Friday, 30 December 2011

Tupper #8

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Post Christmas...Hill Training

I'm lucky to have the Ash Ranges on my door step (Just over a mile away to be exact). The area is owned by the MOD and most days is out of bounds till after 4:30pm while the Army train here. Great in the Summer but not so good in the Winter with the shorter days. Credit to the Army though, in the holidays the red flags are down and you can access all areas every day.

The area is well over 2000 hectares and consists of heath and woodland but gives you just about any other terrain you can think of....and plenty of hills. Short and sharp and plenty of long tough climbs, it's the perfect place for hill training. The beauty of it is, is that some days you can be out here and not see a soul. Even members of the British Olympic team come out of London to train here, so that gives you an idea of the quality of the area.


...and more hills (This is a tough hill, even though
 it looks just like a flat path in the picture!!!)

Paula Radcliffe on the trails
I've read recently that Paula Radcliffe does a lot of her workouts on trails for her marathon training. If it's good enough for Paula then it's good enough for me and my London marathon training. Trail running is perfect conditioning for the runners body, The uneven paths under foot strengthen your feet and ankles while the undulating landscape and hills strengthen both the legs and the core muscles. Spend 10 miles over here and I always feel that my core muscles have been worked as much as my legs.

After the indulgences of Christmas this was the perfect run to bounce back.Three days at my Sisters, eating too many sweet things,not moving and sleeping dodgy on an air bed was enough to throw my body out of kilt and feel like I had turned into a slob! But this workout which consisted of nearly 13 miles, 10 of which were spent on the hills went a long way of burning off the excesses of Christmas and get my mind firmly back on marathon training.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Out with the old....

I decided to trade in my old broken running partner Brian (Twitter: @bsmithy100) for a new updated model for the weekend run....Tim....OK not such a glamorous name, but check out the Twitter name.....@jedirider.

Of course, I'm joking! He's not really broken and still my regular running partner, but today I had the chance to run with Tim whom has been out many times with Brian and myself and we've also ran in races together including my last Marathon.

Tim, me and Brian at a previous run
With time permitting I could only get out for 10 miles today, which was a third of what Tim was completing. Tim is embarking on a wonderful journey into mad marathon.....I mean ultra marathon running and competing in next years North Face 100 in Australia, a 100km ultra race in the mountains. You can follow Tim on his journey at his new blog Tim runs the North Face .

Tim was running along the Basinstoke canal from Woking, which passes through Ash Vale where I live. Nice and flat, which was a nice change from my recent training runs where I've been hitting the hills.

Nice and flat!
I want to train a lot on the hills for next years London marathon. I spent alot of time training on them for my last marathon which was very hilly but with London being relatively flat I'm hoping the time spent on the hills will make things easier???

Another thing I want to concentrate on next year is my nutrition, I eat fairly well at the moment, but like everyone there is room for improvement.

I'm also considering doing the brilliant Janathon, a concept that will be familiar with bloggers in the UK. Basically you need to exercise and blog everyday throughout January. At the moment I'm not sure how that will fit into my marathon training and whether I have to time to blog everyday, but I still have a couple of weeks to decide.
Before then I'm going to relax and enjoy Christmas, and not worry too much about what I eat and come back in January fully focused on the London Marathon.

Thanks to everyone who follows my blog or just stops by once in a while, it makes doing it really worthwhile and I wish you all a Merry Christmas:)

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Return to the Pilgrim's Way

A day off work and with the London marathon starting to appear on my radar my thoughts are now turning to a return to some serious training. Last Saturday, early morning I was fortunate to be able to get onto the Army land that is less than 2 miles from my door step. The red flags that are usually up in the day at the weekend preventing you to get on the land were down, meaning I could take advantage of the brilliant hills and trails that are available. It was one of those great runs you get once in a while where everything falls into place, the weather was good and there was not another soul around. Beautiful.

With a days rest in between I was out again on the Monday, this time a tough 14 miles over the North Downs. This was my longest and hardest run since the Pilgrims marathon back in September taking in a route that gives you 2000ft of elevation to deal with.

The run takes me from my house along the tarmac through Ash Vale village, out towards Normandy village before getting off the roads and hitting the trails.

Early trails en route
After the early trails it's then on the road again and the start of the hills through Wanborough. After a gradual climb I hit the killer climb to the Hogs back (A31) and up Wanborough Hill, a hill that even cyclists in low gears struggle to climb.

The downhill recovery takes me through the quaint village of Puttenham and the steady climb onto the North Downs.

The Pilgrim's marathon runs from the Village of Seale to Guildford and gets its name from using part of the ancient Pilgrim's Way trackway as part of the course. The full route of the ancient Pilgrim's Way runs from Winchester in Hampshire to London. There is evidence that the trackway was a main trade route between 450 to 500BC. After the growth and importance of London and the decline of Winchester as the Capital with less metal supply coming from the West, the trackway was in danger of becoming redundant. From a trade route the trackway was saved following the murder of Archbishop Becket in 1170 with pilgrims journeying to Becket's shrine along the path, thus gaining the name of the Pilgrims Way. Some of the original medieval cobbles can still be seen today....History lesson over!

The Pilgrims path can still been seen today
In the marathon you have to run up the path which is a never ending climb, but today I was heading the other way and flew down the path desperately trying to avoid turning my ankle on the uneven cobbles. The route then continues along the undulating North Downs and eventually onto the village of Seale, but not before I had the unusual experience of running along side some farm land and being hit with the strong smell of Coriander. It was in abundance in one of the fields where Farmers were at work harvesting the crops. I had no idea where Coriander grew, I thought it was somewhere exotic not just round the corner!

The Beautiful North Downs
After Seale it's time to leave this beautiful side of the Hog's Back and head homeward. To get back over the Hog's Back from Seale I take the brilliantly named Thundery Hill and head back to civilisation.

Having struggled across the Downs the temptation was to call in here......

Water Stop?
....I decline, and before long I'm on the Blackwater valley path that then a brief spell on the Basingstoke Canal before reaching home. I thought I'd share with you in pictures this wonderful route that gives a real testing run but in beautiful surroundings.

One other thing I'd like to share is the brilliant I'm not quite shaw what it is called but it was in my goody bag after the Marathon. When the weather is bitterly cold I like to wear a hat but the trouble I have is that I get too hot after a while. The brilliant thing about my head...thingy, is that it keeps my ears and forehead warm but allows the head to breath and cool out the top. It can also be pulled down as a neck warmer. I would strongly recommend.

More Rambo than Runner!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Grim 2011

Sunday morning, one week on from the Hellrunner, time to put on my oldest pair of trainers and head out the door to my latest planned race...The Grim.

The weather was not as kind as the previous weekend, and the temperature was more what you would expect for the time of year.

The Grim takes part on the Army vehicle training grounds in Aldershot a short drive from where I live. As with most races I was running with my trusty sidekick Brian.

We had taken part in this same race last year, I say last year but it was actually January of this calender year. It was postponed last December due to the snow. We arrived about 50 minutes early although there was no need, the parking for this event is ample, even for the 2000 participants taking part.

This year the course has been adjusted to 8.5 miles rather than the 9 miles, and has a couple of new features, one being some railway tracks to hop over??? and some logs to scuttle over, not really the most challenging of obstacles and looked a little out of place in the wide open area that they were situated. On the plus side the pathetic small cargo net that you had to crawl under last year had been removed.

The main water feature of a ravine filled with muddy clay water that varies in depth depending which side you run on (stick to the left if you don't want to be submerged!) remained, and the mud that follows is nigh on impossible to move in, let alone run.

Grim and bare it!
Before and after this water feature the course is a mixture of woodland trails, sandy hills, stony paths and lots of puddles. With the puddles it is up to the participant how wet they want to get, as you can go around a lot of them. Last year I got in the spirit of things and went through most of the water, this year I decided to skip them where I could (Been there, done that, got the T-shirt).

Overall I managed an average pace of 8:26 min/mile which over a course where at times you are waist high in water or in a bottleneck at the beginning of the course, I was pretty pleased with.

The £25 for such a short course is steep and although you pick up a cotton T-shirt and a shake at the finish, this race is wildly overpriced. At least the Hellrunner organisers put some effort in around the course last week, with fireworks at the start and some overhead fire and music as you go through the water features and a decent goody bag and medal. No goody bag or medal here! Although well marshaled and a good pre race atmosphere this is all there is to offer. There were no stalls to look around at the beginning while you wait unless you count the hot dog vans!

In my opinion this is an event that you do once for the experience, the short course is more playful than challenging or 'Grim'.

If you want more for your money for a similar type of event, go for the 12 mile Hellrunner race, a real challenge, worth the money and takes place around the same time of year.