Starting 2019 with a bang….

Having reflected on the events of 2018 in the last couple of posts I thought it was time to reflect on the start of 2019…..

And how best to start a new year with a new mileage record for the month.

January total mileage was 169 miles! Something that somewhat surprised me a little as going in to the New Year the head really wasn’t in the best of places, but maybe that was one of the factors behind such a strong start. Out of 31 days in January I ran on 21 of them. For those in the know January over the last couple of years has been a charity event based around doing exercise or running every day. Now this wasn’t a goal for me but if it had been then the possibility of a 200 mile month was really strong.

A 40 mile a week average to start the year is impressive in most circumstances but when put in the context of the first event of the year it makes a lot of sense. But more about that later.

One of the impressive points of the month and my running is the fact that I have got back into joining my club mates in group longer runs. Normally in previous training periods or when I’m not specifically training for a race I always did longer runs on my own. But this time around I’ve have taken the decision that running with one of the Winter Distance Training Groups. These groups are put on within the club with the aim to allow members who have Spring Marathons to train with others of similar paces.

But I’m not training for a marathon but I do have an event to train for where long runs are necessary. In March I have entered a 7 hr Timed event! This is an even where you run as many just over 5k out and back loops within the time limit. So in all honesty if things go well with the training and on the day a marathon distance is the very least I will be running.

But then again I may end up running a marathon as part of the training!

But that’s still to come but for now January definitely started with a bang….

If I Could Turn Back Time…… The 2018 Recap – Part 2

Following up on Part 1 of the 2018 Recap I though I would focus on the other smaller races I completed during the rest of the year……

Samaritans 10K Run 30th June :

The next race of the year was a complete switch of tact. Each year there is a local 5 / 10k Race put on by the Samaritans. A former club mate was looking for pacers for the 10k option so I put my name forward. I was drafted in to cover the 65 minute pace, which is well within my means on any given day so was not worried about it at all.

The actual day was a sweltering, blue skied 25 degree + occasion so this just meant the comfort at the pace was more of an advantage of the day.

The pressure was completely off and I set off on the two lap course trying hard to ensure I kept the pace down to the correct minute per mile speed.

Ultimately I managed to come in almost exactly on time (but it did involve a bit of a sprint at the end) but as I didn’t actively have anyone following me this was just as well.

Finish Time : 1:04:58

 

Yateley 10k Series Race 2 – 4th July :

Following on from the Samaritan’s Run I was able to take up a place in the Yateley 10k Series Race 2 due to a club mate not being able to make it.

I had done one of these a couple of years previously in the build up to the Berlin Marathon, but with the big races out of the way I wanted to use this as a test to see where I was fitness wise. My aim for the race was to see if I could get as close to or break the 50 minute mark for the distance. This is still a little way off my PB but I knew that I wasn’t likely to be close to that fitness level do the 50 min mark seemed a good indication of my levels.

These races are run on Wednesday Evenings over the summer months and this really didn’t fall into my usual running times and is something that I will actively avoid doing as I prefer morning running. But I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to test myself this time. As with the majority of the rest of the summer it was a warm evening but this tends not to bother me too much and the fact there was a little bit of cloud cover helped.

As I said it was a couple of years since I had run this event and this actually proved to cost me breaking the 50 min mark. I had remembered that in the last couple of KM there was an incline that needed to be overcome before reaching the finishing area but what I had forgotten was just how much it took out of you. Okay the fact that I hadn’t actually raced this distance properly for over a year was also a factor but ultimately it was taking the walking break towards the end that cost me.

But overall I can’t complain too much at the outcome and it proved to be a good indication of where I was fitness wise. There is still some work to do on this distance and ultimately the 5k Distance but that can be something for the future.

Finish Time : 50:28

 

Maidenhead Half Marathon – 2nd September :

Ever since I ran the 3 Sub 1:50 Half Marathons in 2017 I had wanted to have a chance to break my PB. The Maidenhead HM was noted as being one of the faster local races and is always supported well by runners from my club. With this in mind I made the decision rightly or wrongly to take a chance and aim for the 1:45 mark.

Now on hindsight this was probably a little bit unrealistic. In the build up I was not doing any specific training to take on this goal it was more down to my hubris and my misjudged belief that 1:45 would be an achievable goal.

Despite it being September it was another sunny warm day and a lot of people said this was the cause of them to not reach the outcomes they were aiming for. As I stated before I don’t think that the heat affects me too much and the main reason for the outcome of this race was simply and easily the fact that I let the demons win the battle again as they had at Brighton. I went out with the 1:45 pacer and was happily sticking with them for the first 4 or 5 miles. There is the small fact that the majority of these early miles were a little bit on the quick side but I was feeling good so kept with it. Reaching the 6 mile point is where is all started to go wrong. I started to doubt myself with every stride and soon had been dropped by the pace group. This did nothing but make the situation in my head worse than it already was. I was beating myself up at the time and now for the second half of the race I was constantly muttering to myself in a completely negative way. I knew at this point that I should still be able to keep the time easily to sub 2hr but this was far from the point.

This race was a real kick in the confidence levels and is maybe one of the reasons why my planning for 2019 is taking the shape that it is (more on this in another post). The 2nd half was a real struggle and for the 2nd race in 2018 I came away from it feeling more negative than positive. But its another Half Marathon under the belt and another medal for the collection.

The Half Marathon PB will have to wait for another time…..

Finish Time : 1:52:54

 

Marlow Half Marathon – 4th November :

Going into this Half Marathon everything was completely in opposition to how I had gone into Maidenhead. This is known to be an extremely hilly course and therefore instantly PB aims were not even considered in anyway shape or form. This was going to be a race with no pressure on it, a run just for the sake of running. A morning to enjoying running with friends and club mates and to be honest barring the NDW 50 this was easily the highlight of the year.

Initially I was due to be running with one of my club mates who I run a lot with, with the aim to run at a reasonable pace but not over do things. But very quickly into the first couple of miles it became obvious they were struggling more than they expected to keep up with the planned pace. I was in a position where they were behind me and at the same time another club member was just ahead of me and running at a more comfortable pace for me. When I say comfortable I, probably mean a more natural pace for me. Those who have read through my training for the Berlin Marathon will know that I struggled constantly on the runs where I had to actively run slower than I naturally would at the time. This is still that case today but running a 50 Mile race has allowed me to understand the nature of running slower better and can handle it on most occasions but still on preference would rather run to my natural pace.

I noticed that the club mate I was due to run with had actually managed to link up with another club runner so my decision became easier and I caught up with the one just ahead of me. Even though the general pace was better suited to me if I was left to my own devices I would have probably still ran a little quicker, but it was more manageable to keep this pace and having the opportunity to run with someone I knew was too good to turn down. We spent the next couple of hours just enjoying the run and all the challenges that the course threw our way.

Neither of us were even remotely worried or focused on what our finishing time was going to be and to be honest the question wasn’t even raised until we summited the last major climb on the course. But even then the finishing time we thought we were on for at that moment proved to be completely inaccurate. We realised that we were looking good to break 2:10 and probably closer to the 2:08 mark but as I’ve mentioned before this was a race where this mattered the least.

The last couple of miles where almost constantly down hill or at least flat so it made the end of the race feel quite comfortable and relaxing. Coming into the finish we were able to enjoy the marshall’s shouts of ‘Well Done’ & ‘Almost home now!’. We crossed the finish line with me slightly ahead of my friend but it didn’t matter. What it did allow was for me to turn over and be able to watch my club colleague cross the line with ab big smile on her face, thanking me as we met up again picking up our medals.

When I told her my finishing time (and subsequently roughly what her time would be) the smile grew even bigger.

For a race where time didn’t matter and the course was tricky in places…

Finishing Time  : 2:02:26

 

TVXC Cross Country Races :

Now me and Cross Country is a bit of an anomaly. I have to admit I still haven’t completely decided if it is something I truly enjoy doing or ever want to do again. But I found myself in the position where the local Cross Country league fixtures were fast approaching. Starting from October and the last fixture due in February 2019 the 7 fixtures on the cards were openly encouraged by my club for all to attend.

Now unlike most people would expect the fact that the races are based in the winter months and likely to be cold and more often than not wet this was not the reason for my ambivalence towards them. During the 2016/17 Cross Country Season I managed to attend and run all of the races. Some I struggled with for one reason or another whilst one or two I came away from really enjoying them. The season before I only ran 3 of the races and had a horrendous time at each of them. Then for the 2017/18 season I quite simply made the decision to avoid them all.

But here I found myself at the beginning of the 2018/19 season wondering what I was going to end up doing.

The fact that I had this ambivalence surrounding me meant that I truly had no strong feelings either way. Attend them or not it meant little or nothing to me. But what actually transpired just reinforces my views on them….

The first 4 races on the schedule I attended and ran. In the process recording some significantly faster times on 3 of them. But then in the build up to the 5th race my overall mood changed and I started to actively look for reasons not to go (even though it was the course I had previously enjoyed the most).

And that was that. I didn’t go and I haven’t / won’t be attending any of the last fixtures either.

My state of ambivalence wins over again.

But deep down I really am not fussed at this. There are several members of my club who look forward to the Cross Country races and are always pushing other members to attend them. Some do this with a quite strong single mindedness which can be off putting most of the time. There are those that argue running Cross Country over the Winter is a good base preparation for any targets you may have in the Spring. The difference of surface and conditions can strengthen both your style and stamina ready for the return to the relative ease of hitting the tarmac again. Others love to take the chance of running through muddy patches and large puddles with the abandon of a small child. Whilst others use the draw of being amongst a large crowd of like minded runners to be the biggest selling point.

Whilst there is certainly truth behind each of these views I’ve not found the one factor that has convinced me one way or the other about this type of running.

And to be honest I’m not sure anything ever will………

If I Could Turn Back Time…… The 2018 Recap – Part 1

Okay first things first 2018 was the year of Anti-Blogging. The only post that I added last year was one saying how I hoped to get back to blogging regularly.

That went well didn’t it!

 But as the New Year ticks over once again we can use the ‘New Year, New Me!’  slogan that most people take on each January.

But before looking ahead I thought it best to take some time and review all of the events of 2018.

And there were quite a few. Some overly positive. Some where the outcome was good but the overall feeling around it was less so. Goals were set and met. Lots of miles were completed. Lots of different distances and surfaces were pounded.

And best of all most was spent in the company of good friends, old & new.

So let the year recap begin……

Brighton Marathon 15th April : 

The first major run of the year was a little one known as the Brighton Marathon. Having missed out again on the draw in the London Marathon Ballot it meant that target races at the beginning of the year were thin on the ground. But with the help of a friend I managed to get a place at Brighton and another chance to crack the 4 hr Barrier for the marathon.

Having been so close but or so far from reaching the goal at the Berlin Marathon in 2016 and the injury laden 5 hours at Bournemouth at the end of 2017 I was at least able to come into the training for this injury free. This at least allowed me to have a sense of focus for the first 3 Months of the year. This allowed me to run regularly 4 or 5 times a week, reaching weekly mileage totals ranging from 20 Miles to 46 Miles. This lead to the first quarter of the year totalling 435 injury free miles.

Now when looking at that total we must also figure in the small matter of what I considered to be my main race of the year. The North Downs Way 50. The training for both these races meant that there were occasions of both multiple run days and runs that could be considered slightly longer than would normally necessary in a Marathon Training Cycle. But it also meant that running fitness wise I was going into the Marathon in probably my best shape to date.

So then how did the race actually go??

To be brutally honest….. Terrible.

It was without a doubt the biggest let down in 2018. Now some of this was down to a lack of understanding how the course was laid out but also a good portion of it was down to myself and my own inner demons.

I went into the race in the knowledge that breaking the 4 hour barrier was within my ability and I had set out a timing plan that allowed me to start off a little easier than the target pace I wanted to run. Now let me be honest about something, my target pace was set to reach the 3:45 time. But again I believed this was something I could accomplish. The required pace to reach this target had always been my natural comfortable running pace, so where would there be an issue?

That can be answered in one way. The Course. 

The lack of knowledge of the course itself was nothing but a major over sight on my part. You see the first half of the Brighton Marathon has all of the elevation changes both up and down. Now I managed to get through this first half under 4 hr pace but not by as much as I should have if I was going to hit the target I was aiming for. The next 3 or so miles went by reasonably okay and the pace was kept to where I wanted it to be. But then at the 16 Mile mark everything started to go wrong.

The early pace was starting to take its toll and even though I was now in the ‘Flat’ half of the race it started playing on my mind. Then the demons took over and the walk breaks started. What happened next was 13 miles of self-loathing and beating myself up between each additional walk breaks. The pace band that I set myself on my watch disappeared completely and all it was doing now was constantly reminding me that I was going slower than I wanted to.

Coming along in the final stages my head was running mental calculations over and over again in my head questioning exactly what time I was going to finish on. 3:45 flew out of the window at Mile 16, at Mile 22/23 the 4 hr Pacer passed me so that was going in to the distance no matter how much I tried to keep close to them.

Now it was just a question of was I even in a position to get a PB at the distance?

The final 2 miles I made a concerted effort to run as much and as hard as I could for as long as possible. The finish line was in sight and unsurprisingly (considering the amount of walking I had done) I had the legs to put in a burst of pace.

It was then finally over. I had finally crossed the finish line.

The Finish Time : 4:08:41.

A PB of 4 minutes…….

But I walked away from the whole experience with a bitter taste in my mouth. One that still hasn’t completely left me even to this day.

I am not finished with the marathon but it may be a bit of time before I attack the distance again….

North Downs Way 50 19th May  :

Ultimately this was my target race for the year. Since I made the decision to run the event and volunteer in 2017 to gain entry to the race I knew this was going to be the big one. Anything else in 2018 would effectively be a bonus.

Throughout the preceding months all of the training and runs were building to this date, this course and this goal. This included running the first half of the course only a couple of weeks out from the Brighton Marathon.

Now let me tell you a small anecdote. Through the running based website FetchEveryone.com I know quite a few people who run these races regularly. On a trip to another race a few years before the discussion turned to Ultra’s and specifically this one. At the time I quite happily turned around and laughed at the thought of me doing one, happily saying it would never happen. Roll on a few years and with extra added running madness levels later, here I am taking on my biggest challenge to date.

The build up to the event had gone reasonably well all things considered. The training had gone to plan, the focus on Brighton helped with this. The training run on the first half of the course went a lot better than I expected to be honest. I really wasn’t sure on what to expect as I had never run on the NDW before or anything remotely close to it, so each step was something new. But at the same time it never felt as if I was really struggling at any stage with any of the hills or finding my way along the course. But there is one regret / mistake that I made with the training though. That was not doing any sort of runs on the 2nd Half of the course and ultimately this would be very telling on how the performance on the day went.

So we arrive at race day. I register and pick up my race number, pass kit check and speak to a couple of friends to try and take some of the mental nervousness away. I had in my mind a general plan on how I wanted to attack the race especially the first half.

Soon enough it was time to make the walk to the start. 

Then we were off…

To be perfectly honest the first half of the race went almost completely to plan and I arrived at the half way point within the time frame that I wanted to. Reaching Box Hill in 5 hours allowed for an extra 8 hours to complete the second 25 miles. But I also knew from people I had spoken to in the build up to the event the next 6 miles were simply the hardest of the course and could easily make or break your race.

I set myself the target to complete them in the next 2 hours and I took the first few steps into the unknown elements of the course. Now those of you who know Box Hill at all will know there are a couple of ways to traverse the climb. The most dreaded of these are the steps! So can we guess which way the route took us? Yep you guessed it! Now climbing up a normal set of steps would have been bad enough and would completely destroy anyone’s legs by the time you reached the top. But of course these weren’t normal steps! They were literally just cut out of the hill with planks of wood to form them into something near recognisable. Then there was the small fact that they weren’t uniform in size and in many occasions you would have the planks of wood there and the ‘step’ behind it would be worn away from constant use. So therefore you spent as much time climbing as you did stepping over the planks of wood. But in the end I managed to complete the climb and started to make my way along the trail again.

Soon enough I had caught up with some of the other competitors and the talk of how things were going was brought up and of course what was still to come.

It was at this point that the more I heard the more I began to realise that the hill climb before the next Aid Station was nothing to be laughed at. I quickly began to wonder just what affect it would have on my performance. I was soon to find out. I am not going to lie it was quite simply one of the hardest things I have had to do whilst out on any sort of run. It was steep, relentless and sapped the strength out of my legs with ease. I was constantly having to stop and take breaks so I could rest the legs and get some of my breathe back again.

This one climb took me over half an hour to complete, but complete it I did. Arriving at the next Aid Station was nothing short of a relief and I did so in and around the timescale I had set myself so that was good. I had about 6 hours to complete the last 18 miles of the race.

I knew was on for a finish.

But of course it wasn’t going to be as easy as that.

The climb up the last hill had taken more out of me than I expected. I will openly admit right now that I spent far too much time at the Aid Station, doing completely wrong thing to do. I sat down! But this was also the point that I started to realise that something wasn’t completely right with my right knee.

Once I had forced myself to get back up and carry on with the race it was only a short while later that I realised running wasn’t going to be any form of an option from this moment on! The knee wasn’t having it at all, also you could add in the fact that the downhill sections were becoming more and more difficult. The decision was made that walking it in was going to be the only option from here on out. But in my head I believed I had more than enough time to still make it. I was at peace with this decision as it was always crossing the line that was the primary goal. One thing that helped this was the small fact that walking up the hills I was having no real issues with the knee and could complete them really quite strongly.

So 18 Miles of walking it was. Now for those of you who know the race the last mile is a bit cheeky. What do I mean by this? Well for a start it is actually the mile that takes you over the 50 Mile distance. But also you spend most of it being able to see and hear the finishing area. So therefore you find yourself relieved in the knowledge that you will finish but also muttering curses under your breathe as to why they had to tease you in this way.

I finally got to the last stretch and closer to the finishing area safe in the knowledge that it would be done within the cut off. But it was a lot closer than I had imagined it would be. A mere 18 minutes to spare close.

But I got it done……

Finish Time : 12:42:00

Don’t Call It A Comeback……..

Well the blog went a little sideways in the second half of last year and there are a number of different reasons for it. But I won’t go into those right now……

But it’s about time that I get this back up and running again….

Not only so I can finally finish and post the Race Report from the Round Reading 50K Ultra last August (see told you its been a while), but also chronicle my journeys to and beyond the Brighton Marathon and North Downs Way 50 Miler respectively.

I am currently in my 3rd week of training for Brighton and will hopefully post an update on how things have and are progressing in the very near future. But the next priority is to finalise the long overdue Race Report and get my focus back in the right place to keep everything up to date again…..

I will at some point chronicle the end of last year and what happened and again hopefully this will be in the not so distant future

But for now its good to be back and may the future posts appear a little more frequently…….

The Teesside 20 Mile Trail Run


Due to some last minute arrangements I found myself spending the weekend up at Mums in Stockton-on-Tees in the Northeast of England. 

I managed to get a quick run in early on the Saturday morning before starting my travels but I was also aware that I needed to get a long run in over the weekend as well. Now as most runners know going to different areas open up the possibilities of running routes, roads and trails that you hadn’t ventured in before. This was definitely the case for me. I had done some running in the area before during my training cycle ahead of Berlin but I was determined to run some where different this time.

Having spoke to a Strava user who live in the area he suggested I look at the Castle Eden Walkway as a possibility as it would give an easy out and back route. Looking on Google Maps I discovered that there was an easy and straightforward route I could take from Mums which would take me on to the trails very quickly which was really handy. So I had my route planned out and the weather was lookin good for the Sunday morning as well.

Getting up early on the Sunday morning I got myself ready and had a bit of food and some water before I made my way out for the run. The first half a mile or so was on pavements before crossing the road and entering the start of the trail. Now to date most of my running has been completed on paths and roads (apart from the XC races over the winter) so spending some time on a different running surface would be good in several different ways. Of course the area of the country meant that I knew that there was likely to be some hills on the route so mentally I knew what to expect. 

It wasn’t long before the first downhill came upon my and oh boy it was a steep one. Now having checked the weather before travelling I knew it was meant to be dry so had only packed my road shoes, the moment I saw the down slope I some what regretted that decision. But to be perfectly honest I wasn’t expecting to run on the trails and as I was packing lightly it was the logical choice. Now just before reaching the top of the hill I half noticed another pathway to the right hand side but being unfamiliar with the route I ignored it completely. I slowly and tentatively made my way down the steep slope, my footing slipping every so slightly every now and then so the fear I was going to go for a tumble was in the front of my thoughts. But fortunately that didn’t happen and so I was at the bottom and moving more freely again. Crossing the bottom of this small valley I could see the upslope ahead and it was just as steep and I was just as uncertain about getting up it as I was coming down moments before. But once again I nothice a pathway to my right which had a metal gate / style at the start of it so this time I decided the best option was to divert and take this option. It was certainly the right decision it lead to a winding single track trail that took me up the other side of the valley in a much easier gradient. Upon reaching the top I made the mental note to make sure I took this trail coming back and the corresponding one on the other side that I had initially ignored.

The rest of this part of the trail was straight forward and it wasn’t long before I reached the main road that I would need to cross in order to get to the rest of the trial I was going to be following. Thankfully at that time in the morning the traffic was extremely light and I managed to cross the road with ease and I made my way to the Wynyard Woodland Park and Observatory. This would be the start of the bulk of my run and was on a firm, dry and wide trail that used to be a railway line. The next four miles were spent running along this bridle way under the cover of trees on both sides which allowed for lots of natural shade as well as the beauty that comes with the countryside and a woodland setting.


I was enjoying the new settings and was relaxed about the run, but at the same time still struggling with the usual factor of keeping the pace down. The miles through the Woodland park were serenely peaceful and there were only a handful of people out walking their dogs or going on their own runs. There were a few breaks in the tree cover which would allow the bright sunlight to break through and the chance to take in some of the stunning scenery around me.

Finally reaching the end of the Woodland Park and out of the tree cover the sunlight warmed me up (thankfully not too much, the benefit of being up north it’s always a couple of degree cooler than at home) I noticed ahead a sign that indicated I was moving into the next County.


Shortly after passing this sign I crossed over a major road via a bridge and made May way toward the start of the Castle Eden Walkway. Once again it was all firm wide trail which meant that I didn’t have to worry or concentrate on anything other than my run, my pacing and the views around me.


The further I carried on the more people I started to see including a lot of cyclists and families. The trail was a delight to run on and seemed to be nice and flat so really didn’t feel like it was taxing me too much. Passing a reservoir there were a few people bird watching with their binoculars and long lensed cameras twitching to their hearts content. Soon I was coming up on to the turning back point of the run I made sure that I passed the 10 mile mark a little bit before turning back and making the journey back to Mums. All the time I was a little conscious of the time as I had stopped a few time to take photos which meant a little bit of time wasted getting my phone in and out of a fiddly back pocket.

As the journey progressed I could feel my legs start to tired and feel heavy and to be honest I was a little surprised at this as there hadn’t seemed to have been any steady inclines on the first have of the journey. But nevertheless I carried on making my way home passing some people who I had passed on the way out as well as passing a lot more that had come out to enjoy their days. Soon enough it came time to cross the main road again and make my way along the last section of the trail ensuring that I took both of the side trails to navigate the valley sides. Then came the final stretch back on the familiar paths and tarmac. Now how is it that on out and back runs it always seems to be that the second half never measures the same as the first half??? This was the case here so it meant finishing the run with a couple of up and downs on the road Mums house is on, but I was grateful when the 20 miles ticked over on the Garmin knowing that I could stop and enjoy the rest of my time up north.

Mile Splits : 9:17, 9:54, 10:12, 9:25 ,9:29, 9:19, 9:21, 9:24, 9:21, 9:18, 9:14, 9:18, 9:41, 9:27, 9:09,  9:32, 9:38, 11:03, 10:18, 9:07

 Now I mentioned earlier about how flat the majority of the route felt, so you can imagine my surprise when I loaded the data and saw the elevation chart…..


As you can see it shows a steady rise in elevation until I turn back. This really was a surprise as at no point did I think this was the case out on the run. But I suppose it just shows some of the benefits that I have picked up over the last year or so of running that I haven’t noticed this fact and that my mile times were on the whole very consistent. 

The main point here though is that another long run in the training cycle has been completed as I edge ever closer to race day.

Total Distance : 20 Miles

Total Time : 3:11:30

Avg Pace : 9:34

The One That Covers Three Weeks…….‬

Firstly let me apologise for the delay in posting, it’s been a busy couple of weeks which meant I just couldn’t find that spare bit of time needed to post.‬

‪But not to worry I back to recap the last three training weekends now…… Phew!‬
‪ ‬
Week One :‬

‪The mileage has really begun to ramp up now with the next couple of weekends hitting the furthest distances I trained to in the build-up to Berlin!‬

Saturday – 18 Miles‬

‪Even though the mileage has increased this part of the training I decided that I would still be able to do the bulk of the mileage before getting to Parkrun. On this occasion that meant running the small matter of 15 miles just to get to a point where Parkrun covered the rest ha ha.‬

‪As with the last few weekends I decided to head out with the aim of getting to Wokingham and back again. Taking a route that went through Crowthorne on the way out before reaching Wokingham where I completed a quick, small loop (which wonderfully starts on an up slope lol). Then on the way back instead of following the same route back to Nine Mile ride that I would have normally taken, I decided to divert up to Finchampstead before making the turn towards home.‬

‪Once again the planning of the route wasn’t 100% perfect and by the time I reached Bracknell Parkrun I had run an extra half a mile.‬

‪But hey it’s all time on the legs right!‬

Mile Splits : 9:20, 8:38, 8:54, 9:06, 9:10, 9:11, 9:07, 9:16, 9:20, 9:09, 9:18, 9:21, 9:00, 9:06, 9:01, 4:39 (0.51 miles)‬

‪The first 15.5 miles done at 4hr marathon pace, once again too quick. I really am struggling to control the pace when running on my own. But to be honest the fact that throughout this training cycle so far the majority of the mile split times start with a 9 is a major accomplishment for me!‬

‪So with the bulk of the running completed there was only the easy matter of completing Bracknell Parkrun. By this point I had completed over 70 Parkruns in total so knew that no matter how tired my legs felt I would be able to do this!‬

‪But then I made a mistake!‬

‪I had planned the main bulk of the run to be completed with enough time for me to have a bit of a rest and catch up with friends before Parkrun started. This turned out like clockwork and I had a good 20 minutes to get in some recovery. Not bad I here you saying to yourself and at the time that was exactly what was saying in my head. But then things went a little sideways………‬

‪We were in the middle of a June heatwave (another reason to get the bulk of the miles completed early as it would be cooler) and I had completed the run with some water and an electrolyte drink (High5 Zero) in order to ensure that I didn’t suffer any ill effects out on the run. I had also packed a gel to take before starting the Parkrun. Upon arrival I managed to say hi to a few friends and then decided to get in the shade for a while have a brief sit down and replenish some more fluids. It was at this point that I managed to pretty much finish off both the rest of the water and electrolyte drink which at the time I though was okay. I took the gel about 10 minutes before the start.‬

‪With 5 minutes to go I got up and started to move around in order to keep my legs moving and reduce the chance them stiffening. I was walking through the crowd saying high to a few more friends when out of the blue I was hit with a sudden dizzy spell. This was not right and not something that I had ever experienced before so a little worrying. A short spell standing still and bending over a little seemed to clear it, but as the call to move to the start came I knew I still wasn’t 100% so knew I would need to be careful during the run.‬

‪Everyone gathered at the start and soon we were off. I had intentionally positioned myself further back than I would normally do so in order to force me to keep the pace down. The start was gentle and soon the bottle neck caused the pace to slow a little more which at that moment was more than welcome. Once the flow of the runners had cleared a bit I was starting to feel a bit more myself so managed to put a little bit more effort in and everything was going fine for the first couple of miles.‬

‪Then BAM! 2.5 miles in something wasn’t right. My legs were fine and so was my breathing but something didn’t feel quite right and soon I was walking. A short period of self-berating and I tried to run again, but this failed as well. Now by this point I had actually got to the point where I was about to lap the back marker a BFR member who I get on with. They saw me walking and checked to see how I was doing and if I was okay. I explained about the dizzy spell and the sudden feeling that had come over and said I would keep them company for a little while. So we walked and talked for a little while but soon we were coming to the final stretch for me (at least) and I decided to give running another try. This time thankfully everything seemed okay and I managed to finish the Parkrun running rather than walking. Granted it was one of the slowest times for a Parkrun (32:08) but the main thing is that I was able to finish and that I managed to complete my required miles.‬

Mile Splits : 10:11, 9:16, 11:57‬

‪Before the recovery of walking home I filled up the water bottle again to ensure that I was taking on fluids until I got home…..‬

Total Distance : 18.6 Miles‬
Total Time : 2:53:41‬
Avg Pace : 9:20‬
‪ ‬
Sunday – 10 Miles‬

‪After the fun and events of Saturdays miles I was really looking for an easier run in terms of having no significant issues to report.‬

‪Very quickly it was another day with something to report and that was one thing. The weather! It was a scorcher of a day I started the run at 7.45 in the morning and the temperature was 21 degrees! ‬

‪In terms of the run itself I decided to run the reverse of a route I ran a couple of weekends ago. With the heat I made sure that I ran with my hydration pack to ensure that I had water if and when I needed to take a sip. Out on the run it became bivouac that this would be a run that benefited from the occasional rest stops to take on some water. The point of the training is to get used to running on tired legs so the addition of a few stops is not going to harm the training whatsoever and on days like this. But do to the nature of the day and the heat I actively made sure that the drinks stops were done in the shade jut to make the most of the cooler areas on the route.‬

Mile Splits : 9:09, 8:51, 9:03, 9:08, 9:12, 9:11, 9:07, 9:24, 9:02, 9:09‬

Total Distance : 10.05‬
Total Time : 1:31:40‬
Avg Pace : 9:07‬

Week Two : ‬

Saturday – 20 Miles‬

‪So here we are we have now reached the weekend where the Saturday long run distance reaches the point where it matches the longest run in the Berlin build up. In the weeks buildings no up to the training and during this training schedule I had been asking for advice on how best to do the long runs. Should I do them as one long run or do I split them in half and do a double run day? Friends and the running club coaches said that splitting the runs in two is probably the best bet and that the length of time between runs didn’t matter as the effect would be the same.‬

‪So ultimately the decision was made that I would split the 20 miles in to a morning run and a afternoon run. Now as has been mentioned in the blog in the past I have some interesting friends in the running club and one of them, Ula, saw a Facebook post about me questioning how to do the 20 miles and got in contact with me saying that she would happily join me for the morning run. Then of course Ula being the wonderful person she is made the suggestion of taking a trip to a local Parkrun and doing some extra miles beforehand. Well as with my training schedule so far you will notice that I have been doing a lot of my mileage before Parkrun so I said fine and the arrangements were made. We arrived and parked at the Park in question at 7.30 so we had plenty of time to complete the extra miles beforehand. I personally didn’t know the area particularly well but have friends both on Facebook and another running based website (fetcheveryone.com) who suggested running the Woodley 10k route which started and finished at the Park that hosted the Parkrun. ‬

‪Before the day I took a look at the route and just rudimentarily wrote down the route in terms of which turns on to which roads on a small bit of paper that I planned to carry with me on the run. Now one of the thing that I was looking forward to was the small thing of actually running with someone else and the benefits that comes with that. Now Ula is wonderfully to run with we get on really well and always seems to find something to talk about on runs. She also active runs slower than me, now this is where the major benefit of this run lay. Finally I was able to control my pace better and kept it down to where it should be on each run. Thankfully the route, my notes and my general sense of direction allowed for a very smooth run, there was no point that I felt we were in trouble and heading to a point where we were going to get lost. ‬

‪Obviously the distance of the 10k is just over 6 miles so when we got back to the park I carried on with a loop around some of the park to complete the miles. ‬

Mile Splits : 9:40, 9:48, 9:59, 9:39, 9:41, 10:03, 8:53‬

‪It was really good to have some company on one of these training runs and I promise you I made the most of it. But the way this came about meant that there was going to be three parts to the day rather than two. Here is another issue and a poor decision on my part, I made the decision that I would give the Parkrun a bit of effort. The Woodley course is notoriously easier than Bracknell and the two other times I have run the course have both been on New Year’s Day where there is a Parkrun Double available. This meant that I have only run this course hang run some miles before hand granted not 7 miles but on all three visits I have never run it on fresh legs. ‬

‪So then the Parkrun! It starts with a slight course change from the last time I ran it but now thing too complicated. Soon we get the go and I spend the first mile trying to get through the throng of people having started slightly further back than I maybe should have knowing that I wanted to give it some effort. I was soon passing people and focussing myself on keeping to a certain pace bracket it’s a 3 lap course which I have always found mentally one of the tough things on certain courses. Bushy Parkrun being a one lap is ideal as you get to focus more on you running rather than keeping track of which lap you’re on. ‬

‪Anyway back to this run. The first two laps were completed with some level of comfort but beginning the third lap I was beginning to realise that the 7 miles beforehand were taking their toll. It was at this point that I I decided the overall training goal was the most important factor and so I took a small walking break at the top end of the field just to give me chance to catch a little bit of breath back. Following the short walk break a number of people passed me by but that was fine I knew that I would pass them again momentarily. Starting running again I pushed the pace again and pushed to the finish line. Crossing the finish line I stopped my watch….‬

Mile Splits : 7:36, 7:33, 7:53‬

‪My result a 23:24. The third time I’ve run this course and I’ve improved my time with each run. This is definitely a course that I would love to run on fresh legs and see what I can really do time wise.‬

‪Two parts of the day down and the first 10 miles completed and in a way that I wasn’t really expecting but it’s done and in the books. Now on to part two the Afternoon 10 miles.‬

‪Thankfully this was going to be the more straight forward of the 10 miles and it would be completed in one straight forward run rather than the fun of the morning. One decision I did make though was to choose a route that wasn’t even very hilly and that meant heading out on the route that takes on Nine Mile Ride and running through Crowthorne. ‬

‪Having had a reasonably fully lunch I didn’t leave it too much afterwards before I went out for the afternoon. I was unused to running on a relatively full stomach as most of my runs have been done in a fasted state early in the morning. I won’t lie about this but I could definitely tell the difference the overall sensation was something that I hadn’t experienced before and I began to wonder how my running would be affected.‬

‪Thankfully early on it became clear that my pace wasn’t being affected by the new sensations I was experiencing. In total the run itself went by without too much issues but I will admit Mile 9 for whatever reason really felt hard but ultimately it was completed and the mileage for he day was done and dusted.‬

Mile Splits : 9:01, 9:04, 9:08, 9:08, 9:00, 9:10, 9:19, 9:19, 9:33, 9:10‬

Total Distance : 20.10 Miles‬
‪Total Time : ‬2:57:41
‪Avg Pace : ‬8:50

Sunday – 10 Miles‬

‪So today’s run really went sideways. But upon reflection I have an idea of why it did. Not the 20 miles completed yesterday I made a decision during the week that came back to haunt me today. I normally run on Thursday Mornings but due to the heat I decided to delay it 24 hrs and went out Friday Morning instead. The run wasn’t anything I don’t normally do, it was a 10k and at a comfortable pace for the session, but it took its toll. The pace may have been a touch to quick considering the mileage I had to do over the weekend. But ultimately the deed was done and if you add in the effort at Parkrun as well I only have myself to blame.‬

‪As the plan says I was due to run 10 miles, but it ended up being 10k instead. The decision to stick to a well tread route, the familiar is best when knowing that you may struggle with the run. Early on I could tell that something wasn’t completely right. Yeah the legs were feeling the effects but that is the point of this training so I was expecting nothing less. ‬

‪But then after the first couple of miles there was the first signs that my knee was starting to grumble a little. Over the next mile or so it started to feel more and more as if something wasn’t 100%. So this was the moment I made the decision to cut the run short and head home. Now even a year ago I would have pushed on and completed the 10 miles just out of stubbornness. But the more I run the more I have learnt that it’s best to listen to your body. The last thing I wanted was an injury that would jeopardise the race. So heading home was the decision and that lead to a 10k distance.‬

‪I was meant to do 30 Miles over the weekend but with the 10k on Friday and the mileage completed over the weekend it meant that I had run 32 miles in total over 3 days. Miles in the legs and the same body reactions so mission accomplished.‬

Mile Splits : 9:21, 9:07, 9:02, 9:07, 9:07, 9:09, 2:02 (0.23 miles)‬

Total Distance : 6.23 Miles‬
Total Time : 56:54‬
Avg Pace : 9:08‬

Week Three :‬

Saturday – 10 Miles‬

‪I have reached the first of two ‘recovery’ weekends in the plan, where the mileage drops to 10 miles for both days. Again I planned to carry out the bulk of the miles before Parkrun. This time choosing to run a route that would incorporate the beginning of Bracknell Half route and part of the new route I have been running during the week recently.‬

‪Now because I’m me and I don’t like to make decisions that would most people would call beneficial to the long goal cause I decided to run the first part of the run (7.4 miles) without caring too much about pace. ‬

‪So this meant that the struggles to keep pace down were forgotten for the run and as you’ll see there isn’t a mile time that starts with a 9 in this first part of the run.‬

Mile Splits : 8:39, 8:15, 8:24, 8:19, 8:26, 8:16, 8:40, 3:27 (0.38 miles)‬

‪Finishing this at the usual place and in time to rest before Parkrun started. Once again I decided that I wouldn’t be chasing any sort of fast time and would take it reasonably easy for the run. I made a bit of a early mistake by starting a little further back than I normally would do and this just meant that I got caught up in the bottleneck at the start of the first lap. ‬

‪Now normally this would have been something that would have got to me but knowing the long term goal it just meant that I was forced to take it a little easier that I wanted to, but maybe that’s a good thing????‬

‪The slow start allowed me to do one other thing that can be quite rare. It allowed me to make it a progressive run with each mile being faster than the previous.‬

Mile Splits : 9:41, 8:52, 8:28‬

‪Another Saturday completed only 5 more to go to race day.‬

Total Distance : 10:48 Miles‬
Total Time : 1:30:13‬
Avg Pace : 8:36‬

Sunday – 10 Miles‬

The 10 mile run that finished being 11 miles…….

The weather was clear and warm again and during the previous day I made the decision to take a route towards Ascot. Now there is no issues with getting to Ascot as it is a straight forward thing to do. I started as I would on a normal weekday 10k run, turning towards Ascot where I would normally start to head home.

The route to Ascot takes in a couple of small inclines, including one that until I actually ran it, thought it would be a lot harder than in reality it was. Now once into Ascot I took advantage of the public access to the racecourse, specifically the section in the middle which had a tarmac route around it. This is not something that I had done before but I knew that a lot of members of BFR incorporated it into some of their runs so I thought why not?

Initinally it took a wrong turn to find the right entrance but once inside the grounds the tarmac was nice and flat which no runner will ever complain about lol. A quick run along the majority of the loop was completed before exiting the course on the far side and the start of the journey home started.

I’ve been lucky enough to have run a couple of times around this area with other club mates and it was one of the routes I ran with another Alex that I decided to take home (keeping my fingers crossed that I remembered the route lol). Before long I began to realise that the journey home would take me convincingly past the required 10 miles. Keeping an eye on the mileage I decided that I would run an extra mile just to get me that little be closer to home and would use the rest of the way as a walking warm down.

Soon enough 11 miles ticked over on my Garmin and I duly stopped it relishing the knowledge that I had a good 20 minutes walk home to warm down from the run.

The recovery weeend was over and now the mileage ramped up a notch again in the build up to race day…….

Mile Splits : 9:27, 9:03, 9:15;, 9:20, 9:13, 9:40, 9:12, 9:09, 9:05, 8:59, 9:10

Total Distance : 11 Miles

Total Time : 1:41:34

Avg Pace : 9:14

If you go down to the woods today….

The Round Reading 50k training is slowly but surely ramping up now and we are getting in to the serious long run territory soon. But this last weekend I had the simple (Yeah! …. Simple!) matter of completing 16 & 10 mile runs…….

Saturday – 16 Miles

So here we are again planning for another Saturday run that ends at Bracknell Parkrun. Now to be honest so far this hasn’t really been an issue, one of the many benefits of this timing is the simple fact that I have completed my runs by 9.30 – 10 in the morning. Also it means that the weather and temperatures don’t really come into effect too much either. Which considering the slow rise in temperatures recently is a real benefit.

Now follwoing on from my voluteering at the North Downs Way 50 last month I decided that I needed to get a new hydration vest. Now honestly this had nothing to do with the fact that the bladder in my old one had sprung a leak on my last 10 mile run………Honestly! Seeing that the vast majority of runners at the NDW50 were using vest that had bottle holders at on the front straps I thought it would be a good investment to look into this type of vest.

Now unfortunately I don’t have an endless supply of money so paying what seemed to be an average price of £100+ for such a vest was out of the question and at this moment in time completely unwarrented. But having shopped at Decathlon before and knowing that their own label products that I have used before I’ve had no issues with I decided to browse their website (Decathlon.co.uk). Looking at the running accessory page I soon found what I was looking for. The Kalenji Men’s Trail Bag priced at a resonable £24.99. It has a 9 / 14 Litre storage capacity, a 2 litre Hydration Pouch, 2 Bottle Pockets (for 500ml bottle, a whistle and some small pockets with easy access. Lucky I was able to order  have it delivered in time for this weekend so I used this run as a test for how it felt whilst out on a run. I also ordered a couple of 500 ml Soft Water bottles from Amazon to be used in the Bottle pockets but these are due to be delivered at a later date as they appear to be coming from China.

Anyway enough of the sales pitch back to the run itself………..

I decided that I would follow a similar route to last Saturday’s 14 mile run with a couple of alterations to keep things ‘fresh’. Normally I would leave home and head for the quickest route to the beginning of Nine Mile Ride when running these routes, but knowing that I needed to find an extra couple of miles from the previous weekend I decided to take a little diversion which effectively meant I came back on myself. The diversion worked, I reached the first mile ticking over a lot earlier than usual so that allowed for some initial relief.

Once arriving at Nine Mile Ride I would normally turn right and follow the road along until it was time to turn off, but this morning I crossed the road and headed into and through Crowthorne passed the Train Station before making a turn to head back towards Nine Mile Ride. I had done this in reverse a couple of times so knew the route fairly well, as with many routes around my local area it was made up of long straight stretches with plenty of side roads to cross and the need for constantly checking for traffic. Not really that interesting or motivating when out on a run but it means that I was running on a constant surface of Tarmac and concrete which meant it was a smooth run. As always there were some rolling (and somewhat small) ups and downs but with the slower pace (ahem!) I was running at these really didn’t cause any concern.

Soon enough I had managed to get back to where Nine Mile Ride intersects the road, but as I was planning on heading into Wokingham I carried straight on. The rolling nature of the route continued and the closer I was getting to Wokingham the more I was thinking of ways to change my route. So for the second week in a row I took a decision on the run and instead of heading into Wokingham I turned left at the roundaboput and headed towards Finchampstead and back towards Nine Mile Ride.

By this time I was almost 8 miles into the run and I knew that the route I was taking me would get me close to the 13 miles I needed to complete before Parkrun. Soon enough I was turning on to Nine Mile Ride and heading straight for Great Hollands Recreation Ground and Bracknell Parkrun!

The closer I got to my destination the more I began to realise it was going to be a little short and that I would need to tag on a little bit extra before arriving at Parkrun. Ultimately this wasn’t an issue as I repeated the start of this loop again up until the time was right to turn back on myself and head towards Parkrun.

Soon enough I arrived at Parkrun 15 minutes to spare and to rest for a while, even though I was constantly moving to ensure that my legs didn’t seize up at all.

Mile Splits : 9:18, 9:15, 9:14, 9:13, 8:54, 9:08, 9:13, 9:13, 9:01, 9:10, 9:19, 9:15, 9:14

Well look at that! Here’s something that is not a surprise they are all a little bit too quick again. To be honest at the moment I’m not overly fussing about this as I think it is more down to the amout of mileage I am running this year and the fact that I haven’t really dropped the intensity since Berlin. But this doesn’t mean that I am not mindful of this and trying to make sure that it doesn’t feel like I’m pushing myself too hard because somply I’m not! Each of the runs so far have felt comfortable and controlled, I really can’t ask for anything else at this stage.

So there I was 13 miles completed and just a Parkrun to go……. Literally!.

Again due to the focus on long distance runs at the moment I really am not pushing myself at Parkrun at the moment and this was the case again this week. I took it steadily and to feel.

Mile Splits : 9:31, 8:48, 9:05

A comfortable 28 min Parkrun completed it just left the pleasure of being able to relax and walk home as part of my warm down…..

Total Distance : 16.10 Miles

Total Time : 2:27:34

Avg Pace : 9:09

 

Sunday – 10 Miles

Now upon reading the first part of this post you maybe wondering where the blog title comes from……. Well this is where all will be revealed.

I decided that for a change I would take the opportunity to have a relaxed morning, turn the alarm off (not that this really matters as I always wake up early) and incorporate the Sunday Club Run up at The Lookout (The Lookout) which is part of Swinley Forest in this run. Now running in Swinley is not something that I do very often (due to a fear of getting hopelessly lost) but I know that it’s something I really should do more often. So making the most of the good weather and the knowledge that the run would be lead by someone from the club who was familiar with the area, I decided to attend for once.

With the fact that most of my runs are done on my own it was good to being running in a group again. But at the same time I soon came to realise that this really could test the running ‘on tired legs’ part of the training as the group leader immeadiately found some steep inclines along single person tracks. Now to start off I was able to stay at the front of the group (which was meant to be running around 9 min mile pace) but soon found myself at the back. To be honest this wasn’t an issue I was running comfortably and never dropped off the pace of the group at all. But boy was I cursing all the hills we were running up (with what appeared to be less downhills ha ha).

But all told I kept up with the group and had some good chats along the way and by the time the group run had finished I only needed to find just over a mile extra to make up the 10 miles. So a simple taking a longer route home covered this and another weekends training was completed.

Mile Splits : 9:42, 9:36, 8:49, 8:58, 9:02, 9:56, 8:58, 9:01, 9:46, 8:57

Total Distance : 10.01 Miles

Total Time : 1:32:48

Avg Pace : 9:16

 

A Quick Few Points On the Kalenji Male Trail Bag :

Initial impressions are positive. It is comfortable to wear, on both runs I had the hydration pouch filled halfway (1 Litre) I also had a light running jacket and my phone tucked away as well. The shoulder straps are easily altered and even though initially i was dubious about the drinking hose clip (so it loops under your neckline as most do) it never caused any real distractions and unclipping and returning the hose was easily done on the move without needing to stop and fiddle too much. If I have one slight issue with it, it would be with the opening and closing of the flow for the mouth piece. Now this simply maybe due to it being a new product and may change over time but I found it needed a little bit of force using both hands to click it to the open position. Clicking it back to the closed position was reasonably fuss free and could be done one handed, its just a little bit of a shame that opening it is so stiff. In the long run it’s not going to be an issue as once the bottles arrive I will aim to use these as my main drinking option. But I can see that the stiffness could be more of an issue for someone who finds it hard to fiddle with things whilst out on a run.

I will try and give a bit more of an indepth review once I have got a few more runs out of the bag and hopefully give a more rounded view of the feature including the storage space this is more likely to be used during the longer runs and the Ultra itself.

Whoops it looks like I need to hurry if I want to get to………

Weekend number 3 of training has now been completed, 14 Miles on Saturday followed by 10 on Sunday. The runs went fine but there was a slight miscalculation or two on my part…..

Saturday – 14 Miles

Now things are back to normal following last weekend’s adaption to an unexpected event I could plan my run to finish at Bracknell Parkrun.

I am beginning to believe that I am going to have to make the most of this fact whilst I can as there is a strong chance that this may not be the case with the longer training runs!

When thinking about this route I quickly had an idea of where I wanted to head and knew that the mileage before Parkrun wouldn’t be an issue. Choosing to run a route that I knew into Wokingham I set out at 7:10 in the morning and settled into a relaxed pace very quickly. Now saying that it was still a pace that was a little bit on the quick side but I will admit that I am honestly finding it hard to control the pace to the level I want. Will setting a pace band on my Garmin help with this? To be honest I’m not sure. It will either help by keeping me in check or it will just prove to be an annoyance that will only affect my concentration more. But for the moment I am feeling comfortable and relaxed when running and there are no signs that the pace is something that I can hold for extended periods of time.

The route is effectively and out and back route that can be adapted to add more miles or change the scenery a little. Everything was going fine and the miles were ticking over it wasn’t until I reached mile 5 that I realised a couple of small issues.

Firstly, the route that I had in my head was going to result in running more miles than I needed to. This in itself wouldn’t have been an issue to me on a normal long run completed on a Sunday. But with the aim of getting back in time for the start of Parkrun it was something that I couldn’t afford to do. Luckily for me there was a simple resolution to this and that was to simply run around a roundabout and then head back the way I came. A quick look at the watch and the time then highlighted my second miscalculation.

It was at this point that I realised I had actually set out for the run later than I should have, add in a short pit stop on route and I was starting to realise that I could miss the start of Parkrun.

Now I know that this really wouldn’t have been the end of the world to most runners. But with it being such a big part of my life and add to that the aim of reaching 100 Parkruns before the year is out, I am trying to ensure I miss as few as possible. At this point in the run I had about 5 miles to go before I got to Parkrun and a quick look at the watch showed I had just about 50 minutes to do this in.

If I am being completely honest with myself it would have been a really bad day if I hadn’t of completed the 5 miles in the time needed, but all the same I made the decision to up the pace a little to be sure I got there with a couple of minutes to spare. Ultimately the pick up in pace wasn’t anything too drastic and I still felt more than comfortable at the pace and as luck had it everything worked out perfectly.

I arrived at Bracknell Parkrun with 5 minutes to spare this gave me enough time to take my hydration pack off, have a drink and a gel and get to the start line in time. In fact things had worked out so well that I arrived at the start line with my watch ticking over to 11 miles. This meant the 3 miles from the Parkrun would make up the 14 miles needed for the day.

The Parkrun itself was taken comfortably with no pressure on pace or time target and soon I crossed the finish line and my run for the day was completed. In fact because of this one small fact it allowed me to do something I don’t get to do all that often, I walked home.

Mile Splits : 9:20, 9:14, 9:16, 9:18, 9:19, 9:24, 9:20, 9:02, 9:01, 9:03, 9:10, 9:12, 8:56, 9:04, 0:50 (0.11 mile)

Total Distance : 14.11 miles

Total Time : 2:09:31

Avg Pace : 9:11

Sunday – 10 Miles

Trying to add some variety in to these Sunday routes is going to prove to be a little tricky. The obvious thing is to run some of the routes in reverse and the in some case (such as this route) these will be advantageous as it will alter the positions of the climbs etc. But ultimately there maybe a few runs where I head out in a general direction and let them take me where I end up.

Once again this route started on the Bracknell Half route (a stable favourite at the moment as I know the mileage points almost by heart) before taking a different direction to complete a small loop before heading back roughly the same way I came.

All in the all the run was uneventful and very relaxed. The purpose of doing the back to back long runs is to get used to running on tired legs, being honest though at the moment they aren’t having much affect on me. Maybe that’s something I have to look forward to with the up coming longer runs??

Mile Splits : 9:04, 9:30, 9:14, 9:22, 9:25, 9:23, 9:10, 9:18, 9:28, 9:11, 5:52 (0.67 mile)

Total Time : 1:38:58

Total Distance : 10.67 Miles

Avg Pace : 9:16

It seems that running 10 miles in around the 90 minute mark is something that is really comfortable for me at the moment. If I can carry that pace for 3 times the amount I will be more than happy come lunchtime on August 5th!

Next Years Goal : Update

Well it is now all confirmed I have my place for next years North Downs Way 50 Miler!

I Love It When A Plan……….

So weekend No 2 of training for the Round Reading 50K a weekend of 12 miles followed by 10 miles. Routes planned out and raring to go!

So of course that meant one thing! Straight away a spanner in the works! Bracknell Parkrun was cancelled on the Friday due to a fallen tree in the woods which left me with the possibility of doing the whole 12 miles without a Parkrun to finish off. To be honest not a major issue as I know of several routes I can run to make up that sort of mileage, but it was a little bit of a shame as Parkrun is a major part of my Saturdays.

Obviously lots of people once they found out were planning Parkrun tourism trips to different local events. But not having my own transport and the need to complete the extra miles just meant options would be limited to me. But then out of the blue a running club colleague offered me a lift to the Parkrun they were going to so the plan for the weekend was adapted.

Thankfully one thing in my favour was that it was a bank holiday weekend which meant I could delay the two scheduled runs by a day each. This then left the possibility of having a real go at the Parkrun I would be visiting.

New Plan Phase One : Upton Court Parkrun (Saturday)


So an 8 am meet up with Ula and we were on our way to one of the two Parkrun’s I near by Slough. When it was decided that would be the destination I had a quick look at the course and thought it would be a good one to open up the legs a bit, something I haven’t really been able to do at Bracknell for a while due to the course change (more on that to come). It was a two lap course comprised of about 50 – 50 grass and tarmac, the weather didn’t look too bad, a hint of some possible rain but only light showers if anything.

On arrival we met up with a few others from BFR and made our way to the start / finish area near the rugby club . One member of BFR was running his 50th Parkrun so that meant one thing. CAKE!!! The benefits of regularly going to Bracknell Parkrun and evidently it follows you wherever you decide to run lol. Our local photographer Simon Light had decided to volunteer and take photos as well which mean there were two other regular faces to be seen (his wife Jane was running). One thing that Simon mentioned and became very quickly obvious was that the number of runners is significantly lower than Bracknell averaging just over 100 compared to Bracknell’s almost 400. So this opened up the possibility of a highest ever Parkrun finishing place. Yes I know it’s not a race it’s a run but hey small victories should be taken when on offer he he.

A quick briefing about the course by the run director then it was time to gather at the start. There was a brief shower as we were getting ready to start but it didn’t last long and helped in the fact it cooled the air a little. The only worry was whether or not it would put a sheen of water on the grass that could possibly affect your footing when moving from the grass to the tarmac. Thankfully this turned out not to be the case which was another small victory.

We were given the countdown and we started it was a little strange starting somewhere different for a change but soon I was up near the front runners. The start was on grass and it gave me a chance to see how my new Mizuno Wave Riders would handle the terrain. One of the good things about the park as a whole was there were posts marking the kilometre points for the 5k distance. We were soon arriving at the 1k marker, a quick look at my watch told me that I had gone out far too quickly and my pace was definitely in the realms of wishful thinking. I actively took the foot of the pedal a little to slow things down so not to completely die on my feet. But soon enough my watch buzzed on my wrist.

Mile 1 : 6:59

Here I was pulling out a sub 7 minute mile (okay just) at the start of a ‘race’, this echoed the start I made earlier on in the year at the Run the Solar System 10k. I knew then as I did now it was not a good thing and slowing down was the next course of action.

We moved on some tarmac for a short while on the first lap before going round the outside of a small field before returning to the tarmac again. This diversion was only on the first lap of the course so it meant that there was a small bit of variety to the laps. Back on the tarmac and we were heading back to the start / finish area getting ready to start the second lap. Starting the second lap there was a quick run through a break in some fencing to get back up on the grass and back around the big field. By this time I was starting to feel the quick start and made a quick decision that once the 2nd miles ticked over I would take a sneaky walking break. The weather was fast beginning to warm up after the rain and this just made the decision for the walk break that little easier. Reaching the top end of the main field and the watch buzzed for the second mile.

Mile 2 : 7:20

Still a good paced mile but also closer to what I should have paced myself to at the beginning. The last mile was dominated by on thing and that was the walking break at the beginning of it. That act alone would ensure that the last mile was the slowest one of the three. But with the fact that the majority of it was to be done one tarmac and have a portion of down hill I knew that I would be able to keep a good pace once I started to run again.


At the top of the field where you turned on to the tarmac we were greeted with a view of Windsor Castle in the distance, not a bad sight to have when running a Parkrun. 

To be honest the rest of the run was completed without anything of note happening. That was until I crossed the finish line and noted my time.

Mile 3 : 7:40

Total Time : 22:33

A brand spanking new PB! Not sure where it came from and it’s only 4 seconds quicker than my Bushy Park Parkrun time which was set just after Berlin last year, but its a boost to the confidence levels.

I finished 20th out of 130 runners and first BFR home.

All in all the unexpected Parkrun Tourism was a success and I have come away from it knowing that on the right course on the right day a sub 22 min 5k time is on the cards. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later lol.
New Plan Phase Two : 12 Miles (Sunday)

So here we are a day late but the next training session is there to be completed. There is definitely something that I realised / learnt on this run and that is just how much the Bracknell Parkrun course takes out of your legs! But more on that later!

I had decided what the basis of my run direction was going to be the day before and knowing what the weather and temperature had been like in the buildup I made sure that I used my hydration pack for the run and if being honest I think it will be used for all the runs at the moment! From the off I was remaining focussed on the pace side of the run trying to ensure I kept it down and in the 9 min mile range (preferably the aim was between 9:20 – 9:40). This meant trying to find the right sort of stride length and style to achieve this aim. I was pleased at the end to see that for the most part I kept the miles in the 9’s but still have a little bit of focus and work to keep them consistently where I need them to be!

Mile Splits : 9:10, 9:23, 9:13, 9:13, 9:18, 9:23, 9:27, 9:37, 9:47, 9:51, 10:01, 8:58.

Not a bad set of mile times but it’s obvious a little bit of work still to be done.

But if you notice miles 9, 10 & 11 are the slowest of the run. Now this is because of one decision I made out on the run and one decision alone. The route I was running was effectively an out and back. It was a bit shorter than I thought but that didn’t matter too much as I knew adding on the extra miles at the end would not be an issue. But here’s where the decision made me come to my realisation I mentioned earlier. I decided that as I had missed out on running Bracknell Parkrun I would pretty much end the run with completing the Parkrun and the run home. Now I have run the new course several times so know it completely so there was no issue with running the course. But it soon became apparent that the further around the course I went the harder it was beginning to feel. Now if I had made the decision to finish the run in another way I don’t think I would have felt the effects as much as I did on this run. But running the course was definitely starting to take its toll on me and this is reflected in the increasing mile times. 

That being said I completed the extra miles around the course and headed home. The last mile turned out to be the fastest but this is something that is not new to me or something I am overly worried about.

Total Distance : 12.14 miles

Time : 1:54:37

Avg Pace : 9:27

The New Plan Phase Three : 10 Miles (Monday)

Again I set out with the hydration pack and focussed on pace. This run ended up being in two parts but that was only down to taking a short break to plan the route home. I decided that a run up to Englemere Pond and back again would be a good change of pace for this run. It’s something I have only ever done once before so it was still a good change of scenery. I ran up the the pond and did a lap around it before taking sometime to think about the route home.

Part 1 Mile Splits : 9:27, 9:17, 9:24, 9:22, 10:00, 5:45 (0.56 mile).

At this point I could have run home the exact same way as I came and made the 10 miles but I thought why not change it up a bit. So I stopped my watch took a drinks break and decided how I wanted to change the run home.

The change wasn’t anything major or drastic it just took me down a road that I don’t normally run and then back the way I have been finishing my 10k’s recently. It meant a couple of inclines but nothing that I couldn’t handle and it’s something that I need to ensure I add for the goals that I have got coming up. Again the end of the run was routine with no real talking points / concerns and soon enough I was back home and another weekend training was completed.

Part 2 Mile Splits : 9:28, 9:18, 9:20, 9:22, 5:12 (0.59 mile

Total Distance : 10.15 Miles

Time : 1:35:57

Avg Pace : 9:27

The weekends running shows that I have gotten better at the pacing but there are a couple of slower miles that have skewed the average pace a little, had it not been for them it would show it’s still a work in progress. But overall it’s another bout of training completed with no real issues to speak of something I am pleased with. As the weekends running totals ramp up slowly it will be interesting to see how I fare. During Berlin training the longer distances where definitely where I struggled the most. But I have more experience and more miles behind me now so the progress on these will be a good bench mark for me and seeing just what benefits I have kept from my marathon journey.

On to the next weekends training we go…….

The Three Targets ( The Next One, The Unexpected One & Next Year’s One)

We have reached the point where the next running target is coming into focus more and more now. But to change things around a bit I am going to leave that target til last in this post and all will become clear soon enough. In fact I am going to go through them in reverse order.

Next Year’s Goal – Update

As I have said before in my post at the beginning of the year I wondered what to focus on after Berlin last year. The decision was made that the focus would be on something longer and something that wouldn’t happen until 2018!

The North Downs Way 50 Miler was the chosen target and shortly afterwards the initial steps were taken to make that happen. Centurion Running who organise the events have a wonderful rapport with their runners and those interested in their events, they even go so far as to offer free places to events if you volunteer for a set amount of time the year before. So that’s exactly what I arranged to do. On the 6th May I made my way to the Botley Hill aid station the last one on the course (43 miles) and spent the afternoon encouraging each of the 240+ runners through the last stopping point.

Botley Hill Aid Station Location

It was a great afternoon and gave me a real insight into just how different the Ultra running community is compared to most other race environments. From the moment everything had been arranged I reached out on Facebook to the Centurion group to see if anyone else who was working the same aid station would be able to pick me up from the closest train station. Within an hour of putting the post up I had had a response and a lift was arranged.

So on the day there I was at the train station being picked up for the last part of the journey. We were due to arrive at the aid station early enough to set up everything before the first runner was expected to arrive. Straight away there was no animosity between the different people who were volunteering no matter whether you were a regular at the events or as I was a first timer. Soon we were all joking and getting along as if we had known each other for some time. The atmosphere was so engaging and nothing changed throughout the 7 odd hours we were there. Each of us had set tasks to perform but there was a fluid nature to it all and we would all give a hand where needed. 


As the runners started to filter through the aid station slowly at first (the first runner coming through the aid station eventually went on to set a new course record) the team were on hand to provide anything needed. Everyone gave words of encouragement to the runners and each one of them gave their thanks for our help and for just giving up our time to be there.

The day drew on and the runners came through more frequently. I had a list of people that I knew who were running and when I spotted each one I gave a big cheer some encouraging words and hugs when needed. There was even the chance to do a bit of celebrity spotting as well. Several of the volunteers knew a lot of the runners either through the Ultra Running scene or through previous Centurion events but I knew of two people running that it would be good to see as they came through.

Susie Chan & Sophie Raworth

Sophie Raworth (BBC Newsreader) was running her first Ultra that day as was being accompanied by a friend and well known name to a lot of runners Susie Chan. I had been lucky enough to see both of them when I volunteered at the London Marathon at the end of April but this was a more relaxed setting so was able to talk a little more freely. Both were in good spirits as they came through and just as everyone else had they cursed the hill they had to climb to reach the aid station. 

The day was drawing to a close and the last few runners were coming through, in the end only two runners had to stop their runs at our aid station as they had arrived after the cut off time. Both were in good spirits despite the obvious disappointment of getting so far but not being able to finish.

The events team came to collect all of the equipment from the aid station and soon it was time for us all to leave and go our separate ways. I left with a lot of good memories from my first exposure to a Centurion Event and I look forward to hopefully being part of more in the future.

Next step on my Centurion adventure is in a years time, when I will be the one cursing the hill and thanking the volunteers.

Well if all goes to plan of course…….

The Unexpected Goal

Life is at its best when something unexpected happens.

That is exactly what happened to me. I randomly entered a competition on the Men’s Running Facebook page which asked us to give our reasons for running (Which was the overlying theme of this years London Marathon). My response was based around the closeness and friendliness of my club.

To be honest I had partly forgotten about the contest and when a notification popped up on my phone saying that Men’s Running liked my post I thought nothing more of it as I was expecting them to like all submitted posts. But then 15 minutes later another Facebook Notification popped up on my phone. This time saying that Men’s Running had mentioned me in a comment! So I open up Facebook and take a look…..

Low and behold I had won the competition! My prize free entry into this years Bournemouth Marathon in October.

So it now appears that my first Ultra is going to also be training for my next marathon adventure!

The Next Goal

So here we are the focus can now switch back to the next immediate goal the Round Reading 50K.

I mentioned in my last blog post that I would comment on the training for the 50K and how I was going to go about it. Now as I have started the training it seemed the right time to explain my thinking behind it.

Unlike the training for Berlin I won’t be sticking 100% to a training plan, but I have found one and will be using it to guide my training. Upon looking online at training plans for 50K and talking to members of my running club and the online community it appeared that the most important aspect was getting used to running on tired legs. A lot of comments that I received stated that you could easily train for a 50K on a marathon training plan. This pleased me as I knew that I could stick to such a plan with little to no real issues. But in the end I decided against following a plan 100% as it would mean a lot of training on my own again with very little options for others to join me, something that I am both proud of myself and at the same time a little divided about when it came to training for Berlin.

So here is the gist of how my training will be going up until race day. I very quickly made the decision that I wouldn’t make any specific changes to my running during the week. Currently I run two mornings ( usually a 10k & 4 mile route) and hope to get back into the track sessions with the club as well. To me this is a perfect enough mix for the overall goal as it will keep my legs moving during the week with speed work, running on feel and recovery all utilised

Where I will be taking aspects from a training plan and possibly the most important aspect of the overall training is going to be done on the weekends. The introduction of double long run days & running twice in one day will be used to steadily get me used to running on tired legs. 

Below is the schedule of how many miles will be run in the build up over each weekend (Sat / Sun) :

Week 1 : 10 & 10

Week 2 : 12 & 10

Week 3 : 14 & 10

Week 4 : 16 & 10

Week 5 : 18 & 10

Week 6 : 20 & 10

Week 7 : 10 & 10

Week 8 : 22 & 10

Week 9 : 22 & 10

Week 10 : 24 & 10

Week 11 : 10 & 10

Week 12 : Race Day

As you can clearly see there is going to be some big mileage weekends (and weeks) coming up so it is important that I tackle each week with the correct focus and understanding the importance of one thing.

Running Slowly!

Now for those of you who followed my Berlin Training will know that the biggest struggle I faced was quite simply managing my pacing and keeping the pace slow enough when needed. But I find myself in a position where this is even more important this time around. As a coach said to me for the 50k train slow and race a touch slower. I can understand the logic behind that advice but to me I think that will be more important in the build up to the NDW50 next year. In my head I have a time goal that I am aiming for on the day but it’s not something that I will be making public just yet.

The next point of training (which is something I will be talking to my coaches about more soon) is how to tackle the big mileage Saturdays. Do I do them as one long run? Is there any harm in breaking them in to two smaller runs? And will that have the same desired effect from the training?

Personally I expect that a mix will be the best way to tackle those runs but most importantly I need to be able to find some different places to run so to break the monotony of doing all the training on the roads and paths that I already know so well. There is an idea of possibly doing the 24 mile Saturday run on the North Downs Way and it may turn out to be the 1st 24 miles of the NDW50 route so to kill two birds with one stone. But I also need to see if I can find some other mad people to keep me company on the runs as well in order to get away from the feeling of isolation from the club I felt at times training last year.

Week 1 : Saturday 10 Miles & Sunday 10 Miles

Saturday

As with my Berlin training most of my runs on Saturdays will be based around including Parkruns. So this meant one thing for the first Saturday, planning a route and deciding what time I would need to leave if I was going to do the bulk of the running before Parkrun. Thankfully on this occasion there hasn’t been much real planning needed I knew of a couple of routes starting at home that would get me 5 miles with out any issues. Add in the extra mile that would get me to Parkrun and the first part of today’s run would get me in just over 6 miles.

Mile 1 : 8:18

Mile 2 : 8:23

Mile 3 : 8:19

Mile 4 : 8:19

Mile 5 : 8:37

Mile 6 : 8:39

0.44 Mile : 3:57

Total 6.44 Miles – Time 54:32 – Avg Pace 8:28

Well surprise surprise the first thing to notice here is that the pace is too quick for the purpose of the training. This was a feature of this first run and just further proof that it is something I need to really focus on.

I arrive at Parkrun with plenty of time to spare which gave me the chance to catch up with club mates, familiar faces and friends from the website FetchEveryone.com. There was an unusually high number of ‘Fetchies’ in attendance today all gathering for one reason. One of the group, Charlie (the friend who paced me at Wokingham Half earlier on in the year) was running his 100th Parkrun so the promise of cake had brought them all to Bracknell for the morning.

As for the run itself it was definitely a gentle affair, but since the change of course a gentle run can feel harder than it should. But I knew that it wouldn’t be a put everything in type of run even if you take in to account the 6 miles before hand.

Mile 1 : 9:23

Mile 2 : 8:37

Mile 3 : 8:28

0.1 Mile : 0:30

Total 3.1 Miles – Time 26:58 : Avg Pace 8:46

That just left a simple run home to finish up the mileage for the day.

Total 1.36 Miles – Time 12:08 – Avg Pace 8:56

So that was the first training session completed a little over the 10 miles needed but that’s okay and not something that I overly mind. But here is the information on the complete run :

Miles 10.9 – Time 1:33:38 – Avg Pace 8:35

As I knew from the first part of the run it worked out to be a pace that was too quick for the purposes needed. In fact it’s almost a whole minute a mile too quick and something that I need to focus on moving forward.

Sunday

Thankfully the runs on Sundays are going to be more straight forward in the respect that they can be done in one run rather than breaking them up as shown with Saturdays run. The only real issue for the Sunday runs (which are all going to be 10 miles in distance) is finding different routes to take rather than constantly relying on one route for the entire time. Not only would this become monotonous and boring it would really be a waste of the opportunity I have to discover new routes and undiscovered areas.

But to play it comfortable for this first run I stuck to the tried and tested Bracknell Half Marathon route just making a slight alteration to shorten the mileage covered.

Mile Splits : 9:02, 9:23, 9:10, 9:19, 9:20, 9:16, 9:19, 9:17, 9:24, 9:10

As it’s plainly obvious to see I made an effort to keep the pace down during this run, and if I’m being honest it’s still a struggle but at least it’s a step in the right direction. The trouble I am finding (and this is probably true for most runners) is that trying to keep the pace down doesn’t feel natural with my stride. Slowing the stride down makes me feel awkward and cumbersome but it is something that I will have to get used to especially when it comes to next years challenge.

This is one of the reasons that I am hoping I can find others to join me on the run as I’ve always been able to feel okay when running slower paces with a group. So let’s keep our fingers crossed on this one!

Miles 10.07 – Time : 1:33:14 – Avg Pace 9:16

So there we are the first two training runs completed and a lot of work still ahead both in terms of miles to be run and controlling the pacing. But a start has been made and that is the most important thing right now. I will be keeping you up to date with the training as the weeks progress, so if you want to follow me n this next journey then please do so.

One last point of business in my last blogpost I also mention that I had a difficult post to write and share. This hasn’t been forgotten about but it is taking longer than expect to complete so please bear with me.