Jack on hill running in Scotland

Jack, the other half of a running couple, calls hill running a big focal point in his life. He is not only running himself but also likes to keep track of racing results around the world. Running helps him to let off of steam. The only downside: being exposed to the Scottish weather – especially in the long, wet and cold winter nights.

How does your training routine look like?

The running club I’m in train on a Tuesday and a Thursday. I generally attend these sessions more regularly during the winter and spring when I’m not racing mid-week. These sessions are usually centred on speed work so include lots of hill repetitions, interval running and sometimes even sessions on the track. The rest of the time I’ll be just running for the joy of it but as this usually involves hills it’s also pretty good training as well.

During the summer there is a series of races called the ‘bog and burn’ races which run every Wednesday across the central belt of Scotland, so I tend to make the club training less and train more on my own. Training will also vary depending on what I’m training for as well. For example, last year I was training to do more ultra distance races, so training involved lots more long runs at the weekend. This year I’m doing shorter hill races so focus has been on hills and speed.

Favourite route for hill running?

It’s not the biggest hill around but a hill called Dumyat at the back of Stirling University is definitely one of my favourite hills to run up. It has various routes from longer, less steep climbs to short steep technical climbs. It’s also very accessible from Stirling so I don’t have to travel far to get some good terrain to run on.

How did you get into sport and your specific routine?

I got into running more so when I moved to Scotland 6 years ago. At first when I lived in Edinburgh this was largely road running. But as my fitness improved I started running off road more in the hills that surround Edinburgh. I didn’t start to properly get into hill running until I moved to Stirling about 3 years ago however, when I joined the Ochil Hill Running club, which my wife Karin and I are now members of. This is when I started training more regularly with the club and training more on the hills which is much more enjoyable than road running!

For how long have you been doing sports and how regular are you doing sports?

I’ve only been running for about 5-6 years consistently, but I’ve done a range of sports my whole life. When I was younger I used to play squash competitively, as well as cricket and basketball. When I went to university however I did sports less as my social life took over a bit. To be honest, I definitely regret not doing more sports during that period!

I run usually about 3-4 times a week. Whenever I run more than this. I tend to start getting little injuries. So I’ve learned that my training is all about quality rather than quantity. I’ve also learned to try and do more sports for cross training. So just recently I’ve started climbing and playing basketball again with a group from work.

Why are you doing sports?

My main motivations for hill running are to get out into nature and away from people! There is nothing better than spending time away from urban areas out in the hills. By running rather than walking you get to see more in less time. It’s also my form of stress release, I find that getting out running relieves stress in a much healthier way than say having a beer … although I still drink beer, I just earn it by running.

My main motivations for hill running are to get out into nature and away from people! 

How do you stay motivated to keep going with you training and not give up?

As it’s my main source of stress release the motivation comes from getting out and blowing off steam, so it’s a large part of preserving my sanity. We’ve also got some great places to run near where I live so that’s motivation in itself. Although, it is often hard to find the motivation to get out during the Scottish winter when the nights are long, wet and cold.

Thoughts before, during and after a training?

Before – If it’s wet and cold, do I have to do this? If it’s not, let’s do this!

During – I tend to find the mind wonders when I’m running so I could be thinking about anything

After – Thoughts are generally centred on getting food and water as soon as possible.

How does sport influence your daily life?

As well as participating in hill running I also like to follow it as well. It’s a very niche sport but there are a lot of races all over the world so I like to keep track of results and read about it. So it definitely is a big focus in my life. I’m also staggered by some of the things that the elite athletes can do, as well as everyday people that can do staggering things while having families and stressful jobs.

Would you say you are competitive: when it comes to sport? In general?

Haha, I would say I’m not that competitive. But if you ask Karin that about me she would disagree. So yeah – I am competitive when it comes to sport but I’d say I’m a fairly good loser.

Is there anything positive or negative you would like to share?

Positives – Fitness, mental well being, fun!

Negatives –Cold and wet weather in Scotland.

What was your most memorable moment?

In terms of racing I’ve ran some big personal bests in races this year so I’ll probably say whenever I better a previous result. But that’s not my main motivation. The best memories come from big training days in the hills. I’ve had a couple of interesting ones such as running up two local Mountains in November last year when I didn’t see anyone all day apart from some deer stalkers (hunters) that gave me a huge fright because they were camouflaged. Conditions were quite wintery that day too so it made for an interesting day out.

If you weren’t into sports what would you be doing instead?

I would probably be a lot unhealthier and be out drinking and socialising a lot more on the weekends.

In five key words: What are the best things about your training you want to share with the readers?

Hills, Stress Relief, Nature, Solitary.

Your favourite motivational quote?

The main running shoe company for hill running (inov-8) put this quote inside every shoe box which I quite like:

“Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated”


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