Anna’s Month in Running – April ’23
For me, April signalled the ‘proper’ start of my running year. While I have been running in the first three months of 2023, I had been focussing on shorter runs and enjoying parkuns and social runs, rather than doing any particularly structured training. After Running Home For Christmas at the end of 2022, I gave myself a bit of a break, before getting stuck into my next challenge.
I’m signed up to take part in the 100km 7 Valleys Ultra in the Lake District at the end of September 2023. It’s part of the 13 Valleys Ultra races, which do what they say in the name; take in several of the valleys (and peaks) of the Lake District. Keep reading for more on that one! But the training for that really does start now.
I kicked off April spending the long Easter weekend in mid-Wales with my family. My older sister likes running too, so it was great to be able to visit one of the local parkruns, Newtown parkrun, and run with her there.
PICTURED ABOVE: Finishing Newtown parkrun
We even had a chat on the way round about what races she wants to aim for this year and settled that I’d run Worcester Half Marathon with her in September. We’ve run a couple of half marathons together before, so I’m really looking forward to finishing another one with her.
We also went out on a Sunday run together which was an out and back along the lane where we were staying in Beguildy. It was very hilly in the area, and Jayne’s not a great fan of hills, so I picked a ‘flat’ out and back route – which turned out to be 3km almost all uphill, followed by 3km of mostly downhill. I probably should have checked the elevation plot before heading out!
My schedule this month has lent itself nicely to going out for a run with my dog, Ralph, every Tuesday. We’ve been to Bradgate Park near Leicester and Pitsford Water near Northampton this month. They’re both places where dogs have to stay on a lead, so it’s perfect for the pair of us. They’re some of my favourtie runs of the month because I love running with Ralph and because I can just go out for an hour with no worries about pace. They’re just one hour easy runs, often with a bit of stop-starting while Ralph goes to the loo or has a little sniff. I’m actually quite sad that we’ll have to hang up his harness soon until Autumn, as the weather starts to get warmer (maybe, but who knows in the UK?!)
I spent the penultimate weekend of this month in the Lake District at a training weekend that was put on by the team at 13 Valleys Ultra. A group of us stayed in the Patterdale Youth Hostel for two nights and during the day we got to grips with everything we would need to know for the race.
PICTURED RIGHT: Me and Ralph at Old John’s Tower in Bradgate Park, Leicestershire
This race will be a whole new challenge for me because it’s not waymarked. There will be no flags, markers or arrows to point me on my way. It is completely self-navigated. You can have the GPX route loaded on your watch to follow, but I know that my watch battery won’t last the amount of time it will take me to complete to route, so I can’t be reliant on it. It was a really great chance to finally learn how to read maps and use a compass properly. Several trail running races that I’ve done before have had a compass on the mandatory kit, which I have always taken with me and slung at the bottom of my running pack, because I either haven’t had a map for the event or, in truth, because I haven’t really known how to use it.
The training was delivered by the team at Nav 4 Adventure, who are super skilled in this, spending most of their time out in the hills.They were so patient and so helpful and now I really feel empowered to be able to go out and navigate for myself, which really is a vital skill if you’re into trail running and taking on challenges that are out of your comfort zone.
The race includes more than 3,800 metres of elevation, so I know I need to really focus on hill training, strength work and getting out on the actual terrain. We went out on the Sunday of the training weekend to cover 10 miles of the route. We had to cut into the route from Kirkstone Pass, which then meant a very long and steep climb up, before a lovely open runnable section along High Street, the summit of which is the highest point in the national park.
I bagged myself 4 Wainwrights on the run, which was very satisfying. If you’re not sure what ‘Wainwright bagging’ is, it’s basically climbing certain peaks in the Lake District. In Scotland, they’re called Munroes and in the Peak District, they’re Birketts! There are 214 and, at the time of writing this, John Kelly holds the record for running up all of them in a time of 5 days, 12 hours, 14 minutes and 42 seconds, which he did in May 2022. He beat Sabrina Verjee’s previous time of 5 days 23 hours and 49 minutes.
I’m rounding off my month of running with a 30 mile jaunt along the Calderdale Way in Yorkshire. The race also has a 50 mile option, but 30’s more than enough for me at the moment! I’m not looking to race this at all. I’ll be using it as a chance to spend some good quality time on the hills of Yorkshire, test kit and practice my new-found map reading skills.