Firstly, a huge hello to you all; this is a new experience for me, and I am delighted to be an Ambassador for George Fisher. I hope I do you all proud as I share my running adventures and training. What you need to know is that I am just an ordinary girl (well, a middle aged one) who just happens to adore the outdoors and when I am not at work as a GP or with my family, I will be outside in all weathers keeping my mind and body happy and healthy.
January arrived hard and fast with winter miles and some of the best snow adventures yet, but also with some of the most miserable, wet and freezing miles you can experience. I tell myself it all counts, and you need to take the good miles with the not-so-good - getting outside is great for your mind and body.
I love new year, for me it brings new races and the anticipation of training for them. As well as the ultra races I have planned, I have also managed to secure a place in the Salomon Ring of Steall Sky Race in September. This will be a new experience for me, with the race covering 29km and 2,500m of ascent. I am delighted to be taking part; although I have run further (the Great Glen Way race was 73 miles), this will be a new experience as I will be climbing high and covering some scrambling sections. Training will involve keeping my miles up with a steady mix of long runs, hill adventures, short speed sessions and hill reps. I won’t lie, the last two are not my favourite, but I understand they are beneficial to my running in general.
My happiest miles are either exploring the hills or longer trail runs where I am out for hours. I live close to the Arrochar Alps which is a fantastic training ground, and I go as often as I can to get my climbing miles in. Attitude and discipline are everything; having that belief in yourself that you can do this is vital.
Juggling time is a big part of achieving the miles and I need to be disciplined so that I make the best use of free time around my family and my work.
This tends to involve very early starts on days off so that I am back home to enjoy time with my family. The benefits outweigh that small voice in your head saying you can’t. Get outside and learn to be free again and also don’t be too hard on yourself if some days it just doesn’t fall into place, you have a difficult run, and your legs feel like they are weighted down.
My first ultra this year will be the John Muir Way in March. This is 31 miles and a new race for me. I will be running with my friend Marina, who I met last October as she and her partner were taking part in our local ultra in Dunoon. I was in charge of the first checkpoint and even though I was dressed as a pirate (it’s a must to dress up and cheer runners on) she was not fazed and we became good friends. Next is the Highland Fling in April, slightly longer at 53 miles, starting in Milngavie and finishing in Tyndrum - running up a red carpet. It is an emotional race finish and I go every year to support friends, but this year I will have the opportunity to race and it will be really special.
Getting out in the hills is so important to me and over the winter I have enjoyed some terrific weather with snow lying on the hills. Running in the snow is harder but also great fun - at times I am the only person at the top, standing at a trig point on a snow-covered hill, thinking I am so lucky to be up here. The climb is always worth it, and although it can be hard you learn to push on and you will get to the top. Kit is also important; you need to be prepared for every eventuality. I am used to carrying full waterproofs, extra clothes, food and first aid. I like to eat little and often, and now know what food I can eat over a long run to keep my strength up. Cheese and chocolate are the secret.
For me, running is for enjoyment. Yes, there are moments when I wonder why I am doing this, but I really love it. Age is not a barrier; as I will be turning 49 this year and I only took running up just before I was 40. It has brought so many fantastic experiences, adventures and most of all people into my life. I would never have met so many fellow enthusiasts any other way and I really feel very privileged to have made such great friends through the very simple act of running. Life is for living; I’m sure there will be good and bad runs ahead but if it all goes to plan then the winter miles will bring summer smiles!