Friday, 9 March 2012

Sunsets, Shadows and Comfortable Underwear (It's only rude if you think it is!!)

Sunset Run on Killoch Hill.
After work I headed up through Glen Park onto Brownside Braes and up to Killoch Hill around 5pm for an easy paced 8 miler. My right calf muscle was a bit tender from my recent WHW training run (Drovers-Inversnaid-Drovers) so I wasn't going to push too hard over the steep climbs I would be covering. I didn't want to risk aggrivating it so close to the D33. I chased the setting sun and played amongst the lengthening shadows up onto Killoch Hill. It was very peaceful up here tonight and I sat at the cairn for a few minutes watching the sun dipping below the horizon. All too soon I was decending past the golf course into Barrhead before returning to Paisley. My calf was fine during the run but felt a bit tight after a shower, so gentle does it. The views over to Dumgoyne, Ben Lomond and the Arrocher 'Alps' were fantastic. The deep blue sky and the orange glow from the setting sun had created a fantastic backdrop.

In my last post I was heavily critical, justifiably so, of my 'Skins' compression shorts and calf supports. They had both disappointed me and let me down in terms of performance and lack of durability. However, it's not all bad news for this manufacturer as my Skins 360 compression recovery shorts do what they claim to. They are incredibly comfy and fit so well you hardly know they are on. So redemption for Skins, for now anyway.

With all the running and training I've been doing recently I've been neglecting my other passion, hillwalking and climbing. I've been surprised at how preparing for the WHWR has taken over everything I do. Even simple stuff like food shopping has taken over new meaning. I walk past the laiden shelves thinking what would work during the race, scrutinising the energy and carb content of everything I pick up. So to amuse myself in other ways I've been reading walking books, route guides and watching films based around walking and climbing to get my 'fix'. I hope to use some hillwalking trips soon as 'cross training' to help build leg and core strength. Here are some photos of what I've been looking at recently.
On reflection, the three 'movies' are enough to scare you from ever going outdoors again, nevermind climbing a mountain!!  The Book shown below is an adventure many aspire to but very few actual get to experience and I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy.

Here's some more stuff that I may incorporate into my WHWR menu and will see how they work in during race conditions in the next 3 ultras before June. I bought the above book, which has turned out to be a fantastic buy as it's full of really good information and within the first few pages I realised just how clueless I really am about nutrition when running!
In the battle between 'quick acting' energy drinks, two main contenders have raised their heads. Red Bull and Pussy (yes, it still makes me snigger too). This is a serious subject so settle down. There are lots of fast acting carbonated energy drinks out there, most just rot your teeth and only taste good in alcohol but these two have just sneaked ahead in terms of usefullness. I've also been using some of the many 'powdered' drinks that come in sachets, which have merit but they are better for sustained energy release. Sometimes you just want a quick slap in the face, which these give you. Lucozade is another favourite but again is better over timed release of it's energy. Powerade is just plain mince.
In terms of their energy and carb content, they are pretty close. They cost virtually the same (not the cheapest out there). They come in the same sized can (Although Red Bull is now available in a screwlid large bottle also, Pussy only comes in one size). So, in the end it came down to taste in this battle. A Red Bull, although winning on the energy and carb content, is too harsh and sickly sweet for me, and I never seem to finish a can. I prefer the fruity lighter taste of  Pussy. Red Bull has the advantage of being available almost everywhere. So far I've only managed to get Pussy from Tesco and at the moment it only comes in one flavour, but hopefully that will change soon. Let's move on quickly before I get myself in bother from my Mum.
I'm not as fan of gels but the one brand I find I can swallow without gagging is SIS, especially their 'Smart 1 caffine' gel and the Isotonic version in orange or blackcurrent. The rest of the gels I've tried are too thick and gloopy for me to comfortably digest. It's the same for energy bars. Most taste manky, even though I'm sure they are doing the prescribed job. The ones I do like are the SIS Go bar (in banana fudge flavour), Mule Bar's Mango tango flavoured bar and the chocolate chip Cliff Bar.
Kendal mint cake is rocket fuel, but doesn't last that long over distance and it nips the 'bejesus' out your lungs when breathing hard if running.

Understanding New Media Lecture.
"21 years after Glasgow's term as European City of Culture, the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Life (my employer) have joined forces to create a new space for critical reflection on future directions in the Arts and Creativity. This landmark series - intended to become a regular feature of the city's public life - will explore the thoughts of leading figures in the world of cultural practice".
I had no idea what this meant in the language I speak. Not a clue. I was Inrigued if a bit confused. But I'm always first in the queue when something is free, as were tickets for this lecture. I decided I would go along. The lecture was being given by BBC presenter Aleks Krotoski (who I had never heard of) at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. It was described as "a unique opportunity to hear from one of the leading commentators on this rapidly developing field (new media) which is having such a huge impact on our personal and working lives". I was still none the wiser on reading this so, hoping that I might learn how to stop people sending me 'farmville' invites on Facebook, I went along (if I learn anything exciting I'll let you know in my next posting).

Glen Croe (Ardgartan) to Gleann Mor and back to Ardgartan Training Run (11.5 miles).
Originally I had planned on running from Butterbridge up Glen Kinglas past the head of Loch Sloy to the end of the track on the nothern slopes of Ben Vorlich, near to Ardlui. Instead I ended up parked at the, now closed, Argartan Information Centre.
I've never run here before and in hindsight I underestimated the climb up through Glen Croe. It's a gradual, increasing in steepness, climb through the forest on the flanks of The Brack and Ben Donich. I followed what is described as a cycle trail, but why you would want to humpf a bike up here I don't know as you would be spending most of your time pushing it and swearing alot, rather than riding it. The cloud was low and it rained and rained and rained. It rained all day. It took me about 65 minutes to reach the top of the Glen at the 'Rest and be thankful' viewpoint.
At the top of Glen Croe there is a sign telling you that you are now entering Gleann Mor and I recognised this as where I had parked last year when I climbed Ben Donich. After a couple of minutes more running I was at the start of the Mountain's 'hill path' but I ran on for around another 250 metres, where I decided to turn around today. On the return I branched off to complete the 'Cat Craig' loop. When I had left the car earlier I had only intended on doing this 5 mile forest trail run, but as you have just read I ended up at the top of the 'rest'. I've always said that the best runs take you to places you hadn't planned on going to. Taking this detour had more than doubled todays planned distance, but I was feeling good so saw no problem as long as I watched where I was putting my feet as it was fairly rocky underfoot.
To complete todays route I ran via Coilessan and onto the Cowal Way route for a short distance before arriving back at the car.

With only 7 days until the D33 I plan on an easy week with probably only two or three runs of around 5 miles and taking Thursday and Friday off from any running. I'm hoping to find somewhere to stay in Stonehaven on Saturday night after the race so I can join some others at the after race rave and have a recovery run with them in the morning before heading home around lunch time. Bring it on!!


  1. Great pictures, Colin. Well, excluding the picture of your pants :-)

    Very best of luck for the D33.

    1. Good Luck for the D33 Colin. I was suprised that you have not been round that route before it is a great route when you extend it round the full 20 miler it is one of the hard 20s you should give it a try after you recover from the 33 I try to pay it a vist once a month then again I retired which is great you go wher you want when you want:- Cheers Jim Robertson