Pen Y Fan Training

Well, its been 3 weekends since I ventured up Pen Y Fan for the first time and promised that I needed to come back and start raising my game. So it was with some level of trepidation as I stood lacing up my boots, checking my Bergen and water looking at the now infamous red telephone box at the storey arms outdoor centre.

red telephone

The weather was significantly better than the last time, no snow or ice this time but  it was time to go for an 8 mile session from the storey arms up Corn Du, across to Pen Y Fan, and down the beacons way, then do the same thing in reverse.

As usual the first part of the climb was intense, legs burning and the additional weight in the Bergen challenging the neck and back muscles, but with the iPod in I settled into a steady rhythm. The climb is a real burner and something I need to get sorted and shorten the time to complete. This time the view to Corn Du was more visible and certainly a little more imposing. By the time I got to the base my lungs were hurting, my heart rate was 5 beats off my max and the legs feeling like jelly. Still only another 6 miles to go.

Up and over Corn Du onto Pen Y Fan and it was clear there was an exercise on adding a little to the mental reality that this was going to be tough again. The views were breath-taking as usual, literally. As quick stop at the top of the fan and it was time to run down to the left of Corn Du down the Beacon Way.

corn du to pen y fanarmy trainingview from pen y fan

For the first time on the training I felt good, passing two Soldiers on the way down who got balled out by their Sergeant for letting a civilian pass them, must have been recruits. About 50 yards further on my boot caught a stone and I stumbled then fell, luckily completing a perfect break fall and straight onto my feet without missing a beat. There was no way I was going to look a complete prat in front of the military guys. My ankle hurt and my knee hurt like hell, then I felt a warm trickle on my right knee, getting more and more wet. My heart stopped for a second and I thought here we go, training over. I put my hand down to my knee and it came up really sticky, not a good sign… I looked and breathed a sigh of relief as I realised that I had only gone and burst one of my energy gel packs on the rock during my fall, the rest of the run was going to be a little uncomfortable when that dried to the skin but other than some pain in the knee I was fine and took a warped sense of pleasure as I continued running down to the bottom the hill and prepared to turn around and do the whole thing again.

back to storey arms

The run back was uneventful albeit probably the hardest thing I have done to date. The run from Pen Y Fan over Corn Du and then onto Storey arms in nearly impossible to run. The steep decent and the Rocky path makes the feeling under foot very unstable and you think you’ll turn your ankle over any time. One last climb back up the hill once the stream has been traversed on I crest the final ascent and back down the phone box.

Tired and achy I was pleased with my time of 21:38 per mile. Just about on 5 hour pace for the challenge coming at the end of July. Target is 5h30 or better for the 24km and if I can get up the fan every other weekend until then I may have a fighting chance.

I’m sure the legs and back will feel it tomorrow, but all in all a good day 🙂

Pen Y Fan – Training Oh My God

Well its the 2nd of April and I’ve ventured up to have a look at Pen Y Fan for the first time. All I can say is that looks are deceiving. After arriving at the Storey arms and seeing the red telephone box I knew I was at the right place. I headed straight up towards Y Gyrn on the track. Its steep but certainly worth a gentle run up to see what the legs are made of.



The stone track makes for uneven ground, not easy to keep a simple paFeet you have to watch every step for foot placement to avoid turning over your ankle. So far so good though. OK, those who have been here know I’m only around 500m into the start, BUT I feel good as James Brown once sung. At this stage I’m thinking “I’m up for this, it’s not too bad”. I continue up the hill and down the other side,  cross the stream, through the gate and up towards Corn Du. The views are just starting to pan out, snow up high, grass down low, sun in the blue sky and a bit of wind hope pep things fresh.

Doesn’t look to bad so far, although the snow is more like solid ice under foot. After a bit of tabbing it’s time for a Run,TAB,Run,TAB approach as a good friend advised me over the weekend.

My heart is pumping now, time for a walk. My calves burn, lungs burn and the wind has picked up; it must be around 30-40 mph but the sun is keeping spirits high. Can’t be that bad can it?. I’ve been training for the Para’10 challenges for the last 6 months, but despite seeing the ridge line of Corn Du for a while it I finally get the the bottom of it.


You have got to be kidding !. Whilst the Para’10 challenges are bloody hard work in part due to the time and speed of the run, my legs haven’t done anything like this type of incline hill work for years. I look up and think, “right ya B*@!&%D” bring it on. The snow is no longer snow but layers and layers of melted and refrozen ice. Too hard for crampons and too slippery for any form of quick push, so gently does it. I’ll have to remember to order that pair of “Yak Trax” when I get home if I have a hope of completing this course three times as a Winter edition of the Fan Dance.  I head on up, and up and up and finally crest the top of Corn Du with the view of Pen Y Fan.

I have to say it is one of THE best views I have had for a long long time and vow to come back at least once per month to start the pressure training of the legs and lungs.

thank god


I will complete the summer edition of the Fan Dance Race event within the time to get access to the winter edition. After doing this training session today I really want it.

I have to say though, I take my hat of to those competitors who have done it already, the snow and ice bring a completely new challenge to the TAB, so much harder and the cold ( If the wind is there on the day) is bitter.

No Time to waste now, I run off down the Beacons way back to the car (4.8 mile circuit) for a well-earned hot drink and back home for a nice hot shower ready for another training session on Thursday. I learn a lot on the way down. Foot placement in the snow and ice whilst running is very difficult. I have to think 5+ meters ahead all the time to make sure I can slow down to change direction or if the surface changes. The mind has to be constantly alert. 

I’m completely knackered. 5 miles of a fast pace on this terrain is hard work. Harder than I’ve trained for so far. 10 weeks time I’ll be completing 15 miles over this area so I’ll need to increase the intensity and distance of my training.

Keep those donations coming if you haven’t already done so. I have two more Para’10 challenges and the Summer fan Dance ( 3x longer than todays training), all the money raised will be going to the only Charity providing free home from home accommodation for parents of critically ill Children in the South West.