Thursday, 18 August 2016

Not 'Running' OK in the UK there anybody out there???

I doubt it, I haven't posted in well over a year, mainly because I haven't been running in that time!

Why? Well partly due to injury, yes I still suffer with achillies problems. If you used to read the blog regularly you will remember this was a constant problem to me. It's not got any better, in fact it's now so chronic that even after a year, every time I try to run the pain returns.

The other reason is that I've found something to replace the running...Speedflex.

Speedflex is HIIT (High intensity interval training) which uses a combination of non weight lifting machines and auxiliary exercises (weighted bags, medicine balls, kettle bells, exercise ropes). Due to the way the machines work and the excercises that you do on them, there is no muscle soreness after the workout so you can train everyday. The machines work against your own effort and resistance. I do this 4-5 days a week, at 7am. It lasts 30 minutes, in a class with a great bunch of people.

I've been doing Speedflex for 11 months now and feel better physically and mentally then I ever was with running!

I miss the outdoor element of running but that has been replaced with long hikes over the last year, as I have done and trained for the 3 peaks challenge (2015) and a 14 peak challenge this year in the Lake District.

The 3 peak challenge last year took me to a place mentally and physically, running had not taken me before. I'm glad I done it but would not do again. The logistics of travelling the 3 countries of the UK in 24 hours and climbing the highest mountain in each of the countries was tough!

The 14 peaks this year was 9.5 hours of walking over some of the higher peaks of the Lake District. It was kinder, still tough, but more relaxed and we had good weather! One thing we did not have with the 3 peaks last year! On Snowdon in Wales last year we experienced some of the worst weather that I, and our experienced guide had seen on the mountain.

Let's move on.....Bad memories........

Will I run again? I'm not sure, it was a massive part of my life over the last 10 years but I'm enjoying my exercise and hobbies more than ever with my spare time now.

I've even made a song! 😂😂😂
I've always enjoyed singing and songwriting and in the last year have teamed up with a local guy to write and record some stuff. We have one song out at the moment but still working on new material. It's a long process especially when we only get together 1-2 times a week but I enjoy it but don't expect to be the next Justin Bieber anytime soon!!!

If you're at all interested or even reading this! Here's a couple of links to the song:
So that's where I've been. I miss the blog, I miss the fresh air but things are going OK in the UK.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Keep calm and carry on walking

A good week starting with a visit to the North East with my sons to see our Newcastle United survive in the top flight of English football (soccer if you're reading this the other side of the pond) and visit the beautiful city of Durham and the Angel of the North.

Fast forward to Wednesday and I was joined by regular running buddy Brian and two other work colleagues, Matt and David for a midweek 12 mile walk. Along with our boss and his girlfriend, the six of us will be attempting the 3 peaks challenge in July.

Brian and myself have done some walking mixed in with our running training but it was nice to be joined by two other members of the team.

Down in the south of England we don't exactly have a mountain like Ben Nevis to practice on but we do have the North Downs, which has plenty of challenging hills to train on.

This panoramic taken near Newlands Corner at sunset shows the beautiful views of the Surrey hills beyond.

The quaint church of St Martha's and the views beyond are well worth the effort up the big hill that gets you here. You may have read my recent post of my struggle and relief of finally running up this hill!

David and Brian taking the lead with Catholic Apostolic church in the parish of Albury beyond.

The silent pool, an eerie still natural spring supposed to be haunted by a drowned maiden fleeing deeper into the pool from a horseman believed to be Prince John in the 1200's.

Another view of the  Catholic Apostolic church, Albury.

The picturesque village of Shere, this was our half way turn around point before doubling back. We didn't give in to temptation and stop at the inviting pub for a quick pint!

Selfie time at the Silent that the ghost of the maiden mistake it's only Matt ;-)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Running up stairs

With only a couple of months to go till the 3 peaks challenge, it's time to get more specific with my training.

The last months training has involved a weekly hilly 10 mile training run, but extra leg strengthening training is required so I'm adding stair running.

The 3 peaks is a walking challenge but I'm trying to incorporate the training for this event into my running. At the end of the day I need to strengthen my legs to cope with walking 9800 ft of ascent so my thinking is that if I can run up hills, walking them should be easier.

If there is one thing a runner wants to take from the famous Rocky training scenes then its the running up stairs!

Go Rocky! (GIF from Gifmania)

Remember Rocky IV , When it comes to training I'm more Balboa than Drago! Who needs fancy gyms and technology when you can train with what's around you for free.

So this week one of my lunchtime runs involved running down to Woking town centre and hitting the flights of stairs in the multi storey carpark. The stairs I used were adjacent to the main lifts, so hardly anyone uses them which made the workout easier. In the time I had, I managed 5 ascents and descents, which accumulated to about 400 ft. Not bad for a lunchtime session and the legs knew they had done it.....*Plays the Rocky music*

My new gym...Woking multi storey carpark!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Beating the nemesis

Nemesis - An opponent that cannot be beaten or overcome.

Last Monday I had a course to attend in the morning in Guildford,Surrey, which ran until around 11am. This meant I was able to squeeze a 4 mile run in one of my favourite run areas before going back to work.

Panoramic on the way to St Martha's

The beautiful North Downs way runs through Guildford and offers some of the best scenic views and trails in the south of England. One of my favourite spots is up by St Martha's Church.

The only problem is to get there involves quite a climb, one I've tried on many a training run but have never managed to run to the top and always had to stop and walk. 

I have managed it once before in 2011 while running the Pilgrims marathon but that was coming up the hill on a different side.

Where hill training was concerned St Martha's had become my nemesis.

The hill to St Martha's (How come hills never look that steep in photo's?)

500 ft climb,steep gradient, legs burning, voice in my head telling me to give up...but something today kept me going, maybe it was the recent hillier runs I have been doing? Lucky there was no one around as I screamed blue murder as I neared the top.

*cue the Rocky fanfare music*

I'd done it. St Martha's, my nemesis for a few years.....had been beaten!

The view from St Martha's (Church on the left)

This made the run back downhill to the car all the more sweeter on a beautiful warm spring morning.

On the way back down

Other runners may find this hill easier than me, some may not even call it a hill, but to me it was big achievement in my own little running world.

Nemesis beaten!!!

Friday, 17 April 2015

3 peaks training

This week was time to crank up the training for the 3 peaks challenge in July. Along with friend Brian, the plan was to run a 10 mile loop on the trails over the ranges; an undulating first mile, fairly flat for the next 4, and then the tougher last 5 miles culminating nearly 700ft of ascent. Then come back to the cars, put on the walking boots and rucksacks, and do it all again but this time walking the loop.

A total of 1400ft ascent on the night is way off the 9800ft we will climb on the challenge but never the less, it was a good training session. 

For one there is no running involved on the 3 peaks event, so the idea of running the first 10 miles was to get us feeling tired both physically and mentally before beginning our walk. Also we started the walk just as the daylight was fading, so we also got used to walking in the dark.

The Lake at night -not the most interesting of pictures!....but 
 you can see Jupiter in the sky!

It was a chance to try out some fuelling as well. It was quite nice to be able to enjoy a chicken wrap while on the move, something I'm not used to while running. Add to that a chocolate milkshake and a berry 'Naked' bar, and it made for an enjoyable feast!

The obvious observation made from the nights activities was that walking is a damn sight slower than running! There were stretches that fly by on the run that seemed to take an age whilst walking. 

While running on trails you have to be focused and concentrate all the time, watching for tree stumps and loose rocks. Walking you don't have to be as alert, so at times knowing the trails in this area so well, at times became frustrating and boring covering the same ground twice as slow and in the dark.

In total we were on our feet for 4.5 hours. Running for 1.5 hours and walking for 3. I was pretty tired, more mentally than physically as we head back to the cars for a second time that night. But that was the aim of the exercise and we both agreed that we gained some good experience from the night. One thing I learnt is that I must purchase some proper walking socks!!!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Parkrun tour #3 Alice Holt

Next on the Parkrun tour is Alice Holt, 11 miles from home, a 851 hectares (2,100 acres) Forrest, South of Farnham in Surrey. 

As this was my first parkrun at this location, I went to the new runners briefing which was imformative and well delivered. There was quite a few new runners, maybe from it being the long Easter weekend.

The course is two loops, the first around a mile long. The second loop follows part of the first mile and then takes in more of the Forrest. See above......does that not remind you of a whale entering the sea with part of its back and tail?....only me?....ok let's move on! 

Definitely trail trainers for this run. There is a mixture of terrain but there is also some sharp corners with mud and stones as you hit the bottom of some of the downhills, so good grip is required.

This is an undulating course so chances of a 5K PB are slim. Having said that there are plenty of fast downhill sections particularly on the first lap, but what goes down must come up!

Just before the 2 mile mark there is a hill. It's fairly steep but fortunately not too long. From then on the course undulates to the finish line. My legs were quite tired after the run!

Apologies for the blurred picture above and doesn't do justification how beautiful the course is. There is some lovely sections where you are in deep pine Forrest, well worth a visit whether you're running, walking or cycling, all of which are popular at Alice Holt.

There's lots of changes in direction but these were well marshalled, so no problem with course directions and the main race briefing at the start was good too. Ran like a well oiled machine. I shall be back.

Runners 248
Atmosphere 8.5 out of 10
Scenery 9 out of 10
PB potential 6 out of 10