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West Highland Way Race 2020: 15 Weeks to Go

Sunday, March 8th, 2020



In February I gradually moved away from lots of short solo running during the week with two social 10-milers Saturday/Sunday.

This first week in March saw me settle into the routine I’ve fallen into the last 14 days, namely the following:

Tuesday evening: slow, muddy Braes run bagging the eight miles at a very low pace.

Wednesday morning: a pacier 10-mile run on harder trails and cyclepaths. Braes again (it goes without saying).

Wednesday evening: kids’ track (couple of miles).

Friday morning: my first WHW recce, a 14-miler out and back from the underpass in Milngavie to Beech Tree Inn. Drink in that WHW race folklore on “the race to Drymen” section.

Saturday morning: 12 miles at an easy pace on muddy trail “up the Braes”.

Sunday morning: another schloppy six miles at a slow pace, again, up the Braes.

This then leaves 2.5 days to recuperate before Tuesday comes round again.

All these runs were with mates, which was nice.

(Which Braes I hear you ask? Cathkin Braes, which is easily accessible from Linn Park, both of which I now know like the back of my hand.)

Scores on the doors: 52M, 4500-feet elevation, time on feet, 7h 40M.


Nothing to report here. Another holier-than-thou week followed by a treaty weekend. Definitely room for improvement, but a runner needs his calories.


On the one hand, good: no left Achilles pain, right knee (the potential WHR Race-stopper) got no worse and right ankle got better as the week went on.

On the other, I pushed it too hard (because we ran a really fun one-mile MTB trail seven miles in to Saturday’s run) the day after the 14-mile WHW recce and got left glute pain all day Saturday.

Sunday’s run was one of those shall-I-do-it-what-is-there-conceivably-to-gain-but-hell-why-not-it’s-probably-just-a-niggle affairs, but I was no worse at the end of it than when I started.

However, I’m sitting hear now and it’s throbbing, so the 20-per-cent mileage jump on last week’s efforts didn’t work. Hey ho. You live and (don’t, in fact “never”) learn.


I’ve been running for eight years and there’s a tendency to rose-tint halcyon periods of your running career, harking back to former glories.

This is natural. Everyone does it. And all decent runners can name times in their life when they were flying.

As one of those runners who prefers plying their trade with others than alone, these wonderful-back-then periods usually coincide with times when I’ve found a good bunch of people I enjoy spending time with. That’s important.

But equally important is finding people who challenge me, mentally or physically, who run at the same pace, enjoy running the same terrain, like going out at similar times, have in mind similar goals.

Yet I’ve found that you often don’t realise it at the time.

You often don’t appreciate the congruence of people’s time-of-life, personal circumstances and enthusiasm for the sport that lead to up-to-a-dozen people coalecsing, cohering and supporting each other.

You don’t realise it until life moves on, people drop away and it’s not quite what it used to be anymore.

I’m lucky at the moment, because I’ve found just such a bunch of men and women and this morning when I emerged from a mudslide to see the sun rising over the Braes one of my mates took this picture that captures what this period of my running life is all about.

Picture courtesy of Michael E-wing.

People talk about being present, living in the moment, but I’m usually so busy watching I don’t turn my ankle or tweak my knee while keeping up a continuous conversation with whatever friends I’m running with that during a run it’s often difficult to do this.

With time to reflect (while writing this post) I realise I’m in one of those halcyon periods right now.

Last thought for the week.

I really enjoyed my first WHW recce with Marc on Friday, and chatting with him made me realise there’s more than one way to skin an ultra cat.

I’ll not bother recceing the extra five miles from The Beech Tree to Drymen, and have done the Balmaha to Inversnaid section a few times with Neal.

So by end of day next Friday I’ll have recced as much of the Fling as I want to, apart from the bit between Inversnaid and Dario’s Post, which I will return to do because I’ve heard Inversnaid to the Drover’s is a drag and I need to know how bad it is.

Forewarned is forearmed.

In addition, I looked at the Harvey’s WHW map I got for Christmas, worked out where the checkpoints are, printed off the elevation profile and triangular distance chart.

All evidence that I’m allowing myself to think that my training is beginning to pick up. As is the length of this blog post (a one-off).

The Week Ahead

With the current glute pain, aside from kid’s track, I’m planning to rest until Friday.

On Friday, Ricky, John and I will be doing an out and back from the Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum to Dario’s Post, 1.5 miles south of Beinglas Farm.

At 27 miles, this is nine miles more than I’ve run since the Giffnock Christmas Crackir on 27 December, which brought on my right knee problem again. So a big test.

All being well, I’ll then take a day off and do a slow 12 miles up the Braes on Sunday to bring the mileage back down to 39 for the week.

Wish me luck.