Tune In

By | Running

A gentle ‘on your right’ as I aimed to nip past the walker who was occupying the whole trail, poles spread wide… ‘JESUS CHRIST!!!’ A shocked screech as she jumped further into my path, forcing me on to the peaty hummocks, throwing me an aggressive accusational stare… ‘You could’ve f**cking warned me!!’ The apology almost fell from my lips, the curse of the polite, bumped into on the high-street and still issuing my regrets, but something overrode and instead I ignored and ran on, yards away before my brain computed the hard facts.  I’d been approaching for minutes, the epic…

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Decoding the Body

By | Running

Unplanned Siestas I’ve just recently woken up… Nothing too sinister or alarming in that, except it was at 3:30pm in a car park in Newcastle.  Fortunately I wasn’t lying comatose round the back of the bins, instead sat in the driver’s seat of my van whilst the boys were playing away in the park, but it’s the third consecutive day that I’ve totally flaked out mid-afternoon. I know, I know, most people reading this would love the luxury of being able to crash out for a siesta, the joys of designing my own work schedule are obvious, but for me…

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Genetic Predisposition? The Skyrunning World Championships

By | Running

Solid and Dependable Looking back on the weekend just gone and amongst the fuzzy warmth of a hugely enjoyable experience is a strong sense of inevitability.  My result at the Ring of Steall Skyrace was entirely predictable, with a comfortable top forty position and a time suitably close, but never challenging previous winning efforts.  A 33rd at the WMRA Long Distance World Champs back in June whilst in similar form showed me where my abilities stand among the genuine elites of mountain running, and regardless of fitness, my total lack of knowledge of the course on Saturday was always going…

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Life Begins – The World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships

By | Running

Getting Wood… Was the original title for this blog, a cheap innuendo based around avenging last year’s sprint-finish defeat by Team GB’s Jack Wood, by pipping him high on the misty upper-slopes of Mount Sniezka in this latest edition of the World Champs.  But although many careers have been forged on puerile humour, it’s a poor way to encapsulate the suffering, drama and satisfaction of being part of the premier event in the mountain running calendar, particularly when Jack is young, fast and will have his revenge many times over.  And so instead, something more serious will form the real…

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Prioritising Pain

By | Running

I had an interesting conversation today with a mate I’ve not seen in a while.  He’s signed up for a half Ironman this year, and also a full Ironman next year, guaranteeing well over twelve months of self-motivation.  Like Aidy, I’m a huge believer in having future goals, reasons to drag yourself out in the lashing rain and cutting wind over the dark months beyond the simple wish to not get fat or unhealthy. I could see he regretted telling me that completing the course was his sole aim as soon as the fact left his lips, instantly realising he’d…

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Fluctuating Fish – The 64th Yorkshire Three Peaks Race

By | Running

Big Fish, Small Pond I love the Northern Irish mountain running scene, although of late I’ve been rather invisible within it.  It’s buoyant, flourishing and boasts many brilliantly organised events, from the iconic Slieve Donard race to the prestigious Mourne Skyline, with many other classics between.  With evening club races attracting over 350 runners, it’s clear to see that fell running in N.I. is no longer solely the preserve of the grizzled minority, and many new faces are being lured away from the gimmick laden world of compulsory finishers medals and garish t-shirts towards the purity of the open hills….

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JFDI

By | Running

Many years ago I had a boss called Ed, a brash, self-assured Mancunian, a man both larger and louder than life.  Ed had a catch phrase, JFDI (just f***ing do it!), regularly reeled out to silence hapless staff as they stuttered out excuses over solutions.  There was no comeback, no argument, resistance futile to the connotations of the sentence, the final vowel dragged out long enough to drown the most vehement protestations… ‘JFDIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII’ I liked Ed, my kind of leader, a zero bullshit type in an industry full of perpetual talkers.  His ‘can and will do’ attitude echoed and shaped…

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Bitten On The Arse

By | Running

Sometimes you just have to let the fitness come to you… Recently, in defiance of notable leg-speed limitations I won a Cross Country race.  And not just any race, it was a national title, albeit the Masters title (for moderately more mature athletes) but still a prestigious and highly competitive event.  It was a huge surprise to me and no doubt also to the gathered experts of Northern Irish running, given that I have virtually no pedigree in the discipline barring an Ulster Intermediate team gold medal acquired several years back that owed a lot more to the strength of my…

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All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go

By | Running

Personal Bests I broke a PB today.  Actually, re-phrase that, I smashed a PB today, decimated it, tore it a new hole, and not just any PB, it was the test piece route that I return to time and again, and have done for many years now.  Brilliant! My ‘Tollymore Boundary Route’ is an 8.1 mile circumnavigation of the whole of Tollymore Forest, tracking the boundary over two shapely lumps that provide 355m of climbing on stony, gritty and sometimes greasy forest trail.  Over the years times have dropped rapidly, stagnated, dropped again and sometimes risen but been on a…

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The Power Of Certainty

By | Running

I wake groggily, the weak grey light forcing through a crack in the curtains.  Gusting wind driving rain at the window in sheets, flexing the perspex and sapping my will to rise.  Slipping back out of consciousness I shelve the planned early morning session, later, later… The next time I’m truly aware of what’s going on is about 45 minutes later.  I feel myself rejoining my body, vision becoming clear and I’m no longer in my bed.  Heart rate is pumping and hamstrings a touch tight, I’m a quarter of the way into my eight-mile testpiece and moving well.  Obviously…

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