Last weekend I made a trip to the Lake District with a number of my fellow running friends from my running club and it was amazing!
The first night didn’t initially bode well, with a huge rain storm hitting while a few of us were eating in a nice pub! I understand this can be typical Lake’s weather but even so,I did wonder what this would mean for our running over the weekend! As a runner I don’t mind run it in the rain,especially on the fells,it all adds up to a fun muddy time. However at the levels the rain were coming down on Friday night any runner would have been reluctant to go out! To be honest I think if the rains had been like that all weekend we might have struggled to get away with running up the mountains safely. As it was it was a very wet walk back to the youth hostel where we were staying.
These are amazing places to stay these days,offering cheap accommodation and decent food at reasonable prices. Even better,the one we were staying at, Youth Hostel Borrowdale offered an amazing bar! Unlike Bed and Breakfast venues or hotels though,you will find yourself sharing a dormitory with a number of other people in a bunk bed! I’m used to roughing it,having gone on a number of budget holidays with mates, but these places aren’t for everyone I know. But if you are a runner wanting to get some training done and you can cope with snoring then I’d definitely recommend finding some hostels to stay in as part of your training in other places. With what you are likely to spend on equipment alone you need to think about savings! And I have to say, hostels these days are so much better then even a few years ago, much cleaner and more professionally run. Mine did offer free wi-fi but being deep within the mountains of the Lake District the speed resembled that of the old dial ups! However you are there to enjoy the surroundings not to use the Internet so this shouldn’t be an issue!
Come to Saturday morning and we have a full range of breakfast available for choice including a full English, but I stuck to porridge and a sausage sandwich, knowing my limits as a runner I couldn’t run on anything greasy! Instead I ate what I knew would give me sufficient energy without being too stodgy to hopefully cope with the forthcoming hills!
Our big group was split according to ability and the leads for each group took us on our way. This was actually my first time in the Lakes so everything looked amazing to me view wise. I had to be careful I didn’t trip over any roots or stones because I was so engrossed in the scenery!
The best thing about running in groups of people is it gives me a drive to push myself, and even though we were only scheduled to run 9 miles this day,I wanted to push myself and see how well I could do up the hills. These were on another level to my Derbyshire ones,more like mountains! Instantly I could feel my thighs getting a work out that I don’t get in Derbyshire! But I loved it, there is something about being a runner in surroundings like this which makes the whole running game worth it! Ok you can walk around the Lakes and get that same level of enjoyment of the views, but running it? Pushing your body to the limits and as an added bonus running means you are able to cover twice the ground and twice the amount of scenery seen!
Our route took us from the Youth Hostel in Borrowdale, looping across to High Spy and up Dale Head and back down to the cafe at Honistor Pass. The hardest part had to be the steps leading up to Dale Head from the bottom of High Spy! I did well in terms of running half way up,but the last half? My thighs were screaming at this point,burning with lactic acid, so instead I took on the familiar bent over stance hands on thighs pushing myself up, a stance used by many fell runners!
The best thing about getting on top of a high hill or mountain? The downhill run! The looks of the hikers walking up as a bunch of people went haring pass them is something I remember doing myself before I took up this kind of running “they’re crazy! How do they dare do it???” Even though I am fast,I do know I could be faster,I still need to break the ful on fear factor of breaking my ankle,something I hope will come with experience!
On arriving at Honistor Pass,it was time for a good old cup of tea (see how English I am!?) and a slice of cake to get my energy levels back up again. That is a key part of long running, the ability to eat while running and eat the right foods! I tend to stick to things I consider safe,nothing too sweet but enough sugar in it to give me a needed boost. I have had bad experiences with energy gels before so I try to steer clear of these where possible.
The remainder of the day was spent orienteering, a key skill if you want to get involved in ultra races and indeed some fell races and something I’m weak at! I can read maps,but using a compass to work out where I am is something I’ve not done since uni and is a skill I’ve forgotten. Proved by the fact I got lost on our route back! Oh well practise makes perfect!
The Sunday was a day to chill with only a short run. I say short, it was a brutal timed run, called King of the Castle and is set from the bar of the youth hostel to the top of a nearby war memorial, only 1.6 miles in distance but the last part takes you up a steep incline up to 600 feet up the sharpest incline! The record for this run is 11minutes! My time? 18minutes and 34 seconds, I thought this was good until I saw an 8 year old has managed it in 18minutes and 4 seconds the weekend before!! I now need to go back to the Lake District just so I can beat that time!
The weekend was mainly a social one for my running club,but it was handy for me for my ultra training,getting used to the kind of terrain I may face on my race and listening to others in the evening on how they prepare for races. If you’re a runner and you aren’t in a club, I’d definitely recommend it,there are so many out there who cater for all abilities and the best thing is they’ll normally allow you to attend a few sessions for free to work out if it is the club for you! And when you find the club? Well for me it has already improved me as a runner,enabling me to push myself and also what to aim for,something I don’t think I would have done just running alone.
Are there any other runners out there who has been on training runs in England with places to recommend? What about abroad? What’s your best route?
Happy running everyone!