My biggest running week in a long time

A rare walkway over some mud
A rare walkway over some mud

Having tackled a couple of hills with elevation in mind I made sure I got a bit of rest. Actually the body was holding up fine, save for a pair of glutes that were feeling the burn from the sudden 5500ft of climbing after a winter of tarmac.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I should have been in Cyprus at this time, save for the Coronavirus which claimed the ‘pandemic’ accolade at this time (a week ago from me writing this up). We had been travelling as a group, and as such half managed to make Cyprus and the rest of us didn’t.

16th March

Having been bombarded on WhatsApp with photos of sunshine and ice-cream all weekend, the UK contingent of the group arranged a route in the Hope Valley. Now the whole hot-potato of social-distancing was somewhat less strict at the time (the morning of 16th March) and we agreed to go for a run in a place where we could  spread out without getting too close in contact.  It seems quite shocking just 1 week later to feel we could safely do this, but then things have moved on hugely since then, with groups of all sorts (running, bell ringing, choirs, etc) having been cancelled.

Unlike my previous runs this was a path circling a reservoir and thus was much flatter. Not completely flat I might add. Here’s the route.

Hope Valley HM

Hope Valley HM

It was a pleasant day, with the sun gradually burning off the cloud. Like all things, it’s nice to run somewhere new and where someone else has thought of the route. I’ve actually run one section of it before, but in reverse when we were doing recce runs for the PD Ultras which are scheduled to take place again at the start of September. Assuming the world is in a better place than it is currently.

It was also nice to catch up with the people I had expected to be spending time with in Cyprus. And whilst nothing could quite replace a lost holiday, getting out with running friends (at a safe distance) was cathartic to that cause.

We did breach the social distancing protocol at the very end for a quick photo. And whilst it seems shocking now, at the time we felt we’d taken good care throughout the day otherwise. In total it worked out about 13.5 miles with 800 ft of elevation.

Tortoise group post run

Stockport ‘Tortoises’ group post run

17th March

A day later and the world seemed a much darker place with respect to the Coronavirus pandemic. All groups that I am involved with had to be cancelled with immediate effect for the foreseeable future and to say my anxiety was getting uppity in the corner is an understatement.

I didn’t really know what to do with myself. On a normal Tuesday it would have been the Lyme Runners group run, but of course that had to be canned. In the end I decided to do a run much closer to home, all on muddy trails. And boy was it muddy!

Muddy trails at home

Muddy trails at home

It made a change to be doing a run less than 13 miles after the last 3 outings, but it was enough to get me out of the house and out of a cycle of unhelpful thinking. It was sunny too! 3.6 miles run and 300 ft of elevation.

A rare walkway over some mud

A rare walkway over some not-so-rare mud

18th March

I was conscious I’d done a lot of running recently. But also conscious that I still needed to be doing something to calm the head. I decided it was time to see if the bike and trainer still worked, as it’s over a year since I’ve used either. And the computer had been changed. So too, it seems, had RGT, which seems to have become a weird mishmash of a mobile phone app for no reason along with the ‘game’ on the computer.

Anyway, it mostly worked. The battery in the trainer sensor was on its last legs so some of the cadence data was a bit squiffy, but as usual I gave myself a good aerobic workout for an hour.

Virtual Ride - Cap de Formentor

Virtual Ride – Cap de Formentor

It’s also probably the closest I’m going to get to going on holiday any time soon! And you’ll be glad to know there isn’t a photo of sweaty me after the event! According to the computer it worked out as 14 miles and 1666ft of cycle climbing.

Post ride and I managed to find a replacement battery for the sensors. We wait and see if everything works like it should do!

19th March

By Thursday I was keen to leave the house again and headed off to Hayfield to try out a new race route, for a race that’s since been postponed due to the Coronavirus.

Fell Race route-ish

Fell Race route-ish

This took in a few places I’d already visited during the previous weekend. But what was apparent was just how many other people were out walking in the hills. A slightly weird moment as I reached the top of Lantern Pike when a walker asked rather curtly if I was stopping at the top. He obviously didn’t want another person joining him and his 8 fellow walkers crowded on the top. What he probably didn’t realise was that I had felt a similar but stronger recoil having seen so many people cluttered about at the top of hill, clearly ignoring the social distancing guidance!

My path to the top had already been slightly messed up when I blindly followed a footpath and missed a turning, ended up at a similar place to a wrong turn I took the previous Friday!

Off away from the masses I wasn’t 100% sure of where I cut across towards the bridleway to Rowarth as the map I’d been shown didn’t seem to illustrate any footpaths doing this. The track I took looked well trodden despite not being on the map but I’m not sure I should have been slightly further down the hill. Either way it did the job and I was soon passing the Little Mill in Rowarth and heading up to Cown Edge.

Climbing to Cown Edge

Climbing to Cown Edge

Having already made a nav blunder at the start of the run I was keeping tabs on my map to make sure I didn’t go too wayward. It was coming off the Edge where I did make an error, but that was down to the fact I couldn’t see the right path and wasn’t sure if I’d transcribed it correctly. Turns out I went a bit too far and had to follow a farm path and a field crossing to get myself back onto the route. Of course this is what recce runs are for, so you don’t do it on race day!

Again as I was returning past Lantern Pike I had another missed turning and then a complete aberration before finally getting back to the car. All good fun and I chalked up 9.5 miles and over 1800ft of elevation.

21st March

I took a day off from sport on the Friday to do some recovering, although I did have a nice local 3.5 mile walk for a couple of hours because it was a nice afternoon. The reason was I knew I was going to be running a looped circuit, courtesy of a nearby ultra-running group. The idea was that we’d be shown the route and then left to do as many (or few) loops as we wanted in a 6 hour period. Again social distancing played a big role here with trying to learn the route on the first loop without getting too close to people!

I’ve never done a long looping run before, it really isn’t my thing. If I’m going to do an ultra as a race, I like to feel I’ve gone somewhere. Not that there was any pressure to be doing big distances today. It was more about getting out and running somewhere different. And getting the chance to actually meet some of the group in which I’ve been a lurker on their Facebook page for too long!

The loop was just a shade over 5k, taking in fields, two sections of tarmac, a lake path and some steps. So a good variety with the advantage of being able to leave everything in the car which was at the start of each loop. So despite my misgivings about running loops, it all worked out fine.

Castleshaw loops

Castleshaw loops – doesn’t the elevation map look pretty?!

On chatting to Allan, who had suggested the session, it transpires that this was similar to the route to a 24 hour event that has been held here in the past. One of those ‘do as many loops as you can in 24 hours’ type events that have become popular in the last few years.

Anyway, the agreed time limit was 6 hours today and I did 9 loops. I was asked if I’d like to go out and do a tenth one but by then my feet and ankles were telling me I’d done enough. At just shy of 29 miles and 3000 ft of climb it was a lot longer than any training run I’ve ever done. Nor have I been hitting out any sort of long distance runs recently aside from a panicked 19 miler a couple of weeks before Pafos marathon date to see if I could still manage the distance.


I didn’t get to Cyprus, but during 8 of the 10 days I should have been away I did quite a lot of running, plus a bit of virtual cycling. Had I managed to have done the planned races it would have amounted to a marathon and a half-marathon, both on the road.

Instead my running was almost entirely off-road. All told it worked out as over 86 miles run and 11500ft of running elevation gained in 8 days. Which is why I’m taking a couple of days to recover!

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