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Fell running (Read 300439 times)

Monolith

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Fell running
August 04, 2014, 08:46:08 pm
I've always kept an eye on the 'One for the runners' thread and over the years have been idly (read very idly) wanting to get involved with fell running. Now I'm mobile, I'm ultra keen to begin but a little bit unsure of how to proceed. I think my navigation skills will be rusty since the school days of trekking around Snowdonia and The Lake District so that's clearly one issue to solve. No shortage of ML friends who I'm sure can help with that bit.

Gear. I'd like to be running in Snowdonia and in The Lake District which clearly is a mix of rock and mud. Are there any recommendations people have for a go-to pair of shoes for this. Am I correct in thinking something along the lines of Walsh or Innov8 are the people to go to? I've read the FRA spiel on equipment that must be carried, experience required for races etc but how do I start the ball rolling?

Lastly, I am fairly fit and run a few early mornings a week. I would love to be in a position to enter something like the Langdale Horseshoe on October 11th (day before 31st birthday). How realistic a goal might this be? I know there are checkpoint cutoff times but have little idea whether I could make them.

If I sound all at sea with this, I am! Thanks.

galpinos

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#1 Re: Fell running
August 04, 2014, 09:09:17 pm
No idea about the Langdale horseshoe as I've never done it but......

Every fell run I've done there have always been people slower than me and I'm no mountain goat. My tactic is normally a fast walk up the steep bits and run the flats and downs. Things that will help:

1. Get some hills in your legs. Steep climbs sap your thighs and make it hard to run the easy bits, which is demoralising.
2. Get decent shoes you're confident in. A "positive attitude" on the decents can gain you a few places and having shoes you trust make a difference.
3. Know he route or make sure you can navigate on the hoof. Getting lost kills morale (and time) and dithering on route choice is a mug's game.

On the shoe front I wear Inov8 Talon 212s. Fit like a glove but not as good grip as my old Mudclaws (but they fit better). Bear on mind Walsh and Inov8 have a totally different fit. Also look at La Sportiva and Salomon (too much sole for me but plenty like them).


And finally, just give it a go. Fell runners are a friendly bunch, be prepared to be beaten by some proper old duffers and I very much doubt you'll be last!

bigtuboflard

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#2 Re: Fell running
August 04, 2014, 09:16:44 pm
OK, lets start with the running shoes. Innov8 have pretty much cornered the market in good fell shoes since they started about 8 or 10 years ago. If (and when) you end up at a race, probably well over half the field will be in them. However, thats not to say that they will suit you.

Like rock shoes, some will feel great on, and others will literally cripple you. I can't get on with Innov8's at all, and I have tried to like them. I currently run in a mixture of Asics Fuji Fell and Fuji Trail race shoes, or for really muddy/rocky runs, a Pair of LaSportiva Anakonda's.

By far and away the best thing to do is to get down to a shop and try some on. If you are in Sheffield then I would strongly recommend Front Runner opposite the Lescar, or Accelerate in Attercliffe. Two of the best staffed running shops I have been to; be honest with the sort of running and distance you are doing and you will definitely come out with the right pair.

In terms of races, there are still a few of the Gritsone series in the Peak which are well worth doing. Also look on the fell runner.org.uk site as there are races pretty much every day over the summer (for example, its Bradwell tomorrow night and then Cracken Edge on Wednesday night). If you are reasonably fit then just turn up and pay on the day and see how you get on. You won't come last if you are running regularly already. Racing also prepares you to run at a pace that you probably would never run at normally, i.e. with your lungs out and the verge of being sick.

FRA regulations; they've been tightened significantly in the last year when a gentleman died in the Lakes on a race due to slightly errant tracking of who was on the course and not through race numbers being checked in and out, it wasn't apparent that he was out there for some while. This is also why they insist for longer races that you carry full kit, i.e. waterproof jacket, trousers, compass, whistle etc. I've even witnessed people being disqualified on a six hour winter crossing of the Dark Peak just for not having their race number on their vest properly (really).

Shorter races don't insist on full kit though, plus if the weather is good and its an evening race then they tend to just let you run in your race kit, i.e. short and vest.

Last thing which has helped me a lot is to join a local running club. Its a good way to get regular training runs in, do route recce's with someone of an equal standard and just a bit of local rivalry if nothing else. I am in Totley AC (other clubs are available).

Oh, and in terms of Langdale Horseshoe, that sounds more than manageable. You will be doing lots of walking anyway on a route like that so be prepared for steep uphill leg burn and train by walking up and down the steepest hill you can find. Win Hill is always great for this purpose.

Best of luck and hopefully see you at a race soon!

mini

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#3 Re: Fell running
August 04, 2014, 10:12:01 pm
I concur pretty much what has been said above.

This is my first year doing fell races, and felt a little nervous at joining these men of steel. I really needn't have been. All the folks I have met are friendly and and are great bunch.

Most races, certainly the shorter ones, navigation just isn't a problem as you'll more than likely be following someone who knows where they are going or the course is marked or marshalled. The longer ones, perhaps like the Langdale you mentioned, may not be, so a recce is often the best way to know the territory. Pete Bland Sports produce route maps for the more established races, typically races in the Lakes.

As mentioned, have a look on the fellrunner.org.uk web pages for local races and get stuck in. The forum is useful too (not disimalar to UKB).

Most events are low key, and often to help raise money for local causes. cragx Crawl was my highlight so far - swap your race number for a pint at the village club afterwards. A well deserved beverage before 12 o'clock on a saturday morning - well worth it!!

chris20

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#4 Re: Fell running
August 04, 2014, 10:46:57 pm
+1 to all the above, especially recce runs for longer races.  Most short races you can follow people and are well marshaled but the longer runs are so much easier if you know where you are going and don't have to look at a map.

As others have said shoe wise find something that feels comfy and fits you well and expensive isn't always best, my shoe of choice at the moment is the addidas kanadia, probably one of the cheapest trail shoes but they've seen me through races in summer and winter and saw me through an ultra marathon and are still going strong.

As the boy scouts say, be prepared, especially in the winter, I got caught out this winter once when I forgot to take my gloves out on a training run and then the sun turned to heavy rain and hail.  I got back to my car and couldn't unlock it as my hands were too cold, fortunately there was someone else in the car park who helped me out!

Waterproofs are generally covered by the OMM kamleika, Montane minimus or inov8 raceshell 220 or 150 stormshell.  I'm sure they all have taped seams so meet FRA rules.  When I was researching which one they all seemed to get good reviews and the occasional bad one and generally about the same price ish.  So it just came down to which fits best and whether you want a jacket or smock.

psychomansam

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#5 Re: Fell running
August 04, 2014, 10:52:55 pm
As above really. Just get out there. Go for a run. Sometimes I plan a route, sometimes not. It's nice to get in something circular which is a reason to plan but as long as you can end up where you started, you're fine. Find a hill and go straight up it; avoid boring bits of paths by exiting left; tramp across some moors - it's all good leg training.

Work on some nav on training runs if you get a chance. Plan a route and try to stick to it. Run an unplanned route and then try to work out what you did afterwards using the map. I've never seen anyone nav on shorter races, but I've seen people go the wrong way. On longer races, you might actually need to nav a bit - but it's rarely particularly challenging. If you want to learn to nav, find a partner and enter the RAB MM in Sept. That'll learn you! But frankly, nav isn't a biggie on fell races.*

Full waterproofs. Yes, well, the FRA are wankers. Possibly. Or just a bit cautious. Either way, that's the rules now, so either 1) invest in some super-awesome super-light waterproofs, a set of which will cost you 300 or 2) invest in some super-light waterproofs from Aldi/gooutdoors, a set of which will cost you 15. Either way, I recommend buying the latter to start off with. If you want to know how much respect people have for that particular FRA rule, bear in mind that I have a friend who bought waterproofs in child sizes because they were cheaper. They can't actually fit them on but don't plan too anyway. Mine have never been out their bags. Think what you will of the rule, they normally get treated as emergency kit. So go cheap. If you end up doing something extreme or ultra-distance or perhaps just the OMM, you might want to invest in something stupidly expensive. But don't bother for now.

Shoes: Go for something with decent sized lugs. But make sure they fit you and you are comfortable in them. Currently my only full-sized lugs are on my MoreMile Cheviots - cheap, very wide, and a bit shit, but very cheap. Then I have some Haglofs with the Asics fell racer sole on. Medium sized lugs. Then I have some Berghaus vapor claws with slightly smaller medium lugs a bit too close together but good for summer distance. Then I have New Balance Leadvilles which are an ultra trail shoe that I don't mind taking off trail occasionally. I also have 3 other pairs of running shoes, but they're not very interesting.
The 4 pairs that I list all have their uses, on different runs and in different conditions. And having lots of pairs doesn't matter since they'll all get worn out eventually and it means I always have a spare dry pair. But lots of people find one pair they love and use it for everything. Salomon Speedcross are a good bet for that ticket, with decent lugs. Or inov8s. But the most experience fell runner / elite MMer I've run with does everything in a pair of Brooks Cascadia. He reckons you don't need big lugs if your technique is good enough. Just try some shoes on and try some shoes out.

Best advice: ignore all the advice, get out running wherever, whenever, wearing whatever and just enter some short fell races for shits. You'll have fun. And put your entry in for the Langdale horseshoe now. It'll get you motivated.

P.s. Don't worry if you have to walk lots. Or if you fall over lots. Or if it hurts lots. This all adds to the fun.

*True, but don't consider me liable if you do get lost and die of hypothermia.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2014, 10:57:59 pm by psychomansam »

bigtuboflard

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#6 Re: Fell running
August 04, 2014, 11:15:38 pm

Yes, well, the FRA are wankers. Possibly. Or just a bit cautious.
:)

Monolith

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#7 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 09:19:47 am
Thanks very much indeed to all contributors. Plenty to digest there and I'm eager to get out! On the cheap waterproof front, I have seen those sorts of things in Aldi before. I'm not sure if they always have them in store but that's good beta - I'll start at the bottom end.

Doubtless some further questions will arise but big props again folks.

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#8 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 10:00:55 am
Loving this thread, I'm getting urges to break out of the habit of running around Graves park, after all the peak is on my doorstep. Cheers guys!

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#9 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 10:50:26 am
The full waterproof thing has been in place for years, certainly since I was running for Dark Peak FR in the early 90's.  I just had a very thin pair of pertex overtrews and a pertex top.

I don't know whether things have changed but waterproofs were too stiff,, heavy and too warm to run in.  I think I only wore a GoreTex top once on the Derwent Watershed.  A belly hansen with a t-shirt over the top and gloves saw me through most winters with a pertex top in the bumbag or around the waist for when it was really wet and windy.  I always kept  a placcy survival bag in the bumbag but never had to use it.  A whistle is a good idea too.

Fell Running is a wonderful thing... Nothing beats being out on the tops in all weathers getting a bit lost and running long distances with a pint afterwards.  Joining a club adds to the fun. Doing ten miles across Bleaklow in the middle of winter wearing a head torch with others on Wednesday night when everyone else is curled up in front of the Tele or at the climbing wall feels like a real adventure.

It gave me loads of confidence in the hills.. Knowing that you could run/walk for ten hours with a sandwich, some raisins, water, a map and compass. 

Just get out there with a good pair of studded shoes and enjoy - you'll love it.

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#10 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 11:03:34 am
Last thing which has helped me a lot is to join a local running club. Its a good way to get regular training runs in, do route recce's with someone of an equal standard and just a bit of local rivalry if nothing else. I am in Totley AC (other clubs are available).

I'd second this one - after spending most of my life living in the Peak and South Lakes, I've only discovered fell running since moving to the flatlands of York, all off the back of joining a running club with a small core of active fell runners. It's a year since my first race and I'm totally hooked - I usually race every 2-3 weeks with the majority up in the NY Moors.

My first few races were a bit of a shock to the system, so I'd recommend getting a couple under your belt before Langdale. I certainly found my descending technique was my biggest failing, but it comes on pretty quickly. I tend to recce most races beforehand, largely to get to know the descents, although it also doubles as a good training run.

I can't add much to the kit suggestions above - I'm one of those people that does fit Inov8s, so have a pair of Mudclaws (big lugs) for winter and often use trail shoes for the summer. Ideally I'd have a pair of medium lugs to give me another option, but waiting for someone to sell off last season's colours.

I generally carry full (or close to full) kit at most races/training runs unless it's really short (<5 miles). I'll occasionally ditch waterproof trousers or swap them for windproofs for the summer. When it comes down to it, they weigh nothing and they aren't the difference between winning and losing for most. Maybe I'm being super-cautious, but I've seen how the weather can change in the moors and I'd rather be safe than sorry!

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#11 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 11:08:46 am

Loving this thread, I'm getting urges to break out of the habit of running around Graves park, after all the peak is on my doorstep. Cheers guys!
There is so much good running in the Peak that you'll never get bored of it. Having lived in Hathersage now for over two years I'm still finding new sections of trail from my doorstep. And, it is a great way of keeping the weight off for climbing too.

chris20

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#12 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 11:21:34 am
The full waterproof thing has been in place for years, certainly since I was running for Dark Peak FR in the early 90's.  I just had a very thin pair of pertex overtrews and a pertex top.

I don't know whether things have changed but waterproofs were too stiff,, heavy and too warm to run in. 

The more expensive waterproofs tend to be pertex now.  I think someone mentioned on the FRA forum that they had a bit of trouble with a race official once about if the pertex top counted as waterproof but they are sold as waterproofs with taped seams which is what it says in the rules.  I've got the invo8 220 (95 sheets from wiggle) and love it, I've always found it pretty breathable but I've only used it when at training so never in anger in a race.  I got a cheap pair of trousers from gooutdoors which roll up small and are lightweight but I've never used them.

I generally carry full (or close to full) kit at most races/training runs unless it's really short (<5 miles). I'll occasionally ditch waterproof trousers or swap them for windproofs for the summer. When it comes down to it, they weigh nothing and they aren't the difference between winning and losing for most. Maybe I'm being super-cautious, but I've seen how the weather can change in the moors and I'd rather be safe than sorry!

Yeah that's my attitude, a friend was doing the trigger race in January, he sprained his ankle and fell through an icy puddle and was glad he had his waterproofs to put on to walk back to the checkpoint

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#13 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 11:28:10 am
Pertex Shield seems to be the way most jackets are going at the moment, properly waterproof and breathable. I run in a Montane smock and it's great but wouldn't advocate shelling out on one unless you are getting moderately serious as not cheap.

The Trigger race (Marsden to Edale) is probably the toughest race I've done so far and one where the full kit list of hat gloves and waterproofs aren't a luxury. Well worth doing though as a proper crossing of big hills in winter with almost no Tarmac is an experience. 

psychomansam

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#14 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 11:46:10 am
The full waterproof thing has been in place for years, certainly since I was running for Dark Peak FR in the early 90's.  I just had a very thin pair of pertex overtrews and a pertex top.

I don't know whether things have changed but waterproofs were too stiff,, heavy and too warm to run in. 

The more expensive waterproofs tend to be pertex now.  I think someone mentioned on the FRA forum that they had a bit of trouble with a race official once about if the pertex top counted as waterproof but they are sold as waterproofs with taped seams which is what it says in the rules.

Waterproof rules in various places have repeatedly stated NO PERTEX. This is because the material generally referred to as Pertex is merely water resistant. However, Pertex are a brand and also produce waterproof materials i.e. shield and shield+. Because of the association with water resistance, people can get arsey about the Pertex label. To be fair, some people would also suggest putting 'not very' in front of Pertex claims, i.e. not very water resistant, not very waterproof - so perhaps that provides a second reason? No experience of them myself. I've never needed more than a water resistant top so far for actually running in. I'm naturally warm though (i.e. fat).

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#15 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 01:16:04 pm
I'm in for the Langdale Horseshoe this year Mono. Did it last year. It's a belter. Ultra classic. The walk up to the top of Pavey Ark is a killer. Nav can be tricky towards the end as the field strings out, so relying on following the person in front isn't a good idea as you could easily end up following someone down Little Langdale. Big oops. Definitely worth a recce first.

I don't know what the checkpoint time outs are for this race. It's half marathon distance and based on my time last year I reckon take your flat road half marathon time and double it. That should give you an idea of a Langdale Horseshoe time.

Just checked out the entry list. Looks like there's more vet 50s and above than anything else. Love it.

I'll talk kit later when I have more time.

psychomansam

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#16 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 01:27:03 pm
Quick check on FRA website for results: the record for L.Horseshoe is just under 2 hours. In 2011 343 runners entered and times ranged from 2:09 to 5:09. The median time was 3:19. A nice first goal perhaps?

This means that 15 minute splits would have you doing fine. The take-home message from that is to train for ascent and descent. You'll be going up and down 1500m.

For interest, you might want to go here http://www.dpfr.org.uk/tracks/view and tick the 8 Langdale tracks. These are gpx tracks recorded by runners during the event. According to the different gpx files, the shortest route was 19.5k and the longest 20.2k. The purpose of this tool is presumably to check out the route and to see where people are saving time. Of course, a longer route is often better if it's flatter! This is fairly advanced/witchcraft as far as route planning goes, mainly because the ascent/descent figures on GPS are fairly shit, so don't really tell you anything. But it might interest you to see the routes overlaid on google earth anyway. At the end of the day, I'm sure you'll just follow the rest!
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 01:41:56 pm by psychomansam »

Monolith

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#17 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 06:27:01 pm
Thanks again all. Plattsy, if you do see me carked out on the floor, could you just tell my mum you found me a bit further along than the first mile. That's how I'd like to be remembered.

Did an Aldi/Millets/Cotswold raid after work. All the cheapo packaway jackets were basically binbags and likely not suitable for running in. As a (currently skint) punter, I'd be psyched to pick up something accepted by the race organisers for as cheap as possible. Same goes with pants too if anybody knows of any. Cheap lightweight performance jackets clearly aren't found for a quid I can appreciate.

My only final reservation about the Langdale event is that it appears some
demonstrable race experience is required. I'll basically have none and don't want to bother registering/psyching up if I have to drive all that way to be turned away.

As a last ask, I know it's probably not a one size fits all recipe but if I was to begin training tomorrow for said event, where could I look for some structured training plans? I'd like to give myself as much preparation as is practicable.


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#18 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 07:14:25 pm
Is there any way to develop running fitness and form without fucking my knees up? This has happened before and it was ugly (haven't really run since, still not sure if they've mended properly). Not really keen on running on tarmac and am sure that overdoing it on the road was the cause of injury last time I tried running.

psychomansam

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#19 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 07:33:27 pm
Did an Aldi/Millets/Cotswold raid after work. All the cheapo packaway jackets were basically binbags and likely not suitable for running in. As a (currently skint) punter, I'd be psyched to pick up something accepted by the race organisers for as cheap as possible. Same goes with pants too if anybody knows of any. Cheap lightweight performance jackets clearly aren't found for a quid I can appreciate.

My only final reservation about the Langdale event is that it appears some
demonstrable race experience is required. I'll basically have none and don't want to bother registering/psyching up if I have to drive all that way to be turned away.

As a last ask, I know it's probably not a one size fits all recipe but if I was to begin training tomorrow for said event, where could I look for some structured training plans? I'd like to give myself as much preparation as is practicable.

Cheap packable waterproofs aren't really suitable for running in. They just sit in the bottom of my bag in case of emergency. I also have a tiny survival bag. If I want something to actually run in, I take a water resistant jacket (~10)(http://www.startfitness.co.uk/mens/clothing/jackets-gillets.html?dir=asc&order=price). Occasionally a hooded one of these is handy, but a water resistant jacket, base layer top, buff, hood, lycra leggings, shorts, long socks and gloves will keep you more than warm enough 99% of the time when running. If you get conditions worse than that in October, then I'll be impressed. On the few occasions I've run in conditions where I actually do need a decent waterproof (i.e. sub-zero temps, horizontal sleet in stupid winds), then I wear a proper fucking waterproof, not an ultralight flimsy running one for 120+ that needs regular proofing and wears out quickly, or the instant it catches on a rock.
If money was no object, I'd spend 300 on running waterproofs. But you don't need them.

As long as you can do a couple of fell races before the event, which you should, I'm sure you'll be fine. They're extremely unlikely to prevent you running on those grounds. They put in warnings and disclaimers to discourage total numpties. Just remember you are solely responsible for your own safety. If you are happy on those hills in those conditions, then there's no problem.

Can't help too much with structured training plans I'm afraid. There's loads online for half marathons though. If you take one of those and do the training runs on appropriate terrain, that'd probably work. But perhaps think about doing some hill repeats. Or just make runs as hilly as possible. Squats don't do any harm either. If you're worried about injuries, you can do a certain amount of cross-training on bikes, just make sure that the majority of your training is actual runnning.

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#20 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 07:35:59 pm
Is there any way to develop running fitness and form without fucking my knees up? This has happened before and it was ugly (haven't really run since, still not sure if they've mended properly). Not really keen on running on tarmac and am sure that overdoing it on the road was the cause of injury last time I tried running.

Avoid tarmac, take it slow downhill, do some appropriate leg strengthening exercises, i.e. squats then plyometric squats, and do some of your training on bikes (and/or cross-trainers/uphill steppers etc at gym).

I have dealt with injuries by doing some uphill running on treadmills - fairly low impact - but treadmills can cause injuries.

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#21 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 09:13:13 pm
Just enter some races and get out there. And enjoy!

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#22 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 09:18:46 pm
Is there any way to develop running fitness and form without fucking my knees up? This has happened before and it was ugly (haven't really run since, still not sure if they've mended properly). Not really keen on running on tarmac and am sure that overdoing it on the road was the cause of injury last time I tried running.
Getting the right shoes makes a huge difference to risk of knee injury depending on if you pronate or are a neutral runner. Also don't go for something with too little a heel to toe drop, low drop tend to have less cushioning and also will make your foot plant on the ground in an unfamiliar way. Finally, build up your miles slowly, suddenly jumping from short runs a couple of times a week to running most days is a sure fire way of picking up niggles in your knees.

Plus, as you've said and others too, stay off tarmac and on trails, the uneven nature of the surface actually helps promote knee stability and the slightly slower pace and softer surface helps a lot too.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 09:24:15 pm by bigtuboflard »

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#23 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 09:22:01 pm
Just back from Bradwell race this evening, great route though the climb up on to Shatton edge is really tough going especially after the sprint start through the village.

Its not often too that you have a climbing legend acting as sweeper, a very tanned looking Big Ron was there following the pack round. Great! :clap2:

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#24 Re: Fell running
August 05, 2014, 09:35:33 pm
Just enter some races and get out there. And enjoy!

Ditto - there aint no better training than racing!!

But, if there aren't too many races you can enter, here's in very simple terms what I'd base my training on. I'm 42, been running for couple of years with some running for fitness last done when I was twenty or so, so this suits me - some runners would be much more intense and drop in easy runs in between.

Tuesdays - Some kind of interval training. Largely hill reps, steep enough that you need to work hard but not too steep that you need to walk it. Vary these between longer 400m or so and steeper 100m sections. Probably start of with 6 reps and build up over the weeks. Mix this in with an occasional flatter circuit (road, canal reservoir circuit for example) doing 1km sections at a pace just quicker than 'race pace', rest for 250m and repeat. Good for injecting some speed into the legs.

Thursdays - Something like a 6 mile run, at a good steady trot, fell or trail type terrain with mixed hills. Keep the routes mixed and varied to avoid boredom.

Saturday - Long run. For the Langdales, I'd be looking at building up over the coming weeks to doing a 14 miler a couple of weeks before the event. Slow and steady, a good time to practice any navigation skills. Runs to enjoy and recover.

All of above off road (unless stated).

Sunday - Bike.

Again, only a basic overview of what I can fit in and my current fitness level, but might give you some ideas. I don't always stick to it, I tend to listen to what my body tells me a lot of the time.

Check out Trail Running magazine. Most likely some advice in each magazine, along with kit ideas on the budget.

 

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