Wow, where has this year gone already?! Up here in the Hebrides, we're slowly seeing more sunshine and the evenings are getting longer, the daffodils and primroses have made an appearance and there are spring lambs bouncing around the fields. It's a good time to be in Scotland!
It's also a good time to be training for my next race; originally I had planned to run/walk/crawl the 53 mile Hoka Highland Fling, an ultra-marathon along the West Highland Way taking place on 30th April. Sadly a recurring shin injury has raised its ugly head once again and I had to withdraw from the Fling. Instead of moping though, I decided to make use of the fitness I'd gained during the early part of my training, and downgrade my ambitions. A local half marathon is on the same day and heads from Beasdale along the 'Road to the Isles' to Mallaig, the fishing port where I get the boat to my home island of Eigg. From all the reports I've read, it's a small but very friendly race with beautiful scenery and a LOT of hills!
I gathered a small team of islanders together and we've all signed up for the half marathon and planned a celebratory camping trip to Skye afterwards. We've been meeting two or three times a week for runs and we're gradually exploring more and more of the island. Some runs are taking place on the road (we only have one road on the island), and others are on tracks through the forest, farm tracks, sheep tracks and on a couple of occasions, no tracks at all! Last Sunday's long run involved a very steep, very painful lung and leg busting climb up onto the cliffs above Cleadale, and a beautiful run along the top of the cliffs, before losing the path and clambering through heather and bog, climbing over barbed wire fences (ripping my favourite 2XU tights in the process) and generally going off piste before finding our way back to the road!
It's been a great couple of months training. I've remembered how much fun it is to run trails with other people and I've loved the weather that has been thrown at us. We've run in rain, hail, snow, sunshine, and we even had one beautiful early morning (6.30am – urgh) in the fog with the sun just breaking through as we ascended the cliffs. Amazing.
I'm having to limit my runs to two a week, occasionally three if my shin is feeling good. Between runs I'm doing a lot of strength work, using barbells, and concentrating on compound exercises such as a squats and deadlifts. I've also started regular yoga workouts, and I'm stretching every moment I can.
I doubt my half marathon time will set the world on fire but I'm just hoping to complete it uninjured, and having enjoyed the route, before heading to the Isle of Skye for a well-earned couple of days camping and exploring.