February – Its going to be an uphill challenge from here

fell race blog
Litton ‘post’ Christmas cracker fell race


Its fair to say that February wasn’t the month I wanted or indeed needed, especially with the London Marathon getting increasing closer. January was a great month for me regarding training, covering over 160 miles for the month of which it was all strong structured training…….I felt invincible! It turns out I’m not!

Two weeks into January I started getting niggles in my left knee, and then another niggle in my right foot and calf. At the time though they weren’t enough to stop me, although in hindsight I should of stopped whilst they were just niggles and then maybe this post would be more about how well the marathon training was going an not about how Iv only ran 26 miles this month. I did keep running though and up until February it seemed to be working for me and I was progressing well with my training. The first Sunday of February saw me achieve my 10k pb at Dewsbury and I was feeling really strong and positive about my marathon training, however, just an hour or so after that race I started feeling pain in my foot and it was swelling…………I think this was a run too far!

Time to get this sorted

After Dewsbury I was really struggling with the foot injury, and the swelling didn’t seem to be going down. I left it a few days but with me constantly beating myself up about not training I had to get back out and run, so on the Wednesday I put the trainers back on and tried a 7 mile threshold run. This was horrendous! I could feel the pain in my foot and also a pain in my calk, both of which were making me limp slightly and throwing my stride off. I only managed 4 miles and it wasn’t at threshold, I just wasn’t able to run properly.

Like a idiot, the following day I tried again, but this time with no intention of running a certain pace or distance, but just to go for a run. Again, in hindsight, this was a stupid thing to do, and after just half a mile of going out I was back home as I couldn’t run at all. At this point I knew something really wasn’t right and I had to seek some advice and stop running until I knew what was wrong.

Turbo trainer

I made an appointment with a physio immediately after the horror run and a couple of days later I was being assessed to see what the damage was. Unfortunately it wasn’t clear cut and we were struggling to find the cause of my discomfort, but the physio did seem to think it was nothing serious and that it was probably due to the tightness of my plantar fascia and gave me some exercises to do to ease them up, and hopefully sort my injury out. They were pretty confident that it would sort it and by the end of that week I should be able to start running steady again.

For the rest of that week to keep myself fit and keep me up to speed, I tried to do plenty on the turbo trainer as well as my stretches and exercises. I quite enjoyed the turbo sessions and it was good to be training again, and do something that wasn’t causing me any pain (apart from a sore ass). Five days on from my physio appointment I felt pretty good and I decided to try another run, again, not focusing on pace or distance and just using it to see where I was. Apart from some very tired legs the run went really well, and I managed 7 miles on trails at 7:30min/miles so I was over the moon with that. I had a fell race planned for the day after this race which Id been looking forward to for months, so to have a pain free was such a relief………I could race again!!

First fell race of the year

fell race blog 2

To be back in the hills was such a buzz for me, fell running is what I love doing and aside from this London Marathon, its why I train like I do. It was a perfect day for it too, clear blue sky but nice and muddy to make it fun, just how we like it. As I started warming up though things weren’t great, and that flipping foot of mine flared up again and was making it very difficult to run. Five minutes before the race I was stood near the star line, constantly debating whether to run or not………I ran. Once again (there’s a theme occurring here) in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have, but id been looking forward to this for so long, and being stood there ready to start, I couldn’t just turn around and go home.

As soon as the race started though I surprisingly felt good, and I didn’t feel any pain in my foot. How weird. Considering the weeks prior to this race too and the lack of running Id done, I actually felt pretty strong and like I could compete. I was running really well, and after 5 miles of the 7 mile race I was sitting in 10th place and feeling like I could push on for the last 2 miles…….but then disaster! As I came down from the trig point then started to run across the hills, my left foot slipped down the hillside on the mud, and as I went down my right ankle cracked a rock, the same foot iv been having the issues with. It went with quite a bang and after getting up it took me a goof few minutes to shake it off and start running something like. The last two miles were tough from there and I ended up losing two places and quite a bit of time. I still beat my previous time on the course by nearly three minuets so I was delighted with that, but as I stood at the finish my ankle swelled up a lot and I was starting to worry at what more damaged Id done.

So what now?

Over a week on from that race and its still slightly swollen and tender to touch, and after trying a 0.3 mile run the other day to pick the car up from the pub it was pretty clear that its no good to run on. I really need to get this sorted now with the weeks to London getting less and less, so Iv got another physio appointment where hopefully I can get this injury sorted.

Iv got a place at Retford half marathon on 11th March and Iv told myself that that is decision day. If I can’t run that due to injury, or I run it but struggle, then I’ll be calling it a day on my London marathon 2018 journey and deferring my entry until next year, as I’ll be nowhere near ready for it. I’m hoping this isn’t the case but iv got to be realistic, and what ever the outcome is I’ll be fine with it and move on from there. So lets see what March has to offer……..the make or break month!



January – All roads lead to London


As we entered 2018 there was only one thought for me…..marathon training was imminent! As someone who has never trained for a specific event before, this was all new to me and a bit hard to take. Up until now all Iv done is the odd 10k road race here and there and fell races, all of which I haven’t felt the need to train out of the ordinary and just do what I do. Being sensible though I knew I wasn’t going to stand a chance at London if I didn’t get a bit of help and guidance, and some structured training, so I took the plunge and decided on a lactate test….

The Lactate Test

Id heard about these Lactate test for sometime, and the results runners were achieving from them. As much as it interested me previously, I never felt the need before as I wasn’t aiming for any big results. Yes, of course I wanted to be faster, but it wasn’t important to me and I was slowly getting better results on the fells as time went on, so I didn’t bother with it.

As January came around though I was aware that training for London had to start, and I couldn’t just turn up at the start line on 22nd April on my current training regime, so I had to do something. The lactate test blew my mind, the information I got out of it about my body was amazing, with the main piece of info I took away was that for the last 3 years of running Iv not actually been touching my potential. The test finds out what your lactate threshold is, then shows you how to train to that using your heart rate, and basically Iv very rarely ran near my threshold!

After the 2 hour test I was given a training plan aimed at London, which would hopefully help me towards a sub 3hr marathon time. The training plan is like nothing iv ever done before, the sheer quantity of it was going to take a commitment of which Iv never had the motivation to do before, and the effort of the runs are also significantly harder than any training Iv done previously.

This was, and is, going to be a real test of my physical, and mental strength, but I’m hugely determined and want to come away from London in April thinking that the hard work had paid off.

Treadmill session of the lactate test

The Training

The plan I was given consists of running 5 days a week, which mainly includes – 1 recovery run a week, 2 threshold runs, 1 tempo run, and then the standard long run on a Sunday. I quite enjoyed having some structure and routine to my training at first, and I found running to heartrate quite interesting which made the runs that little easier. The pace was a bit of a shock though, as even the recovery run was quicker than what I was use to. I know that the idea of the plan though is to get your body use to running at a quick pace, so that when your marathon comes along you can sustain the pace easier for longer.

This was all fun for the first 10 days, but then I started to struggle with the training……10 days in!! The commitment was getting hard, as juggling 12 hour shifts at work, family life which includes a 2 year and a partner who equally enjoys training, and then an hour of running was becoming a choir. The main difficultly I was, and still are finding though, are the niggles I’m getting. As a fell runner the majority of my training is done on trails, soft ground with loads of cushion, where now I’m doing 40-50 miles a week on tarmac, and Iv developed pains in my knee and foot. The knee issue was sore but I was managing to run on it, with just the occasional twitch which made me stop for a few seconds. However, I think nursing a dicky knee has had some impact on my opposite foot, causing it to be quite painful and swell. I am still managing to run on this as well, but I do need rest days more often and some ice on it regularly to keep it ok to run on. I know I should really rest for a lot longer than a day or two to completely sort the niggles out, but I don’t want to loose too many training days to niggles. Wrong attitude I know, but that’s just me.

Taking precautions on injuries

Aside from the actual training there is the diet, which I thought would be the hardest part for me with this whole marathon training. Up until now Iv been fortunate to always eat and drink what I want and its never effected me, and because of this Iv never had the best diet. There wasn’t a day went past where I didn’t have chocolate, and pre packed sarnies for dinner, and most evenings id have a beer or two. Also, I never drank much water a day, and most days I wouldn’t drink any. Iv made a massive effort to change though which has surprised those around me, who also doubted me changing my diet. Iv hardly touched any sweet stuff this month, drank beer, and I’m consuming around 2 litres of water a day…….and I’m pretty proud of myself!

So what will February bring?

With January being the first month of training, it was a case of me just getting use to the change of lifestyle and adapting to the new training programme. Like I said earlier, I have found it hard at times but I’m enjoying seeing the improvements I’m making and its giving me all the incentive and motivation I need to keep at it.

Thankfully though, February brings with it some racing, and more importantly some fell races!! My first race of the month was today, a 10k road race in Dewsbury. Its known to be a flat fast course so I entered it with the aim for a PB, sub 36. I put a lot of pressure on myself for this, and said that I didn’t get a sub 36 then Id never manage a sub 3hr at London. I know this is nonsense but it was motivation for me, and it spurred me on…….and it worked! I ended up coming home with a new PB of 35:44 and even got a 5k pb in the process. It has set me up for a great month of training and a couple of fell races.

I really can’t wait to get back in the fells as its seemed ages since I was last there. As much as I’m enjoying seeing past splits and pb’s, I can’t wait to get back in the hills where you don’t really care about times and positioning, you just enjoy the adventure of it and the place your at.

Kinder Down Fall
Fell running. My happy place.

So that’s month 1 of training for London Marathon. There’s already been some ups and downs, and some huge commitment, but I’m already seeing some improvement in my fitness and running. Hopefully February will be a little less stressful with some enjoyable races……..watch this space.


Curbar Commotion Fell Race – A million miles from London 2018

Two days prior to this race Id received some very exciting news, something I wasn’t expecting at all…….Id won the chance to run in next years London Marathon!!

As someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy road running, doesn’t run much further than 10 miles, and races 2 or 3 times a month, running a marathon isn’t something I’m interested in at all. However, seeing posts on Instagram of people taking part in London earlier this year made me jealous, not for the actual 26 mile run but the atmosphere that surrounds the event and the community…..I wanted to taste that.

I applied for a place through the ballot, knowing the chances we’re slim but just trying my luck anyway. Id resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t get in and forgotten all about it until I started seeing all the disappointed posts on Instagram of the unfortunate people who hadn’t got in this time. It was then when I checked my emails, and was completely shocked when I sore the email saying I had been successful in the ballot! I was speechless and continued to be for days after, I was buzzing with the news and couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Curbar fell start

Two days on and I’m back in familiar surroundings, stood on the start line of a 10 mile race around a very wet and muddy Peak District, about to spend over an hour slipping and sliding on very boggy terrain and climbing nearly 1400ft…….this couldn’t be any further away from the London Marathon if you tried, but this is me and what I love doing more than anything.

I didn’t feel particularly up for the race beforehand but there’s not many races I do to be honest, I always feel a little tired and unprepared before most races I do. I positioned myself near the front as usual though and was ready to attack it like I attack all my races, and that’s to run hard and keep up with the top 10 if I can.

For the first 1/4 mile it went to plan and I was running with all the usual faces that I compete with, but then I started flagging slightly and dropping off the pace of the others which was worrying so early on. About 2 miles in and I noticed that the runners that I try and keep with and usual spend all race jostling with were gone, already pretty much out of touching distance.

I was running on my own the for a few miles as we made our way up to the summit, just being able to see the pack I wanted to be but knowing I wasn’t going to get them. Then from nowhere, two other runners came past me, which gave me a kick up the arse to push myself more and try and keep with them. For some reason though I had nothing to give on the climbs, and the two runners slowly left me behind. This started playing on my mind and I was beating myself up and starting to lose confidence. My strength in fell running is the downhills, its here where I make up time and positions, but the course doesn’t really have any long downhills so it didn’t play to strengths and I was struggling.

As we came into the last mile we had left the mud and bogs behind and had hit the tarmac, which was the terrain for the final leg back to the finish. I could hear more footsteps behind me which really pushed me on, as after the race I’d had the last thing I wanted was to lose more places. With about 1/2 mile remaining we came on to the main road where the finish was, so it was a fast flat finish. The footsteps I could hear behind me soon started passing me, I could feel my shoulders slump as he went past as I was gutted Id lost another place. I wasn’t having this again though, I was getting that place back!! seeing the finish line about 200 meters ahead I put the afterburners on, stretching the legs and pushing the shoulders back, a glided past him and raced ahead. I just wish Id of had that strength and determination 6 miles ago.

Curbar fell results

As I came through the finish line I was spent, physically and mentally exhausted. Not for a long time have I had a race like that where I have argued with myself all the way round, putting myself down and getting frustrated. I congratulated all the other runners that had finished in front of me and had our usual analysis of the race for a few minutes whilst we waited for the results to be posted up. To my utter surprise when the results were shown, Id finished 20th and in 1:13:39, which was quite an improvement on last years result at this race. The result made me feel a little better about the race as I was ready to forget about it and wipe it from my memory, although the result was better than last year and what I was expecting, I was still unhappy that I wasn’t further up the field with the runners I’m usually with, and disappointed with how I couldn’t attack the course like I wanted to.

Regardless of this I still enjoyed the race, its a great course and the wet and muddy conditions made it an exciting race, I just need to improve on my hills and get stronger. Its fair to say that I didn’t think about London once on this run, and I haven’t thought about it much since either. I know I’m going to love taking part in the marathon and being involved in it all, but for me its all about fell running and training to get better at this, as this is my domain and what I want to progress at. Time to knuckle down and get stronger for the next one in a couple of weeks.

Longshaw Fell Race 2017- The reason I love fell running

With just over two years experience of fell running, and only 39 races under my belt, I’m still relatively fresh to the whole ‘fell running scene’, but out of those 39 races Iv competed in I can safely say that this was one of my favourites. Apart from two, Iv come away from every event Iv attended with a big smile on my face and a huge feeling of accomplishment, and those two exceptions were only because I had a nightmare of a run. I can think of a few different events where I have enjoyed the course more than Longshaw, but this event just had everything that makes fell running the amazing sport it is, and the reason why its the only genre of running I’m interested it.

To set the tone of the day, it was wet!……very wet……and cold! It was hard to believe that September was only a week old as we tried manoeuvre the car on a mud bath of a car park, whilst the rain bounced off of the windscreen. With it been a Sheepdog Trials event and stalls etc on we decided to all go as a family to this one, so whilst Paul (father in law) and I ran the girls could have a walk around and enjoy the show, but the good old British weather had other plans. Luckily for the girls they could just sit in the car, but I choose this sport as a hobby, so I had to put my shorts and vest on and brave the cold and wet climate.

longshaw fell race 3
Me with about 2 miles left

Once you get out there and start running though you soon warm up and forget about the rain, you’ve got more important things to worry about, like trying to skip over rocks and miss deep bogs than worry about the rain. This particular course is quite fast compared to other fell races Iv done as it didn’t have the big climbs that some have, that’s not to say it didn’t have any though as there was one beauty of a climb 3.5 miles in, but apart from that though it was quite an undulating course. The wet conditions made it a little trickier than normal as the stones and rocks which covered most paths were slippery, and some puddles were a lot deeper than what you’d expect a puddle to be once you’d put your foot in it. On a personal note with the run, I didn’t feel like Id ran my best. I felt like I was a little off of the pace on this occasion, and runners that I’m normally racing alongside seemed to be a lot further in front of me and finished quite a way ahead. However, I still think I finished in the top 15 (no results as yet) which I’ll be more than happy with if I did, and hopefully my time won’t be too much off of the leaders so my points are good, as your points are rewarded with how many seconds/minutes you are behind the winner. I look forward to the results to see how Iv got on.


Longshaw fell race 2
Spectators cheering home the finishers

Racing aside, the best bit of the day was the post race atmosphere and the main reason why I wanted to share the event with you. Like I said earlier, Iv done 39 races now and everyone apart from a couple have been great experiences, and even those two bad races I had, the atmosphere was still amazing. I know that running in general is a great community, whether its road running, trail running, track, or us fell runners, everybody is really friendly and always sociable. I just feel though that the fell running community has that something special, that something that separates it from the rest, and Longshaw had it in abundance on Saturday morning.

Every race I go to I see and race against the same old faces, from all different running clubs and from different parts of the Sheffield and surrounding areas, and as time has gone on Iv got to know them and made some good friends. I must of spent an hour after yesterdays race just going around talking to different people, some giving me advice I ask for, some wanting advice from me, and others just having a catch up with…..I love it. There’s something about being in the countryside too, the good outdoors! Even though it was pouring down with rain most of the day and it was cold, everybody from runners to spectators were walking around and mingling, just enjoying the atmosphere and surroundings. People from this part of the world seem so much more light minded, relaxed, like they don’t have a care in the world, and this comes across at fell race events.

The end of another amazing day with my family

I know I’m probably being biased, and I do have some great friends that Iv made at road running and parkrun events, I just feel the fell running community is like a proper family, and I feel so privileged to be apart of it. Longshaw Fell Race might of been wet, cold, and bloody tough to run, but I loved every second of it!