A little bit of reading

I have a attahced a few links below that are well worth a scan through, especially for the time of year thats in it. As the autumn turns into winter we all have different goals ahead and motivation can be hard. The thoughts of running around a field in mud over our ankles for the winter, or trying to train smart as an ultrarunner or even set goals like Mr. Graham Bushe below, all give me great motivation.

Cross Country

https://www.startfitness.co.uk/blog/importance-cross-country-running/

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Castlegar AC cross country team from last weekend. Some craic. County Gold for the lads!

As i have learnt the hard way, cross country races are exceptionally gruelling. It is hard to explain unless you have taken part in one. The winner on the day was Paul Giblin (number172), noticed above for being the cleanest person in Tuam on the day. He must of somehow glided across the mud. It was an incredible team effort with myself, Sean and Damian passing the men onfront of us all on the last lap to clinch the title. Well done all involved.

The article above gives a great account of the cross country scene, the chance to be out in the conditions in the winter and enjoy the fresh air. It is amazing for strengthening you as a runner, stabilising you and even improving your stride at a time of year many take to the gym or simply stop training.

Ultrarunners post season Guide.

http://trainright.com/ultimate-post-season-guide-for-ultrarunners/

I liked this article, keeping things simple in the off season. A common mistake focused on is working too much on one or two weaknesses. It outlines how more benefit is found in training to strengthen and improve all round. I made this mistake in the past, injuring an ankle and instead of strengthening both ankles I worked too much on one side. Of course the other weakens and there is a straight forward imbalance, leading to further injuries. Training smart is key.

 

The story of Graham Bushe.

http://www.outsider.ie/wicklow-way-race-back/

This man is a legend already, only taking up running 4 years ago. He is an inspiration to many. I understand that it won’t happen that every person that takes up running can suddenly run 130km and then go back the same way and do it all again but it just shows what can be achieved. There is no doubt his mentality is the key along with a natural ability to run. I have a good friend, I won’t name you here just now, (Pascal), that has taken to running, more seriously than ever before and yesterday he got a PB in a marthon only weeks after a PB in a half marathon. He has trained extremely smart, mixing speed, distance and good rest. Once again it is his mentality, stubborness and grit that have  leapfrogged him to this point, but now he goes out to every training with a smile on his face and he loves ever minute of it.

 

Kebnekaise

It has been a pretty busy few months but I am finally back in the blogging frame of mind and hope things stay that way for the foreseeable future. Sometimes we need a break from these things and after a few years on the blog I felt it was no harm to take a brief period off. Since my last post in Wales, I have been to Sweden and Alicante on two holidays, so all in all I can’t complain much. The other end of things wasn’t so nice with our little buddie Ferris, our cat, passing away and in the mix of everything I was rear ended in a road accident. Luckily I was in one piece, however my car did take the full brunt of the collision. Anyhow enough rambling, how do you write blog posts again? I will start by a little run down on an epic adventure in the North of Sweden, 2100metre mountains and some of the best scenery in the world.

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Not far from Sweden’s highest point!

So where exactly is Kebnekaise for those of you not too sure about Sweden’s geography?

Here is a very rough ,very quick idea as to where we were!

We set out to hike 20km to the base camp of Sweden’s highest peak, Kebnekaise mountain. We would camp here for three days and one of the days give the mountain a whack. The hike in was flat but with 15kg on our backs and a nice 10km trail run in the legs from the previous day we were all tired by the time we reached camp. Emma’s sister Frida was joining us for the trip and would be great having her part of of it all, one any Swedish hiker or nature enthusiast dreams of making. Very few people outside of Sweden, or at least in Ireland even know these kind of places exist.

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Base camp in the shelter of the woods.

We secured a spot for our tents on the first evening. We pitched them in a howling gale and realised it was a hell of a lot colder than first imagined. We had travelled as light as possible but thermal clothes and down jackets along with good rain gear were the essentials. My new Alpkit Brukit Wolfe would do all the cooking and a diet of porridge and various beans and rice mixes would have to keep the engine ticking over for the few days. I would learn that I need alot more fuel than Emma and Frida to keep myself in check and I hadn’t quite packed enough.

After a pretty average sleep on the first night we set off to trek Kebnekaise the next day. We took a wrong turn early on and ended up hiking further into the valley under the mountain. I had some form of vertigo or at least an imbalance from sleeping in a stuffy tent and was glad we decided not to go for the summit today. It turned out the weather closed in pretty badly and very few summitted that day. It was nice to get a long hike and get used to the temperature of about 7  degrees depending on wind and rain conditions. An early night in order to set off early the next morning was the plan. I actually slept fine and was feeling great the next day. Bring on the mountain.

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The view early on, not far from base camp. Things were looking up!

The hike was relentless but we got into a nice rythm and the views were more spectacular by the minute. After a 45 minute climb to the first stop I cooked up some hot water and we had a coffee and some sugar as a break.

Coffee break.

From here I told Emma and Frida I would push on as I was going a different pace and instead of enjoying every second I would turn it into a bit of a training session, typical me! I literally ran up the next two climbs, reached a snowy wet point (adding a few layers here) and then descended a few hundred metres before starting the last long climb towards the first and second summits of Kebnekaise. A few Dutch guys asked me was I not freezing as I had stripped to a tshirt and shorts. I replied no I’m ok, as long as I don’t stop! I ran into a few more hikers, one of which had taken a wrong turn with a 20kg backback and in order to get back to his original route was having to go over Kebnekaise. It wasn’t his finest moment but he was taking it in his stride with a smile! I ploughed on up past 2000 metres and was suddenly engulfed in a blizzard. I could see the summit on my GPS but I could barely see my hand. I decided to descend back once near the summit and go in serach of Emma and Frida on the trail. I could head back up with them and enjoy the rest of the day even more. Our photos from the summit are a little blurred but I will throw some into my next post. There were people wandering around in search of the exact summit. A crazy dangerous thing to be trying with no proper GPS. I could see 2100 metres on my watch and was happy we were within a few feet of the top. I knew as well that there was a shear drop to our right and now was time to head down. As we descended the rain started and it followed us all the way home. It was torrential at times but we stuck it out. I think we were on the mountain arounf 9 hours in total. I would go up in a flash again.

It was amazing to see groups of people, young, old, and all shapes and sizes enjoying the hike. It is a gruelling hike but it seems hiking is one of those sports that attracts everyone and everyone can give it a go. It was great to see a dad with a little boy tied on to his side and the boy so excited to find the top. It was also great to see the safety being used in this instance. One thing that was for certain was that people in Northern Sweden know the type of gear needed on the mountains and for the most part people were very safe.

We slept ok the final night and our hike out on tired legs was relentless, being well over 20km’s when we clocked it all.Our bags were lighter than the journey in having eaten everything but my socks. In saying this they still felt twice the weight. A sure sign of tired bodies! Back to the campervan, clean clothes and an amaing appetite for a pizza. Kebnekaise, hope to see you again some day.

This is a brief account of our adventure but another fantastic experience. I learnt the amount of food I carried was way below what my body was crving in the cold and the mountains. I drank so much water even though I really only pushed hard on one of the days. A good rain coat is essential and staying warm even more so. Bring a second and third set of wet gear for relentless rainy days. Always use dry bags, as we did, and stick to boiled foods if possible.

A couple of reindeer under the mountains

It has basically been weeks and even months of training and working, with a short break in Alicante thrown in, since this Swedish trip. I ran in a few cross country races the last couple of weekends, shear torture but fun at the same time. Only cross country runners get what I am saying here! I managed to be part of a great team on Sunday and we won a county gold and I topped that off with first place in my category (senior), only 3 weeks off my over 35 debut that is. I promise to get back into the blogging scene and hope to share my goals and plans with you all over the next few months. Next up is the Mourne Skyline MTR on the 21st of October. A 35km killer of a mountain run/scramble!!