Inov-8 Muclaw 300. One thousand km and still going!

This weekend I clocked up my one thousandth kilometre in my Inov-8 Mudclaw 300’s.

For a shoe that has to put up with the harshest of treatment; the acidic peat of the Peak District and the abrasive gritstone and rough heather moorland that’s some going!  Not to mention being left outside the back door on winter nights.

I use SportTracks software that automatically clocks the mileage (kilometre-age) so I know it’s an accurate count.

SportTracks software

SportTracks software keeps count

I’ve had them since October 2010 (again thanks to keeping a training diary with SportTracks) and remarkably the shoes have still got a good amount of tread left on them, particularly the heel studs which can be prone to coming off. Admittedly they’re not quite as yellow as they once were – but who wants bright yellow shoes! The only real sign of wear is in the heel cup.

Inov-8 Mudclaw 300

1000km and still going strong!

I do have a new pair put aside for racing but I reckon I’ll get a good few months more out of these as my winter training shoe and for running guide work.

Do I have a secret for getting such a good life span from my shoes?  Well warm soapy water works – and I suppose only being 8 stone helps too!

Frosty Burbage Run

Sometimes the weather doesn’t inspire me to go running at all.  But today was different.

We’ve had more than our fair share of wet and wind this winter.  Running under dull grey skies, head down vainly trying to avoid the rain and finishing each run cold, soggy, caked in mud. So today it was great to wake up to a clear, frosty morning, the sort of day that makes fell running a joy!

I headed off to my favourite playground hoping to be inspired by the beautiful Peak District scenery.  I wasn’t disappointed:

A Year of Trail and Fell Running

Another year of trail running and fell running and some great memories.

January gave some cold, crisp, blue sky winter days, probably my favourite running conditions.

the joy of winter running

my favourite running conditions

In February I organised a “navigation for fell runners” course.  It was great to meet new people and pass on skills to help them gain confidence for more remote runs and races.

navigation for fell runners

navigation for fell runners

March saw winter return with a vengeance, instead of spring sunshine it was deep drifts – exciting running adventures!

deep drifts

interesting running!

The snow stayed into April on the high moors.  Where some people see bad weather, others see perfect conditions for practising navigation!

fantastic weather - for practising navigation!

fantastic weather – for practising navigation!

In May I led a recce for runners who had entered the Dig Deep races including the Ultra Tour of the Peak District.  When they did this section in the race they would be 55 miles in!

race familiarisation run

race familiarisation run

June, summer.  Not the month you’d expect me to be testing a new waterproof!  The Montane Minimus coped well with the horizontal hailstones, my legs not so well!

Montane Minimus Smock

Ouch –  me legs!

July, the Ultra Tour of the Peak District sponsored by Mammut, and here he is!  Well done to all runners who undertook such a tough event on a scorching day.

Mammut, Ultra Tour of the Peak District

The Mammut behind the UTPD

August, and much to the amusement of my friends a familiar face is seen on the cover of Trail Running magazine.  A beautiful landscape shot spoiled!

Trail Runner Mag

cover star

In September the sun shone as I trained on the hills of the Peak District.  I never tire of the fantastic views from my playground.

Hill Reps in the Peak District

hill reps in the Peak District

October and more blue skies.  Seen in green testing Mammut’s trail running range, available at Outside, Hathersage.

Mammut trail running kit

going green with Mammut

November, and still the sun shone.  Chill, crisp autumn days and enjoyable running.

autumn running

crisp autumn sunshine

Finally December and before the storms we had more blue skies.  I was found enjoying a photo shoot with the excellent Summit Fever Photography  here capturing my favourite Inov-8 Roclites in action.

Inov-8 Roclites

getting to grips with gritstone

So that was the year.  Thank you to those who have helped including;

Inov-8 (Roclites and Mudclaws have been my shoes of choice throughout the year) Montane, Mammut and LED Lenser.  Also to Summit Fever for their brilliant photographs and video clips.

Finally thanks to everyone who has used Fell Running Guide this year, for coaching, navigation training, race preparation and guided running.  Hope to see you again next year.

Best wishes, Dave

coaching for trail and fell runners

 

Inov-8 Roclite

Inov-8 Roclite have been my shoe of choice this year.

I’ve used them for working, training and racing.  Unfortunately the rough gritstone, coarse heather and acidic peat of the Peak District have taken their toll and after 878 kilometres (I know thanks to SportTracks training software which calculated it!) the uppers have given up the ghost!

Inov-8 Roclite

oops!

Interestingly, compared to the uppers the sole has fared pretty well with quite a lot of tread remaining.

Inov-8 Roclite

there’s miles left in them lad!

The shoes have done me well and have had some great adventures:

steep running on boulders

Roclites doing what they were designed for

Inov-8 Roclite

getting wet

And have seen some stunning running conditions:

Inov-8 Roclite

blue sky running

Ennerdale fell race

struggling on Ennerdale fell race – me, not the shoes!

So I reckon that I’ve had my moneys worth out of them and whilst I’m always reluctant to throw my favourite bits of kit away, the good news is….

I’ve got a shiny new pair!

Inov-8 Roclite

ooh – new shoes!

For out and out bog and mud I wear Inov-8 Mudclaws but for mixed fell and trail running I don’t think you can beat Inov-8 Roclites.  So I’m off to hit the fells with my new shoes – it will be a shame to get them dirty!

Running or Playing?

I have a little playground in the Peak District that is perfect for trail running.

Trail Running

between the boulders

Some days I don’t want to train hard, I want a recovery run or an easy session. Sometimes the weather is just too good to waste!

On days like this I exercise my inner child; boulder hopping, avoiding puddles, balancing up steep rocks trying to avoid using my hands, dodging shadows and hurdling fallen trees as I run through the woods.

trail running over boulders

up..

jumping over bouulders

..up..

trail running, boulder hopping

..and away!

trail running over puddles

avoiding puddles

steep running

steep stuff

steep running on boulders

going up!

trail running through trees

shadows and tall trees

So get out there, find your playground and release your inner kid.  Trail running is fun!

Many thanks to http://www.summitfever.co.uk/ for the fantastic photos.

 

 

 

Sparkling Autumn Day

The weather forecast for the Peak District promised a “sparkling autumn day”.

And so it turned out, clear blue skies with just a hint of cumulus building on the western horizon – perfect weather for fell running.

fell running under blue skies

fell running under blue skies

I usually record my runs: distance, heart rate, average pace etc and upload the data for further analysis later.  Today however I wanted to be free from all that, untethered from technology, I simply wanted to run, to enjoy the crisp air, the warming sun and the beauty of this little part of the Peak District.

I trot across the short stretch of moor leading to Higger Tor and up the short, sharp climb to the summit – easy pace today focussing on short, fluid steps.  Then hop-scotching the gritstone and puddles I cross the plateau and drop down the well worn path to Carl Wark.

climbing Carl Wark, Higger Tor beyond

climbing Carl Wark, Higger Tor beyond

The flat summit of this once inhabited prominence is a mix of gritstone boulders, heather and sheep cropped grass and I work my way southwards, relishing the warm November sun on my face.

gritstone & grass on Carl Wark

gritstone & grass on Carl Wark

I drop steeply off Carl Wark finding a faint path, newly accessible as the bracken dies back for winter and head down to the wonderful old packhorse bridge crossing Burbage Brook.

Descending off Carl Wark

descending off Carl Wark

crossing the packhorse bridge

crossing the packhorse bridge

I love this spot and pause for a moment to take in the view, tracing the line of my descent back up to the rocky outcrop, proud against the blue autumn sky.  Refreshed, I press on upstream winding my way between the plantations and making the steep, short drop to cross the brook.  I notice the sudden drop in temperature as I enter the shade and reach the stream.

crossing Burbage brook

crossing Burbage brook

What goes down must go up and it’s time to climb back out of the valley into the sunlight and I take the rising path northwards then divert towards the isolated boulder high amidst the bracken,

climbing past the boulder

climbing past the boulder

A spot of “bracken bashing” brings me out on a vague rising path and I leave the valley behind and head back towards Higger Tor.

leaving the valley

leaving Burbage valley

A final steep few metres through the rough grass brings me out at the road where I began.

leaving Burbage valley

the final push

A sparkling autumn day, perfect for fell running in the Peak District.

What I wore:

Montane Litespeed windproof
Ashmei 2 in 1 shorts
Buff
Gloves (cheap fleece ones)
SealSkinz waterproof socks
Inov8 Race Pro 4 bumbag
Inov8 Roclite 285

Mammut MTR 201 Micro Jacket

The Mammut MTR 201 Micro Jacket is a very lightweight windproof top.

First off, I was really impressed by its weight – or lack of it – the small clocking up only 81 grams on the scales!

Mammut MTR 201

Mammut MTR 201 – very light!

The jacket features a full length zip with a small chest pocket, (a feature I really like for stowing compass, cut down map, gloves etc.)  The pocket has an internal hole for headphones (so that you can take your “multi media device” with you to the hills and listen to man made sounds rather than birdsong, the wind in the trees, the tinkling stream etc!) There are elastane mesh panels below each armpit to assist breathe-ability (I think these will be good whilst running but a compromise to the jacket’s wind proofing and thus not so good if using the jacket whilst standing around), a hem draw cord and something called finger gaiters in the cuffs (basically an extra bit of material that might, at a pinch, keep your fingers warm although I can’t see how these would do the job of a pair of gloves!)  It is DWR treated to make it shower as well as wind proof and time will tell how long lasting and effective this proves to be.  Reflective lettering and logo give a little bit of increased visibility at night.  The jacket easily fits into its own chest pocket for storage.

I tested it out whilst trail running on a breezy but sunny October day.   In action the jacket was very comfortable and whilst the close fit of the small wouldn’t allow it to be worn over bulky layers, as a running wind proof over a long sleeved base layer the fit was excellent.

Mine is a fetching bright green which matches the MTR 141 trail shoe although it should also be available in black.

MTR 201

MTR 201 – very green!

Overall I was very impressed with the jacket, it fits well (I usually find small men’s size to be a bit big!) and is ideal for wearing on a chilly day when you know it isn’t going to rain.  It looks good too – if you like green!

fell running guide

Summer’s End

The sun sets early now on my Peak District running adventures.

The long evenings and long shadows a fading memory, the warm evenings replaced by a noticeable chill in the air.

sunset run

sunset run

All is not lost; an evening run over Stanage Edge is rewarded by the Grouse’s cackling conversation, the calls and replies carrying far in the still air.  There is no breeze, the puddles between the gritstone boulders mirror the fading light, subtle pink hues and shades of stainless grey in a high sky.

evening run

dusk reflections

The light fades quickly and I slow the pace, cautiously picking my way along the uneven path.  It will soon be time for head torch running and although I am carrying one I resist using it, straining to pick out the path in the gloom, reluctant to accept that the summer is over.

If you would like to book a guided run in the Peak District, visit www.fellrunningguide.co.uk

 

It’s Not Always Hard Work

Some days I run hard.

Race training: maximum efforts, hurting, oblivious to everything except the pounding in my temples and the battle between body and mind; one screaming “stop” the other willing a few more moments of effort.  I am enveloped in my own little bubble of pain.

Thankfully I also like to run easy.  Long steady trots when I can appreciate the scenery around me, when I can stop to gaze at distant blue hills or focus in on the minute details close by.  As the seasons change so does the view and it is seldom the same even on the bleak moorland.  This summer a vast sea of cotton grass covered the moors transforming them into a shimmering silver sea.

Cotton Grass

Cotton Grass transforming the bleak moorland

The heather, turning purple under a summer sky shows different hues and closer inspection reveals subtle differences between Bell Heather, Cross Leaved Heath and Ling.

Purple Heather and Blue Skies

Purple Heather and Blue Skies

Hidden away on the moors other plants can be found; the tiny Tormentil with its four bright yellow leaves, delicate Heath Bedstraw with minute white flowers, slender pale blue Harebells, Bilberry its crimson globes beginning to form the Autumn’s bounty and Cladonia a tiny lichen fantastically named the Devil’s Matchstick.

Tiny Tormentil

Tiny Tormentil

Whilst the Grouse and Meadow Pipits are ever present some birds are less common and thus grab my attention.  The Curlew has arrived and circles me, crying.  A Skylark’s constant conversation makes me look upwards to spot a tiny hovering speck that suddenly silences and falls back to the ground, camouflaged, unseen.  The Kestrel hovering, wings working, tail twitching, head stock still seeking out its unwary prey and the Wheatear, startled into undulating flight from its ground nest, a flash of white in its tail as it goes.

I spy a lizard camouflaged on a mossy wall and stop to take a closer look at its intricate markings.  It stares back at me unflinching, unmoving save for a rapid pulsing in its neck.

Lizard Lounging

Lizard Lounging

A Peacock Butterfly flits by me as I run and settles in the path a few metres ahead.  In no rush today I slowly approach, getting close enough to inspect its delicate iridescent beauty.

Admirable Admiral

Proud Peacock

A damp path offers a rare treat, a Slow worm lies across my way.  I stop, wary at first until I see no diamond markings then creep closer and admire the shining, almost polished bronze beauty.

Slow run, Slow Worm

Slow run, Slow worm

And when the colour fades from the day I run lazily towards the sinking sun on the blazing western horizon, happy to appreciate the beauty of easy running.

Sunset Run

Sunset Run

Come Run With Me

The beauty of running in the Peak District is that the Peak District is beautiful.

15 minutes.  That’s all it takes to escape the tarmac and traffic of Sheffield for the woods, trails and hills of the National Park.

Wide open spaces, fresh air and the sounds of nature greet me as I climb from the urban bowl and leave the city behind.  Driving west I crest the Ringinglow road, passing Lady Canning’s Plantation and the Ox Stones and the vista opens before me; the beautiful Burbage Valley, the magnificent gritstone edge of Stanage and the remote, rugged, distant uplands of Kinder and Bleaklow whilst to the south the White Peak stretches away lush, green and wooded.

It is a fantastic place to run – so forget the tarmac and escape to the trails and come run with me.