- Backpacks & Waist Packs
There is nothing better than a change of scenery to freshen up your running schedule and this is especially true when it involves time away in the Cairngorms National Park where I was fortunate enough to find myself last week. Staying in Aviemore with my wife and her family, we were blessed with the kind of weather that you cannot even guarantee mid-summer in the Cairngorms and, looking at the Cairngorm Mountain web cams this week, it would appear that we timed our stay to perfection, leaving just as the weather turned and the snow arrived! It beggars belief that the same mountain we all sat atop of last week for a lunchtime picnic now has a good dusting of snow.
For anyone who has yet to sample the Cairngorms, I strongly recommend a visit. There are miles and miles of trails, from low level forest routes through to mountain routes and, of course, these all provide great opportunities when it comes to training. I was determined to make the most of my time there and to focus especially on hill work which will be a factor in my as yet to be revealed ‘greater goal’ for 2012.
I set the alarm to wake me at 6 a.m. on that first morning there so that I could get out and make the most of the running opportunities before then heading back to participate in whatever walks and/or bike rides the family had planned. Thankfully I had the foresight to take a head torch with me as it was sorely needed in the chilly darkness of the morning. One thing in particular that I have noted since my return is just how difficult it is to get up at 6 a.m. when you are heading to work and not out on the trails!
At the south end of the main street next to the entrance to the youth hostel, there is a path which takes you underneath the A9 road at the back of Aviemore and on to the Craigellachie National Nature Reserve. There are a number of different walk/run options but I headed for the top at approx 496m/1627ft. The route up is steep and on occasion technical. However, the punishment of running up is well rewarded with an excellent view over Aviemore itself towards the Cairngorms, and, in the other direction, of the various mountains, lochs and lochans of the Reserve.
Craigellachie National Nature Reserve
Sunrise Over The Cairngorms
Once at the top, there is the opportunity to venture further though I did find that the pathways petered out and I was left running in the kind of mud and bog that tries to rip the trainers from your feet.
For every up, there is generally a down, and the return down in to Aviemore was a fast paced affair. At times I found myself having to reign in my speed for fear of tripping and ending up crashing down the pathway, such was the steepness of the route.
Repeatedly running this route was excellent training but brutal at the same time and, by the end of the week, my quads in particular were longing for a rest. However, this was not to be. A friend with whom I ran most of the 55 miles of the Cateran Trail Ultra was in town for the Aviemore Half Marathon on the Sunday. We agreed to meet for a slow few miles on Saturday evening but it ended up as a fast paced 8 mile out and back route that took us along the excellent Rothiemurchus pathway and in to the forests.
My legs on the Sunday were glad to be heading for home instead of running the half marathon but despite this, I feel like I could have picked up a half marathon PB. With my continued weight loss my speed seems to be coming on no end and, as such, 10ks and Half Marathons are once again starting to appeal to me, especially now that they may hold PB potential.
I can’t wait to return once again to the Cairngorms. Given half a chance I would be out running, walking and biking the trails from dawn till dusk! However, if the weather continues as it has been this week, then there is a lot more chance that the next visit there will involve skiing!
@TheJerichoRoads congratulations, sounds like a very successful weekends running :o)
1st trip for Harris to Loch an Eilein to finish off our long weekend. Finally time to head home. Back soon :o) http://t.co/RM8fBkDJha
@BoatofGartenGC spot on with the weather forecast. What a cracking day once the mist lifted. Can't wait for our next Cairngorm holiday :o)