Running isn’t my Hobby, it’s my Passion



The aim of this Blog is to hopefully paint a picture of the enjoyment I get from running off road. Weekend updates. Inspired by the countryside.

2015 : Arun River, South Downs Trail, Barnstaple and Meon Valley Marathons

     2016 : Imber Ultra 33 miles, QE Spring Half Marathon,  Wickham Whistler 21 miles, The Ox Ultra 36 miles, Woodland Challenge Half marathon, Meon Valley Half marathon, Winter Frolic 18 miles

2017 : QE Spring Marathon, 3 Forts Challenge 27.2 miles, Race to the King Double Marathon June 24th, Purbeck Marathon

“Your legs achieve what your mind believes” pcm2014b

 Me in my element !!

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What goes through your mind on a solo 20 mile run ??

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Endurance running is definitely more enjoyable when you have the company of fellow likeminded souls, however saying that, there’s something calming, satisfying and almost an out of body experience when you run for a long time on your own.

Running with a group of friends will give you banter, support and spells when they drag you along and visa versa. A solo run is all down to you, your watch and your thoughts.

I set out with the intention of 20 miles at ten minutes a mile i.e. 3 hours twenty minutes. The 50K I’ve been spasmodically training for is in two weeks time so today was as much a mental test as a physical one.

My usual training involves hills, fields, gates, streams and all the glory of the countryside so what the hell was a doing planning 20 miles of tarmac !! The answer my friends was the lack of available time and testing my legs over flat terrain just to make sure that no weaknesses were lurking. Running up and down hills gives your legs a varied workout, constantly running on the flat works certain muscles and repeats the action again and again.

That’s the physical side, now onto the mental task of three hours + with only yourself for company. I saw John Vose who I ran with when I was at Stubbington Green, he must be 70 now and as he drove past I wondered if he was off to spectate or even run at the Victory 5 today. Mike Dally from Hedge End runners tooted his horn as he passed and again I wondered if he was heading in the same direction.

So, excluding people I know, what else occupied me ??

I keep an eye on the hedgerows for any signs of early morning animal activity, birds, maybe a fox !! Then once I made it to the sea after 4 miles then there’s windsurfers, huge cargo vessels on their way into Southampton docks and even an occasional swimmer.

Your pace strategy is easily managed by your garmin and then there’s your nutrition. I generally take an SIS gel every 50 minutes, drink 500mls an hour, swallow occasional salt tablets to prevent cramp and eat occasional SIS bars just for something more solid. Remembering to do this is easily forgotten once you are in your flat, even paced metronome mind set.

Paying attention to keeping warm is another factor to ponder on too. Start with more than you need is my philosophy. Gloves can be removed, base layers can be untucked but by the time I turned around at 7.5 miles and headed back up Stokes Bay the direction of the cold wind had an immediate effect. Another trick is keeping an eye on the clouds so that you can see is bad weather is approaching and also because they’re just really interesting to watch !!

Saying hello and passing positive comments to fellow runners and cyclists always motivates me and it’s surprising how many of the general public say hello too.

Next, what goes through your mind when your pace starts to drop and you realise the run is starting to take its toll. I consider if I’ve got my nutrition right and most of all have I drunk enough. Never be afraid to stop at a garage or corner shop just to supplement what you started out with !!

Psychologically, have a word with yourself 🙂 I’m on this run for a reason. The challenge, the enjoyment, the preparation for two weeks time, to push past such moments of doubt because they may occur on the day, to draw on all the months of running already done this year and most of all, don’t let yourself down, you are in control so keep at it.

Finishing below target pace was satisfying and hugely motivational. One of my favourite sayings is that your legs achieve what your mind believes. So, believe in yourself.

Finally, I never think about work or any issues I have in my life. Running is my therapy and quite often I don’t think about anything at all, I just observe my surrounding.

If you have enjoyed reading this maybe you’d consider voting for my blog,

just follow this link to VOTE

The category is Publications & Online, then Blog and simply scroll down to irunoffroad. Many thanks for reading.

A motivational 14 miles #coast

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Todays run was only my second in two weeks, so, the fact that it lasted for over two hours and I bagged 14 miles meant it’s great to be able to plan the next 3 weeks ahead of the upcoming coastal 50K race.

You can’t beat a good run, on a bright and crisp morning with the added bonus of running by the sea. I’m only four miles from the Solent waters, with views of the Isle of White and a well trodden footpath that’s made up of beach, trail and pavement.

With the temperature down to only a couple of degrees I always look to see if our bird bath has frozen and sure enough, it had. However, with the right kit this isn’t an issue. My trusty long sleeve Helly Hanson and thick egloves take the chill out of the initial miles as your body temperature rises and then they are reassuring when you get those occasional chilly breezes that come in off the sea.

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Running into the bright sun along Hill Head I passed the multi-coloured beach huts and the sailing club. With Titchfield Haven’s wildlife marshes to my right there were already a number of enthusiasts with their tripods and cameras looking for their favourite birds. Once past the white sea side bungalows I moved down onto the shingle and by the waters edge.

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Having the whole beach largely to yourself gives you a real feeling of “escaping” and its one of the main reasons I enjoy my running. The sound of the sea lapping up and down the shingle, the occasional gulls cry and even the sight of a glider on its flight path back to the local landing strip all contributing to my experience.

Naturally running on the shingle is harder work than on the coastal path but there’s also shingle sections in the race !! Moving up onto the headland the path was surprisingly dry with only the occasional puddles to dodge around. At this point I decided to retrace my steps and head back towards civilisation.

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I pondered that I ought to use this stretch of coastline more in my running because even though it doesn’t have the ever changing hills that I enjoy, there’s something special about running by the sea.

Once back onto the tarmac coastline the dog walkers and families were much more in evidence. I made my way back towards Stubbington and around the airfield, then down Newgate Lane and back home. These necessary road miles weren’t my preferred choice but today they made for a decent run.

With 3 weeks to my ultra I’ll aim for a 20 miler this weekend coming and a number of regular runs to catch up the missing ones from recent weeks. There’s no doubt that a flat course means fewer demands on certain muscles but at the same time running for five + hours with specific muscles being worked constantly can wear you down.

I’m really looking forward to meeting up with lots of runners that I know and with the marathon and ultra starts only separated by half an hour then the out and back nature of the course should offer lots of banter 🙂

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Recognition for your Blog

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This is just a short blog to show that if you believe in what you write then it will be recognised by others. I’m proud to say that Threshold sports, who organise the “Race to … series” asked whether they could use my blog as part of their build up to the 2018 races.

A week ago I received a tweet from the RTTK team …. Wow !! …….. just Wow !! 🙂

I’m pleased and proud to say thank you to the race organisers for choosing it. With a healthy 238 hits in the first 5 days we both would seem to have benefited 🙂

So, keep on blogging and let your words do the talking.

Roger T

Harbour 11 miles to Southsea & back

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My plan for today was to gain some more insight into the Believe and Achieve Harbour 50K route that I’ve entered in December. Running from the maps green starting dot at Farlington Marshes, this also ties in with last weeks blog, where I travelled in the opposite direction. My return leg on this run will be the first 5.5 miles of both the marathon and the ultra as they begin to wind their way around Langstone Harbour.

Please ignore the maps red line heading back to Fareham, this was my error which appeared on my Strava download, ha, ha !!!

The Pyramids entertainment centre is located on Southsea’s seafront with views of the pier that dates back to 1879, the wide open esplanade and on Saturdays, Southsea parkrun.

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The irony of the Southsea parkrun was that by the time I was heading down to the front some 300 runners were heading in the opposite direction. I had four “you’re running the wrong way” comments 🙂 I saw a surprised Matt Fleet and Mark Brooks from Fareham Crusaders and David Brawn from Pompey Joggers as they ran their 5K.

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Once past the pier the seafront stretches out for some time until you reach Eastney swimming pool. Having mentioned the swimming pool I also saw about 80 wet suited swimmers preparing for an open water swim on my run down towards the seafront, as well as Paul Southon out running too. After crossing a couple of roads you then drop down onto literally the harbour mud, but, as long as you keep close to the tide mark its reasonable underfoot. However, stray too far down and you could loose a trainer !!!

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After following the “beach” for another few hundred metres you cross the Milton Lock bridge and then join the compacted harbour trail. It was at this point that you realise just how far around the harbour you’ll be running. There can’t be many races that you can see ten miles ahead of you, from mile 3 to Hayling Island and 13 miles point.

Following the trail you will next pass the Peoples Memorial which has both a flagpole and gardens. The memorial is a tribute to the men and women currently serving in the British Forces on foreign battlefields around the world. I found this a very powerful experience.

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A pub, caravan park and a number of water sport facilities then follow each other in rapid succession. The trail does vary between grass, sections of broken concrete and good tarmacked paths. Once passing by an aggregates business there’s then the peculiar experience of running through 200 metres of dense trees with pine needles and tree roots so care is needed here.

Out onto the environmentally reconstructed harbour bank I was within sight of my car park and the end of eleven miles. As my trusty watch says I managed to stay under 9 minute miles and hopefully this blog will give anyone involved a better idea of what to expect.

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If you’ve enjoyed reading my blog maybe you’d consider voting for it in the Running Awards. It’s in the Publications and Online section, then Best Blog.

Just click here ……Thanks very much.

Harbour 50K Challenge : Training

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A 31 mile run in the middle of December … what can possibly go wrong 🙂

Starting on Southsea seafront the 50K takes in all of Langstone Harbour, then down the old Hayling Billy railway line and almost as far as the ferry. Once you’ve turned around all you have to do is retrace your steps !!

This blog is aimed at giving runners who don’t know the area an insight into what to expect. Naturally this will apply to both the Believe and Achieve marathon and the ultra, both of which still have “some” places available. Today I ran a 7 mile out and back section of the route starting from a small car park that’s where the course meets the A27 as my strava map shows below. What it also shows is that my watch ran out of battery at 8.5 miles !!! But it does relate well to the course map.

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The first two miles of my run would be on tarmac and more importantly a cycle lane that connects Portsmouth to Havant. Even on race day this will be the case so please bear this in mind !! That said, I was impressed with the amount of cyclists that rang bells or shouted “coming through” as we all took in Farlington Marshes to our right.

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As I got into my stride I pondered how the wind would effect todays run and of course what might lay in wait on the day. The horse shoe shape of Langstone Harbour means that the wind can come at you from different angles, only for a brief couple of hundred metres or a prolonged breeze so basically its best not to overthink it, you just have to go with the flow !!

Once off the shoreline the route briefly skirts the edge of Havant before a sharp right turn that takes you back towards the coast again.

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The track narrows as you pass the sea defences and within another half a mile Hayling Bridges are in sight. A short section of shingle adds to the “seaside” feal of the course but it’s only 200 metres or so.

I’d point out the next section of the coastal path here as it does need some caution with it being quite rough with stones and larger bricks which stick out. This section doesn’t last for long thankfully but it also leads to a short muddy section with a style. Once through, that’s really the only technical section of the whole course.

I mentioned Hayling Bridges earlier, there’s the current road bridge and then there’s the remnants of the old Railway Bridge that hasn’t been operational for some decades now. What I did like was the signal that’s been erected as a reminder of days gone by. My photo below was slightly off the race route but worth a snap 🙂

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The Hayling Billy railway line have compressed soil and stone which is ideal to run on and it’s also quite wide too. The harbour views extend across to Portsmouth with its Spinnaker Tower and out towards the Isle of White. Quite a few sections of the line have hedges that give cover from the elements (we will be running in December) and with the nature of the race being “out and back” we’ll see the quicker marathon runners heading towards us, which will be great for motivational banter !!

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I didn’t go as far as the ultra turn around point today but I’ll blog about that in the coming weeks. Once I’d reached 7 miles I turned around and headed back. The line was well used by dog walkers, parents and children, even a horse rider so again these will be factors to take into consideration on the day.

Portsdown Hill stretches across the skyline on your return leg and it’s intriguing to look across the harbour to see where you’ll be in an hour or two’s time. Once over the bridge I had four miles left and I have to say the shingle section was harder work than I remembered what with the seaweed and drift wood that needed negotiating. However, it doesn’t last for long 🙂

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All in all today was a solid 14 miles on my own just as a recce and reminder because I haven’t run around her for some time. I’m looking at getting a few of us together in the coming weeks so I’ll be able to add other local runners views to mine.

There were no hills today which makes a pleasant change and its always enjoyable running by the sea, it just seems to have a relaxing effect on you 🙂 It’s a varied route so there’s something for everyone.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my course notes, if you have then maybe you’d consider voting for my blog in the Running Awards ?

This link will take you to the website, category Publications & Online then Blogs and simply scroll down to irunoffroad …. Vote here

Many thanks.

Being a Guest Blogger

DSC00726Over the last couple of months I’ve twice been asked to contribute a piece about my running experiences and I’m both pleased and proud to have been asked. All my blogs have the underlying aim of promoting trail running so I’ve enjoyed contributing to both the runr clothing brands #irunbecause with a blog entitled Why I chose the trails and recently on the Winchester Bloggers website with Running the Winchester Ways

The nature of a long run through the country also lends itself to occasional photos. Keeping a look out for interesting examples of what you may come across certainly adds to your thought process as the miles tick by. The right photo can really add depth to your narrative.

The Winchester Bloggers request was a great example of not only covering a lovely part of the world but being able to step back in time and research some of the history that laid behind the route I took. So many trails lay undiscovered by the general public and it’s a real privilege to not only run them, but to promote them.

As a blogger I think its great to widen your horizons by reading about other peoples passions and how they express themselves. I looked at food, drink and lifestyle posts on the Winchester site. We can all learn off each other 🙂

Keep on blogging and maybe have a read of my two posts above !!

Thanks

Gosport Golden 24 – support

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The Gosport Golden 24 is a new event that started on Saturday 12 noon and finished Sunday 12 noon today. The basic idea was to use the measured Golden mile that’s already an established race and simply invite runners to contribute both miles and money to charity. The coastal tarmac route is a scenic mile of Stokes Bay, close to Gosport itself and also offers great views of the Isle of White. As this photo suggests some runners were more tired than others 🙂

Clothing sales had generated the majority of sponsorship before the event even started with the funds going to Depression Friends and the Brathay trust ….. “GG24”

When I arrived at 8am for an hours recovery run after last weekends Purbeck marathon all I had to do was add my name to the ever growing list. A variety of local club running vests were in evidence and it wasn’t long before I bumped into Johnny that I’d met at and Absolute Running 5.45 evening. Unfortunately the reason I struck up a conversation was because Johnny had clearly injured himself.

If Johnny did need rescuing we were in the right palace !!

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As we walk/jogged while Johnny and I were talking both Shane and Roman from the Endurance Hub came into view so it was a hello and good morning to them and then I set off running again. Naturally with the route being a mile out and back you saw people on a regular basis. Ben Jarvis from Gosport Road Runners (GRR) was the next person I recognised, Ben did last weeks Purbeck marathon and when we talked later he’d run a 50K yesterday too.

By now the sailors were getting their yachts organised for racing out on the water and the junior run was being organised too. It was at this point I saw Lee Rhodes from Bayside Tri club who use Stokes Bay for their open water swimming but today he was a supportive parent.

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The friendly nature of this low key event certainly came through with numerous “well done” and “morning” comments. As I came to the end of my hour I could see quite a few runners gathered at the start/finish HQ tent. I signed for my mileage and almost immediately saw Paul Pickford (Blue top), Fareham Crusaders new men’s captain for the 2017/8 season. We only had a quick chat as Paul was just about to set off running but there was still time for a couple of photos with Shaun and Ronan (Blue caps) & Ben (thumbs up).

DSC00669DSC00668DSC00670By all accounts there’d been a great response from runners attending on the Saturday and into the night. As I left more people were arriving so all in all the event sounds like its been a huge success. The number of a thousand miles had been mentioned as the target for the 24 hours, I may have only contributed a small amount to this but I felt part of the great effort everyone made.

Well done to the three organisers Terry, Steve and Rob for harnessing the community spirit that our local runners possess. If the event is repeated in 2018 I’ll be back for a much longer run 🙂

Running Awards Best Blog 2018

 

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The voting for Best Blog has opened. I would be very grateful if you would consider voting.

Just follow this vote link ……  Vote 

The Publications & Online category then has a Blog section, just scroll down to irunoffroad & vote. You do have to register if you haven’t voted before but it doesn’t take long and you won’t be pestered with lots of spam emails.

Thanks & enjoy your running

Roger