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

Friday, 3 April 2015

My worst run ever!

Yesterday I had planned to run just over 10 miles on a quite tough trail, probably my longest run for quite sometime.

Yesterday turned out to be a disaster....but with some positives to pick out from it, but let me start at the beginning of the day.

The long Easter weekend is upon us, 4 days off work...Wahoooo! So to celebrate our boss was kind enough to treat us to a pile of party food, enough to keep us going through the day. This consisted of the usual culprit's....Sausage rolls, pork pies, scotch eggs, Pringles, peanuts, Chicken wings, doughnuts, Lindor chocolates (the coconut ones, probably the best thing in the world!) You name it we had it.

Now normally I would start the day with some healthy, slow releasing energy porridge with dried fruit in it, lunch maybe a soup or a vitamin and mineral packed salad with some mackerel, throw in some fruit for snacks...not bad, and fuels my running very nicely. Today however consisted of a breakfast of scotch eggs and sausage rolls, lunch and snacks throughout the day, much the same! The afternoon I moved on to chocolates and doughnuts and coffee.....end of working day.....time to run.

Nice....but zero nutritional value!

Really good!!!.... But sadly zero nutritional value!

                                                      Nice....but zero nutritional value!

With sugar still running high, I started my run at a reasonable pace, even with some hills to climb. 3 miles, still going nicely, 3.35 miles........sugar crash!!!! Brain wouldn't talk to legs and legs wouldn't talk to brain! After leaning against a post for a moment to relieve the spaced out and wobbly feeling, I decided it would be foolish to carry on. I headed back, but I needed to walk for the next mile, I just wanted to get back so decided to run the last couple again. Confidence gone I slumped into car before heading home.

But every cloud has a silver lining. You've got to accentuate the positives, eliminate the negatives....and all that malarkey!

What a great nutritional lesson and the mile I walked was on the flattest part of the route meaning I managed to run all the hilly parts, so I still benefitted from what I believed was a disasterous run.

I certainly won't be eating like that for a while, or put it this way, if I do, I won't be running after it!

Monday, 30 March 2015

Carry on Blogging

Note to self: Must blog more!

I've gone a bit quiet on the social media front, I don't do Facebook and I've gone right off Twitter where I would regularly tweet about my running and my football team Newcastle United......I checked in the other day after a couple of months away....I havent been missed..ha ha. Anyway it's nice in the real world not worrying if I got a retweet or a favourite! But hey, we all want to feel loved...right?

But I do enjoy my blog, and need to get back to regular posting. It's a great personal scrapbook to look back on, and once in a while I may post something that someone else out there may find a bit interesting (not just my Mum!)

Right now I'm in a great place with my running. I'm really enjoying it, being relaxed about when and how far to run and not beating myself up if I have a couple days off and enjoy the odd beer and slice of cheesecake!

That's not to say that I'm taking things easy when I do siree! I'm running regular at work and mixing up how I run my lunchtime 4 miles. I'm now throwing in progressive runs, fartleks, hills and tempo runs.

Hills, kill; fartleks and tempos hurt, but the one I enjoy the most is the progressive session. Progression runs steadily increase in pace, so I will usually start at 9:00 min/mile pace, the next mile hit 8:30, then 8:00 and then finish with the last mile at 7:30 min/mile pace. If I'm particularly feeling like I want to smash myself, then I will run 8:30, 8:00, 7:30, and 7:00.....but my God...that hurts!

I think this is a great session as it warms you up with starting out slow, and also gets you used to judging how your pace feels.

One evening a week I run with friend Brian on the trails. We're running around 8 miles but quite a tough hilly route that we hope will help build the strength in our legs for our 3 peaks challenge in July with our other work colleagues. 

After the run, we then change into our walking boots, put on our headtorches and rucksacks and head out for a hilly hour walk so we get used to walking whilst feeling tired. To be honest though walking hills is a hell of a lot easier than running up them and the walk has become quite a nice warm down after the run.

....and that's about it. Im really looking forward to the walking challenge in July and happy to keep the running where it is at the moment. If I can get back to my 13 mile to work every Friday in April, keep up the midweek trail run and the lunchtime running, then I think I've found my perfect running formula.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Walking OK in the UK

New kit time as thoughts turn to walking and the 3 peaks challenge. I've never had a pair of walking boots before and was hoping I could have used a pair of my trail trainers but I'm required to have footwear with some ankle protection. Although the challenge is not until July, I wanted to get my boots early to allow 'wearing them in' time.

So without any knowledge of walking boots I went straight in and ordered a pair of Hi-tec V-lite Sphike hiking boots from Amazon (£43.99). As luck would have it the fit was perfect (I went a size bigger to allow for walking socks) and after 2 x 2 hour dog walks on multiple terrain this weekend....all appears good. Comfortable and lightweight. I'm not sure how waterproof yet as conditions have been dry of late.

Success with the boots, and I appear to have been just as lucky with my other Craghopper Kiwi walking trousers, again from Amazon (£19.99). Loose fitting, part elasticated waist, plenty of pockets (9 in total) lightweight and water repellent. Like the boots, really comfortable, so I seem to have struck lucky with these two important parts of the kit. 

Obviously 2 hours of walking isn't quite the same as 24 hours walking the UK's highest mountains, but you've got to start somewhere, and so far so good.

I'm still running 5 days a week, which includes a hilly 7 mile trail run in the dark,with head torch once a week with friend Brian, whom is also doing the 3 peaks challenge. 

The running will obviously be beneficial training for the walking challenge, but we've also got some big walks planned to complement the running training which will hopefully make the 3 peaks as enjoyable as it is challenging.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

3 Peaks Challenge

Next challenge...
A marathon...
Not so easy...
What's that, 24 hours to do it in you say...
This gets even better...
Up and down the 3 highest mountains in Scotland (Ben Nevis), England (Scafell Pike) and Wales (Snowdon)...
Yep that's I'm upto later this year in July along with 3 of my work colleagues, our boss and his girlfriend.
9800 ft of ascent a combination of walking travelling in a mini bus between mountains and getting very little least its in July and summertime...oh wait this is the UK, we could be walking in anything!!!

I cant wait for this adventure, it certainly wont be easy but hopefully my running means I'm fit enough to take on the task, although I will be doing some walking and spending more time on my feet.
Until then, its keep on running.

Monday, 2 February 2015

I tawt I taw a putty cat

I'll let you into one of my biggest fears of running alone on the trails....Big Cat sightings!!! Now don't laugh, I know this is the UK, but I mean every year you read something in the news about one of these sightings!

Come to think of it, would it make much difference if I was running alone or with other people?....Well at least it would give the cat more of a choice I suppose.

Anyway back to the story. Now I'm getting back into the swing of running injury free again, I'm slowly upping the miles on the long run and running back on my favourite local trails.

The route I take on my run takes me on a steady climb until I reach a long ridge that is long, straight and open to the elements and in my to big cats!

The long open ridge in the middle of nowhere, to me feels the purr-fect (ha ha)  place to meet an escaped puma or leopard from a zoo. 

The surrounding heaths and woodland are full of cat food including deer and wild cows, so why wouldn't a big cat feel at home here.

Purr-fect habitat for a big Cat!

I've run this ridge so many times so over the years I've come up with many scenarios and escape plans.

The open top

The open stretch of trail is probably a few miles long with a few scattering of hardy trees that have survived the open elements. 

Yes trees! 

See this is one of my plans, I have two trees along the route which are purr-fect (I can't keep using that joke!) for climbing. 

Tree #1-Low branches for quick climb!
Tree #2 - Good climbing tree and
I can get high!
I imagine myself getting up these pretty quick and although cats are good climbers as long as I get up first I will be able to fend it off with my kicking feet or use some of the large stones from the trail that I would pick up and put in my pockets as I spot the cat in the distance and I head for my chosen tree.

See I've got it all figured out....well nearly, I'm just not sure how long I would be up there for and how will I know that if the cat gets bored and decides to walk off, he's not just sat there waiting round the corner till I come down!

I guess I'll have to carry on working this out each week on my run. I've been worrying about this, on this run for the last five years. So far so good in that time, I've only come across the deer, cow's and dog walkers in that time.....but you never know! Still at least I've got sort of a plan.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

What a difference 42064.8 metres makes

What's the ultimate running distance, the ultimate word related to running,the ultimate goal, the most famous of all distances?

I would say the 'marathon'.

The biggest race with the biggest race day crowds, that brings thousands and thousands of spectators to the city streets.

Everyone can name the fastest man over 100m, but how many out there can name the worlds fastest man over the most famous distance of them all?

The world record holder for the 100m has 3.5 million followers on Twitter.

The fastest man in the world to run the famous 26.2 miles has just 2300 followers.

The wonderful world of sponsorship and celebrity!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Running rant # 2 - The price of races

I haven't done a 'Running rant' since the ill fated 'Ultrarunning' post (which didn't go down well at all if you recall). I don't regret that piece, what with freedom of speech, having an opinion and all that malarkey!!! It's just a shame I lost a lot of longterm ultrarunning Twitter followers in the process whom I communicated with and always congratulated them on their achievements even if I didn't agree with the distances they were putting themselves through physically and mentally.

*takes a deep breath*


Hopefully this is a rant everyone will agree on....THE PRICES OF RACES THESE DAYS @!!?**#¥!!!!

*takes another deep breath*

I haven't competed in a race since September 2013 and the Loch Ness marathon, so I decided to look at running a half marathon in the spring/summer. 

The Surrey half, a nice local race in Woking, taking place for its second year.

It's a half marathon remember and the price for entering the London marathon this year, one of the worlds major marathons was a very reasonable £35 for 26.2 miles. 

Now I understand the pricing for street closures, police etc etc, so that's £35 for shutting down the Capital of England. Woking is a Surrey town...the price?...£41...yes 41 flipping sterling pounds for running a half bloody marathon!!!

The Hackney half marathon.......£44!!!.....$$$

Over the last few years there has been the introduction of chip timing, which I'm sure most people agree has been a positive for racing and I can understand that this has had an impact on the race fee, but there's not many races that aren't chip timed anymore, so why still so much variation between the prices of races of the same distance?

Has running become a victim of its own success? The number of people running has continued to rise year after year. More people running, more opportunities for people to make money. 

Here is a selection of races coming up, I've separated them into 'Daylight Robbery' for races around the £30 mark and above and 'Bargain Buys' for £25 and below which I think is a reasonable price.

Thank God for Parkruns.....Running for free and funded by sponsorship.....hang on a minute, don't most races make money out of sponsorship as well as charging us!!!

Daylight Robbery

Surrey Half - £41
Hackney Half £44
North London Half - £42
Brighton Half - £34
Bournemouth Half - £31.57
Robin Hood Half (Nottingham) - £29.75
Northampton Half - £29.40
Llanelli Waterside Half - £30

Bargain Buys

Fleet Half - £23
Stafford Half - £22
Yeovil Half - £22
Chippenham Half - £22
Farnham Pilgrims Half - £25
Roding Valley Half -£22

Saturday, 10 January 2015


I go into this year injury free, coming off the back of a runstreak at the end of last year, I'm in relatively good shape, a few pounds overweight but the best I've come into a new year for a while.

So what now for 2015? Well im quite enjoying the daily routine at the moment which consists of running generally about 4 miles most days. The thing I'm most enjoying though is mixing up the training, doing fartleks, throwing in some hills, running at low intensity. This has mostly come off the back of the runstreak.

If you're running everyday, you are forced to vary your running. You cant go out everyday running at full tilt, so most the time I was paying a lot of attention to my heartrate and keeping it low.

Now with taking 1 or 2 days off a week I can speed things up again and learn from my heartrate stats when I need to rest or slow down.

Im not missing marathon training, I'm quite enjoying the shorter distances I'm training at. This is the first winter I havent done my 13 mile run to work every Friday, getting up at 5am and running in what ever conditions the weather throws at you, and I've done them runs in every type of weather you can think off!!!

So back to goal setting for 2015. Marathon's are off the radar this year (but never say never!) During spring I would like to get back to half marathon fitness, getting my Friday run to work back and then throw a couple of half marathon races in late summer.

To be honest though after the last couple of years I've had with my ankle and achilles just being able to run again regulary, is goal in its self that I've achieved.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Did you know...


1,022 runners were randomly selected, and asked a series of questions about their running habits. The survey targeted male and females (50:50 ratio) between the ages of 25-50 years old, who all run at least once a week.