DIARY: 1942 Sunny Vertical Metres

Blog entries are coming thick and fast after my interval walkthrough, Keswick overview, and PUMA review, I felt like a diary entry, and I’m still working on that club-by-club analysis for the Leinster League!

With the hill running season looming and my season due to start at Howth (if I recover from the National 10k, if not it’ll start at Ticknock), it was time to get some more hill specific workout into the legs so my body didn’t get a complete rude awakening and this weekend was perfect for it.
Sure, I’ve done a bit of hill specific workouts and quite a few hill runs over the last 17 weeks, including, of course, the Annacurra and Little Sliabh Bui race, but they are still a long way of the experience you get in the Leinster League (or should I say “the shock you get”).

With the 10k looming next week, I don’t want to tire my legs with excessive up and downhill, so the week ahead has been cleared of such runs, leaving just Friday, Saturday and Sunday to get some comprehensive work done.

Stage 1: Hill Reps
I wanted to get these out of the way: My last hill rep session before the season. Due to the number of races I’ll do over the Summer, I won’t do hill reps as well. Racing hard on the hills and then doing a hill session is overkill for me at this stage, so this was it, the last one...

I’d been dreading this session for a long time: 44 minutes of uphill reps, which panned out as 1x400m and 13x280m up with equal recoveries downhill. That’s a lot of reps for me, and I picked a nasty gradient of 14% at the Devil’s Glen to work with.

It was tough, but I completed most reps in around the 2 minutes and did a good 6k of hill work as warmup and cooldown. 14.1km and 774m of climb banked as well as a healthy dose of relief...

Stage 2: Normal Hill Run
What’s”normal” you ask. Well for me it’s everything that doesn’t last too much more than an hour.

The weather had turned from good to glorious, so I had a look at my maps and decided to go to Oldbridge and check out the new loop that is being build in the forest just South-West of Roundwood. This loop wasn’t yet fully build, so I turned back after a few kilometres and followed the tarmac back up the Wicklow Way eventually leading me up over Ballinafunshoge.

A nice mixture of fire trail, grassy fields, and foresty paths greeted me and I turned back before reaching Lough Tay and took a more Westerly path on the outside of Ballinafunshoge. This path was more natural than the others and offered a fabulous view: I could see the rim of Lough Dan and Lough Tay simultaneously and the hulking masses of Kanturk and Luggala next to each watery scope.

The run down was nice and fast; especially the soft grassy bits and I met few walkers making for a quiet experience disturbed only by a pack of, 20 so, red deer. 13.5km and 465m climb banked.

Stage 3: Long Hill Run
Another morning was spent pouring over maps as I tried to decide where to go. Eventually, I headed down the hill and up to the starting point of the Circle of Glenmacnass race just North of Laragh on the Wicklow Way.

From here I headed out on the Circuit, counter-clockwise, following the Wicklow Way over Paddock Hill, until departing onto the trail leading over the tops of Scarr. Not surprisingly the views were again stunning with the Glenmacnass Waterfall breaking below me and all of Tonelagee exposed for a rare moment.

Luckily for me I would not joust with that mountain today, instead I took a detour down Scarr and followed a worn path to Kanturk, one of the stops on the Wicklow Round, and an area I hadn’t explored before. I considered going further out to Brown Mountain, the last outlier of the little mountain range surrounding Scarr, but fell in a bog hole to my hip and decided that was a good place to turn around.

I devoured the one Accelerade gel I had brought with me with the tiny bottle of water stored in my bum bag. If anyone saw a white flare light up the hill side, you don’t have to go to the nearest church; it was simply me finding my t-shirt too warm to wear!

Coming down I crawled into the river nearby and while the wash was welcome the weather stung like icicles! In any case, another 16.4km and 703m climb booked!


Making for a good weekend’s work of 44km (27.3 miles) and 1942m (6371 ft) of ascent. I also broke 90km for the first time for a training week despite the heavy hill work. Only four hard weeks remain (and only three REALLY hard). This I keep telling myself: 4 more weeks, 4 more weeks, and then the fun and games can begin in earnest, the reward for 18 weeks of training...

In this note, I asked Matt Fitzgerald, author of “Brain Training for Runners” if he had any advice for seasonal runners rather than “1 peak race” runners. He had some interesting things to say, and I’ll talk about that in an upcoming article.