Fell Running Anyone ?

Took the opportunity for a quick hill walking visit to Snowdonia at the weekend primarily planning to do the Snowdon Horseshoe time permitting on the Saturday and Tryfan on the Sunday. A little bit wary of the challenge having had a hamstring strain for about two months which has seriously curtailed training and racing. Also conscious of the fact that the weather forecast indicated very hot and sunny conditions. Not ideal for hill walking and scrambling. Started off on the Snowdon Ranger path which was a bit of a boring slog but certainly a good hill ascent  training workout. Path very busy and the summit itself felt more like Piccadilly Circus on a Saturday afternoon with all ages shapes sizes and languages. Bit of a shock as my only previous visit to the summit in the past had been at around 5 am in the morning when it was beautifully quiet. On that occasion had gone up via the Crib Goch arete and then ran down from the summit via the PYG track.The “walk” along Crib Goch was as I remembered – exposed(particularly along the “Knife Edge” section) and requiring a lot of two hands on Grade 1 scrambling. Decided to turn back to the summit at the end of the arete so an interesting experience in there and back route finding. Given the heat and the time factor decided to leave the second part of the  Horseshoe for another day. Decision also influenced by the fact that having negotiated all the  major rocks of Crib Goch twice I somehow managed to trip over a small rock on the flat saddle section leading from the end of the arete back to Snowdon summit. Slightly bruised and cut hand,leg and bottom – but seriously injured ego! Woke up the the following morning with a stiff/sore hipbone and not sure whther I would be able to manage Tryfan which I had never done before but which I knew involved a lot of heavy duty rock scrambling in the summit approach. As it turned out despite it being an even hotter day managed the summit (marked by the famous twin slab rocks known as “Adam and Eve”) via the South Ridge Route. Busy but nowhere near the scale of footfall(and trainfall) compared with Snowdon.

What a tremendous weekend training work out for quads,calf and hamstrings with all that stretching and pushing on the rocks (appears touch wood  to have had a positive effect on hamstring strain).

Having done a lot of reading on Fell Running in recent months I came away  with a renewed respect for the Fell Running community who apart from the lung busting ascents have to negotiate a lot of potentially ankle breaking ridges and rocks in running as opposed to walking mode in pursuit of their hobby.

Caution not for the faint hearted or those wary of heights !

By | 2018-06-27T19:14:49+00:00 June 27th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

Going out in the Midday Sun for a long long run

The last few of weeks following on from the hypothermic Beast from the East have seen some of the highest spring temperatures on record and certainly the hottest conditions on record for the London Marathon with a lot of runners including elite runners suffering and slowing badly  in the second half of the race. The usual culprit in this scenario certainly  for a lot of the less experienced or first time  marathoners is  over exuberance in the first few miles of what is a fast course and allied to the extreme heat and little experience or practice in hydration and fueling  techniques this can lead to a severe fall off in pace and potentially very serious problems in the second half of the race. 

A lot of runners including experienced marathoners view preparation for a marathon as simply a question of maxing out on long runs and total weekly mileages interspersed with tempo runs intervals and the occasional hill session in the 14-16 week build up to the day with the basic thinking being  that with all this mileage and quality trainingg under the belt the job is done. Yes most runners would have set for themselves a general race pace and split times plan based on their training and race times achievements and most runners will have a basic understanding of the need to hydrate before and during the race and to take on board some sort of supplementary fuel  particularly during the second half. It is likely though that only a minority actually experimented and practiced hydration and fueling before and during the long runs in their programme.Given the conditions which transpired  in London on the day this would have had major consequences.

When it comes to hydration and fueling needs each runner is of course different. However when it comes to hydration the basic principle is the same for everyone.We need blood to transport oxygen and nutrients to our muscles to enable muscular activity such as running and to dissipate skin heat generated by that activity and maintain a safe body core temperature. A major component in our blood circulatory system (our blood volume ) is water. We  therefore need to be fully hydrated ( but not over hydrated)  before a long run or a race and we need  to replace what we are losing during a long run or a race. We lose water progressively during a long run or race so we should replace water progressively ie sipping not gulping.

So best advice is to use your longer pre marathon runs to practice fluid intake and as with your pacing and split times plan have a hydration strategy ready for the day. If as was the case with London it is forecast to be a  “Midday Sun” challenge then plan to increase the relative amounts of water taken on board before the race and during the race to address the increased loss of fluid. Remember also to factor in a 3 or 4 extra degrees to the forecasted air temperature to allow for the reflected  heat from the running surface the reduced air circulation resulting from the sheer volume of runners and the crowds the  barricades and the  building densities throughout the route.



By | 2018-05-09T13:25:23+00:00 May 9th, 2018|Blog|Comments Off on Going out in the Midday Sun for a long long run

Shaggy Grass Story

Spring has sprung/summer almost here. Well yes and no for runners. Yes the temperatures have shot up significantly and the daylight hours are longer but for off road running it`s still very much a winter cross country scenario given the recent very heavy spells of rain.  E.G.  during the week a  10k training  run along what should by now be a reasonably dry Stour Valley Cycle Path route turned out to be a bit of a mudfest with long stretches of the path flooded. And yesterday a 5k run round a newly marked grass track turned out to be a bit of a slog through what was  very long shaggy grass. Still good mental training as expecting ground conditions to be well what you would expect ground conditions to be when a track has been newly marked and instead having to dig deep and just get on with it.Dib dib !

By | 2018-04-15T13:50:18+00:00 April 15th, 2018|Blog|Comments Off on Shaggy Grass Story

Beastly Running and Racing

The weather in the last 3 – 4 weeks has to put it mildly(sic) being playing havoc with the training and racing programmes of runners. And without doing the research I imagine that a large number of  scheduled individual  road events as well as the weekly Park Runs here in the South East have had to be cancelled for health and safety reasons in terms of risks on the course and the risks of actually getting to and from locations.The Big Beast from the East has been and gone and we are currently experiencing a much less disruptive beastie but one which is still causing cancellations of events.These weeks must have been particularly frustrating for spring marathoners who have been unable to build on their mileage base at a critical point in their training programme and perhaps have missed a targeted half marathon or 20 mile race. The temptation understandably may have been and may still be to try to make up for lost mileage by increasing distance/duration of weekly endurance runs in the weeks remaining before the planned marathon. Wrong thing to do as it will  undermine all the good work to date and could lead to over use injuries. Best advice is simply to carry on with the existing programme as is and make sure that the taper down period (ideally three weeks) is as originally planned and hopefully you will go into the big race with a positive mojo.

By | 2018-03-17T19:08:54+00:00 March 17th, 2018|Blog|Comments Off on Beastly Running and Racing

Cross Country Cocktail Sunday 4th February

First race back after a persistent Achilles niggle , minimal training , and only my  second cross country  effort in the season. Could not have chosen a worse one (or best depending on your XC tastes) in terms of conditions. In the final Kent Fitness League event over 5 miles round Blean Woods the British winter threw everything it had at us. A veritable cocktail of the best of traditional British  winter weather. Bitterly cold , windy, heavy rainalternating with sleet or hailstone showers with an exotic mix of sunny spells and yes a rainbow as extra special flavouring. Difficult to keep warm and warm up in the open field at the start but once in the woods  and sheltered not too bad. Underfoot conditions were just as expected ergo muddy molehills in the field , the unavoidable but  not so deep as usual  but still as dank as usual muddy pool on the exit from and the return into the field. As for the rest of the course basically varying degrees of quality mud. Still took it easy for the first half of the course and the Achilles appears to have survived the ordeal and hopefully no issues from tomorrow  onwards with it. Shame as beginning to regret just a bit that I decided not to enter the Nationals at Parliament Hill in three weeks time where if the weather continues as is there will be the finest quality Cross Country mud to be found in all of the land.

By | 2018-06-19T14:37:27+00:00 February 4th, 2018|Blog|Comments Off on Cross Country Cocktail Sunday 4th February

Canterbury 10 Mile Road Race – PA Blues

I normally get a real buzz out of doing PA commentating work at road races and the Canterbury 10 Miler has been no exception in recent years. Usually a big field (this year there were a record 1390 finishers) and featuring most of the current  top rated male and female distance runners in Kent it is  great to be there to witness and call out the names and details of as many of the runners as the rapid eye/microphone co ordination  will allow and to marvel at the sprint duels of all standards of runners in the last 30 – 40 metres. The new finish straight in Spring Lane ( at around 150 metres and now in it`s second year) allows for a very good forward view of the runners as they race towards the finishing line. This year for those reasons it  was enjoyable yes but tempered by the fact that the weather conditions (nb not necessarily for the runners) to put it unmildly(sic) were not ideal for PA commentating. The mounting and connecting of the speakers and amps wearing no gloves was uncomfortable in cold and misty but thankfully windless conditions but the real trial and test came once we had to start calling out the details of the runners as they finished. By the time the race had actually started and contrary to the weather forecast a pernicious incessant and extremely cold sleety blanket was covering Canterbury. Yes we did have thick gloves which prior to them becoming absolutely sodden did help in the interim  but they  were simply not viable when it came to the business of sliding  on and off very small microphone switches. Net result was around 1.5 hours of digital exposure (yes I know that may sound a bit rude – not intended) with blueish tinged fingers and a growing idea of what is faced by Arctic Adventurers and Himalayan Mountaineers. Frozen hands and fingers after all the equipment had been tidied up called for serious measures and a big thank you to the lady at the tea stall in the hall who kindly placed a cloth over the tea urn and allowed me to rest my hands on top which  gradually allowed me to regain the colour and the feel.

Note to self = research possible glove options for next winter !

By | 2018-06-19T14:38:21+00:00 January 27th, 2018|Blog|Comments Off on Canterbury 10 Mile Road Race – PA Blues

Marathon Training Programme

Midwinter and a lot of runners are switching their focus to Spring Marathon Training Programmes. With a range of spring marathons here and in Europe coming up in April including London , Manchester and Brighton from first-timers to experienced marathon runners to elite standard Marathon runners the priority is to plan their training and racing for a three month period round a structured Marathon Training Programme which will deliver on the day of the big race.

As with all non training programmes which are not individually tailored there are generic ones which apply to whichever category of runner you are. I have outlined a basic sample Marathon Training Programme for first time marathoners below but particularly for beginners new to running and those more experienced runners who will be attempting their first Marathon an individually tailored programme from Run and Race is an option which should be seriously considered.

A tailored programme will take into account all aspects of a runners training history to date, general health and injury issues and not least that all important life/work balance which will be even more important with the significant increase in training / running time to meet the demands of the Marathon Programme.

Before starting on this programme you should have been running around 2-3 times a week for a period of around 5-6 months.The weekly mileage builds up from a base of around 15 miles to a maximum of around 40 miles and finishes with a 2- 3 week “taper” down period prior to the big day.

Week Mon. Tues. Wed. Thurs. Fri. Sat. Sun. Total
1 Rest 3 Easy 4 Easy Rest 3 Steady Rest 6 Easy 16
2 Rest 4 E 4 E Rest 3 S Rest 8 E 19
3 Rest 4 E 4 E Rest 4 S Rest 10 E 22
4 Rest 4 E 5 E Rest 4 S Rest 12 E 25
5 Rest 5 E 5 S Rest 4 S Rest 12 E 26
6 Rest 5 E 5 S Rest 4 S Rest 12 E 26
7 Rest 3 E 4 E Rest 4 E Rest 8  E 19
8 Rest 4 E 5 S Rest 4 S Rest 12 E 25
9 Rest 5 E 6 S Rest 4 S Rest 14 E 29
10 Rest 5 E 5 S Rest 5 S Rest 14 E 29
11 Rest 5 E 7 S Rest 4 S Rest 16 E 32
12 Rest 5 E 5 S Rest 5 S Rest 18 E 33
13 Rest 6 E 7 S Rest 7 S Rest 20 40
14 Rest 5 E 5 E Rest 4 Fast Rest 14 E 30
15 Rest 3 E 4 F Rest 4 F Rest 9 E 25
16 Rest 3 E 3 F 2 F Rest Rest 26.2 MAR
By | 2018-01-26T19:12:27+00:00 January 14th, 2018|Training Plan|Comments Off on Marathon Training Programme

Cross Country Season comes round.

After a long long break from running due to a persistent upper calf strain ,  a fair amount of physio and a lot of cycling to maintain fitness levels , finally back to racing in the second of this season`s Kent Fitness League events  at Swanley Park. A beautiful crisp cold morning with just under three laps of an undulating and dry ! parkland course with over 560 runners ( the sheer size of the field led to a surreal bottleneck on the first circuit). Took it relatively easy so as not to overstress the calf muscle but had to ease back on the final lap as I became aware of a niggle developing in the lower calf. Hopefully no more than a niggle and not back to the drawing board so backing off from training for a few days with DIY physio and gentle stretching. Not quite sure about the cause but suspect in retrospect it may have stemmed from the stop/start nature of the race with the aforesaid bottleneck and the constant changes in cadence due to the various single file sections of the three laps. Still it is all part of the joys of cross country racing.

By | 2017-11-14T18:28:06+00:00 November 14th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on Cross Country Season comes round.

Parkrun Costa Del Sussex

Parkrun at Worthing in West Sussex on Saturday. Was staying in a village slightly north of the town and below the South Downs. Set off for Worthing in the pouring rain making the temperatures slightly below seasonal. By the time I arrived in Worthing the sun was out and  the temperature even so early in the morning was around 22-23C and yes in blazing sunshine. It all felt decidedly Mediterranean with a pleasant promenade out and back course  starting and finishing near the Victorian pier. Large field of around 390 augmented by runners from Brighton whose own event had been cancelled due to the Pride festival. Usual great organisation and marshalling so very enjoyable but boy the heat as I say at 9 in the morning – can`t imagine what it must be like taking part in similar events in Southern Europe given the current extreme heat wave there.

By | 2017-08-11T14:16:50+00:00 August 11th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on Parkrun Costa Del Sussex

It Aint Half Hot Mum (for endurance runners)

A busy training / racing week  with a Tuesday blast in a leg of the final East Kent Inter Club Relays event in Canterbury on Tuesday ,a tough 7 mile club training run on Thursday and a Park Run at Pegwell Bay on the Saturday. All three in what can only be described as “hot and humid” conditions which the weather forecasters are telling us are “unseasonable”. Sounds perverse but perhaps  a cooler damper August might turn out to be a bit of a treat – for us runners at least ? Hard enough over the shorter distances in this heat but can`t help thinking about the marathoners and ultra runners doing their thing. Sprinters of course have it easy!

By | 2017-07-09T16:36:06+00:00 July 9th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on It Aint Half Hot Mum (for endurance runners)