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Running a Munro

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 girlymonkey 18 Oct 2020

So at the beginning of the year, I said I was going to work towards running a Munro by the end of the year. I realise that generally most people don't run once it gets steep, so hill running is a bit of quick walking in places, so at what point would you say you had "run a Munro?".

I ran/ walked Meall Lighiche and Sgurr an h-ulaidh on Friday. It was definitely a running kit day out with running approach through the Glen. Once on the hills there was a mix of run and walk.

Obviously, it was a random challenge that I set with no real criteria, so ultimately it's up to me to decide if I did it or not, but what would your criteria be to say you had run a Munro? 

Whether I count it as running or not, what a cracking hill!! A grand day out indeed!

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 DaveHK 18 Oct 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

If you run the bits you can then it was a running day.

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 Kevin Woods 09:51 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

I started to think of it as a perspective thing.

The runners I've been on the hill with would switch to running at any opportunity. Meaning walking ups, jogging flats and downs.

When I'm on the hill I'm just out for a walk and some bits look like a nice run! 

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 veteye 09:59 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

I always wonder about the risks, if you are truly trying to run the Munros, as you must have the lightest load to aid your efficiency: But what happens if you tire and get too slow in weather getting colder, and wetter, and you have few other layers/insulation? Ditto less nutrition and water.

Or what happens if you trip over and damage your limbs?

These are not criticisms, but concerns, and me being curious as to what the best way to approach these things would be.

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 dmhigg 10:55 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

I try to run everything, even bits which I would have walked when I was racing (because walking's quicker). My rationale (when I cared about going fast) was that my race "walking" speed was pretty much maxed out but I could always improve my run speed. So when I trained I always tried to run everything and now that I don't really race that means I try to run everything!

Having said that, trying to run everything when you're linking Corbetts (Ben Aden - Sgurr Airigh na Beinne - Sgurr a Chlaideimh!) stretches the definition of "running" considerably.

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 girlymonkey 11:07 Sun
In reply to veteye:

I carry waterproofs, a warm layer, hat (well, buff at this time of year), gloves, a group shelter, first aid supplies, food and water. All are super lightweight and fit in a 14l running vest (and actually the vest wasn't even totally full). There's a lot of great lightweight kit out there now which makes it totally feasible to carry enough stuff to be safe while running in the mountains. I reckon, even when running, I carry more kit than half of the hill walkers out there! My husband did raise an eyebrow that I was considering popping the binoculars in! Lol!

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In reply to girlymonkey:

I would certainly say you have run a Munro. Even top mountain runners at World Champs power walk sections!

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 girlymonkey 11:12 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

Thanks for the various thoughts. Did did run or jog as soon as I could, so maybe it counts? We were out for 4 hours, moving time around 3.20, so I guess it's more in the sort of running timing bracket than walking. 

Hmmm, still not sure. Still got another couple of months to try running some others and see what I can do. Not interested in running Ben Chonzie, it has to be an interesting one!

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 dmhigg 11:19 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

Ben Chonzie is a perfect example of a hill that isn't a terribly exciting walk, but makes for a very pleasant run, especially this time of year. We were up Ben Lawers yesterday with a convoluted descent looking for shielings and there's no way I would have enjoyed walking more. More to the point, today I have a bit of muscle ache but my joints feel fine - when I walk it's always the joints which suffer most.

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In reply to veteye:

> I always wonder about the risks, if you are truly trying to run the Munros, as you must have the lightest load to aid your efficiency: But what happens if you tire and get too slow in weather getting colder, and wetter, and you have few other layers/insulation? Ditto less nutrition and water.

It's balance balance balance.

If anything, I'm overcautious. 

I'd pack:

5L running vest

1l ish water (can top up easily)

Lots of cereal bars and fruit and nut mix. I might carry a gel as emergency rations as I won't be keen for consuming it unless I have to.

Compass, map, phone with viewranger, GPS watch, whistle

Survival bag

Small first aid kit (it's mostly gaffer tape. If you cannot fix it with gaffer tape then you're in trouble)

Head Torch X2 (a full size one and an tiny Petzl eLite)

Waterproof top / bottom

A windproof

Hat / gloves

A really posy Odlo headband thing with a big Swiss flag on it. For some reason.

Dry bag to put stuff in.

Packet of tissues.... Just in case. 

I might carry some warmer spare stuff in winter. I also might grab a slightly bigger pack and chuck a stove and Earl Grey tea bags in the winter. 

NB I usually run high in the Lakes / over Dartmoor which is admittedly far less remote than many Munros.

> Or what happens if you trip over and damage your limbs?

From personal experience, it sucks! But you sort it out.

> These are not criticisms, but concerns, and me being curious as to what the best way to approach these things would be.

I'll let you know if I ever get it right!

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 girlymonkey 11:29 Sun
In reply to bouldery bits:

That's impressive packing in a 5l bag!

I carry far less food and water, but water here is plentiful and I don't burn many calories. I'm still trying to get breakfast right so I have the calories in me before I start but not too much so I don't feel sick once I am running. I think I am getting closer to getting it right. I only ate one energy bar during the route and had a sandwich when I got back to the car park. My body is very efficient with energy use, I should survive the post brexit famine better than many! 😜

Electrical tape is better than gaffer tape, sticks better when wet and easier to take off after (a tip from a mtb-er on my last first aid course!). It's also smaller to carry!

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 Tyler 11:31 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

To keep things 'legitimate' (I not use the steep bits as an excuse to slacken off) I try and keep my heart rate/effort no lower than it would be if I was running on the flat and take no fewer breaks either. Now days that means walking very slowly uphill, previously I might have managed a slow jog, and decent runners would run, either way the level of effort is the same

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 timjones 11:43 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

> Thanks for the various thoughts. Did did run or jog as soon as I could, so maybe it counts? We were out for 4 hours, moving time around 3.20, so I guess it's more in the sort of running timing bracket than walking. 

That's a pretty big gap between moving time and total elapsed time.

What was your overall pace?

Personally I would say that the dividng line between walking and running is defined by your overall grade adjusted pace.

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 girlymonkey 12:29 Sun
In reply to timjones:

There was 3 of us, so we stopped for photos, lunch, chatted to others on the hill, my husband had a slip at one point so a pause for him to recover, navigation stops etc. It was a chilled day out with nice views and enjoying the company.

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 timjones 12:40 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

Apologies, I wasn't aiming to belittle your day, it was just an attempt to explain how I perceive the defining line between a walk and a run.

I guess that when the overall pace is such that I could have walked it faster then it doesn't feel like a run.

Post edited at 12:41
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 girlymonkey 12:45 Sun
In reply to timjones:

Yeah, I guess it's like the line between walking/ scrambling and climbing. It's a linear scale, and so much will vary with who is doing it, the conditions on the day etc. 

It was 17km, 1200m+ of ascent, so we were certainly faster than standard walking pace, but I don't know if that is enough to feel that I ran a munro! Maybe I need to accept that until you reach elite level (not something I am aiming for!) then what we did is standard hill running days? 

As I say, whether I ran it or not, I had a great day and I will do other hills in a similar vein but just trying to decide if I reached my (albeit, arbitrary) target. 

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 Eric9Points 13:02 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

> I carry waterproofs, a warm layer, hat (well, buff at this time of year), gloves, a group shelter, first aid supplies, food and water. All are super lightweight and fit in a 14l running vest (and actually the vest wasn't even totally full). There's a lot of great lightweight kit out there now which makes it totally feasible to carry enough stuff to be safe while running in the mountains. I reckon, even when running, I carry more kit than half of the hill walkers out there! My husband did raise an eyebrow that I was considering popping the binoculars in! Lol!

No headtorch or phone?

If you have a Garmin watch or suchlike you can check your rate of ascent. It's surprisingly constant irrespective of the gradient. From memory if you're climbing more than 2000ft an hour then that's not bad and 2500 ft per hour would be quite good but Dave HK is right if you're running as much as you can then you're hill running.

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 HB1 13:05 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

Have you been inspired by the recent BBC Alba piece featuring Donnie Campbell's Munro running-fest by any chance? I'm tempted myself, but having only ever run 3 or so Munros and now past 70 years old, I consider it unlikely!

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 girlymonkey 13:06 Sun
In reply to Eric9Points:

Yes, had a phone. Didn't bother with the torch due to heading out pretty early in the day. Certainly would some days. The phone gives a pretty good emergency torch if really needed. 

Yeah, someone said once about looking at rate of ascent, I'm not sure if my watch is fancy enough for that, or maybe I just haven't found the function. 😕

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 girlymonkey 13:08 Sun
In reply to HB1:

No, this was a target set back in January. 

His was certainly impressive though, but that's probably not next year's challenge! Lol

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In reply to girlymonkey:

> That's impressive packing in a 5l bag!

It's one of them Salomon ones with too many pockets. I'm sure it's bigger than 5L when including pockets. 

> Electrical tape is better than gaffer tape, sticks better when wet and easier to take off after (a tip from a mtb-er on my last first aid course!). It's also smaller to carry!

That's a good tip!

Post edited at 14:02
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 girlymonkey 14:21 Sun
In reply to bouldery bits:

Yes, I've often been unsure of how they measure capacity on the stretchy pockets! Whether it's with it stretched to the max or barely stretched at all!!

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 Eric9Points 16:21 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

> Yes, had a phone. Didn't bother with the torch due to heading out pretty early in the day. Certainly would some days. The phone gives a pretty good emergency torch if really needed. 

I've got a tiny little headtorch that I bought in a petrol station. It's not brilliant but I just wanted something that would get you out of trouble. I thought it worthwhile as the light on your phone does drain the battery quite quickly. 

My philosphy on what to carry is based on what you'd need if you hurt an ankle and had to *survive* a night out but the list of kit is much the same as yours.

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In reply to girlymonkey:

My personal criteria is that is OK to walk if it's so steep that running wouldn't be any faster. If my heart is still going like the clappers even though I'm walking then I still feel like I've done a run even if I walked a few bits of it. Sounds like you did a run by my definition! 

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 Guy Maccdox 16:59 Sun
In reply to Somerset swede basher:

As an aside, I've long thought that a good definition of a fell run would be 'An off-road run but with sections too steep or rough to run entirely'.

Anything entirely runnable would just be trail running or skyrunning depending on how high it went. 

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 girlymonkey 17:30 Sun
In reply to Eric9Points:

I have multiple torches of differing sizes and usefulness. With their being 3 of us out, I just didn't bother. On my own, I would be more likely or later in the day I always would. Just depends really where, when and with whom. My phone also has a great battery! If I actually expect to run with it, I take the one which stays on my head best, which is not the smallest or lightest for carrying!

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 veteye 17:31 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

I have wondered whether I could do fell running in a small degree. My regular run is at Rutland Water with several small (probably ~9 across 10Km) to moderate steep sections. So doing an extrapolation run on a smaller fell or fells might be feasible. I suppose that I would try somewhere like Borrowdale and Cat Bells, as it could be planned to be variable from there, depending on how things fared.

So the next question is, "Is there one good practical book, which is going to be helpful for trying fell running?" (Says he, who has been running for about twenty years, and has not bought a book on running generally, so far:- So I may be doing it incorrectly already!)

Anyway, well done, and good luck in the future to you GM.

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 girlymonkey 17:38 Sun
In reply to veteye:

You may find you could have a very enjoyable day out with a guide. They would be able to help you choose a good route with options for varying it as needed and help you with pacing and techniques etc. 

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 veteye 17:57 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

I take your point positively: Yet I am not keen on running with other people usually, as the paces are difficult to conjoin. Plus I would feel under pressure to do much better... But I'll think about it anyway. That's if a guide is allowed at the point when I may be able to go.

Meantime, is there a good reference for technique and equipment?

Post edited at 17:57
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In reply to veteye:

I would whole-heartedly recommend Richard Askwith's Feet in the Clouds.

It's not quite what you've asked for but it might be what you need! I defy anyone to read it and not get the itch.

 BB

Post edited at 18:06
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 dmhigg 18:00 Sun
In reply to Guy Maccdox:

So almost all the mountains in the UK are trail running!

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 Guy Maccdox 18:17 Sun
In reply to dmhigg:

> So almost all the mountains in the UK are trail running!

By their easiest paths, quite possibly, for the elite. It would also mean one person's fell run could be another person's trail run - I quite like that concept. 

I can't think of many FRA races I've entered that have been entirely runnable. Now's an opportunity for you to reel off a long list... 😀

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 girlymonkey 18:22 Sun
In reply to veteye:

I don't know of any resources, although there are bound to be some. I made it up as I went along for a few years and then decided to book a guide for a day at one point to see what I did and didn't know. It was a great day with some really good tips. And despite being in an area which I would have said I knew really well, he still took us to some bits I hadn't been to which had amazing running. I thought it was well worth it. 

If the guide is good, they will run in a way which suits you, it's not about you keeping up. They should be able to judge it in such a way that they will set a pace which you can manage to acheive the objective for the day and hopefully even explain a bit about pacing for what you want to do etc.

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 Garethza 18:34 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

If you are dressed in your running kit - then you are running! Atleast that’s how I think about it ! 😁 There is no right or wrong answer here.. no one runs all the way up and all the way down. It’s very much a grey area and it’s acceptable to walk the ups and run the downs.. that’s what I do and it’s great - I love moving fast in the mountains and running along ridges in the sky is probably one of the best feelings in the world!

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 mattyP 18:40 Sun
In reply to veteye: 

You definitely could! It’ll be different but you’ll have the fitness. Just maybe not the quad conditioning or descending technique. Go walk the steep stuff, do what you can and enjoy being light and unencumbered in the mountains. Choose something with a plateau top so you can enjoy being up there before you have to descend!

Edit: and be prepared for it to take a lot longer! It’s an experience to be savoured!

Post edited at 18:41
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 dmhigg 18:40 Sun
In reply to Guy Maccdox:

On my own, I always run because it seems more efficient...in a race I walk because it's quicker. That's just me, though, and one of the nice things about fell/hill running is that there's no right way to do it. Carry less, go faster, go further.

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 veteye 19:05 Sun
In reply to mattyP:

Descents obviously have to be watched with great care and observation, but I'm not too concerned about them, in most cases. I sometimes run down descents, even with a reasonable sized bag and big boots, especially if I want to get to a bunk house on time, or something similar.

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 ianstevens 19:05 Sun
In reply to Guy Maccdox:

Most skyrunning includes scrambling too? I was always under the impression that’s how the line was drawn in the UK. 

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 veteye 19:07 Sun
In reply to bouldery bits:

> I would whole-heartedly recommend Richard Askwith's Feet in the Clouds.

Thank You..

I'll order it from my local bookshop, as I want to keep them in business.

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 Guy Maccdox 20:21 Sun
In reply to ianstevens:

> Most skyrunning includes scrambling too? I was always under the impression that’s how the line was drawn in the UK. 

I lazily had never taken the time to look up the definition, it had always felt like a marketing buzzword to make running in the mountains sound more glamorous.

I've now looked up the Wikipedia entry states "Skyrunning is a sport of mountain running above 2,000 metres where the incline exceeds 30% and the climbing difficulty does not exceed II grade" so it is tougher than I'd assumed. Apologies to all the skyrunners out there! 

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 mattyP 20:24 Sun
In reply to Guy Maccdox:

I’ve never raced it, but love linking scrambles into my runs. Agree their is an element (large) of marketing bs, but some of the races look intense!

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 Guy Maccdox 20:29 Sun
In reply to dmhigg:

>... and one of the nice things about fell/hill running is that there's no right way to do it. Carry less, go faster, go further.

Yep, totally with you on that. 

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 girlymonkey 21:06 Sun
In reply to girlymonkey:

Thanks for an interesting discussion folks 😊 Nice to hear others' musings!

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In reply to veteye:

> Thank You..

> I'll order it from my local bookshop, as I want to keep them in business.

Brilliant, I hope you enjoy it.

As far as kit goes etc, you don't need to spend a lot. If you have normal hill walking kit, just use that at first and pair down as you get more confident. No need to spend much! 

If you have any questions, pop a post on here as it's a mine of information. You'll also got the benefit of my errrr... Experience?

Enjoy,

BB.

Post edited at 21:26
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 Roadrunner6 23:16 Sun
In reply to veteye:

You're just more conservative as a mountain runner. Your lightweight gear isn't as good so you turn back much more, you don't take the same risks, you assess constantly. Re what happens if you trip, most don't, you run conservatively (not like in a race) and you keep going, if you can limp you keep going. A Hop of you can, just get down then get help. TBH a fit runner will have less accidents and probably be better prepared than most walkers anyway. But I run in the white mountains of NH when its -20C or lower. If I immobilize myself I know I'm dead. So it's much much more conservative than if I'm out and its 5-10C.

I've ran 30,000 plus miles at a very conservative estimate and had the odd accident, the worst was skewering my leg on a snapped sapling, it went into but not through my calf. So I just hopped for 6km or so out. I did spend the best part of a week in hospital as it got infected.

Post edited at 23:18
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 veteye 23:27 Sun
In reply to Roadrunner6:

Ah yes, I always wanted to go to the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, when I spent a year in Philadelphia.

I've just got the sense of  "your lightweight gear isn't as good so you turn back much more,"

You're saying that the lightweight gear doesn't have the same insulation as a regular walker's equipment, and the footwear is not quite as robust etc.

Well I'll be trying something a little less pushy to begin with if I do have a go at running in the hills.

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In reply to veteye:

> I always wonder about the risks, if you are truly trying to run the Munros, as you must have the lightest load to aid your efficiency: But what happens if you tire and get too slow in weather getting colder, and wetter, and you have few other layers/insulation? Ditto less nutrition and water.

> Or what happens if you trip over and damage your limbs?

> These are not criticisms, but concerns, and me being curious as to what the best way to approach these things would be.

And you end up in a hole in the ground, with an owl ? 

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 Roadrunner6 01:22 Mon
In reply to veteye:

Yeah, a light weight waterproof wets out quicker, typically they just aren't as waterproof. My insulated jacket is much thinner so its fine if I'm still moving. 

There's many times I've ran up to the tree line, popped my head up and realized I'm not willing to be running above it in those conditions and just kept below the treeline.

I think some people do think lightweight gear is as good, as warm etc as the heavier gear. In almost all cases it's not. 

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In reply to girlymonkey:

I wonder if there's two routes in to this lark - hillwalkers and mountaineers who speed up, and (road) runners who slow down. The former group struggle to get their heads around carrying so little, and the the latter struggle to get their heads around carrying so much...

A mate took me out on my first run of a munro - he made it easy for me; he'd not long done the Black Cuillin traverse, so we just did Am Basteir (!). Obviously the top bit didn't involve much running, but the return to the Slig was downhill all the way. I haven't been overly fazed by descending since then. 

Much like soloing, conservative route choice and/or operating within your comfort zone when by yourself is all part of the fun. I tend not to go out without thin gloves, a merino hat, and at least top half cover in the bag plus a tiny first aid kit and a foil bag, some scoff and some way of getting a drink, plus phone; but ultimately unless an important bit of me is hanging off / flapping in the breeze then I'm going to crawl off ahead of being rescued. Mind you a different mate said the same about his MTB and did so with a cervical spine fracture so it isn't always as easy as it sounds!

Have fun

b

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 ablackett 06:57 Mon
In reply to girlymonkey:

Running is a style of travel, not a speed of travel.  I have 'run' the Bob Graham at under 3mph, I have certainly walked hills faster than that.  When conditions are really tough (snow/heather/wind) not much is above walking pace.

If i'm going for a run, I wear running shoes, I run the bits I want to.  That's my criteria.

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 Wainers44 08:02 Mon
In reply to timjones:

> Personally I would say that the dividng line between walking and running is defined by your overall grade adjusted pace.

I fail there then as I often add "bits" into a run. Like yesterday the impromptu swim in Scales Tarn which added a bit to my elapsed time as I struggled the running tights off and back on!

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 StefanB 08:24 Mon
In reply to Wainers44:

For me, it's a run if I go out in running mode, i.e. dressed in running gear and with an aim to move fast, even it does involve walking most uphills. 

When out hiking, I also tend to run most downhills (find it more comfortable and less likely to slip backward for some reason). But I will probably carry a larger backpack with more substantial food (sandwiches instead of bars and gels) and some photography gear. I also stop more frequently. So it's a walk. 

In the end, it does not matter. On a related note, I have been in a couple of ultra trail races that suddenly turned from a brisk run into a long a slow walk ... 

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 dmhigg 11:45 Mon
In reply to StefanB:

If it's a run on Strava, it's a run. 

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 StefanB 12:07 Mon
In reply to dmhigg:

On Strava Kilian Jornet's Everest ascent is a "morning workout". ;-)

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In reply to girlymonkey:

If you don't mind me asking which group shelter do you use....I'm on the lookout for something similar that's super lightweight?

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 Garethza 13:41 Mon
In reply to alastairmac1:

I have this which is pretty light and small - https://www.summitgear.co.uk/product/supalite-bothy-bag-2-person/ 

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In reply to Garethza:

Nice one. Looks good. Sensibly priced as well. Thanks for that.

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 girlymonkey 19:50 Mon
In reply to Garethza:

> I have this which is pretty light and small - https://www.summitgear.co.uk/product/supalite-bothy-bag-2-person/ 

Yes, that's the one 😊

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 dovebiker 20:11 Mon

I live at the foot of Ben Rinnes, not quite a Munro at 2,800ft but I can run up it from my house for a 12km round trip - the first 3-4km is OK but it's a real leg-burner at the top.  Mixing it up, run/jog/walk is fine as long as you keep going IMO - if I can maintain 6-8kph average I'm happy. These days I take it easy on descents - I don't tend to land so softly. 

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In reply to girlymonkey:

In a race at the weekend there were some steep bumps which some chose to walk up, whilst some (incl. me) chose to "run". I say run as it wasn't much faster than some of the fast walkers, but a different style.

Anyway, point is that whilst running was almost on a par with walking at the speed I was going at, as the gradient eased I didn't have to decide when to switch back to running as I was already running! Hence I gained a little ground over the walkers as they often didn't transition back to running as soon as they could have.

Back to your original point, I suppose you could say you ran a Munro if:

1. You ran when you could and walked (or scrambled) when you could not (i.e. for efficiency when steep or for safety when scary)

2. You ran more than X% of the time. X is a minimum threshold you can come up with yourself as you could be very unfit (or very nervous) and run hardly any of it!

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