Monday, 1 August 2022

Reverse magnetised

A few weeks ago I saw that the compass that travels daily in my rucsac had become reverse magnetised. Luckily I was in a field and could compare with my watch and the sun. It might have been more serious on a hillside.
Apparently this is quite common now and believed to be due to the strong magnets in the speakers of the devices we carry. Certainly I often carried the compass next to a mobile phone and camera.
I've read that Silva will remagnetise the needles so I've sent them an email. Although I understand the theory I'm not going DIY as it seems like an accident waiting to happen.

Saturday, 9 July 2022

Post-Covid run

A week after completing the Cuckoo Way I had COVID. There was a headache, then a cough and ultimately feeling rotten. It took 2 weeks for a negative LFT result and some more days until I my chest felt normal.
I don't think the infection was related to the long run, more probably the outbreak at work. At least I get paid sick leave.
This morning I decided I was fit enough to try a short run and headed to the woods. I took it very easy but was relieved not to experience any ill effects, save a lack of training.
Hopefully things will be fine tomorrow.

Incidentally, the only after effect of the Cuckoo Way is a single black toenail. 

Saturday, 11 June 2022

The Cuckoo Way

Today I walked/ran the length of the Chesterfield Canal from West Stockwith to Chesterfield. The night before I stopped at a hotel in Gainsborough and this morning took a taxi to the start so as not to add 7 miles to an already long journey. I was fortunate in having a dry summer's day which was not too hot. 

A schematic map of the canal from

This plan meant that I was 'self-supporting', either carrying what I wanted or nipping off to local shops for water and snacks. My rucsac was around 4.5kg in weight, including a change of clothes for last night and in case I had to overnight in Worksop. My overall pace was 09:18 min/km which I believe counts as a run as it's faster than a typical walking speed. Between 10 and 15 km I felt at my best and hit a heady 7 mins/km, around 50km I was strolling. 

The video/slideshow has an image taken each kilometre (roughly) of the route which gives a good impression of the scenery.

After previous experiences I made quite an effort to have sips of water/electrolyte but I was still dehydrated at times. I was able to buy or refill water bottles along the route and I estimate drinking over 3 litres. This time my problem was a lack of food. I'd failed to buy decent items for my early breakfast so set off on an empty stomach. That was fine for a few hours but after half way I found the items I was carrying/bought unappetising. I bought an onion bhaji & mango chutney sandwich from the Co-op and that really helped me along.

At the 50km mark I was disappointed with my lack of pace but notwithstanding the food issue, I was also saving a bit of energy for the last 20km. On my first 50km I had nothing left when I finished and clearly that wouldn't have been useful today. It was also quite demanding to be on my own. Although  I could set my own pace there was no-one else to try to keep up with, chat to, stay ahead of, or any of the other strategies that can encourage a bit of pace from a tired body.

Ultimately it was very satisfying, especially that the journey home on the train was trouble-free.

Take a look at Carl's video for a more in-depth report of the path.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Ongoing running recovery

I've now had a few months of doing one or two runs each week alongside commuting walks and a weekend hike. As usual I'm not getting any faster but 20km distance is becoming more comfortable. The downside is that I've not swum since Christmas.

In early summer I'm planning a long hike or informal ultra so need a strong base. The route is about 75km with little ascent so is theoretically possible as a slow run in 12 hours or 2 good days of walking. There's a decision to be made around packing as I must plan my pack sensibly if I'm running.

Currently my UltraAspire pack is at Alpkit for a repair. It's only a little defect but it made sense to take it in with a trouser repair.
I'm practicing with my Lowe 22 litre rucsac and have done a few slow runs successfully. Today the weight was 3.3kg but I really needed a few more things in it. I don't fancy a heavier bag.

Saturday, 22 January 2022

Gradual return

 Since November I've been returning to running. At first the usual circuit of the woods and then to the old haunts of Oxstones and Porter Clough. Today I combined these into a great 10 mile run, or perhaps more accurately a run-walk, through the Porter Valley and up to Oxstones. Just for good measure I came home via God's Spring  and Houndkirk Hill (Tor). The pace was modest but it was good to be out for a few hours in the sunshine.

Friday, 1 October 2021

Grasmere & Rydal Water

This morning I went with on a swim hike across Grasmere and Rydal Water in the English Lake District. Previously the weather had been wet which had lowered the water temperature (it was around 14°C) and raised the water levels distinctly. As a novice open water swimmer I didn't want to swim too much in a single leg and this route made sense to me.

We met by the main road and changed into wetsuits before a short walk to the southern side of Grasmere. After some briefing on the Ruckraft and the morning's schedule we started on acclimatisation. It's good physics that water in the wetsuit is ultimately warming but it's always a shock to let it in. Fairly soon we headed across the lake and after a few minutes breaststroke I got my face in and headed for the far side. The swim was briefer than I'd thought and soon we were unpacking shoes to walk to Rydal Water. Looking at the GPS track later the swim was under 300m, so yes, short.

In Grasmere

It's worth mentioning that the Ruckrafts are small inflatable 'U' shaped boats that support a rucsac within a large drybag. I'd expected that towing a hiking pack and shoes would be arduous but the effort seemed negligible. Moreover, the float was well behaved and only caught on my feet a few times and was readily moved 'downstream' to be out of the way. We were able to place the raft on our packs to walk to Rydal Water.

We walked a fair way along Rydal Water to reach calm water. Emma said that often the river is a safe and attractive entry to the lake but certainly not today. Walking was a good way to walk up after the first dip but the water beckoned again and we swam around two islands and back to a southern beach. Another 800m or so

Emma towing a Ruckraft in Rydal Water

Then we quickly (well as fast as one can with cooling digits) changed into hiking clothes and packed the deflated Ruckraft onto our packs. There was a brisk walk back to the car park via the 'corpse road' which gave excellent views of the valley and kept us away from traffic. I enjoyed the walks but would have like to have fitted in a third swim in the route. But perhaps better to leave wanting more, than wish to have done less?

The trip was a good opportunity for an otherwise solo swimmer to access the two lakes safely, and experience linking with a hike. Emma was clearly accustomed to the waters and used to managing guests so I'd recommend her company.


Friday, 17 September 2021

Longest swim for a while

Today's swim was a last minute-design of a pyramid with 5 slow, 1 fast, 4 slow, 1 fast and so on. It worked well with good-for-me 'fast' lengths of 2:14 min/100m and 2:10min/100m and an overall length above 1200m. I finished with some bilateral breathing sprints and managed 2:09min/100m as a best. The whole set was 1533m which is my longest swim for many, many months.