Red Wine Runner

A Scottish Running Blog

So What Happens Next?

When you set yourself a big goal, its not often that you give serious thought to what happens immediately after it. You might continually remind yourself of how good it will feel once you’ve achieved your goal when you’re fighting though the tough times on the way, but for me, most post-goal plans tend to be filed under “Stuff for Future Rhona to Sort Out”.

west highland way race 2015

 

My journey to the start, and ultimately the finish, of the West Highland Way Race was something which lasted the guts of 5 years, and in the latter stages, effectively took over my life. In the last weeks before the race, there was one statement which was constantly on my lips: “I can’t wait for this to be over so I can get my life back”. The West Highland Way Race for me was less of a race and more a lifestyle choice. For years, every mile I ran and every race I completed was fuel in the bank for the eventual 95 mile race, so starting out again with nothing in particular to focus my training on is a weird feeling. But do you know? I kind of like it…

I’ve been trying to encourage myself to think about what might be the next big thing on the horizon for me, especially as big races in 2016 are starting to open. I need to think about this now so I don’t miss out, but I also don’t want to push myself into making a rash decision. For now I know I definitely DON’T want to do the West Highland Way Race next year, so that’s a start, and I know I’d like to explore some ultras outside of Scotland.

 

The freedom that comes from not having your training tied to a specific event is liberating, but also dangerous. It’s a lot easier to kick yourself out of the door to do a run when you have a huge goal hanging over you, so I need to maintain some sense of discipline until I decide what the Next Big Thing will be. I’m enjoying not running when I don’t have to, but a side-effect of that is no longer eating anything I like without concern, and trousers which are a little tighter than they should be.

In terms of recovery from the West Highland Way Race, everything is going well. I took a full week of rest, before a week of yoga and one gentle run which felt good. I did a further week of yoga and one run, and by the end of it I was desperate to get back out and training properly, so I knew my resting was complete. I’m still segueing running carefully back into my life, but I also need to not over-do it as I have to keep myself in good shape for the Devil o’ the Highlands Footrace which is on the 1st of August. I have no injuries, but some things are still a bit tight when I run so I need to be sensible.

So What’s the Plan?

For a long time, especially in the last year, I have said no to non-essential races and then became green at the gills as photographs of my friends having fun popped up around the internet. I love to race; it’s my favourite thing about running and I’ve missed doing races just for the social outing, so for the rest of the year I’m going to have some fun and do races which I’ve missed out on before for various reasons. Hopefully somewhere along the way 2016’s plan will begin to take shape, but here’s what’s in the planner for the rest of 2015:

1st August – Devil of the Highlands Footrace – 42 miles

devil o the highlands footrace logo

This years’ edition of the Devil is the first under the direction of the legendary Johnny Fling, better known for his fantastic April ultra, the Hoka Highland Fling. I am excited to do this race for the first time, but it does feel a little odd to think that I’ll be back racing on the WHW so soon after the West Highland Way Race. The race starts in Tyndrum and continues onwards to Fort William – will I finally get a decent crossing of the Lairig Mhor?! Kynon is also running and we have decided to run it together and just take things easy and enjoy a day out in the hills. Neither of us are in the best shape currently, but we know we can finish.

22nd August – Speyside Way Ultramarathon – 36.5 miles

speyside way ultramarathon

I’ve wanted to do the Speyside Way Race for years, but it consistently clashes with my yearly attendance at Infest, an electronic music festival. This year the race is a little earlier which has given me the opportunity to try it out. It will be an extremely gentle run for me, as the next day I am signed up for…

23rd August – The Fare Challenge Half Marathon

Fare Challenge Half Marathon

Why on earth am I doing this back-to-back? Well, why the hell not. I wanted to do this new race last year, but it was also on the same weekend as Infest. Reports from last year indicate that the route is stunning but very tough and beautiful. My friend David challenged me to join him in a back-to-back effort, and I couldn’t say no. I’m looking forward to an endurance challenge that doesn’t involve running for 29 hours.

19th September – Crathes Half Marathon

Crathes Half Marathon

A little pre-marathon joglet around the grounds of Crathes Castle in support of the National Trust for Scotland. I’m looking forward to getting one of the lovely event T-shirts to replace the one I got three years ago which was chewed up by a dodgy washing machine in my old flat.

27th September – Berlin Marathon

BMW Berlin Marathon logo

Oh I am SO looking forward to this race. It’s a shame that I haven’t given it much attention on the blog due to the West Highland Way Race overshadowing…well, everything. But, I’m running the Berlin Marathon! So is Kynon! We were both lucky enough to get places in the ballot, and we are both going to go for broke at this one – it’s the fastest course in the world and hopefully we’ll be bringing our fastest legs with us. I am entertaining the idea that I might be able to get a Good For Age time for the London Marathon here (sub 3:45), but there is a risk that the heat will clobber me. Either way, fast or slow, it’s going to be a super fun, long weekend in one of my favourite cities.

25th October – Monymusk Hilly Half Marathon

I did this race last year and it’s a bit of a killer. The first 7 miles are uphill which is a real strength sapper, but it was a great little race with a good feed after. It’s also part of our Club Championships, which I will still be trying to get points for.

7th November – Glen Ogle 33 Ultramarathon

Glen Ogle 33 Ultra

I’ve been trying to do this race for years but it keeps clashing with things. Like many of the Scottish Ultras, the entry process has become somewhat of a frenetic bun-fight, so when it opened on the same night as the Brewdog AGM this year, I found myself drunkenly peering at my phone screen trying to enter over a sketchy wi-fi connection. I promptly continued on my bender and it wasn’t until I checked my emails on the Monday morning that I remember I had got myself an entry. Hurrah!

15th November – Fraserburgh Half Marathon

I think this will be my fourth visit to the Broch Half. It’s my PB course, so hopefully there will still be some life in my legs by the end of the year and I might be able to crack out a respectable time.

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I can’t put off planning 2016 for much longer, but there is an element to this which is totally out of my control. I will submit my MSc thesis at the end of September, and after that I’m not really sure where I’m going to be living or working in the months beyond that. At the moment there are a lot of options to consider outside of where I’m going to be running, so that’s another reason why I’m not making any big plans and will just enjoy taking part in some races that I’ve previously missed out on.

What have you got planned for the rest of the year?
Have you booked any races for 2016 yet?
Where should I race next year?! All suggestions welcome!

10 Comments

  1. I can’t believe it’s been a month already, it seems so strange!
    Looks like you’ve got lots of events planned in to get you motivated and are doing the right thing and not over cooking the recovery!
    I look forward to seeing you achieve your Triple Croen and adding to your great year!
    And as for 2016 plans….they come round way too quickly and there’s so many options out there!
    Good blog.
    Ax

  2. I also have the Devil, Fare Challenge and Crathes Half to do along with the Budapest Autumn Half. Good luck with the back to back races, couldn’t contemplate that! Fare Challenge was really tough last year, some fairly deep mud in places that was really energy draining, but I think they’ve been working on the underfoot conditions.

    • Ooh, Budapest! I’d love to do a race there! I visited for work a couple of years ago and it was a beautiful city. It was verrrry hot though, but that was in August.

  3. Spot on as always. Sometimes it’s great to just run, with no goal race hanging over you and taking over everything, but then it’s also good to have that clear goal to work towards. I’ve been in a similar situation as I enjoyed “just running” after my spring goal events, but now I need to start planning what next.
    Good luck for your remaining races this year. Maybe we’ll cross paths somewhere again one day.

    • Thanks Allison! I’m certainly in no rush to book something else, but I’m aware how quickly and how far in advance ‘big’ events are opened and closed! It’s really hard to plan when you don’t know where you’ll be living though, so i think i have a good excuse for now 🙂

  4. Looks like you’ve got some great races to finish out 2015, wow!
    If you’re looking for something well outside of Europe…might I suggest something in the Pacific Northwest in the US? If you’d like to see some amazing scenery, and have challenging courses, I’d recommend looking at the Rainshadow Running races: http://www.rainshadowrunning.com/
    I did their Sun Mountain 50 miler this year, and it had stunning views, with some solid elevation. Their Angels Staircase race is part of the Sky Runner Series USA, and is known to be challenging but gorgeous.
    Or if you’re looking for something generally in the States, https://ultrasignup.com/ is the place to look. Or if you REALLY want to go nuts, we have some 200 milers here too (In Washington, Arizona, California, or Colorado): http://www.grandslam200.com/
    I’m trying to decide my own 2016 goals, and in a perfect world I’d race something in Scotland or New Zealand (I’ll keep dreaming). Would you recommend the Highland Fling or Great Glen Ultra as an destination race?
    Good luck in your race search!

    • Thanks for commenting, Ana! Sorry for the slow reply – your comment went into my spam comment queue for some reason.
      These suggestions look great; I have definitely wanted to explore some US ultras for a long time – you guys have some stunning scenery in the Pacific NW. It’s a hell of a journey to get over there from Scotland though, so I think that would need to be part of a big holiday to make the travel worth it. We’ve just booked our ‘big’ holiday for 2016, and whilst it involves the Pacific, it’s not in the US!

      Of the two I would say the Highland Fling would be the better destination race and it would be easier to plan the rest of your travel around. Flying into Glasgow and getting to the start is so simple, and then you’d be able to move on from the finish in Tyndrum and explore the Highlands if that would be of interest. It’s a huge international race now, with utterly precision organisation. The scenery is postcard Scotland and it’s at a good time of year for avoiding midgies and poor weather. Check out my race reports on here for lots of pictures and more info. The Great Glen is another stunning race but very much on a small scale, so if you prefer a personal race experience where everyone will know your name by the end, then that’s the one for you! Travel might need a little more thought, but it’s not impossible. If you based yourself in Inverness, you can catch at shuttle bus to the start of the race, and then you run back. I also have a race report from last year on here if you want more details.
      Let me know if you choose one! They are both amazing experiences.

  5. So many good races up your way!! I was so tempted to give the Speyside a bash as well but figured that’s it’s probably too long a day and also quite close to my ‘give it all’ marathon’ as well. Maybe next year! Definitely up for giving your hilly half a bash though 🙂
    Looking forward to a catch up at the Devil!

    • Speyside is a bit of an arse to work the travel around, but I’m willing to give it a bash. For you it would be even more of a chew until you stay up there I guess.
      The Hilly Half was such a killer; I have no idea why I’m going back, but the cakes were great. If you want to stay at ours before or after the race, you’re welcome!

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