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 run

“Your legs achieve what your mind believes” pcm2014b

 Me in my element !!

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Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE talks Parkrun

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Solent University’s huge lecture theatre screen gave the 100 + guests attending an evening with Mr Parkrun himself, Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE the opportunity to watch and hear from a man who has realised his running vision. Hosting the evening was Mathew Fleet (who’d invited me) a lecturer at Solent, a fellow Fareham Crusader and an avid parkrun enthusiast.

Mathew underlined just how parkrun Southsea has had a huge positive effect on his family with photos of him running with his daughters and his brother, a nice personal touch when introducing Paul. The photo below is of our host, our speaker and the funky Solent University.

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The running community were out in force this evening, bloggers, parkrun directors, junior parkrun directors, running event organisers, dedicated parkrun volunteers and park runners. I recognised a good ten people from our local area.

What I liked most about the evening was that Paul Sinton-Hewitt (lets go with PSH) charted the emergence of parkrun right up to its current position of potential world domination with frequent references to the many contributors that make up the slices of  a parkrun pie.

Naturally a large slice is PSH himself, he currently holds the title of Founder which seems to suits him very well in that he can spend time talking to audiences such as ours, while still having an influence on the wider activities of this ever expanding phenomenon.

The parkrun pie first came out of the oven on October 2nd 2004 with 13 runners attending the Bushy Park time trial. This free, timed, 5K run with results and coffee to follow was pretty much the same as it is today. It expanded through the London suburbs, spread to Leeds via Marathon Talks Tom Williams, through the UK and around the world.

The ingredients for the parkrun pie haven’t really changed from the list PSH cooked up in 2014. Community running for absolutely anyone in the community, no charges and an open invite to return whenever it suits you.

From listening to PSH he talked with both affection and pride regarding probably the biggest slice of the parkrun pie, the volunteers. After all the runs quite simply wouldn’t function without these guys. When he said parkruns were free in every sense of the word ultimately I guess volunteers are free to come and go but they appear to have built up their own separate community. Paul used the phrase “giving something back” which sums up the volunteers contribution.

He mentioned the fact that naturally runners volunteered but many of the people who contribute never run themselves.

With PSH developing the registration system from his IT background then this really did enable him to keep everything at the grass roots level. Paul also acknowledged that the post run coffee and conversations were as much a part of the volunteering as the encouragement.

I’ve only volunteered once but I must admit but they certainly were “giving” me all I needed.

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Finally the runners, walkers and joggers slice of the pie comes in all sorts of flavours . PSH noted the positives, female participation is higher in parkruns than club races, families run together, Dads cheer on their wives and kids, both parents look on with pride at the junior parkruns, buggy and dog runners are welcome, disabled runners are catered for and the list goes on and on.

The nature of a weekly event means progress can be measured from walking to jogging to running. Whether this translates into entering races is more of an invitation than an expected consequence.

Most importantly a parkrun is just that, a run, through pleasant surroundings and not a race. PSH clearly felt this was a major key to its success.

With parkruns in prisons, parkruns in less advantaged areas and doctors being urged to prescribe the running social engagement of parkruns rather than pills the future looks bright.

So in summary his audience listened with 100% attention and followed it up with a variety of interesting questions. I intend to post this blog to as many non running social media outlets as running ones because parkrun has so much to offer the people that haven’t discovered it. Thanks for reading.

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Generally speaking pies are frowned upon were healthy living is concerned but the parkrun pie has changed lives, probably extended lives and developed a community that’s free to access at 9am every Saturday.

An inspiring evening from an inspiring man.

PSH …….Mr Parkrun, thank you.

 

 

South Downs Marathon #hills

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When you set your alarm call for 5.15am you know it’s going to be a long day but more importantly you know you’ve committed yourself to a challenging day. What’s life without challenges ….. boring !!

Running along the South Downs Way guarantees you amazing views of the countryside that haven’t changed a great deal for decades. Time stands still on the Downs and that’s why trail runners love it, what you can’t avoid are the hills. Some 3,000 feet of elevation awaited us. This will be my second marathon in three weeks after the great Dorchester marathon.

With Slindon college being our starting point 209 Events had organised coaches to drive us from the finish at Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP) to the start. I boarded our coach with Fran and Rachel from Fareham Crusaders who also ran the Dorchester marathon three weeks previously. I offered a few thoughts from running the race in 2015 and as we arrived there were menacing clouds above the college.

We quickly bumped into Hayley from Gosport Road runners and Emma Bird from Pompey Joggers. Emma has reached the dizzy hights of a 100 mile run and Hayley has been accumulations a few marathons recently. Completing the line up was Mark Highland who I’d met for the first time last week.

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Hayley’s GRR yellow kit was a contrast to the black clouds above the college 🙂

The first task of the day is to work your way up onto the top of the Downs, this combines four miles and nearly 500 feet of climbing. I spotted both Hayley and Emma ahead of me on the initial country lane but as we started the climb they eased away. The contrasting open field tracks and oppressive humid woods meant for an interesting introduction to the day.

I’ve learned that if you need to walk three miles into a marathon it doesn’t mean you’ve failed it means you are spreading out your energy.

Once onto the Downs the familiar chalky trail with flint stones poking out at random intervals meant you do need to keep half an eye on where you’re running as well as marvelling at the views for miles.

Talking of views the South Downs don’t need arrows to signpost a hill, you quite simply can’t miss them. This beauty just kept giving and giving at around 7 & half miles.

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I couldn’t resist stopping for a second to take this photo. Runners disappearing over the horizon as far as the eye can see. The camera may not show the gradient quite so well but this is another 300 feet or so. Hill two on the profile below.

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With ten miles fast approaching my drinks strategy of 500ml an hour was going well due to the humidity as much as the sunshine. The half way drinks station offers a bitter sweet mixture of refilling your drinks and the prospect of the third big hill in the distance. I took this photo a little too early but the trail ahead winds its way up the lighter green fields towards the horizon that isn’t forested.

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Setting off on this third hill I knew half of it was tarmac and the remainder harder going rougher trail. Course knowledge can be invaluable on these occasions. I made the most of the tarmac and used fast walking where appropriate.

At this point I think its worth pointing out that walking can actually be quite constructive. I eat my energy bar and collected my thoughts as to what remained, as well as the pace I’d need to finish under five hours.

The next section between 17.5 and 20 miles has a steep grassy hill followed by a shorter chalk hill that’s very rough underfoot. These 2 1/2 miles would go a long way to what my final average time was. These are hills where everyone around you is walking, everyone is grimacing and there’s very little talking. A fast walk can be quite effective and I overtook a few runners.

Leaving the 20 mile National Trust Harting Down feed station I had again used the walk to calculate what I’d needed to do on the undulating smaller “cheeky” hills that remained. Timing wise I was ahead of schedule and there was still the bonus of the last mile being largely downhill.

The last 6,5,4,3 miles did hurt but I was gaining in confidence and emotion because 2015’s 4.58 looked very achievable. At mile 25 we reached the glorious downhill into QECP !!

I crossed the line in 4 hours 52 minutes which I was very pleased with. My SKINS socks had done me proud on my first marathon wearing them. For a full write up on SKINS take a look on the menu of my blog.

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Marathons are a metaphor for life …. it’s testing, you are in it for the long haul but ultimately you get out of it what you put in. Thank you 209 Events for an emotional, hard and rewarding experience.

Thanks to Emma who cheered me in after her amazing 4.19 time and to Nick from Alton Sports who I also chatted to after the finish. A huge well done to Mark with his fabulous 3.43 and Hayley with 4.37 . Equally well done to Fran and Rachel for their heroic 5.48’s on a tough course were on the brave actually entered never mind finished.

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It was all smiles after my second marathon in three weeks. Running off road is scenic, exhilarating and challenging but most of all it’s so rewarding. The sense of achievement to take on mother nature and come out smiling is what its all about.

And finally ……….. free race photos are always a bonus !!

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Happy trail running, I run off road, we run off road 🙂

Weekend Warriors

 

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From my point of view I have a week to go until the South Downs marathon but this short blog is more about the wider sporting community that were out in force for the Centurion South Downs 100 mile race  …… “The Weekend Warriors” !!

I’d planned my last taper run from Queen Elizabeth Country Park to Harting Down and back. Through the power of social media I’d run these twelve miles with Mark Highland (pictured above and also running the marathon next week) and meet Graham Carter (pictured below) at one of the impressive aid stations along the #SDW100 route. I’ve only chatted on twitter / facebook with these chaps so it was great to finally meet them.

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Within the hundred mile runners ( Winchester to Eastbourne) I was keen to cheer on as many as possible and especially Fareham Crusaders men’s captain Paul Pickford (pictured below).

paulAfter meeting Mark in the car park as well as Aaron, James and Paula from Fareham Crusaders who were also out run supporting we set off. The outward six miles will be the final six in next weeks marathon so this was a great familiarisation exercise.

The stunning countyside views coupled with the sunshine meant the undulating terrain was run with good spirits. This following photo amused me with a tree that had fallen across the trail but in typical National Trust fashion it had been made a feature of.

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Graham would be marshalling his Centurion aid station for some hours so hats off to him and all the other volunteers for this commitment to the running community. We chatted about the day ahead and then carried on our running.

All went to plan with the runners heading towards us on our return route. We clapped and cheered the eventual winner and probably a hundred ultra runners that included Stephen from Film My Run and our very own running clubs Paul Pickford at the QECP aid station. At this point the runners had done about a marathon, distance wise !! Paul finished in 25 1/2 hours …. fantastic.

What a commitment, one hundred miles !!! Wow 🙂 Congratulations to everyone that finished. Naturally you don’t need to run 100 miles to be a warrior, but it probably helps, especially if that meant 12,700 feet of elevation and for many running overnight #amazing

With my marathon a week away the prospect of virtually four in a row takes some processing. What a mental and physical challenge these guys took on.

Today’s weekend warriors included racing runners, training runners and aid station volunteers. Added to this mountain bikers, walkers and hikers all out on the Downs.

In summary ………… get outdoors, you’ll feel so much better for it 🙂

#weekend #warriors

The WSR Dorchester Marathon

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First things first I’d like to thank White Star Running (WSR) and all the other organisations that combined to make Sunday the 27th of May such a memorable day.

Running a marathon is a time consuming undertaking but planning and marshalling one inevitably take a lot longer !!

Why do I sound so enthusiastic about the whole thing I hear you ask, well, for a variety of reasons the Dorchester marathon was my first race of the year, “really”, yes really. The reason I chose to run in Dorset was after watching Film My Run’s video from last years inaugural race. The video was screaming WSR !! The organisation, the humour, the facilities, and the trademark lovestation.

With the marathon start time being 8.30 this meant setting my alarm for 5am, “FIVE AM”. Isn’t it funny how getting up for work at a later time seems a pain but getting up not that long after sunrise, for a race, is a positive joy 🙂

During the hour and a half drive from Hampshire to Dorset the skies gradually moved through the colour spectrum between blue and black. Some 20 miles away from Dorchester the heavens opened and my windscreen wipers were going ten to the dozen. However, the running gods were kind to us because within ten minutes of the start I was hurriedly applying sun cream to my arms, legs and face.

aastartI spotted Andy Palmer “Mr WSR” just long enough before his safety brief to be able to introduce myself and in no time we were lined up. As I scanned the start line I said hello to Fran and Rachel from my Fareham Crusaders and as we got going I also said hello to Emma from Gosport Road Runners (GRR).

The first mile was full of banter and chat as we started the gradual incline of the High Street. I’m old enough to remember when there wasn’t a Dorchester bypass so it was a trip down memory lane for me. The historical buildings were equally matched with the

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hysterical fancy dress costumes a number of runners had on. As we turned left out of town I could see Richard Law from Gosport Road Runners. We’d talked earlier this month about running a similar ten minute miles strategy so we ran side by side. I can only put my facial expression down to the quickly applied sun cream getting in my eyes in these initial first few miles … ha ha. Schoolboy error.

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The crowds along the streets were very vocal and there was a real feel good atmosphere. With feed stations every three miles we would be spoilt all day. At around four or five miles the “ever smiling” Phil Hoy from Pompey Joggers overtook Richard and I. Phil had arrived 15 minutes late and was gradually overtaking a large proportion of the field. He eventually came 90th out of 603, hats off to you Phil.

The countryside lanes were starting to warm up as the mornings sun burnt off the clouds and by the time we reached the twelve mile feed station we’d also encountered our first proper hill. This next photo was taken by one of the Bournemouth Joggers and their “Under the Sea” themed pit stop. I thought it summed up the day perfectly ….. hot, hot, hot.

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That’s me in the background taking out one of my 500ml soft flaks. I think most of us wore as much of the water as drank it !! I’m not sure what the temperature was at that point but it was 23 degrees by the end.

From twelve miles until the lovestation at twenty the country lanes wound their way through picturesque villages and crops of various descriptions. Due to me not knowing the area that’s about as much of an explanation as I can give, however, this elevation chart from my Strava does add more to it pictorially (is that a word, spell check thinks it is so I’ll go with it).

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Miles 16 to 20 were harsh, the breeze dropped, the humidity climbed and I have to admit to enjoying the marathon ever so slightly less 🙂 Richard had moved ahead and fellow runners were becoming much less frequent. Two lads entertaining us with their guitar and double base made for a welcome lift in spirits but it was hard work.

I would compare myself to a contestant on a games show at about 19 miles because I was banking on playing all my cards on the famous WSR oasis that their lovestations are. They came up trumps, food – drink – humour – showers – toilets – music and a genuine “how are you finding it, what can we do to help you” , suffice to say I left with added vigour and almost a spring in my stride (almost), plus a litre of fluids.

It’s surprising how stopping can actually be beneficial.

The long gradual climb at around 21/22 miles gave me mixed emotions, it was tough on the legs but I could also see a string of people ahead of me and all of sudden the prospect of improving my overall position on hills that I’ve trained for felt like a game show host had asked me to “come on down”, yes, “the price could be right” or in running terms, I was getting my second wind.

I caught Richard and a number of others, I also had the advantage of wearing my running vest so I was carrying two 500ml soft flasks while most other runners were stopping at feed stations. I could drink and run (who says men can’t do two things at once). Actually I was doing three things, I was overtaking people !!!

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As miles 23,24 and 25 passed with yet more undulations along Slyer’s Lane I passed Jo and two other Pompey Jogger ladies who were running in the half marathon. The final mile was downhill and then it was just a case of squeezing everything I had left out of my proverbial running sponge to cross the line, pick up my medal and t shirt and to be greeted by my cousin Jane who’d kindly come along to support with her husband Peter.

We retired to the shade of the main tent and I apologised a number of times for my sweaty condition. I drank around three litres over the course and didn’t need the bathroom once, that’s a measure of how hot it was.

4 hours 41 minutes and 304th out of 603 were my vital statistics.

The Dorchester Marathon did us proud.

Thanks again to all the people that I’ve mentioned and any that have slipped my mind. Today has given me the confidence to enter the South Downs marathon in 3 weeks.

I love marathons 🙂

 

 

Gophysio Foam Roller workshop

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I’m sure most runners are familiar with the foam roller concept and I’d bet (like me) we’ve even bought one, but do we use it ??? Hats off to the folks that do, mine has been sadly neglected. Excuses like, “I’ll get around to watching some youtube videos” or “I’ve just run for 3 hours, I can’t justify more time rollering” may sound familiar.

However, the overwhelming thought I left the workshop with, had to be, why haven’t I been doing this for years and how did I manage to pick the pair of socks with the hole in the big toe (yes you take your trainers off) !!! I can now ease aches, pains and tension, as well as reduce the likelihood of injury. Considering that I mainly run marathons, feeling supple and not “creaking”, is a win-win.

I saw a Saturday foam roller workshop advertised on instagram and contacted Gophysio to see if they ran any mid week sessions. Friday May the 18th was their reply at 5pm which was perfect for me.

On arrival I was immediately struck by how smart and spotless the reception area was. I particularly liked the words of wisdom that you read, as you walk in … “Look after your body, it’s the only place you have to live” Jim Rohn quote.

The weapons of torture were also on display in reception !! Torture is often a word associated with foam rollers but used properly they’ll save you lots more pain in your running !!

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Tom the sports therapist invited the nine of us to follow him upstairs to the temperature controlled studio and I was again impressed that not only were there nine mats with a variety of rollering gadgets but there was also plenty of space between each mat.

Booking a smaller amount of people with enough space to do justice to the class meant Tom could freely walk around, checking on everyone. This personal attention ahead of profit making goes a long way in my book.

Tom kept the explanations of theory to a sensible minimum and we concentrated on one side of the body while we slowly went through our instructions, then for the last twenty minutes we could repeat the same for the other side of the body applying what we’d learnt. The methodical 35 minutes or so on one side meant we could apply our techniques with confidence in the second shorter session.

Exercise wise I’ll talk through generally what we did rather than attempt to offer instructions because I’m a runner and not a sports therapist !!

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We started with the sole of the foot and a small trigger point ball. Applying a good measure of weight and rolling the ball backwards and forwards. We then swopped to a nano foot roller (3rd from the left in the picture above) which did a similar job but had a broader range rather than the more specific ball (4th from the left in the photo).

Next we used the larger trigger point ball and a large foam roller on our calves (the final 2 items in the photo above). Starting at a mid point and rollering down, then rolling up. While swopping between the roller and ball you could feel the difference and choose whether you could cope with the more intense ball as it pinpoints specific areas. Moving over onto your side also meant you could feel the benefit across a wider area.

I felt I didn’t have as much control with the ball until Tom showed me that shorter movements were required or in some cases bending your knee and then straightening your leg achieved the same result. This instant feedback was the benefit of a smaller class.

We carried out a similar approach for the hamstrings, quads, TFL (the small muscle were your pockets are) and gluts. On each occasion Tom encouraged us to find “hot spots” and hold the ball/ roller at that point until the tightness had eased off. With your gluts being quite a large muscle I took more time to explore ….. ha ha .

The nature of marathon training means repetitive use of certain muscles. I cycle to work most days and even though this flushes out stiffness (active recovery) it doesn’t pinpoint areas. Naturally all runners would benefit from rolling regardless of their distances.

Splitting each area up into upper and lower sections meant I found I only had a small range of movement and I didn’t feel like my legs and arms were shaking due to being over extended. Supporting yourself correctly makes the exercises both safer and more comfortable. Shoulders and back work then followed.

Various questions were asked through the session and it was interesting to hear that the class was made up of regular roller runners and novices like myself.

I haven’t attempted to explain the science of the muscles and the exercises but suffice to say I felt considerably more flexible. With Dorchester marathon only a week away I certainly benefitted from loosening some “knots” and I’ll use my own roller through this last taper week.

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We thanked Tom for an excellent session, completed his feedback form and the chit-chat between us was just how useful the hour had been.

Top marks to Chandlers Ford’s Gophysio and at £15 for the hour long session it really is money well spent. I’d go as far as saying it’s an investment in your running future. I’ll be buying a trigger point ball to accompany my own roller.

Dorchester Marathon training

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The “big” Spring road Marathons season has come and gone …… Brighton, Manchester and London. These mass participation marathons are great to watch but I think I’d find them a bit claustrophobic. As a temporary distraction from trail running I saw a 6 week window that would lead to the Dorchester “road” marathon so three runs in I thought I’d blog my progress so far.

After studying my friend Mel’s Strava post from last years race there would appear to be 1,200 feet of elevation over the 26.2 miles with a pleasant downhill section from 24 miles onwards. I’ve tailored my training runs to try and mimic the general profile with a number of undulations and a downhill finish.

Week 1 was 13.1 miles in 2 hours as a general reminder to road running.

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The vast majority of my recent running have been offroad i.e. beach, countryside and coastal paths. Running on tarmac is a different proposition to the more forgiving mud and sand. Off road there’s certainly less impact on your joints but then again it’s harder work negotiating a less firm surface.

I’ve dug out my Wave Inspire 12 Mizuno trainers that are a slightly wider fit, which I find helpful after a few hours of road running. I’m still using my Ultimate Direction vest because it’s great to carry 1.5 litres of fluid even if I do run past garages and public toilets were I could refill my soft flasks.

Week 2’s training had an added dimension …. “heat”, I wasn’t planning on a mini heat wave. Suntan lotion in April isn’t a phrase I’d usually use but as I left the house in 18 degrees I even took some with me. The 2 & 3/4 of an hour that I was out amounted to 17.1 miles which was a positive step both in time and miles. Here’s the Strava link.

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I’ve always based my long runs around “time on my feet” as much as mileage so I decided to consolidate this week with about 18 miles.

The first 5.5 miles included a gradual incline up and down the Avenue, as well as up and down Titchfield Hill. Next, a gradual incline up Gudge Heath Lane across Northern Fareham and then down North Hill, and out towards Wickham. I’d reckoned on about 950 feet of climbs today so I intended to set off slower and spread out my efforts.

During my last two runs I was aware of checking my garmin quite often which isn’t something that I’d usually do. Yes I’m keen to run well but I decided to leave my gps at home and trust to running how I feel.

Local running also gives you the bonus of bumping into friends. Within a 15 minutes spell I’d seen John Ellard cycling and Gerry Perrier running.

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By eleven miles I’d turned for home and everything was going to plan both in terms of time and hills. I take a gel every 3/4’s of an hour and work on drinking 500ml of electrolyte mix every hour. The nature of road running does mean the noise from the traffic has replaced the birds song but my route was fairly rural so it wasn’t that bad.

I took a couple of salt tablets after two hours because even though it was 10 degrees cooler than last week I was aware that over a period of time I was sweating.

The photo at the beginning of my blog shows the route and as I didn’t wear my garmin I only had the actual time as a guide. Three hours had passed so if anything I’d run slightly slower than I may have with gps for the 17.75 miles I’d planned.

I’ve made a point of training on my own because unlike London etc. I suspect there’ll be quite a few quiet miles, however, after watching the race video there’s a good amount of supporters out on the course. Long distance running is a calming, almost meditational experience with just your breathing and your thoughts to contemplate and that’s why I love it. Run for fun, run to improve and run for mindfulness.

This week coming will be 21 miles and the full 1,200 feet that the race includes. It will be interesting to see what time I get in Dorchester but I won’t be pressurising myself.

Just as an aside it’s almost 3 months since I joined Instagram and I’m pleased how well its going. I’m irunoffroad on there too 🙂 It has meant I’ve talked to different runners and it has widened my running circles.

Ok, so I didn’t run through fields of light blue bluebells or yellow rapeseed but I’m excited to be running a road marathon for a change.

Dorchester “road” Marathon

Ok, I know what you’re thinking, a road marathon ????? Where does the irunoffroad angle come into this. Well, over the years I’ve driven through Dorchester numerous times and quite simply, I like its character.

After watching film my runs video I also spotted three of my running club friends. Mel, Paula and Sarah ran last years inaugural race. Personal recommendations go along way in my book so when our ladies heartily approved the run, then that was good enough for me, even if it’s only six weeks away 🙂

In summary, White Star Running’s 26.2 miles of country lanes, combined with a section of the high street, meant “resistance was futile” !!

I’m looking forward to a different kind of running experience. The combination of a race village, spectators, history and the Dorset countryside means I’ll be running the tarmac !!

Parkruns : Something for everyone

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As I left Fareham parkrun the one thought that struck me was just how many people it had catered for. In essence a parkrun is a timed 5K, marshalled and organised by volunteers and open to anyone that has registered. We all had our barcodes and we’d all be running but there can be so many motivators for attending.

I thought I’d share my observations on just how well parkrun serves it’s loyal members, without necessarily naming all the people involved !!

Naturally this applies up and down the country and for that matter, across the world.

  1. Family runners. These are such positive scenes with mums & dads encouraging their kids to run. It’s a shared interest, it’s healthy and it’s a great confidence builder.
  2. The first timers. An officially organised race can often be a step too far for people who are working through their walk/jog/run phases. Parkrun is the perfect starting point to chart distances walked, jogged and run. It also offers countless encouraging voices.
  3. The returning from injury runners. Testing your progress outside of a more pressurised race environment can be invaluable.
  4. The returning to fitness runners. Not having run for a while doesn’t always follow on from an injury. Discovering your lost “mojo” in a friendly 5K can make all the difference.
  5. Speed, whether it’s “out and out running speed”, running to complement another sport or like me, it’s good to throw in some lung busting as an alternative to my long steady runs and,
  6. My final observation was simply the communal parkrun spirit that the returning weekly parkrunners share. I don’t parkrun that often as marathons are my distance but “I’ll be back”.

The speed of the results and the fantastic free photos, that are invariably available too, make the experience one to repeat.

Thanks very much to Fareham parkrun, Julie Salt and her team. I enjoyed my run, I loved my photo and I’ll also be back to volunteer at some stage.

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#flying #fareham 🙂

Ultimate Direction AK 3.0 Running Vest

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Isn’t it funny how fate can combine to set up your perfect scenario. I’d been talking with my ultra running friend Mark Greenfield about meeting him part way through his run and my new running vest arrived just in time.

Mark is in training for the South Downs Way 50 miler in two weeks time and I was looking to add a two hour run to the 13 miler I ran on Wednesday.

How excited was I to wear my running vest, well, on a scale of 1 to 10 I’d say 25. I’ve used a variety of packs and waste bags over the years but ultimately it’s all about having the tools for the trade !!

After researching numerous other vests I decided on the Ultimate Direction AK (Anton Krupicka) 3.0, large, red vest. The colours also compliment our Fareham Crusaders running club tops.

Firstly, the design of the pack means the wide side panels and shoulder straps really do make you feel like you’re wearing a waistcoat and that’s what makes it a vest rather than a rucksack. The vest can effectively be split into three categories.

  • Two 500ml soft flasks sit comfortably in their holsters. The holsters have draw strings to tighten the flasks and the bottles sit on your chest for easy access. The clear plastic also shows you how much you’ve drunk.
  • There are “numerous” pockets on the shoulder and side panels sections of the vest. The two main side panel pockets have zips and are vary spacious. The front zip pocket took my valuables and the side panels my gloves, snood and gels. I could have fit numerous other items in but it was only a two hour run.
  • The main storage bag on the rear again has a large capacity and I used it for my rain racket.

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The secure zipped pockets, the lightweight nature, the accessibility and the scope to adjust the fit with straps meant it was very practical and very comfortable. I’d say the storage on your back would be used for items you ought to take but wouldn’t be looking to use for some time. Not needing to struggle for nutrition and liquids takes all the hassle out of a long run. Not needing to stop as well as eating/drinking on the move means your run isn’t interrupted.

The whistle that’s attached to the vest was a great additional thought and I know feel like I’m properly prepared for whatever adventures I choose to take on.

Todays run included muddy trails, shingle and sand. A combination of all theses elements as well as my effort meant the pack had mud and sweat on it. A look warm, water rinse, soon resolved that and it dried out overnight too.

markg

Todays run started with a fairly uneventful 4.5 miles to get to the coast, however, it did mean I could entertain myself by using the bottles and pockets without necessarily actually eating and drinking each time.

The coastal trail that heads along the Meon shoreline added far more excitement. The map is from my strava account. I’m irunoffroad Roger and here’s the link for Todays Run

The coastal path was muddy and had huge puddles. I find that if you can avoid the deep puddles, that’s going to keep your socks drier but sometimes there’s more risk of slipping if you constantly try to avoid the water. Yes, sometimes its better just to plough on straight through them.

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As I made my way inland I met up with Mark who’d set off earlier and was running more miles. I turned around and ran with him from about mile 6.5 to 10. When I say ran with him, I meant “tried to keep up with”. We bumped into Emma Noyce that I’ve talked to on social media a lot, but never actually met. Well done on your coastal run too Emma.

We decided to run along the shoreline instead of the coastal path for more endurance training on the soft sand and shingle. I took this photo of Mark and even though it came out quite dark I think it shows a man in his element !!

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What the photo doesn’t show is that the sand became very soft in no time at all and we probably got just as wet as if we’d have run the path’s puddles, all of which added to the entertainment value !!

Next was Titchfield Haven, this is a nature reserve and the trails are well known for being muddy. The poor drainage means its a great training run for testing your agility and gaining confidence in running on slippy mud, which is inevitable at this time of the year.

By the time we reached the other side of Titchfield village I had run 10 miles and Mark 20. We shook hands and said we’d meet up soon. He asked me how I liked my vest and to be honest I’d almost forgotten I had it on !!

All that remained was a few more miles on bridle paths and then my last leg on the road down Gudge Heath Lane to home and 12.75 miles.

I did stop for a drink at 11 miles because I’d seen someone watching me approach. Can you spot him, I had to zoom in 🙂 He scampered through the trees and followed me for about 50 metres !!

DSC01192So, all in all it was great to catch up with Mark and I love my new running vest. A real investment for the future.

Happy trail running 🙂