Autumn has arrived and so my thoughts go towards my autumn/winter races and I've decided to mix things up a bit. I usually run all the cross country races I can between now and February. I find they are great for leg strength and I tend to use them as training runs rather than be competitive but I'll be doing far fewer XC races this year and I'll focus on more trail races. The first trail race is taking place this Saturday which is a 20km run along the trails in Peebles. This weekend is Glasgow half marathon as well but as much as I love the Glasgow half, I want to try something different for a change.
I'm really looking forward to the trail race. Something a bit different and a distance I am comfortable with. Just short of 12.5 miles of forest tracks sounds like heaven to me and the final 600 metres are ran through a tunnel which I fully expect to lose GPS coverage in. The tunnel will have a light show inside it to greet us and oddly, the race doesn't have a mass start. We are told we can start at any time between 10 and 10:30am, we simply swipe a card or dibber past a machine when we start and do it again when we finish - I'll write a full race report after it.
I've been bedding in my Hoka One One Speedgoat shoes as well. I've done a couple of runs in the Pentlands in them but I really wanted to get used to them and trust that my feet are going to be OK after 12 or 13 miles. I'll admit that when I first bought them it was more a nice to have than a need. I love my Inov-8 Talon 190s but I found when going off-road and running on harder trails I could do with something with a bit more support but I also wanted to keep the weight down. I'd heard a fair bit about the Hoka One One shoes and so bought them simply because they felt amazing on my feet when I tried them on at Run and Become.
After a couple of shorter runs with them I was starting to worry I'd made a mistake. My feet were sliding around inside the shoe a bit too much and on downhill sections I was bashing my toes off the front. I've now fixed this by tightening the laces across the top of my foot, now I can honestly say, I love them for the longer trail runs. Lightweight while still giving me confidence that I've got grip there if I need it.
I'm loving the off-road running just now. I get a sense of freedom from it. I'm not stuck to a pavement or road, I can go off in to the middle of the Pentlands within a 30 minute drive and run anywhere. Bliss!
Last weekend I headed up to the Pentlands again but this time with Nienke who is a fellow ashmei ambassador, she is now based in Edinburgh as well.
We met up at Hillend, just below the dry ski slope that is located on the outskirts of Edinburgh and made our way up the first accent but the wind was fierce! We knew the forecast had said it would be windy but once you add in the climbing and the openness of the hills, we were getting blown sideways at points. Each time we reached the top of a hill we would make a decision on whether to continue to the next peak or to head home, it seemed the safest way of tackling the run.
After a number of climbs we made the decision to head down to lower ground and make our way back to the car park. The weather was closing in and the wind wasn't getting any lighter. Once we got off the peak we looked back to the final peak we had considered but it was now covered in cloud. We'd made the right decision to come down.
It was a great run though and even with the wind and rain that battered us at points, we covered 12 miles of Pentland trails. A great afternoon out.
I've also got my weekly mileage back up to the 70+ mark and I hope this will give me a good base for taking on some early half marathons next Spring. It does mean I am now getting up at 6:30am and getting 8 miles in before work followed by 5 miles in the evening but so far, it's going well although it is getting pretty dark in the mornings!
I won't taper for many of the autumn/winter races unless I'm really looking to do well at it. The only one so far I may taper for is Glen Clova half marathon, simply because it's a road race and the last half marathon for the year and it would be nice to squeeze a wee PB out of it.
On Saturday I also plan on doing short video blogs on the run up to and after the race. You'll be able to watch these via Instagram Stories, they'll only be available for 24 hours so make sure you check my Instagram profile via the Instagram app on your mobile on Saturday.