January 2018 Dipping the toes

Thursday 4th January (04/01/2018) The Field 2.2 mile stretch.

You want to dip your toe in the water but dip to deep too early and you might lose it, went for a two mile stretch in the field. It was nice to be running but there’s a long way to go. It’s a start not much more than turning the ignition!

“In summer days I’ve ran in the field with the sun retreating through the last edges of the paps, glades of golden light filling the lines you run. The warmth of it, the soft forgivingness of the ground and smell after silage has been harvested, it feels natural and untainted by tarmac, I love that”

Glades of golden light

Saturday 6th January (06/01/2018)Field 2 mile steady.

 Legs felt better, the response of the human body to activity is amazing. My head buzzes at the prospect of the next run and muscles start to twitch with nervous energy.

“Momentum as much as anything else is important to me when I start training, builds it slow and steady”

Sunday 7th January 2018 (07/01/18) Hill 60 Cranbuie and Cairn.

You pace the floor at the thought of getting out to start the training, take the steps of the journe, get going. This time I had company for my first entrance into fell running 2018 and it was a pleasure, Amy and Corra kept me nice and grounded just the type of relaxed first run that I wanted, we jogged to Grant’s rock with then climbed hill 60 across the peat banks to Cranbuie where we ran across the top to the corner of the fence, Amy came up as far as the top road and then started down the Cairn track back towards the Caravan and the prospect of a hot shower! Corra and I ambled up the Cairn without thought of time or pace happy to know we are under way for another year and as happy as I’ve been in my life.

Amy running east on field paths

“Ardmenish is my compass point everywhere I go it’s my true north and my home, it’s good to be back”

The fell running shoe graveyard

Monday 8th January 2018 (08/01/18) Run over Ardmenish road.

It’s never been my strength road running and I just can’t seem to get the same enjoyment out of it, also it really takes my legs a while to recover. Even just short runs on the road, my legs can be dead for days after. Anyway I decided today I would run over the road, Amy was on her way back from work so after running the Ardmenish farm track we ran back home together, Amy I and Corra! It was quite late and cold but in and cosy in the caravan soon after!

“Road just escapes me, I would rather run back and forward in a field”

Sunday 14th January 2018 (14/01/18) First 2 Feolin Farm back down along road with Campbell

Had met Campbell in the bar he’s working in the hotel for the season a really nice lad and is a keen runner. Although not experienced as a fell runner, fit and enthusiastic with a great attitude to learn bits and pieces and give the fell race a go when here on the island. We met up in the morning at the hotel, left the van in the hall car park and got going with intention of a couple of checkpoints. Blethering away on the way up the first can instantly tell he’s my kinda person, modest, tells a good story holds a clever conversation and polite on first impressions, sometimes you get a feeling about people and Campbell, that instant feeling like “that fellas a decent guy”. No question about it serious enough about his running with a great baseline fitness from 10 K’s on the road to back it up. Pace wise we just moved, I mean I led it but didn’t really go for it but we moved consistently over the ground, weather in the current state of play I could cover the ground any faster remains to be seen, it certainly wasn’t painless going up the first in 48mins, Campbell hadn’t broken sweat by the looks of him although had switched on to any wee bits I was trying to tell him about routes on the way up or briefly on the plant your whole foot and use the hamstrings or tip toe calve on the steeper stuff. Intent on taking on any information, which I like because I can talk fell running till the cows come home given a chance. Swapping a few stories about life so far as we head for Glas Bheinn it’s been good run and a few miles clocked up. The weather was okay at best, a pretty brisk wind made staying on the tops for any time unwise; there was snow drifts after the last few days. We just talked as we ran and it was good philosophical stuff too, I enjoy the company of people who aren’t afraid to touch on the slightly left field spirits which more commonly than not the conversation seems to sway that direction in my experience on the hill, it’s the landscape, the superstition, history and heritage it’s there with every footstep. On this showing from Campbell as much as you can tell by doing 2 checkpoints he’ll do well, I told him as much at the end of the run, it’s not about getting around it for you I said Campbell it’s how fast you want to do it for you I would say. We ran back down to Feolin farm then down the road where Corra decided to chase the Bingham’s chickens at the church thanks god she didnt get em! The only down side was Campbell’s mobile must have come out of his pocket coming off Glas Bheinn but this didn’t seem to really bother him and he said “it’s only a phone” made me think again yea that’s my type of person!

Glad Bheinn & Dubh Bheinn

“Always exciting to see new folk trying it”

Wednesday 17th January 2018 (17/01/18) 3.5 Mile on the Road

Decided to try a jog along the Craighouse road, was pretty cold, struggling to get going so far this year. So busy with things, it always comes in the training but this year I’m struggling and no question the body is giving more creeks and groans than ever before, carrying that extra wee bit of weight 11 stone 12 pounds so there is a few to lose, thinking back I’m usually around the 11 Flat at fell race time so we’ll see. It was dark and I struggled along slowly to build up a few miles, Martin out gritting and gave a wee beep of encouragement as he passed me. Ah bring back the hill and bring some fairer weather!

“January in Jura is sometimes a trying time!”

Thursday 18th January 2018 (18/01/18) Cairn with Dad

Had some time to take so managed to take the opportunity to get out a god walk with dad, we walked up the Cairn together and took the dogs Corra and Smokie. Dad’s dedication to keeping himself in shape now is pretty impressive, every second or third day it’s the cairn added to cycles not to mention still doing most of the farm duties. If his ankles and knee joints hadn’t taken such punishment then he could probably do some damage on the hills again running wise, he doesn’t realise how fit he is. A good walk and after managed to make a good dent tidying up the cat shed and starting the wall underneath the caravan. I fecking love wall building I could do it all day; I’ve not come across anything so therapeutic in my life thus far!

“Stone upon a stone, and never lift the same one twice” –  

Friday 19th January 2019 (19/01/18) Ardmenish Cross country !

Ah that old chestnut! You know it’s imperative you get out for a run but you just don’t have the energy to do something proper, years ago I would have just got out and put in the effort and got up the Cairn, I would have found the desire and got it done, now I’m older and fly! I don’t do nothing, that’s still not an option I would be beating myself up till I get out for the next run days later, instead I tweak the run and do something that’s easy but enough to abate my own appetite for running and to keep the “no running demons” from lingering. Managed out with Corra around hill 60 over to Cranbuie out to Gatehouse gate back over Cranbuie and down to the cosy caravan to wait on Amy getting home from work and I made spaghetti with red wine on the side! The experience of age has softened the sheer will to get out regardless of how I felt but looking at it in the cold light of the day, the same me that would do everything in training still chucked in the towel on Beinn An Oir when in in all honesty I could have probably kept it going for a 4hour 15 odd in the Fell Race , that doesn’t happen now on race day, with experience I’ve learned to roll with the punches a bit more and grind it out, finish the race regardless of sub 4 or what time. So as much as I slip the odd token run in now, I’ve never been so equipped on the day to get down to the routes and bones and just tough it out if things go pee tong!

Hill 60 and Ardmenish

“The feeling and joy of finishing when you have been carrying cramp since first pap is actually more acute than coming over in sub 4 times in my experience, it’s always about how much you want to dig in rather than what the watch says when you cross the line”

Saturday 20th January (20/01/2018) The Cairn

The staple fell running diet out of Ardmenish is the Cairn, a 300 meter hill 2 miles out from our farm and in all fairness is a bit of a slog to the summit over rough grassland tussocks and heather, but the views from the top of the modest hill are fantastic. Pretty much like anywhere here on Jura on the east coast there is twenty minutes or so of bog till you climb high enough to the sweetness or move far enough west where a fault line divides the terrain into wet and less wet! It’s the minimum run on the hill from home. That’s what we are here for so after a cloudy start to the day it brightened up nicely and I managed another run to get the legs wakening up to a new year! Felt it hard going. Amy jogged over to Corran and back, we settled for a nice relaxing night in with mussels then fajitas!

Corra with Corrabheinn in the distance

“Probably the hill I’ve been up most in my life, every time is different in the ever changing western winds”

Sunday 21st January (21/01/2018) The Cairn

Up and about early (for a Sunday, although hangover free) got the sheep fed then decided to get another run up the Cairn in. Fitness wise I don’t really know how much it gives you, it’s handy for early training and building up some momentum and fitness but lacks the distance or steepness to be anything more than a stop gap for more challenging stuff. When fit enough after hard runs I’d often do the cairn the next day as a stretch, it helped the muscles recover and loosen up. It seems to breathe life into the legs again if they feel heavy.

“Training techniques and advice in the fell running community are so open, there is in my experience no closed doors when asking for help, maybe right at the top end of it all but even then I’d be really surprised. That’s commonly the type of folk who run on the hill”

Monday 29th January (29/01/2018) The Cairn with the Corra

We got a Sprocker spaniel last year and she after her turning a year old she’s able to come out properly with me. So the company is nice if un-obedient, she’s crazy, Amy and I named her after Corrabheinn the last hill on the fell race course on Jura. Sit down means come back, come back means nothing but she does generally do something right with a sharp double blow of the high whistle. Working progress we’ll say! Anyhow we made it up the Cairn but today was a poor one, back was tight, knees were sore. We’ll get back on the horse tomorrow. Ran back down towards the farm and along the road to meet Amy who was coming over with shopping in each hand (or the messages if you’re Scottish). Back home for mushroom risotto!

“You get those days where it all just hurts, they are more common now but you still enjoy it, how can you not”

Corra in freshwater lochs at trigg

Tuesday 30th January (30/01/2018) The Cairn

After a few creaks yesterday I was in the mood to get out and right a few wrongs today, made my way up the Cairn again and yea low and behold we were feeling a lot better, building things really slowly this year, struggling with time and energy to get out and do the bigger training runs, weather isn’t helping this year it’s been so windy and wet.

“More like it today, building momentum but slowly. You just keep chipping away until the tide turns, unless you are fortunate enough to be going with the tide in the first place!”

Beinn A’Chaolais Beinn Shiantaidh & “Corra” Corrabheinn

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