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.

     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, Purbeck Marathon, Portsmouth Coastal 50K challenge 

2018 : R.E.D. (Run every day) January for MIND, May : Dorchester Marathon, June : South Downs Marathon, September 16th Goodwood marathon & October 14th Isle Of Wight marathon run

“Your legs achieve what your mind believes” pcm2014b

 Me in my element !!

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Running Awards : Best Blog

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I’m pleased to say my blog has been nominated for the Best Personal Blog in the Running Awards competition. If you enjoy reading my blog and you’d consider voting then follow the link and navigate to the Blog listings that are in alphabetical order.

Click here……     Voting Link

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You do have to log in and create an account but this is simply to stop anyone voting numerous times for themselves !!

Thank you for reading and hopefully thanks for voting 🙂

I promise I won’t endlessly remind you all !!

Regards Roger

Don’t Quit

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Have you lost your running mojo, are you finding training tough, have you considered dropping out of a race ??? – read on ……………

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill, when the funds are low and the debts are high, and you want to smile, but you have to sigh, when care is pressing you down a bit- rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns, as every one of us sometimes learns, and many a fellow turns about when he might have won had he stuck it out. Don’t give up though the pace seems slow – you may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than it seems to a faint and faltering man; often the struggler has given up when he might have captured the victor’s cup; and he learned too late when the night came down, how close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out – the silver tint in the clouds of doubt, and you never can tell how close you are, it might be near when it seems afar; so stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit – it’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

Running is a metaphor for life, you only get out what you put in, so don’t quit.

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Forest Bathing

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I do enjoy a forest run but today I tried something completely different, Forest Bathing !! I saw an article by the Forestry Commission which really struck a cord with me, so I headed off to soak up some bathing (no towels are required) 🙂

Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese art of forest bathing – taking in the forest atmosphere and connecting with all your senses.

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My journey started with this wooden bridge that lead me into the dabble sunlight of the trees. From my trail running I know a number of routes through these woods, some quite densely forested and some more widely planted.

Today I didn’t need to concentrate on tree roots, branches and other potential hazards I really could simply absorb what was there right in front of me. In many ways the trees are competing for the sunlight and at the same time they all seem to fit into an orderly pattern.

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With spare time on my hands I had no time restrictions but equally with this being new to me I wasn’t quite sure how long I’d be.

The trees spend their lives growing ever taller in an effort to reach that golden sun in the sky, the birds have their continuous search for food and the seasons shape how the forest looks.

I sat on one of these conveniently places logs and quite simply just tried taking in what was around me. The occasional dragon fly, a bird flapping high up in the leaves and the swishing of the ferns were the only obvious noises.

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It’s almost October but the warm sun meant I only needed my t shirt. Our modern lifestyles don’t often allow us to just stop and stare, to breath in the woody air and feel the breeze on your arms.

One of the gnarled tree trunks had insects scurrying in and out and the branches move almost like they’ve waved at me. Don’t worry, I haven’t been drinking, I’m not on any illegal products, I’m just bathing in the forest even though we’re miles from the sea !!

It’s great to be able to step out of your Monday to Friday work and just connect with nature.

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Moving on towards the less densely planted forest the individual trees really stand out. They almost have their own personalities, some stand tall like a soldier, some lean at an angle almost as if they’re about to uproot and find another spot in the woods.

Standing at the base of a tree and looking straight up, as I did with my first photo, really gives you a sense of the trees age, the winters it has endured and the ground that it has dominated for many years.

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Three quarters of an hour later I was back at my car and feeling considerably more at one with myself.

The sights and feel of the forest will change as the new season approaches. I look forward to returning in a month or two for the Autumnal browns, gold and orange as well as the colder air.

#getoutside ……….. go Forest Bathing !!

National Get Outside Day Sept 30th

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To quote those enthusiastic people from Ordnance Survey (OS) Leisure …… On 30 September 2018, they want you to get active outdoors. Join in with a National or Regional event near you, or create your own adventure outside with family and friends.

For more information, just follow this LINK

I’ve long been a convert to the Great British countryside, it’s out there just waiting for you …. take in the fresh air, the scenery, the sights and sounds and you’ll be hooked, just like me 🙂

 

 

Goodwood Marathon

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Goodwood motor racing circuit was the venue for my first race in three months. OK, I realise that 26.2 miles of tarmac don’t exactly amount to off road but the location is only 35 minutes away and the track is such an iconic venue.

This initial photo is my favourite from the day. The historic Goodwood start/finish straight, Stig (possibly not the real Stig), Paul from Fareham Crusaders and Gosport road runners Steve, Catherine, Claire, Lisa, Katrina and Hayley.

With numerous other RunThrough uk races scheduled for the day our marathon started at 9am in pleasant conditions. The pre race warm up set the tone for a light hearted day running within a fairly small field, but a very supportive one.

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This photo from the warm up shows my friend Hayley adopting the New Zealand hakka, me clinging onto an imaginary bar above my head (for what ever reason) and Paul (the Brad Pitt lookalike) talking on his imaginary phone to his imaginary PR agent 🙂 Yes we were all raring to get started !!

Before the off there was just time for mine and Paul’s trademark photo with the motor racing pits behind us.

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The prospect of 11 laps might have put some people off, however, I was keen to use it as a good mental test. I spotted local blogger Anna who eventually placed as first lady in 3.26 and radio/running personality Vassos Alexander who finished in 3.22, the checked flag dropped and we were off.

Each lap of the track was about 2.4 miles and it varied with some gradual inclines and declines as well as the wind direction blowing across, in front and behind you. What I hadn’t considered previously was that there’s an aerodrome in the middle of the track !!

A good thirty or so light aircraft and helicopters were parked up with quite frequent arrivals and departures. I have to say the first time a plane landed above our heads it was quite amusing and quite close !!

With 11 laps there was only the need for one feed station but I was impressed with the number of marshals around the course who offered continued support on every lap. RunThrough had placed speakers to play uplifting music and then totally out of the blue two gentlemen in Mexican attire, complete with guitar and trumpet, added to our entertainment.

With there being a number of races held through the day we were regularly lapped or saw runners coming towards us. This did break up the day and it was great to see Andy Paton from Liss Runners charging along on his 10K.

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There were various motivational signs around Goodwood, with one that read “keep to the racing line” which I wasn’t totally sure was for us but again it made you think as we ran the twists and turns of the track.

I chatted with Hayley on my first lap and then later with Claire and Joanne. The support from the grandstand was a real boost but for the remainder of the time it was largely “you and your thoughts”.

One of the joys of running for me is to completely switch off and simply observe what’s around you. The South Downs in the distance, the aircraft and even the wind on your face or the sun on your back. Running is definitely my mindfulness.

Pace wise I stayed around ten minute miles but drifted slightly once past 20 miles. The mile markers were dotted around the track in reverse order which personally I wasn’t sure about but it did motivate me when it said 5,4,3,2,1 miles left !!

Both Paul and Hayley were a lap ahead of me and Anna must have lapped me twice but I only remember seeing her once 🙂 #oldage !!

I have to say I walked a few times on lap eleven due to a lack of training but with the marshals encouragement, the sight of the finish line and the ever supportive Gosport ladies, this was enough to carry me home in 4.42 which ultimately was a fair time for the day.

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Yes, I do look quite knackered but I achieved what I came for i.e. to get back on track and Goodwood was certainly a great place to do it.

One thought for the future …. the water came in the form of endless single use plastic bottles. It seemed such a waste with piles of them, some only half empty, scattered around the course. Naturally that also meant they needed picking up as well as going against the single use of plastic that’s becoming more frowned upon #savetheplanet.

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I liked this board …..”You will never win, if you never begin” it might not have been a quick time compared to the Berlin world record but I think all of us that entered should be proud of completing what is still the benchmark of distance running.

Thanks to RunThrough uk for a well organised day in a great location and an impressive t-shirt and medal.

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Happy Running everyone …………. thanks for reading and see you at the Isle of White marathon in four weeks.

Roger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meon Valley Trail training

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Over the last month I’ve been using the Meon Valley Trail for my training. In its basic format the trail is a ten mile stretch of disused railway line that starts in Wickham and heads north to West Meon.

The trains may be long gone but this local gem has been resurfaced and now provides access for runners, cyclists, walkers, horse riders etc etc. The tree lined track gives shade from the sun but at the same time creates dappled sunshine markings ahead of you.

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Numerous bridges break up the essentially straight pathway and you are constantly reminded that you’re in the countryside with the birds in the trees, the occasional squirrel and sights of the surrounding fields.

You really can switch off as your miles tick by because with the exception of only a couple of road crossings the horizon in front of you is one long tunnel of green.

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Seven miles into the trail you’ll come across the South Downs Way signs to Exton and Eastbourne in their West and East direction. You pass old sidings that have laid asleep for decades as well as a privately owned station at Soberton.

Whats at the end of the trail I hear you ask ??? The remains of the West Meon station and a car park.

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All in all if you are in the Southampton / Winchester area I’d recommend it as a great route to run. There’s a gradual incline as you head North but naturally you benefit from this on your return.

Whether you are starting out on your running journey with a couple of miles or you use it as I’ve been doing for marathon training, the Meon Valley Trail offers something for everyone.

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For lots more information just follow this link MVT

Happy Running !!!

10 miles & an Air Traffic Control Tower #history

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I only had 90 minutes to play with today so I decided to take in an historic sight which has now been modernised. I do enjoy exploring the past, taking in the surrounding area and imagining what was taking place years ago. One such place locally to me is the Solent airport.

The airport was previously HMS Daedalus and the vast expanse of land is gradually being developed with new businesses, potential housing and an engineering college.

What I was really interested in was the runway that RAF planes had used in WW2 and the iconic control tower which would have masterminded all the comings and goings of British and other nationalities aircraft. In fact on June 6th D Day, 435 sorties were flown, the most by far of any UK airfield.

The recently modernised control tower also now has a café and they have done an excellent job of charting the airfields history and significance. If you are local you’ll need to approach the CEMAST college turn off and then turn left along the perimeter fence, past the new driving test centre and businesses.

Image-12 The helicopter straight ahead was an impressive sight but the boards that commemorated the sites history were even better.

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Image-15I’ve run past the outer perimeter fencing numerous times so now that the site has been opened up commercially it made a great detour but still meant I could gauge my ten mile run. My mile splits were all pretty even so I’m looking forward to pushing up the mileage.

Two cyclists were just arriving as I turned back on my return leg and with the café being open seven days a week as well as it having patio benches outside, a small slice of history can be taken in along with a slice of cake !!

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My aim for today was 10 miles at a steady 9 minute per mile pace which I was spot on. Its good to appreciate what the RAF and many others did for our country in desperate times. You could almost imagine the spitfires taking off.

Running isn’t always about pace and time, it can be about discovery and appreciation too. Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Goodwood Running Grand Prix : Marathon

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Goodwood’s famous motor racing circuit is the venue for a Running Grand Prix held by RunThrough . Yes it’s only 5 weeks away, however, its flat and I’m really excited to be lapping this historic course, even if a little slower than the drivers.

The venue is fairly close to me and I decided that before I amerce myself in Autumn trail running I’d have a pop at a tarmac surface that’s also in the countryside. So, it’s a case of packing in the miles and fine tuning my engine … ha ha … I’m more of a family saloon than a racing car 🙂 ……………and with quite a few miles on the clock !!

 

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I haven’t settled on my next trail race yet but I’m hoping it will be the Beachy Head marathon as its at the other end of the South Downs Way and I’m keen to explore that neck of the woods.

That’s it for this update, thanks for reading and enjoy your running 🙂