I’m back with shoe report!

So a week off running and it wasn’t too bad, I must admit it was tricky to not go out when the sun shone on the way home but I stuck to it for a whole week. And today I got to try out my new shoes (I had to hide them this week in case my will broke)

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Inov8 X-Talon 200

First impressions – very comfy, at first they felt a little snug but they are so soft – like a baby deers furry ass – that they soon felt like they were already worn in.

The reason I got these was for better grip as the weather turns and I’m going to be spending much of the next six months sliding around in mud. I also wanted something for wet rocks on the beach, It’s not like I ask a lot or anything.

It’s been raining all week and so I was sure to find mud

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Mud glorious mud – Sheep track in fact – And the shoes handled it superbly. The bigger lugs certainly grip this kind of stuff. No loss of traction.
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Next test – Wet slippery rocky path with fallen wet leaves.  There were a few hairy moments here but then there always are in the wet. I did feel more confident in the Inov8s compared to say the Altras especially on downhills.
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Sand test – Well lets be fair even i cant fall over on sand but and I was delighted to discover they kick up cool little spurts of sand behind you. I spent the next mile runing while looking over my shoulder.
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They really come into their own on technical rocky terrain, they feel very nimble and precise and covering these rocks was loads of fun. Plenty of spring in them for bounds and leap and they grip superbly even on angled rocks  and slopes.
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Water – I was very surprised by how water resistant they were, nothing got in at the beach but this made me a little concerned, I wasnt expecting them to be waterproof and alas if water does get in (to be fair I was sloshing around in a stream) it doesnt drain out very well.

So overall I’m more than pleased with the Xtalon 200 – They are definitely going to become my technical shoe of choice and I expect to give them a right hammering this winter. The grip is fantastci on mud and rock and they provide an immense feeling of confidence and stability. My only worry is the drainage but with some care there shouldnt be too much water getting in – basically it has to go in over the top anyway.

Oh and I have new shoes but this dude has a new coat – With chickens on! How cool is that (I was kinda jealous)

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Uber cool horsie

Long beach & cliff run plus news!

How do you keep an idiot in suspense goes the old joke. I’ll tell you later.

Anyway today it was time to see exactly how much fitness I’d lost through injury, there was a reason for this test but first the run. As I knew I was likely to be going at least 10 miles I knew I’d need water and fuel so I cracked out the salomon squishy bottles and made myself some new fuel – I hereby announce to the running world the invention of the Honey Bomb!

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Working on the principle that you don’t eat with your eyes I present the first batch of Honey Bombs. I swear they taste so much better than they look … honest

Ingredients – all chucked in a bowl with no measuring.

Raisins, dates, flax and chia seeds and a dollop of honey all mixed together and placed carefully in scientific manner on a baking tray and then wanged in the freezer.

Result? I have discovered purest energy! Well I ate three of them on my run and they certainly kept my energy levels topped up. The only drawback being their incredible stickiosity. I wrapped them in silver foil so when unwrapping them I must have looked like the worlds healthiest junkie.

I was also glad to have taken a litre of water too as it started to get hot towards the end although I did actually hydrate myself all the way through which I’m disproportionately proud of. All this I packed away in my Inov8 race pack 4 which is just so comfortable I don’t even notice it’s there. The salomon soft flasks work great as once you’ve had a gurgle out of them they fold up and can be carried in a pocket until empty.

Anyway I managed just over 12 miles which didn’t feel like a struggle until the hill into Wick to my folks (another shout out to the folks) near the end which just felt like it was going on forever, plus it was half road and as we all know I hate roads. My body felt fine above the waist, the legs simply haven’t got the miles back in them yet but I’m sure that will come.

The beach was as usual beautiful even though I was going into a headwind on the way out and I managed to remember to breathe through my nose pretty much for the whole thing. This is becoming second nature which I’m especially pleased with as I know I’m no longer blowing myslf to bits early on.

Enough text they cry! Where are the photos?

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Outward bound – I tried to capture the headwind but failed :p
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Cliff stack – I’m waiting for this one to come down (as long as I’m not under it at the time) Also spot my superb accidental capture of a seagull
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Green! I knew I’d get some green in for CeeJayKay. This is actually a very rare phenonemon called cliff snot
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View from the cliffs again plus some green
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WARNING! Rockpool ahead!
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View running back along the cliffs (more green plus fluffy clouds for SRG)
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Foresty bit (included for its greeniosity)
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Field of unripened corn – Note colour!

Oh yeah so the news ….

I’ve signed up for a race in August. In Cornwall! It’s a trail run along the Cornish coastal path. A friend of mine and I are going to camp down there for the weekend as there is a bar and DJ and stuff to entertain him while I run on the saturday.

Thing is … the 20 miler I was originally going to do was full so I kind of ….. signed up for the 32 mile option. I have 6 weeks to prepare. I may well die (note to parents this is a lighthearted throwaway line I won’t really die)

Ultra or bust! Probably bust but I’m going to give it my best.

Altra Lone Peak 2- A coastal review

As you know I spend the vast majority of my runs on the coast or getting to and from the coast through fields and paths. As I felt my foot has improved enough and because it was low tide I felt like giving the Altras a proper test over all my favourite terrains. It turned out to be a five mile run which is the longest I’ve done since my injury so I’m really happy with that (excluding the 11 mile fell race I accidentally did)

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The Altra Lone Peak 2 – Before I got them muddy – So yellow!
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The paths are your usual dirt with various rocks, roots, mud and small streams. The Altras handle this kind of thing nicely feeling stable and the cushioning is great but you can still feel the trails nuances underfoot.
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Rocks – Its really important for me to have grip and lateral stability on the rocks as my feet are landing at different angles and gradients. I don’t want to be losing grip as often my foot lands at forty five degrees. The Altras actually surprised me with the grip, I use Adidas Kanadias if I’m planning on a lot of rock running because of the good feel on rock but I found the Altras held on just as well. I didn’t find them quite as stable laterally though, sometimes feeling that my foot was about to turn sideways. This might be something I need to adjust to due to the wider toebox and zero degree drop.
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These kind of rocks are an absolute bastard to run over as you have so few landing spots or margin for error. The Atras coped well and the extra cushioning lessened the impact thankfully.
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Sand – Awesome! Simply felt so comfortable and the cushioning felt great. Then again everything feels great on sand!
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Water – If you like dry feet then the Altras aren’t for you as they let in water easily but more importantly let it out just as easily. In this respect they tick the box for me as I don’t mind wet feet at all and would rather it drain than squish. Just as importantly they regain their yellowness (Is that even a word?) when you splash through water (Little things please little minds)

Overall I’ve been incredibly impressed by the Altra. It was a risk spending so much on a shoe I hadn’t even tried (sadly it’s hard to find stockists in the UK – Even the internet shops have limited range too) but having heard what the makes had to say and through some research I’m glad I convinced myself to take the punt. The show feels extremely comfortable and grips superbly. I think I haven’t done enough miles to really get used to them but I can safely say I’m going to enjoy learning to.

I can’t wait to do some longer runs to really test their comfort and durability. I’ll be sure to let you know.

And if you stuck it out and read this far then you get a bonus cuttlefish!

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West Wales Weekender

I was lucky enough to be invited down to West Wales by a couple of friends who were renting a cottage for a week ( I say cottage, it was huge and could sleep 8) so off I went on friday straight after work , only a couple of hours drive but you forget the beauty of your own country sometimes.

The cottage was in a tiny village called Nolton Haven and it had the most perfect bay for learning to kayak, not much swell and some interesting coves and coastline to explore.

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Nolton Haven beach at low tide

But first things first I woke on saturday and my foot felt fine so I figured I’d go for a gentle run on the beach as the sand was super soft, of course I couldn’t actually stick to my plan and was soon off up the coastal path that runs either side of the bay. The views were fantastic and the foot felt fine. I’ve spent some time considering things while off injured and have come to realise I can’t hammer my body at this age (which does makes me sound old) when it’s not really used to it. If I want to run at all I need to run smarter, lower impact and run slower.

I’ve been serruptitiously reading about slow ruinning and heart rate training and I managed to keep my heartrate easily below 140 despite some extremely vertical terrain – not that I was really monitoring it to be fair as I didnt have my watch as I didnt expect to be running and anyway the watch doesn’t even do heart monitoring. So I simply took my pulse and timed it. Works for me!

I ran around 4 or 5 miles perhaps and as I say took it slowly, expecting my foot to start hurting but apart from near the end where it started to nag a little on the downhill to the beach it was fine and afterwards I felt no pain. I have an appointment at the doctors tomorrow to discuss the xray results ….. so I probably wont mention the run :p

I also had my Altras on and in my admittedly limited experience these are the most comfortable trainers I’ve ever worn. It’s like running in slippers and the grip is utterly fantastic. Some of the descents were on shale and they provided perfect footing with no slippage at all. To say I’m happy with them right now is an understatement.

Some photos from the run

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Overlooking the bay at Nolton Haven
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Cave!
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Headland which probably has some local name which I don’t know
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Close up of stack
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Looking down to Newgale
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I came across this just off the path – Turns out to be the remains of Trefane Colliery – a Mine! – more info if you’re interested here

 

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Beautifully weathered stones
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Mineshafty thing
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Mineshafty hole

So after the run it was time to test the kayak!

Absolutely loved it, spent a good few hours in the water self teaching various techniques – I think the hardest part was launching it! I also learned how not to panic when you ground yourself on a rock and nearly tip out and how to fend off a dead seagull with my paddle. I finished off with a lesson in how to get back on if I ever do actually fall off by mistake.

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I actually look like I know what i’m doing! Note the calm sea though

After kayaking it was chill out, bbq, beers and watching Wales win their opening game in the Euros! Oh and playing with Iolo the labrador puppy – Who had this face on after trying to eat my Altras

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Ummm we may have drunk one or two

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Well running and kayaking is thirsty work!

All in all a fantastic few days. So glad the foot held up and to get a few miles done was the best news plus the kayak is great and gives one hell of a workout to arms, legs and arse!

Hope everyone else had a good weekend too.

New shoes!

This one’s specially for slowrunnergirl

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Altra Lone Peak in bright yellow! I figured I deserved a treat after the last few months (Any excuse for new running shizz)

I specifically went for these after much reading and research as I was looking for the zero drop, midsole cushion and the wide toe box – especially the wide toebox. My long toe – index toe – wiggly toe next to big toe – whatever toe that is tends to arch up and then curl over the big toe – It doesnt look right and I’m pretty sure its not good for my foot. So I figured I needed to give them some breathing room down there when they get a good pounding on a run.

I’ve only worn them for a few miles so far but they are oh so comfortable – and thats on an injured foot, I cant wait to glide around in pure bliss once I’m healed (he said in blind optimism and pretending the rest of him doesnt hurt when he runs)

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Trail clogs!

Voyages of Discovery

I like discovering things. Hence my beachcombing sorties. This mornings run turned out to be one of discovery although it never gets planned that way.  I was up early – well half seven is early for me on a weekend – and decided today was the day to crack out my “new” running shoes. Why the “? Because technically they aren’t new. I’ve had them months but have never worn them as I’ve been waiting for better weather as they’re minimal – Inov8 Flite 240 – Which arent really trail shoes but I wanted to have a go with less cushioning.

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Inov8 Flite 240’s

Also they technically aren’t new because – And serious runner types look away now in horror – I do buy shoes on ebay. Yes I have a scheme. People often sell nearly new trail shoes on ebay which have been worn only once or a few times as they didnt fit. Now I’m not fussy, I’ll wear other barely used shoes once they’re disinfected and washed. And in this way I’ve picked up good bargains – These inov8s had been used once and the guy didnt like them- I picked them up for £12 – A quick google tells me they’re around £60 new.

Ok I hear you cry, but the fit – the fit is crucial!  Well yes I agree and as they say you have to kiss a lot of frogs.  The shoes I buy (And I set low limits to what I’ll spend – I’m looking for bargains and a way of testing as many brands and styles as I can cheaply) if they dont fit or they aren’t right I simply resell them – The most I lose is a few quid on shipping and I’ve turned over a profit on some. I’m honest in my ebaying, I say I bought them and they don’t fit and I say what the previous owner told me – as in they’ve done 10 miles or been worn twice.

It might be unusual and not to some peoples taste but in this way I’m learning what’s good for me and getting to try out different styles. Just like today. I had no idea what to expect from a more minimal shoe but I really enjoyed it.  The first thing I noticed was that you can really feel the trail underfoot – Not ideal on rocky patches or trails with pokey up stones (technical term there) but on grass and dirt track it was truly lovely to really feel the trail. Every small undulation was apparent, every foothold felt good. I came to hills – I was a little worried about this as the soles didn’t look grippy – Bugger how they look – These things grip like a gorilla holding the last banana! I was like a mountain goat – no a bloody ibex!

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The grip down and up these valley sides was fantastic

I did 10 miles in them this morning and felt comfortable all the way. I can’t wait to see how they perform on the beach and on rocks.  I can’t say I’ll definitely switch to more minimalist for good until I’ve done more testing but they aren’t being sold that’s for sure.

Back to the discoveries though.  At the top of this valley something caught my eye – rubbish. Who would drop litter here? My anger turned to curiousity though, the litter looked like a book in a bag and it turned out to be a geocache!

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Sadly water had got into the book so it was unreadable but I packed it all back as well as I could and left it for the next person

Next up was the top of the waterfall I go past on the beach, it’s a bit tricky to get to the top of it and there’s an easier route that I always take but today something made me scramble down to the cliff edge and I was delighted to find a pond

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I get the feeling the bright green vegetation is going to look great when spring really kicks in – at the moment they appear to be small rushes
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I also discovered I could dangle over the edge of the cliffs here to take photos – Mainly because I’m stupid
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But you get some nice photos of the tide fully in at Cwm Mawr. Strange to think I run here at low tide.

I kept going, enjoying the feel of the shoes, past Southerndown and turned at 5 miles to begin the journey back detouring slightly to take in Dunraven castle – I have run past this loads but never through it. I don’t know why as it’s so pretty and peaceful – I had the place to myself as I was so early.

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Dunraven Castle grounds
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Yeah you can kind of tell solicitors wrote it :p
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Pond!
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Dunraven Castle remains

I also discovered that my knee still hurts no matter what shoes I’m in. However I then discovered after 8 miles it hurts no more than the rest of me at that point so I don’t care!

Final discovery wasn’t really mine – It was these two discovering the world for the first time. I’m kinda glad I’ve moved to a plant based diet these days. Enjoy your weekends everyone!

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Free Stuff! Not for you … for me!

Registered today for the Hoka Trail Half so I can have an extra half hour in bed tomorrow. It’s only a half hour drive so no rush anyway but it settled a few nerves anyway. By now you’ll know (as I’ve been banging on about it forever it seems) it’s my first event of any description so now it’s real.

The bad news is the utterly atrocious Welsh weather – What, did we think we would get away with a trail half marathon in Wales in February without getting wet? it’s not only raining it’s positively evil out there a solid wall of drizzle and gusting winds too.

I signed my name on the dotted line (I exaggerate – the guy crossed me off his list with a highlighter pen) picked up my goodie bag and strolled back off into the rain. Inside my bag was a t-shirt and sun visor! Yes indeed they will come in handy tomorrow!  Nah only joking, I didn’t expect anything at all so it’s a nice touch by Hoka.

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Yay for free stuff!

The event itself is at Margam Park which I haven’t been to for many years (maybe since our sixth form party ended in a riot over 20 years ago) so it was nice to have a quick look around.

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Margam Castle itself is quite pretty (But not what i’d call a castle to be honest – Where’s the battlements, arrow slits and murder holes?)  Spot the mist hanging above it …

 

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That mist is hiding the forested hills of the park itself which i’m going to be going up and over tomorrow!

Oh and of course I nearly forgot my bib number!  So if you happen to be freezing to death at Margam park tomorrow and see number 656 then give me some encouragement – I think i’ll need it!

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Will catch you on the flipside tomorrow for celebrations (I hope)