Category Archives: Training

UTMB Training No 55 – Recovery Sunday

After 8 plus hour baking on the sun in Saturday I had nice 10 hours long sleep. I was ready for some recovery slog.

Martin joined me for this one. It was yet another super hot day so we took it very easy – jog-walk up the road, then jog mixed with some walking on the exposed bits of Cecil’s. Then we walked up Mt. Parker Road to Quarry Gap. It was way too hot and did not have that much water with us so we turned around and jogged down to Quarry Bay and then on back home.

Nice and easy (but hot).

Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 54 – The last insane summer run – reverse HK Trail

I picked the whole HK Trail, solo, in the opposite direction as my last long summer run of this training season. This was to be more about the distance, time on the feet and mental power than the overall elevation gain. Although in the opposite direction Hong Kong trail goes from the sea level up the peak. The main reason I picked the opposite direction again was the tree cover and streams at the second half of the route. I also used my poles. HK Trail is not exactly trail one needs poles for but this was the last opportunity to train with poles.

I started much later than I planned – around 8:45am from Shek O. I jogged all the way to Big Way Bay simulating the flat road race start. The climb up was fine and once on the concrete path I was jogging again. I expected hot day out and slow pace as a result. But my intention was to run as much as possible on the runable sections. So I tried.

The contour trail towards Dragon’s Back was fine and so was Dragon’s Back except for a bit too crowded trail even in the early morning. I paused few times to enjoy the views.

The catchwater was not as bad as I expected. I was mixing jogging with walking trying preserve some energy for later on. It was getting really hot by now. There was no way I could push on the entire catchwater and survive the whole planned distance. So I ran most of the sections in the shadow and walked those exposed to the sun.

The heat was slowly getting to me so I was imagining the cold splash in the stream somewhere in the middle of the jungle path between Tai Tam Road and the reservoirs. I made the best of it when I got there, also put my Life Straw to use.

The cold splash helped and I was feeling quite well on the climb up towards Quarry Gap. The water pipe half way up helped again. I took a short break before Mt Butler climb cooling down properly again at the Quarry Gap restrooms.

I knew from the very beginning that the section 5 of HK Trail will be the critical one in this weather. Mt Butler went fine but the Jardine’s Lookout was really rough, same as few weeks ago. The heat was insane, no cloud cover at all. The only thing that kept me going was the vision of cold CocaCola in the supermarket on the other side of the hill… I was struggling but I was still faster than any of the hikers around so it was not all bad I supposed.

After the cold drinks and some food at Parkview I was ready for the second half. The exposed bits of Black’s Link were a bit tough but nowhere near as bad as the Jardine’s Lookout. My pace was slow but I made it to Wanchai Gap without too much trouble. Sections of the trail were bit scary with large chunks of trees still dangling down after the typhoon. But other than that it was now all about keeping the head down and placing one foot in front of another. The sun was getting lower so I did my best to jog all the sections that were not uphill.

The water pipe with 10km to was a great refreshment post before embarking on the short catchwater section and the final climb up to the Peak. I was feeling quite OK – the end was near and most of the route was now under canopy of trees.

Seeing the 007 trail marker was great – from there is only around 3 easy km to the end. I still paused at the playground for some water refill and jogged the rest of the way against the flow of sightseeing tourists.

Although I suffered big way on the Jardine’s Lookout I never really doubted I would complete this run. The route itself is not too difficult but the insane heat turned this into proper mental challenge – nice final bit of UTMB preparations.

Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 53 – Thursday Parker No 14

Second to last Thursday Parker run of this summer. It looked like I may enjoy rain on the way up. Instead all I had was high humidity thanks to disappearing into the cloud after the first kilometer up the hill.

It did not feel too hot though and running was quite easy all the way up to Quarry Gap. From there switched to fast walk mode. There was some typhoon debris earlier but the final 1.5 km to the radars were full of it – fallen trees (some already chopped up and cleared away from the road), fallen branches. It must have been pretty intense up there during the typhoon…

I made it to radar and added the usual dash to the second radar too. Then I jogged down to Quarry Gap and walked up Mt Butler. I felt quite OK so on the final part of the ascent I pushed a bit harder. After taking few photos of lovely large golden orb spider I ran back down the steps and to Quarry Bay.

This was a really enjoyable Thursday morning work out.

Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 52 – Tuesday road

The typhoon has passed and so the weather did not disturb my training plan. It was a bit cooler than the last 2 weeks but much more humid.

I noticed it right from the beginning. The legs felt much heavier than on the hotter but drier days. I had to run slower. The road conditions were fine on the first climb but on Tin Hau Temple Road it turned into obstacle course. The post typhoon debris was everywhere. I usually run full power down the road here. This time had to be a bit slower and careful to avoid all the fallen tree branches.

I settled into what on a day felt like fast pace (but significantly slower than the past 2 weeks). At one spot on Bowen Road the path was completely blocked by fallen tree – I had to climb over it. After that the road was mostly clear for the rest of run. Other than the heavy legs at the start and slower pace due to high humidity and messy surface it was a overall a good run.

Link to Strava here

UTMB Training No 50 – Epic Lantau adventure

This was always going to be a crazy. Lloyd is moving away from Hong Kong and this was his farewell run through his Lantau playground.

We did not really know the route, all we knew was it is going to epic.

At the end we spent the whole day on the slopes of Lantau Peak going up and down and up and down on some seriously hard core routes. Shiggy steep approach from Tung Chung side, Dog Tooth down (insane), then another Dog Tooth up all combined with brutal heat under direct sunshine with no cloud cover at all.

It was almost all technical vertical, took us over 6 hours to cover little over 12km.

I was feeling OK and strong on the return climb up the Dog Tooth. But I knew that I would not be able to handle that exposure to direct sun for much longer. And with no access to any streams I decided to play it safe. Once we made it to the Lantau trail just below the top of Lantau Peak I decided to take the direct route down to Ngong Ping. At that time I still thought that the rest will stick with the original plan going on to Tai O. My plan was to cool down at Ngong Ping and go on to Tai O on less exposed route and meet the rest of the group there.

However the sun got the better of everybody. The rest of the guys continued according to the original plan and took the Heaven’s Gate route down from Lantau Peak but then they decided to call it a day at Ngong Ping too.

After the lunch we all jogged down to Tung Chung.

This was rather short outing for Saturday training but what it was lacking in distance it had in the difficulty. And the overall awesomeness :-) .

Links to Strava here (part 1) and here (part 2)

UTMB Training No 49 – Thursday Parker No 13

I stuffed my jersey pockets with 3×0.5l bottles of water and VFUEL for this run to make sure I don’t have to cut it short because of water shortage.

I tried to run as far as possible in the morning heat before switching to fast hike mode. I made it to the big pipe at about 2.2km up the hill. There I cooled down with water over my head and pushed on walking up the rest of the climb.

I made the quick dash up and down to the next radar too. Before running back down to Quarry Bay if went up Mt Butler too, enjoyed the great views for a while and then rushed back down the hill to Quarry Bay.

Link to Strava here

UTMB Training No. 48 – Tuesday road again

After the great music powered run I had last Tuesday I went for it again this time. I mixed the Frantic Metallica music with some Number of the Beast from Iron Maiden and went on.

Weather was a bit more humid than week ago but still surprisingly bearable. I decided to try to go in similar pace like a week ago. I pushed up the hill and made it to the end of the 1K climb even faster than last week. I continued in strong pace for the next few km. I was OK but after about 4km I started to feel that I am struggling a bit in that higher humidity on the longish uphill section.

I had to slow down a bit to recover. On Bowen I pushed again running happy. I could not recover all the time lost while running slowly but at the end I finished only about a minute later than on the same run last week. Good times continued …

Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 47 – Sunday recovery (in the heat again)

I really felt my legs this morning after the Tai Mo Shan thing yesterday. It was not easy at all to get out of the bed and run. The good thing was I had more sleep, the bad thing was that when I finally made it out of the house the sun was blazing full power again …

I did more less the same thing as last Sunday. Easy jog up the road towards Cecil’s. Then hike up the steps to the trail and run … I did run part of the steps though too. There was a boar or few in the bushes and the noise was suggesting it (or they) may be getting closer to the trail. I did not feel like I want our paths to cross so I injected some pace to my tired legs :-) .

After this it was uneventful run. I jogged easily all the way towards the Mt Parker Road with only one or two short walking sections (slightly uphill trail or too exposed on the sun). Of course I also paused at the water pipe to cool my head down.

Then I easy walked up to the radar at top of Mt Parker. Uphill workout was not the plan so I just walked without pushing. All I wanted was to enjoy that long and easy downhill jog from the radar to Quarry Bay.

Hot Sunday morning but very enjoyable recovery jog/hike.

Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 46 – Back to Mac 7-8-8-7, back to heat

Only 3 Saturdays left for the long summer runs before I leave for Europe. I decided to do my most likely final visit to the Tai Mo Shan before the UTMB. TR joined me this one – the first time I was to have a company on my favourite hilly training route. And I was really glad because it was going to be a really hot one with zero chances of any rain or storm (unlike my previous two runs here this summer).

I knew in favourable (meaning cool) conditions I can manage this route in about 5 1/2 hours but today the only goal was to get it done no matter what the pace. The sky was blue with only few fluffy clouds here and there, sun was shining, there was almost no breeze and the temperatures were hovering in the 33-35C range. The only positive was the rather low relative humidity for this season (around 70%, that is low for summer in Hong Kong). But training in the heat has great benefits apparently so we should be grateful for the conditions the summer here offers us.

We started from Shing Mun minibus terminus towards the dam and Needle Hill. We took it easy, no point pushing, the day was going to be long. We saw one unidentified dead snake and soon after a very tiny baby of redneck keelback (TR moved it away from the road). Other than that just the usual Shing Mun monkeys.

We pushed reasonably hard up the Needle Hill but we did not really bother to run on the flat or downhill bots of this hill. Today was all about heat management and energy preservation for later on. Still we made it up to the top reasonably quickly without exhausting ourselves too much on the very first climb of the day. Then we jogged down the steps and started the Grassy Hill slog.

We maintained decent fast hiking pace on the uphill sections and did our best to jog all the flats and downhills. The tree cover helped a lot. Before running down to Leadmine Pass we decided to make the small detour off the MacLehose Trail and go to the top of the Grassy Hill that is just a bit to the right. Then just quick run down to Leadmine Pass and proper cooling down with the water from the taps before heading up Tai Mo Shan.

It was not my fastest climb up Tai Mo Shan but it was a good workout in that heat. There was one cloud above us. It covered the sun for a minute here and there but for most the time we were fully exposed to the blazing sun. I could feel the heat but our slower pace combined with our carry on tap water for head showers worked well. Not far before we reached the hut Marie, Baptiste and few others out there on a race recce passed us. On final road bit John caught up with us too. We chatted together until the top of Tai Mo Shan. This final few hundred meters of the Tai Mo Shan climb we enjoyed the only cool conditions of the day. Large grey cloud was above and around us for maybe 10 mins. At the top John ahead running down the hill – for him it was the last bit. For us it was the last bit of the first half of our outing. TR was beginning to feel the heat so we jogged easy hoping we would reach the nice cold water pipe half way don the hill soon. Just before that pipe we met also Vic on his way up. It looked like everybody was on Tai Mo Shan today …

We spent few minutes at the pipe pouring liters of cold spring water over our heads. Once sufficiently cooled down we continued our run down to the kiosk at the end of Mac 8.

Water refill, some Coke, cup of noodles, frozen pineapple (as recommended by Marie) and after about 15 mins we were on our way back where we came from.

The road climb back up Tai Mo Shan went well. No real issues, the only short break was again at the water pipe. We tried to run most of the runable parts of the downhill. I pulled a bit away from TR towards the end. Not that had any desire to run too fast in that heat. I just listened to my legs and picked the pace that was just about the most comfortable for my quads and calves. We regrouped again at Leadmine Pass. The climb up to Grassy Hill was not exactly walk in the park but it was OK. The first two thirds were under the trees. The last third is exposed but we managed it fine.

We ran most of the section towards Needle Hill together. I pulled away a bit on the downhills and then enjoyed slower climb up. We were much faster on this return leg but the Needle Hill was still ahead. And the only water we could cool down with was whatever we had left from Leadmine Pass.

I planned to climb non stop up to get it done quickly and then jog the ridge and downhill as quickly as possible to escape that blazing sun. This plan did not really work.

On the rather short but steep climb I had to pause twice to pour the precious water over my head. Once over the top and on the ridge I tried to jog but I just could not. The heat finally caught up with me. I saw TR not that far behind. I hiked down expecting him to catch up with me soon. At the end I struggled my way down Shing Mun on my own. Clearly we were both struggling on this last hill. Eventually I made it down to the dam. I crossed the dam and waited in the shadow for a while to see TR. But I really needed a cold drink and cold head shower so I went ahead towards the BBQ area with vending machines and tap water. Few mins later TR joined me there too. This was our final cool down and drink break. Once ready we set off for the final 1 1/2 km towards the minibus stop to complete our 36km long slog in the heat.

Link to Strava here.

UPDATE: Becasue of the relatively slow pace it did not feel like hard work out for the legs. But the way the legs felt on Sunday morning confirmed that this was a good one.