Getting Back In Shape

It has been a month since my last update. I have settled in nicely and love my little cottage on the coastal path. Since then, I have started running again after my hiatus due to toe surgery, thesis writing and job hunting. Needless to say that I have been fitter, but I have high hopes that I’ll get back in shape fairly soon.

There are a few main changes compared to my training environment and routine last year.

1. Trails, trails and more trails

In Southampton, I almost exclusively ran on roads and had to travel on the weekends to get some trail running in (although usually on broad and smooth trails). In Scotland, I run 200m down a gravel path and then hit the narrow and technical single track trail, going into either direction.

2. Hills everywhere

Going hand in hand with trails are hills. In Southampton, there was pretty much only one hill to train at, or the gym with inclining treadmills. Now there are hills everywhere around me and it’s hard to find a route without hills to do some speed work.

3. Adjusting to different working hours

Having just started a new job, my working hours are a bit different at the moment. Back in Southampton, I had taken up a 7am-3pm routine. During the adjustment period, I can’t do that here since I depend on people to show me where things are etc. That means my usual routine of an early afternoon gym or running session is gone. I have gotten used to running with a head torch in the dark now and doing very early 7am gym sessions to beat rush hour at 5pm.

Coping mechanisms

Obviously running in the dark and hitting the gym at 7am requires a fair bit of motivation and self-discipline. I have to admit, it’s not easy to keep that up, so I have booked two races to help with that:

  1. Race to the King. A non-stop double marathon (52mi/84k) from Arundel to Winchester along the South Downs Way in June.
  2. Ring of Steall Skyrace. A 29k mountain race along the iconic hiking challenge in the Mamores, including a few scrambles.

Am I currently able to do these challenges? Heck no. Will getting in shape for them be tough? Hell yeah. Am I insane? Probably (James says I am).

Fact is, I am really excited for those races and they keep me motivated when it’s dark, rainy and windy. I am excited for the training trips I am planning to the Nevis Range and the Cairngorms, and I even feel excited to keep grinding on this stair climber in the gym.

I’ll be back with an update soon and hopefully some impressions from a trip to the Scottish Highlands!


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