Anna’s Month in Running – July ’23
July = summer running in vests and shorts and topping up that runner’s tan, right? Not in the UK. Wow. The weather this month has been woeful!
My month started off with a pretty incredible trip to the Italian Alps. Next month I’ll be running the UTMB ETC race in Courmayeur. It’s 15 kilometres with 1200m of elevation. So a pretty punchy number. As part of the build-up to that race, HOKA took a group of runners over to the town to recce the route ahead of the race. We went out with a local guide and completed the whole thing at a really relaxed pace. It was a really great confidence boost for some of the runners there, for whom this was the first experience of mountain running and being at altitude. The town itself is at 1,224 metres above sea level, so when you add over 1,000 metres of climbing in, you’re up to above 2,000m above sea level.
We climbed up to a place called Tirecome Damon and then along to Suche Damon, before starting the very runnable descent back down to Courmayeur. The vibes across to the Mont Blanc Massif were absolutely stunning and the alpine trails were beautiful. I absolutely can’t wait to head back out there in August.
The following weekend I went to the Centurion Wendover Woods Weekender. I gave a talk on Saturday evening to some of the runners, while the 100-mile and 50-mile event were going on and then went back on Sunday to run the 10-mile event. It’s such a beautiful part of the UK and very, very hilly, with over 600m of elevation in the loop we did, so another great training run. It was a real confidence boost that showed me that my consistent running training and gym work for my goal race is paying off, as the hills didn’t feel nearly as bad as I thought they would.
The following week, I was invited by The Running Channel to take part in some filming at the legendary Iffley Road running track in Oxford. We’ve filmed there a couple of times before, including trying to run a lap of the track at World Record 10k pace and doing a (non-alcoholic) beer mile. The day had similar vibes to last time, but this year we took on the World Record 5k pace for 400 metres (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the video, for an average runner like me, it’s IMPOSSIBLE!) and then, quite possibly, the most disgusting challenge I’ve ever done in my time with The Running Channel: a pizza mile. So a massive pizza, cut into 4 slices. You eat a slice, then run a lap of the track. Repeat four times. Wow. It was so hard! By the end I thought I was going to be sick. Enjoy watching that one!
This month was also pretty memorable as I was given a gift by The Running Channel in the form of a new, shiny Garmin Fenix 7. This watch is going to be so great for both my training for my 100km race later this year and for the race itself. I’m obsessed with all of the extra data it’s giving me, especially hill strength and endurance. It even gives you a rolling four-week elevation gain, which, right now, is sitting pretty at 5,486 metres. Can you tell I’ve been practising my hill work?
A big chunk of that elevation came from a trip to Yorkshire to have a bash at covering the Yorkshire 3 Peaks. It’s a 25-ish mile route that takes in Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough and has a total elevation gain of more than 1,500 metres, with each of the peaks sitting close to 700 metres. For many people, this is a walking or hiking route and, if you complete it in under 12 hours, you can have your name added to a list of people who’ve completed it, as well as apply for a certificate! I was in the very capable hands of my good friend, Alllie Bailey, for this run, as she knows the route like the back of her hand and has a lot more experience of being in the mountains than I do, which was needed on the day we picked.
If you’re in the UK, you might have noticed that the weather has been less than ‘Summer-y’ in July, and the day we did the Three Peaks was no different. We set off a little later than we probably would have liked to, because up to about 9am the weather was wet, overcast and very windy. The better weather was due to come in from lunchtime, so we waited to get going. Even so, the first climb up Pen-Y-Ghent comes very early into the route and within about half an hour of starting I was clinging to the side of the hill, looking up at Allie in some pretty mean gusts of winds and foggy conditions, asking if we were ok to carry on. We both had our full hill kit with us in our running packs, including full waterproofs, bivvy bag, snacks and first aid kits, so we were prepared in case anything bad happened.
Once the weather improved the run got much better. There’s quite a way on the flat (ish) to Whernside and then Ingleborough comes quite soon after to finish it off. We did the whole thing in around eight hours and it was an excellent long run for my training block, as it’s really similar to the type of terrain and elevation I’ll face on the 7 Valleys Ultra at the end of September.
As I write this, I’m about to head off to the Lake District for a long weekend. No, it’s not a holiday, it’s a training weekend of getting up in the hills and also doing some recces of the 7 Valleys Ultra route. The race is self-navigated and the bits I want to tick off will be the ones I will end up doing in the dark, come race day. Keep your eyes on The Running Channel’s YouTube channel, as there’ll be a video of what I get up to coming your way soon!
I hope your month of running has been awesome and I’ll catch you next month with some more updates!