The Blog

Paddy Buckley Winter Round. Training Week 2 of 4.

Paddy Buckley Winter Round. Training Week 2 of 4. 2

Being tough is overrated.

Proven by our friends Igor and Bob.

Let’s take the toughest guy in the world right now; Igor, a Siberian woodsman who lives in a cabin in a forest. He has a forest of thick black hairs on his back. His muscles look like coiled snakes from all the chopping. He does a bit of bare knuckle fighting for spare cash.

Then let’s take Bob. An Actuarian from Surrey. Tall and skinny, but slightly puffy round the edges.

Saturday night, Igor is in the barn, skinning a bear that he has just hunted.

Meanwhile, Bob is partial to a takeaway curry every Saturday night, then sofa, cup of tea, and Match Of The Day.

While Igor is out in the snow being the toughest, meanest, baddest guy on the planet, Bob is working from his central heated home. He walks to the bakery some mornings for a fresh croissant.

The only running Igor has done these past 10 months is in the form of short, sharp sprints. While Bob has followed the Runner’s World Intermediate Training Plan for 5 days a week, and a Zoom pilates class on Fridays.

Let’s place these guys next to each other on the start line of the Richmond Marathon. Bob wins. It’s not even close. All Igor’s toughness will get him precisely nowhere against specific, consistent, sensible training.

The point is this; being tough is not going to get me round the Paddy Buckley. Being smart is.

Humans aren’t at the top of the food chain because we’re the toughest. Cuddly, white sheep sleep out in the rain every night. There is probably a robin redbreast fighting to the death in my back garden right now.

Our intelligence is what sets us apart. The human brain costs us a lot of calories, so I need to make the most of it. How do I break this challenge down into something achievable? How do I stack the odds in my favour?

The first problem for me is the dark. I know I will have to complete the majority of this challenge in darkness, on the mountains. I don’t want it to come as some big surprise.

I’m afraid of the dark, so how can I make it as unscary as possible?

I need a tangent on it, to creep up on it. I buy in my favourite breakfast, Quakers Golden Syrup Porridge pot (not the sachet) and I tell myself, get up on Sunday morning at 4am and you can have that pot.

I hate being alone in the dark. So, Saturday night, I download songs onto a playlist that specifically remind me of my family and Nina. Songs I would never usually listen to. And so when that song comes on in the dark, the idea is I can think about that person, imagine them running next to me.

My favorite thing in the world is Belgian Buns. So I send Nina out on Saturday to buy some fresh ones. So that when I’m in the mountains in the dark, I can look forward to getting home quickly and celebrating with my family and the buns, in the warm.

If this sounds whimpy and wussy to you then that’s just fine. Maybe I’m a big whimpy wuss. But it was still my body that got it done on Sunday morning. I would love to say that it was easier than I expected. That all these things I put in place worked like a charm. But it was still pretty hard.

I start my run in the woods. I realise that even more scary than being alone, in the dark, on a mountain, is being alone, in the dark, in the woods. I’m a notoriously slow starter when I run. I will often start my runs at 10min miling. Not this time. Slam the car door and straight into 5.30 miling, absolutely shitting myself. Every chainsaw murderer and Blair Witch is right on my tail. I turn my music off so I can at least hear them all chasing me. But then all I hear is the howling wind and my heart thumping. F##k that.

The further I go, the deeper into the woods I get. The trees are thicker and bigger and nearer, making it easier for the hordes of orcs to ambush me.

After 2 miles, I’m so relieved to finally get out of the woods, but this morning is like a relay race of problems. The trees were sheltering me from the heavy rain and wind, which is now smacking me straight in the face.

Also, this area of the round is ridiculously messy. Rocks jutting out. Overgrown gorse and reeds. Bogs. There is no real path. It is impossible to run fluidly. Navigation is also really hard on the first summit as the hill is hardly a hill, you can’t just follow the elevation.

I get lost and stuck after gaining the first summit, Yr Gryn. I can’t see the wall that I need to handrail to get to the next path. I’ve lost my bearings. I get my phone out. Soaking wet gloves, rain, touchscreen, pin code, terrible combination.

I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I need to stop panicking and trust myself. I find the wall.

I am in complete darkness and rain. I’ve chosen this route because it’s very unlikely I will fall off any ridges. But the ground is perfect ankle breaker terrain. I have to concentrate extremely hard.

I see a light. It is 5.30am. There is nothing but me and mountains. But I see a light. Right in the direction I am headed. It’s not moving. What the hell is it? Stupid question. It is obviously an Axe-murderer just waiting for me to come right towards him.

I weigh up my options. Am I going to turn back now and tell Nina that I chickened out of the whole thing because I saw a light? I keep going. The light goes out. Brilliant. Now the axe murderer can see me but I can’t see him.

I turn the music up in my ears to full blast. Elvis Costello. My mum’s favourite. It is playing while we are sitting round our old family table in Beckwith Road. My mum is at the head of table. It’s warm and loud and everyone is having a great time, arguing.

I get to the top of the next summit, having gone slightly wrong again. Somehow avoided Axe-murder. I try not to use my phone as my fingers are frozen and it’s painful to stop for any length of time. I’m soaked through and the wind is howling. I’m slipping all over the place. I’ve still got a long way to go and I’m feeling pretty miserable. I reach to get a Double Decker Duo, which I ordered from Nina while she was at the shops. I find out it is just a regular Double Decker, cut in half, with a hand written label stuck on it. The rain has smudged it, I squint through the hail and with the faded light of my head torch, I have the note right to my face, and it reads; ‘Duo’.

That makes me laugh. Cheeky b###h.

The infamous heave up Hebog becomes the most glorious hill of all time. I thrash myself up it to get my body temperature back up. It’s a good thing too cos the wind at the top is strong.

When dawn breaks fully, my fears slip away with the darkness. I realise all my problems are over, this is another standard day out in the hills. I reach the final summit as the sun cracks through the clouds. I have a great run back to the car and drive home to be informed they didn’t have Belgian Buns after all, but here are some lemon drizzle ring donuts and what’s the difference anyway.

They will do just fine.

Paddy Buckley Winter Round. Training Week 2 of 4. 3

Coming off final summit Bryn Banog. The next peak of the round, Cnicht, can be seen on the left

Little GoPro vid of recce on Sunday, around Hebog

Video of recce on Thursday, around Carneddau

7tm @ 7min miling

Watch NFL on treadmill

7 x 800m @ sub 5min miling.  7 miles total

Happy with it. Great to be back with squad!

fartlek with kids squad at Menai Track & Field. Running in muddy fields without trail shoes is hard! Great training though, might have to forget them again next time

12 mountain + 3 road

5 summits of the Carneddau. Part of Paddy Buckley round. Feel great on road after

Road and tm feeling smoove

5 x mile @5min pace (1min rest) tm.
6 road = 12 total

feel good on tm, feel even better on the road. Switched on.

9 mountain + 3 road

Up at 4am for recce on Hebog. 5 summits. Wet and windy

Total miles:

tm = treadmill

Share this Article
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Russell Bentley
Russell Bentley
Track runner. Trained in Kenya, Won the Snowdonia Marathon 2018, PB Berlin Marathon 2:20:20

Was this post helpful?

Need inspiration?

Do you need motivation and wisdom from those ahead in the game? Subscribe here and receive inspiration in your inbox.