Sunday, September 27, 2009

Into the Wild

My race up Mangerton Mountain 6 weeks ago whetted my appetite for more off-road running. After all, I do live in an area of outstanding beauty, and there are quite a few places worth exploring that don’t even require the use of a car. On the other hand I’m basically always in training for a marathon and I have my doubts how much those mountain treks would boost my running stamina. But since I am transitioning between recovery and training right now, I thought it would be a good morning for a trip up Rossbeigh mountain.

Since I expected some nice views, I took my camera with me. I ran a slightly scenic way towards Glenbeigh and took a shot of the Caragh River shortly before it enters the sea. Sadly our camera is crap and couldn’t really deal with the low lighting conditions (it was about 7:30 am at the time).

Passing through Glenbeigh I could see the target straight ahead of me. Just before the 5-mile mark I reached a picnic area that marked the end of the road and the beginning of the trail section. From here on it was steep uphill, first on a runnable trail, but soon on a section that went straight up the mountain. To my surprise I met a female runner coming down the mountain at that stretch. I really had not expected to see another human soul here.

I reached the tree line and was rewarded with some awesome sights. The trail disappeared completely and I was reduced to finding my way straight through the fern and later the heather. Eventually I decided to get to the fence that went all the way up to the top of the mountain, and found some sort of trail here. I even managed to run a few sections.

The view from the top was breathtaking, and the photos don’t do it justice in any way. I had great views of the Dingle peninsula, where I’d had 3 hours of fun 2 weeks ago, and where I will have twice the fun next year.

I also saw a cairn and wondered if it was the (ruined) Neolithic monument called Laghtshee (‘fairy monument’) I had read about, but when I checked the map afterwards it was at the wrong place. Of course there is always the chance that the map was wrong, but I don’t know.

Then it was time to turn homewards again, and the trail looked a lot steeper than on the way up, but the camera could not capture that. Once I was back at the picnic area I took a slightly more straightforward route because I was getting anxious to get home again, though the 4 minutes I saved that way weren’t exactly significant. The trip took 1:52 for 11+ miles (10-minute pace) in its entirety, and the running part on it’s own was 9.25 miles at 7:33 pace. It was fun, but I really don’t think those mountains are doing anything for me as far as road marathoning is concerned. But if I'd find a way to add them to my usual training rather than replacing it, I’d be more than happy.

I was still in the spirit, so I did another off-road run today, but a runnable one for a change. I followed the Kerry Way at the side of Seefin Mountain, scaring a few sheep in the process, and ran home on the road beside Caragh Lake. For some reason I decided to pretty much hammer the road portion and did the last 5 miles at 7:05 pace. It felt great to spin the legs at a faster rate for once, though. I always reach that point a few weeks after a marathon. I take it as a sign that I’m ready to do some actual training again, and this time it’s just in time for Dublin.
25 Sep
6.1 miles, 47.34, 7:47 pace, HR 146
26 Sep
11+ miles, 1:52:34, 10:07 pace, HR 146
or: 9.25 miles, 1:09:48, 7:33 pace, HR 151 (road only)
27 Sep
12+ miles, 1:30:48, 7:31 pace, HR 155

Weekly Mileage: 57+


  1. Percy Cerutty rekoned that if a young healthy man could not break 3 hours for the marathon he should go out on long walking treks into the mountains for many hours before they started a serious running training programe!
    If you listen to the new pod cast on Lydiard you will hear that Japenese runners start out with long treks in the mountains.
    I spend a lot of time running in the hills or off road, everyone of my marathons in the last ten years has been under 3 hours!
    Running off road is fun! And I think it will only help you get better at running fast, it will improve knee lift and ball of the foot running and make your legs stonger!

  2. p.s. that route through the woods looks wonderful!

  3. Nice pics and good to get off the pavement for a bit. I'm partial to the Olympus Stylus SW series cameras if you ever decide to upgrade your running camera. Best of luck in your 2 weeks of training for Dublin!

  4. Awesome pictures! Beautiful countryside for sure. I know if I lived there I would not be spending much time on the roads. I do 60 - 70% of my running on trails.

  5. Beautiful! Loved to see some of your area, thanks for sharing.

  6. nice, rugged countryside.. would be great to run there someday

  7. Now that’s proper running, I love it. Keep it up and I’ll have to send you a honorary West Coast Running Singlet.

  8. Beautiful country! The single track trail looks most inviting.

    You should do more of that - I don't think it'll harm your marathoning at all, and might give you that extra something to crack the 3 hours. Good way to get the HR up and build some leg strength and endurance. Only negative is not as many miles covered in the time, but who cares about that ;)

    Jonathan Wyatt was good on hills, and a pretty handy marathoner too. Deek used to run some monster hills during his Stromlo long run.

  9. Great pics, thanks Thomas. I'm inspired to look out for more opportunities to get off-road and back to nature.

  10. Do you ever get tired of Rick from Rick's Running giving you nothing but condescending comments?

  11. Anonymous: No.

    I don't see them as condescending.

    Discussion closed.

  12. Looks like a nice run. Slowly but surely you'll be turned into an offroad runner once the hills and the beauty of it all gets under your skin.

  13. We done in Dingle. Sounds like a tough one. Just incase you are interested the Irish hill running site is . The season is almost over for this year. I would really really recommend doing the Carrauntoohil race, at least once. On a clear day I cant image a more spectacular location in Ireland for a run. Some photos from this years event can be found here .

  14. Lovely photos Thomas, I agree with Ewan even though you might not cover the same mileage offroad running can be pretty spectacular. I also find the recovery from trail running is alot easier than road running. Its also good training should you decide to enter Jungfrau in the near future..thats one you have to do. awesome scenery and so well organised

  15. You're putting me to shame with your weekly mileage when you're supposed to be taking it relatively easy and I should be at peak mileage.

    I agree that a bit of mountain running is good for building up strength and great for a change of scenery.

  16. aah! the seeds have been planted! we'll convert you to trail ultras soon enough.

    beautiful pictures, thomas! glad you enjoyed your off-road trip!