Tag Archives: desert

Heating up for the desert….two weeks until MDS2017 (whoop whoop)

Finally, the temperatures this weekend have been soaring to about 18C out of the sea breeze, and there has been no rain! In fact it has felt positively Saharan, well almost, give or take about another 15-20degrees.

But, seriously, compared to last weekend it has been heaven to run in the sunshine and to have even needed to wear a bit of sunscreen!

My long runs this weekend and last weekend took on the same path from Rock along the beaches towards Daymer Bay, up onto the Greenaway cliffs, across Polzeath Beach and then heading out along the coastal path towards The Rumps, Pentire and along towards Port Quin.  It is the most beautiful run no matter what the weather.  However, along with the weather, each time I run this route it is always different.  Last week as I rounded the corner towards the Rumps, and decided to head out to the dip between the two Rumps to wave to Daddy, I saw a fire engine.  This is not the most anticipated of things to see as you come raround this particular headland.  Before I saw the fire engine,  I did come across this somewhat stubborn and immoveable obstacle:

Well, they are quite tame pregnant ladies, and after a friendly pat on the nose, I ran on and so encountered the fire engine. So it turned out that the fire engine, was part of a larger group which included the coast guard and special animal units of each, and the local farmer.  This excitement and activity was due to one of these silly cows who had fallen down the cliff into the sea.  


She had spent the whole night down on the rocks as rescue attempts were hampered overnight by high tides, and then to cap it all, the silly cow swam to a small island which they couldn’t get a boat to.  So all in all it was quite a mammoth rescue attempt, but she was eventually winched back to safety up on the cliff tops where she happily scampered off and munched on the luscious green grass.  But judging by the site that met me yesterday morning as I rounded the headland towards the Rumps it might not be the last time one of these pregnancy ladies flies too close to the wind.  They are either very stupid or the grass in certain areas is out of this world:


Still, I don’t blame her…the sun was shining, the gorse is blooming…

and the sea is glistening like diamonds…


Ah, the desert is beckoning. Endless sunshine, sand dunes, blue skies, and camels instead of cows! (must not think about blisters, wearing the same clothes for a week, carrying a rucksack, and living off freeze dried food)! 

So I have reached £1000 in fundraising for MSF so far which is utterly fantastic. I simply cannot believe how wonderfully generous everyone is being – you are all amazing, and I am so very very grateful. Every little bit of support will help to motivate me up and down each sand dune, jebel and across each plain.  Although, don’t think I haven’t picked up on the theme of comments you leave on your donations – “I’m insane” seems to be a recurring theme!!!!!

I’m beginning to concoct my desert playlist – I’m not a big fan of running to music, but it is essential I have discovered in the desert to have a backup of some music to pick up the old pace when all other motivations are failing.  Rag’n’Bone Man has become my running mojo this time, cos after all folks when the going gets tough “I’m only Human after all!”But any y other recommendations are welcome….

I will be emailing out soon the link via which you will be able to send me messages in the desert – of encouragement, abuse, mockery, motivation – any message will be greatly received and will definitely stop me falling down a cliff in a Cornish cow style!

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What’s a little run in the rain…bring on the desert please! MDS2017.

So last week’s training was in bright chilly springlike sunshine with a 19-20mile run from Greenaway to Port Isaac up and down the hills on the north Cornish coastal path, discovering that I don’t really like blueberry flavoured energy drinks:


With the sea turquoise blue in places reflecting the bright blue sky.  The wind would drop around some dips and bends in between cliffs and then would wip up into a frenzy.  I’m not normally one for putting on the winter layers when I run, but my ears were distinctly pleased to cover up!  And in the spring sunshine always just around the corner is a spectacular site like this:


…with no one in site.  And then around the next bend especially towards Port Isaac you hit the dreaded steps….

..and they seem to go on an on forever.  The odd cow always seems wryly amused or more likely completely disinterested as I “gallop” past, although I feel more like a tired pack horse rather than a nimble race horse.

Today however the weather was distinctly inclement and at times visibility was pretty low, and where last week the sun had dried out a lot of the mud it was a rather slip sliding affair.  Mud you might say is good training for the sand dunes as you slip in it just as much as on the loose fine dunes in the desert, but it is definitely more treacherous and the cows have a lot to answer for where they churn it up around styles and gates…


A bit wet on the run today – ears glad of buff covering again keeping out the very misty sea rain.

It’s always ironic whilst out on my long runs, you don’t see another person walking or running for miles, so I think I am safe to side step off the path, squat down and have a quick pee, but sod’s law, there is always someone coming just as I am pulling up my pants! The other ironic or more annoying occurrence is what happens when you do meet other people out on the path.  Last week, quite near towards the end of my run as I rounded the cliffs back towards Polzeath it is a lovely down hill section, but there is a sudden uphill section that is quite steep and involves a few steps.  Of course as I hit the end of the downhill section, I meet a family group with young teenagers, parents etc…who all comment “well done” and stand to the side as I go past.  I know they are watching me so I have to then continue running up the steps and forthcoming cliff path until I am out of sight! After 18 miles that is quite exhausting – but alas all we runners have our stupid pride!

Running across the sand towards Rock today at the end of my run, I have to confess the prospect of a Sunday roast in Blisland Pub with my mother and sister was a very warming and welcome thought!

Just over a month to the Sahara desert…simply can’t wait!  And the good news is that my wonderful local cobbler is going to rise to the challenge of securing my desert gaiters to my trainers, even if he did look somewhat bemused at my request!

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I am a machine….apparently!

So a morning’s training session with Jon, Mr Commando Active.  My 3rd session with him since I starte up training again in the last month, and I’m sure during the first one he said something along the lines of relatively easy sessions to ease back into it all as I approach Christmas….I’m not sure that today’s session was ‘relatively easy’…it certainly didn’t feel like it had been easy by the end.

My training sessions with Jon always begin quite relaxed, consisting of some limbering up, loosening up exercises (although he does insist on sneaking press-ups into the mix every week!).  Today after warm up I had to do five sets of pull ups interspersed with five sets of overhead weighted squats.  Now that might all sound pretty easy to anyone reading this, but pull ups have never ever in all my years of training come easily to me.  One pull up is normally my limit and then my arms are dead and I can never get the second one.  Well, Jon has a sly way of making me do at least 5.  I balance on a thick elastic band that gives me some sort of purchase, resistance to help me get into the momentum of the pull up.  On the first two I can just about get my head above the bar right up above me, and it takes quite a lot of gritting teeth and puffing to do it a further 3 times.  On sets 4 and 5 I did actually manage to hit 10 reps, but I think that Jon’s goading has something to do with that, especially as he knows how competitive I can be.  The overhead sqats are another matter, holding a 15kg weight I had to squat low holding the weight in front of my chest then push up to standing and raise the weight high up over my head – bleurgh.  15 times in each set…a couple of minutes rest and then back to the pull ups!  This is all meant to be making my upper body as strong as my legs – but my arms have always been weak and it never feels like they will improve – I certainly can never envisage doing a pull up more than once without an elastic band bouncing me up! But to be fair I did once say that about press ups, which I can now do several in a row without collapsing in a heap – I just protest loudly everytime I am made to do them.

That all seemed relatively easy when faced with Jon’s next activity for me.  The club where I train with Jon has in its vast facilities very long thick ropes.  Jon attached one of these at one end to a fairly heavy metal sledge like piece of equipment. I had to sit at the other end and pull the sled towards me, as fast as possible, then immediately push it back down to where I had pulled it from…from that I had to go to the next piece of rope which was looped round a pillar so that was holding both ends, which I had to bounce the ends to make big ripples down the lengths of the rope – sounds easy, well I assure you it isn’t, especially when your arms are beginning to feel tired.  I had to do this with alternate arms for 10 on each arm, and then 20 times with both arms together, with Jon demanding really big ripples when using both arms together.  After this I had to go straight to a table that is about 3ft high, and stand up onto it leading with the right leg for 10, and stepping down with the right leg….and repeat on the left leg for 10. And then breathe….  gasp for breath, gulp down water, mutter something derogatory to Jon about not planning on taking thick heavy ropes with me to the desert, or pulling a sledge in the sand (let alone round the London Marathon!) I had to do this not once, not twice or three times, but five times. However, the 4th & 5th times I had to do back to back without pausing for breath! And, very sneakily, when pushing the now extra weighted sled back to where I had pulled it from I suddenly felt it get tougher to push – this would be because as it was still trailing the long thick rope Jon thought it a good idea to hold onto it and add himself as extra resistance!!!  He’s kind and thoughtfu like that.

All in all it certainly didn’t feel like a relatively “easy” session.  But, I have to say that with the Atacama Crossing once again almost 10 months away, I sort of feel like I’m vaguely back on track or at least heading in the right direction, even if I’m not planning on lugging a sledge across the desert!  What felt good, was when another trainer smiled and said to me “you’re a machine”…I assume in fitness terms this is something akin to a compliment – Jon assures me that it is  🙂

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Running freely…

Having not been for a proper run for over 9 weeks, the first run starts to look like the biggest of hurdles.  Signing up to run the London Marathon looks tougher from where I am sitting than it did when I ran my first marathon in 2004.  Still, I saw my ‘desert’ trainer, Jon, last week for the first time… explaining to him my lack of motivation, my lack of running fitness and my constant feeling of sometimes overwhelming tiredness.  He gave me the best running advice I have ever had.  To not even think about properly training for the marathon (or desert) yet, but to simply start enjoying running again, to ditch the stopwatch/GPS/sportswatch and not worry about how far or how fast I am running as (hopefully) that will all come.

I have to confess that all intentions to then go for a run at the weekend went out the window, partly because I was jetlagged from night shifts, but also because my glutinous maximus muscles (my butt muscles) were really rather stiff from the “light” workout Jon put me through.

So today dawns – and hmmm, it is pouring with rain and wind.  Not really conducive to seducing me out for a run. But, at 2.45pm the rain stopped and I finally put on my sad looking trainers and stepped out.  I ran along Regent’s Canal and through Victoria Park, a minor pause as I lost my bearings in the park.  It is strange, as I haven’t run without my watch for about 10 years.  I’m used to avidly working out how fast I’ve run a mile, working out how long various distances are going to take me, monitoring my heart rate, monitoring my average pace.  It is quite surreal to leave the trappings of time behind and just run to be again, and it is also quite enjoyable, even if i did feel I was rather heavily plodding at one point. 50 minutes later I almost bounced up my steps feeling a bit lighter of heart and breathing easier, if a little stiff around the out of practice joints! Not sure exactly how far I have run… but you know what, who cares, I was out running, freely and that is all that matters…. 26 miles will be nothing! (personal snort of derision!!)

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