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!!!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Thought of the day

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 run...no 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.