Running in a new direction …

I’ve started turning in a new direction at the end of my road when I go out for a run… I know that sounds a very strange statement to make but how many of us go out for a run and just do the same old route (or slight variation) again and again ? I can put my hand up to that one, but recently I have made a decision to try a new route whenever I have time to do so.

Trying a new route is a bit of a leap of faith, I try to pick a building that I can use as a landmark and then try to run a loop while keeping this landmark in sight.  Sounds like a piece of cake, especially in London where we are not renowned for our hills, but it can create quite a challenge… and I do enjoy a challenge!!

If you have read any of my previous blogs you will know that I could get lost on a straight road, but recently I have been working hard on my navigational skills and I think it’s starting to pay off. Where I used to get very anxious when I thought I was lost I now take it a lot more in my stride, keeping a lot calmer then I used to and thinking about what direction to run in a lot more logical manner. Saying that I’m also spending more time looking at google maps of my area to see if there is somewhere I can go that I haven’t been to before and then going to explore it.

If you are going to try something like this I would recommend not setting yourself a time goal for your run, only because I’ve done this before and it only made me very anxious about getting back when I thought that I was running out of time, and this only leads to you getting more lost or even worse… injured from pushing your to hard.

The other app I’ve been using is Garmin Connect, this allows you to mark you location, put in the distance you want to run along with the direction you want to go and it marks out a route for you. I’ve used this a few times and have found it really good, apart from the time it took me down a country road with no footpath, that was a bit hairy but I’m still here to tell the tale.

Basically I think what I’m saying is that it’s a big world out there to explore and sometimes you have to come out of your comfort zone and do something a bit different, who knows it could be the start of a whole new adventure. But don’t forget, even adventurers let people know where there going, and safety is always a runners number 1 priority.


Getting back into triathlon ?

The other day I found myself reading a triathlon magazine again for the first time in years… I used to do triathlons and really enjoyed them until the day I found myself held under at the first buoy by 2 other swimmers at a sprint triathlon I was doing.

I was really looking forward to that race, the swim was around an old castle moat and it was only 500 metres followed by a nice bike course and an off road run. I had already done an Olympic distance that year, as well as a marathon, and was feeling in good form (which was pretty average really by other standards). It was a lovely day considering it was October and I was enjoying watching the waves in front of me start. When it came to mine I jumped in the water and found a bit of space and what I thought was a good line to start from and then the gun sounded. Off I went feel good but completely misjudged my line to the first buoy and that’s when I happened, 2 other swimmers went straight across me and held me under, I felt terrified under that water and when I came up I couldn’t breath, I just wanted to get out the water and get changed but started the breaststroke slowly towards the next turn. When I reached it I started to front crawl again but couldn’t get into any rhythm and was last out of the water by some distance. I got out, ran to my bike and sat down, I didn’t want to carry on but I thought to myself I had to or I’d never do something like this again. I got on my bike and off I went. As it turned out I enjoyed the bike and loved the run as I was completely in my element on trails and cross the finish line and collected my medal. I told the guy I was doing it with about the swim and he said that I did well to carry on and that I did the right thing but I was still thinking about that swim.

That was the end of the season and I didn’t even go near a swimming pool all winter but then I got asked that dreaded question “did I fancy going down the lake ?” I made my excuses and said I hadn’t been in the pool for so long it wasn’t a good idea to get back in the water and just went for a run until one day I thought I just had to do it. It was a disaster and I hated every minute of it and that year I swam a total of just under 2 miles.

I train with someone who has just done an Ironman and he keeps go on at me to get back in the pool and back on the road to taking part in triathlons and I think his right, I need to put this demon behind me and get back in the pool. I found all my gear and I’m going to give it a try again, I don’t know how it’s going to go but hopefully this time I will be able to get back on the road to open water swimming and then racing triathlons again. 

Why do I enjoy a long run …

Why do I enjoy going long …

                                                           That is an interesting question that I ask myself quite a bit and I can’t quite put my finger on the exact reason, but I can say hand on heart that I enjoy my Sunday morning long runs. I enjoy the planing of the route, looking at a map and picking a place to run to that only a few years ago I would of only thought of jumping on a bus to visit. Getting up in the morning and picking the gear that you know will see you though the job in hand, grabbing your hydration and nutrition, be it the old faithfully that has seen you though training and races in the past or something new that your excited to try. Getting out pounding the pavements (or more preferably the trails)  early in the morning while the streets are empty and enjoying that unusual stillness that you don’t get once people start getting out. The anticipation of how the run will go (or will I get lost which is more or less guaranteed). And at the end that feeling of achievement when you look back at what you’ve done and where you have been.

Not every long run will go well, you might not even finish it having to pull up short for some reason. You might not even enjoy it much and get home believing that the only place for your trainers is in the bin. But by Monday morning everything is forgotten and the following weeks route is already being formulated, so come Sunday I’m back out there doing what I love.

It’s been a while …

It certainly has been a while since I wrote anything on here, I don’t know why, but it may have something to do with my lack of consistent running in recent months.

You know what it’s like… what with work and everything else in November and December I was well down on my normal monthly totals and as we came into the new year my lack of fitness along with a tight Achilles (10% week on week increases, honestly I followed that rule !) lead to a pretty poor start to the year.

I’ve done my first race of 2018 organised by those lovely people from Run Through , the Brixton 10k. Now my reasons for entering this race were as follows –

  1. I’ve always wanted to run around Brockwell Park because I’d been told there was a fun hill.
  2. After eating everything in sight over Christmas I just wanted to see where my fitness was.
  3. They do very nice funky medals
  4. You get a homemade flapjack when you finish (these are worth the entry fee alone)

Now the run went well and the hill was most enjoyable, even with my sore Achilles, and after saying to anyone who asked me that I wasn’t going to push it, I finish 29 seconds outside a PB !

My mojo is now sort of returning, I’ve entered the first ever Big Half thats organised by the London Marathon people (at least I’ve got in something they do) and then 2 weeks latter it’s off to the land of fish & chips and kiss me quick hats to run my favourite race of the year, the Hastings Half Marathon (year number 10 !!, I must love it) and after that I’ve got the North Downs Way 50 in May. I’m on the look out for 1 or 2 marathons to get me into shape for this but for some reason a lot of the smaller ones now take place on a Saturday mornings so my chances of doing these are slim.

So here’s to my new start and to hopefully some good times ahead of me this year.

Be more Tortoise …

I saw this sign the other night while I was running along the Regents canal, I know it’s aimed at cyclists (the speed they go along there is truly unbelievable) but it made me think about my running.

Am I more tortoise then hare ? Well I’d have to say yes … I have pretty average PBs for the race distances I’ve done and I’m never going to worry anybody at the front of the pack, but I do enjoy a gentle run while taking in what’s going on around me . I sometimes run along watching other runners with their heads down flying along not taking any notice to what’s going on around them, a bit like those people that walk along with there heads in their mobile phones. I’ve always thought that

a) it’s probably a bit dangerous

b) where is the enjoyment

c) what are these people actually doing ?

I understand the importance of speed / tempo workouts, but do you need to do this on every run ? In one of my favourite films, Ferris Buellers Day Off,  he said something that really stuck with me and I sometimes thinks about while running

” Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”

This is so true about a lot of things in life but it really hits me most about running. So next time you reach the top of a hill, or run along a new route, or discover a new interesting building  … stop and look around, enjoy it as you only discover something for the first time once, so don’t lose that moment or it will be gone forever.


Return to the woods. 

On Monday night I did my usual 8 mile run commute home from work, but for some reason it felt different !

Why did it feel different ? 

Well for some reason I am completely worn out, I have followed all of my usual post race  recovery steps, resting a bit more, adding in a bit of cross training to use different muscle groups, even slowing down my runs a bit and generally taking it a much easier, but it felt like I had just ran a marathon on Monday night, and that was only at the 3 mile mark !

I am not the sort of  person to kick back and relax, when I’m out and people run past me I  think that could be me, why am I not out doing something. I also hate getting the train home from work, why sit in that packed and smelly tin can when there are river and canal paths to run home along, parks to explore and roads that are just calling me as I go past to see where they lead.

Therefore this weekend I am going to find a trail somewhere, pop in my headphones, ignore my Garmin and just run for the love of it, because the day  I stop enjoying running along tree lined paths, a woodland single track, or running up a hill just because it’s there, is the day that my running shoes will be tossed in the bin forever.

What did I learn from my first Ultra

It’s been a few weeks now since I finished my first ultra marathon and I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I have learned from this experience, and more for myself (and possibly anyone reading this that might take something from my thoughts) I thought I would do a little list.

1. I DO NOT EAT PROPERLY WHILE RUNNINGI think a lot of people might be guilty of this but I just don’t eat enough while running, I know you get your energy from the whole calorie in verses calorie out thing but I just find it hard to put food in my mouth. Therefore I think I need to experiment with different types of food or even Tailwind (I’ve heard good things about this product) to see how I get on with them until I find something that works for me. 

2. PACINGThere’s a saying I’ve heard about ultras “whatever pace you start at, your probably going to fast” and I think this is correct. I felt really good for the first 20 miles but looking back at Strava it does seem like I started off a bit to fast, but this gets solved with practice, practice and more practice. 

3. I NEED TO RUN MORE HILLS I live in London and its relatively flat, but I need to dedicate more time to finding a hill and running up and down it, very boring I know but I also know it’s going to have a positive effect on my running. Should I have a day when I just look at elevation and ignore distance?

4. LONELINESS-I love going out for long runs, but I also find going out for 3-4 hours at a time very lonely. Yes I listen to my IPod, singing along like a strange person or laughing out loud at podcasts, but it’s still lonely. Are there clubs for ultra runners ? Would I enjoy joining a club ? (I haven’t before because I find them a bit elitist). Or do I embrace the peace and quiet and just enjoy the beauty of the run ? Every time I think I have an answer to this question I step back, think about it and feel I’m no further forward.

5. TIME IS RELATIVE – I was out on that course for nearly 15 hours ! I still can’t get my head around that because I can safely say that it didn’t feel like it. How do i train for that in the future ? You can’t really go out for 10 hour training runs and I think this will play on my mind when my training is underway for my next ultra (and there will be one) 

6. I WANT TO TRY SOFT FLASK WATER BOTTLES – For no other reason then it seemed I was the only person not using them !!!! So there must be something in it. 

These are just a few things that have popped into my head recently, but I’m sure the more I think about it the more questions I will have, and the more questions that I have the less answers I will know … but I suppose that’s half the fun of running.