Stir Crazy in Swinley

Inov8 MudClaw 330

My new once a week running schedule is just not sufficient to keep me sane. By Sunday I’m absolutely climbing the walls.

I’m still off work, with college/study/mahjong-playing leave and have been going stir crazy. All week I’ve been promising myself a weekend treat splashing around the muddy trails of Swinley Forest and I bought some swanky inov8 mudclaws for the occassion – check out those treads.

Swinley Forest is my old haunt from the Broadmoor days and I love running around there. After last weeks Hebden Bridge trip I’ve been eager for mud, hills and bouncy forest trail – there’s nowhere better.

Swinley Forest

It was a bit cold and wet today but those are the perfect conditions for an autumnal forest run. The leaves were lush and the going was soft to squishy.

The shoes held up very well but then the soles would give a tractor tyre a run for its money. – solid grip. I slipped only once, while trying to leap a 4ft puddle by way of a slimey tree stump. Anyone with half a brain would have known that was going to end in tears but my oxygen starved brain has a tendency to want to see me in an emotional and painful heap. I escaped with only minor groin strain and some very cold feet.

Caesar's Camp

I was heading to the lure of Caesar’s Camp. I love running around that hilltop fort, it was inhabited over 2000 years ago and it feels powerful. You can run around a thin trail, hugging the edge of the hill, and every time I’ve been there it’s been delightfully solitary.

Things have changed a bit with the seasons and the place seems to have been invaded by tiny xmas trees.

It seemed to be getting dark under the tree cover by 2:30 so I headed back a little earlier than planned. I was diving in and out of the woods following any trail that seemed passable and many that weren’t. I found an exciting mountain bike trail that proved almost as much fun on foot which is just as well as I’m about to flog the mountain bike to fund my lavish lifestyle and expensive tastes in running shoes.

Barnes from the Bridge

Arrived back at the car park only to realise that I couldn’t remember the colour of the hire car and hadn’t a clue what the number plate was.

Of course I made it home eventually and was rewarded with this view of Barnes as I crossed the bridge.

I think a river run is called for next week.

Pancake Flat

I’ve been playing around with google earth trying to get some snazzy topographic viewpoints but even after I’ve discovered the button to exagerate the vertical displacement even my hilliest of routes look flat.

Here is an example of my assorted Broadmoor routes, where my max ascent must top a whopping 35 metres!

Broadmoor Topography

I then stumbled across a blog that explained my problem – my routes actually are as flat as a pancake. Check out the elevation profile for the run Krissy is currently contending with – is that crazy or what??? How can you run up a 3000m ascent and then continue going for 50 miles? Nuts!

Talking of nuts, has anyone caught the new advert for snickers, with B.A. Baracas? Coooool.

MTB Champ?

The Look Out

My time at Broadmoor is rapidly running to an end and I need to exploit this fantastic area before it’s out of my life, forever. With this in mind, Jason drove out today and met me at the Look Out for a blast around Swinley Forest on the mountain bikes.

This is part of our route in the dedicated mtb zone. The fact that the area was labelled Expert Zone should have been all the indication I needed to steer well clear! But did I?

Nope, I skidded and screamed and generally bounced my way down tracks completely out of my league. I actually recall Jae tempting me over a particularly unappealing section known as the “drop off” – thank god for disc brakes. On another descent I remember trying to work out what the trade in value for my swanky mountain bike would be in a swanky road bike shop, then I clonked my head into a low hanging tree and reminded myself to “Pay Attention!”.

Sand Cut

I’ve started a new training program that I’ll probably talk about later, but todays session was designed to be fairly tough going, a hills routine maximising my heart rate in zones 4 & 5. I think all my zone 5 entries were fear induced all the photos show a terrified grimace on my face.

Check out that heart rate profile, isn’t mountain biking crazy – a true interval sport. In contrast my running charts are so much steadier, showing a gradual increase from near exhaustion to the death zone.

Look Out HR

The elevation is obviously a bit more extreme than my usual running route as well but then it isn’t called mountain biking for nothing.

Swinley Forest is a fantastic spot for mountain biking, it has stunt areas, technical downhill, fast berms and plenty of singletrack and can almost be considered local to London (providing you have a car).

Look Out Elevation

The Beast is Back

My super little heart broken garmin has been returned. In fact the nice people at garmin have given me a brand new forerunner 305 as the original clearly had a terminal cardiac issue. Good warranty service, yay for Garmin!

So I’m now having to sneak through Broadmoor security with two heart rate monitors, a strange foot pad thingy and a gps unit. Great fun trying to explain why I need such weird gadgetry every morning. I’m a little embarassed to be seen out on the trails with a running computer on each wrist but its the only way to get a fair comparison between the two.

Broadmoor Caesars Camp

Fantastic evening again, what a joy to be out running.

I had a slight variation on the route this evening. I was trying for a slow pace (which I achieved admirably as usual) with the intention of keeping the heart rate low. Given the heart bursting quality of the hills in this area though, I struggled with this feature of my training.

The little clover leaf shape in the route was Caesar’s Camp, an ironage hilltop fort in the middle of the forest. How cool is that? I was running along a foot wide track on the edge of the camp with a superb view over the woods. Just a complete joy!

Caesars Camp

Break Out

Broadmoor tracks

Two weeks of working within a high security setting is starting to take its toll – talk about claustrophobic!

I wasn’t sure if I could face another run this evening but after I made it through the fourth airlock to freedom, I just wanted to break free.

I didn’t want to tie myself to the usual Broadmoor Hospital perimeter run so my intention was to find 4 or 5 km of interest in the surrounding woods. I made a couple of duff choices, trogging up hills that ended in impenetrable hedges, and prime singletrack littered with hurdles

Broadmoor hurdles

and other hardcore obstacles.

Broadmoor assault course

Devils Highway

I backtracked a bit and found myself on a wonderfully undulating path that was heading to a place called “Look Out”. This sounded temptingly scenic and I was just loving the roller coaster route so I just sucked up each km.

This was really the most enjoyable run in ages, it was slow and hilly but what a cool place to run. It looks like absolutely prime mountain biking territory as well so I may have to shove the Stumpmeister (thanks for the name Celeste) into the boot of the car next week.

After I reached the top of this track I came across this sign post – check out my options!

Sign post

I might have started heading towards “Look Out” but it ceased to be the most interesting option when I realised I’d just conquered “Devil’s Highway” and I could choose between “Ladies Mile” and “Pudding Hill”. I opted for the ladies route and did in fact come across two of the species before turning round and hoping I could find my way back to the secure zone.

Total for the evening was a pleasurable 7.7 km in and around Swinley Woods. This week has already broken all my records for running and I still have BPTT tomorrow and a possible jaunt on Sunday.

Broadmoor Hospital Perimeter Run

I started at Broadmoor this week so there has been a sudden slump in my exercise levels. No more cycle commuting for a month which loses me 110 km of road riding straight off and it’s not all that practical to include a running commute to the mix either.

Still, I have reached some sort of agreement with the security guards – if I let them ramsack my kit bag after its been through the xray scanner, and then pull out the enell contraption (which btw looks cool under xray cos of the myriad of hooks) and then hoot with derision at the technical running gadgets I’ve stashed away – I get to prepare myself for a run around the perimeter every evening before I drive home again.

The hospital is in a really beautiful location, and I feel completely buzzed up everytime I arrive. On wednesday night I opted for the simple perimeter run, keeping the compound walls on my right meant I didn’t need to worry about getting lost. It was a tough run because of the hills but was only 2.8 km in total. Last night I got a bit more adventurous and headed into the woods for an extended perimeter run.

Broadmoor 5km


This one finished out at 5 km but as you can see from the mapmyrun satellite image there are probably an infinite number of route possibilities with all the tracks zigzagging through the woods. I could get lost for quite sometime.

I’m intrigued by the circular track in the top lefthand corner. When the garmin comes back from the doctors I’ll take it for a run around there – looks like I may be able to map the Anarchy symbol in my next run.

Running Commute No 8

Grief it was cold today and windy, but I shouldn’t complain – it seems the wind was in my favour for most of the route and that never normally happens. I felt really strong at the end, my hip was hurting but I had stacks of puff left and finished with my fastest time so far for the commute:

10km in 1:17:22 which is an av pace of 7:43 mins/km
My heart rate av/max was 155/166bpm

I was ticking along listening to a new podcast I’ve found, it’s called Get Your Geek On and is put together by two blogging triathletes Iron Will and Tri-Geek Kahuna. I’ve got a huge backlog of episodes to get through and it should keep me good for the next years worth of running commutes. Mind you I’ve just heard that I’m going to be shipped off to Broadmoor for a month or so which will play havoc with commuting plans – too far for cycling never mind running. It will be cool to get a gps running route around the perimeter though if I can sneak my gadgets past the security check.

It’s The Great Escape run this Sunday in Hyde Park, from the confirmation emails sent out it looks like me and OGB will be in a pack of about six other runners!