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. Running is my mindfulness. Weekend updates.

     2016 : Imber Ultra 33 miles, QE Spring Half Marathon,  Wickham Whistler 21 miles, The Ox Ultra 36 miles, 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, Dorchester Marathon, South Downs Marathon, Goodwood Marathon & Isle Of Wight marathon run so far.

“Your legs achieve what your mind believes” pcm2014b

 Me in my element !!

UK BLOG Awards, Sports & Fitness

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I’m proud that my blog has been chosen along with 32 others in the UK Blog Awards Sports and Fitness category. If you’ve enjoyed reading my blog over the last three years then maybe you’d consider voting please.

Here’s the link … Vote Here

Clicking on this link will take you directly to the category and then all you need to do is page down to irunoffroad and click the heart icon. It’s as easy as that.

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Voting is open for the next six weeks and then a shortlist will be judged.

Once again, thank you for reading my blog.

Roger

Willpower for Runners

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The term willpower is often associated with giving up the nice thinks in life ….. chocolate, crisps, alcohol etc. However, after a recent 5k run I contemplated what part willpower plays in my running. We all have it and we can all increase it, whether during a parkrun or a marathon.

Willpower choices confront you from the moment you wake. It’s Saturday morning and you’ve set your alarm clock for earlier than your working week but that’s ok because you’re going running. No snooze button, no turning over …. just get going !!

Your second choice would be what kind of run are you planning. Whether its three miles or twenty, applying your willpower can make a huge difference.

The final choice, do I train on my own or with others ? Your willpower can be equally tested here, whether its trying to keep up with your training partners or pushing yourself on your own.

Ok, so you are off and running …. you’ve shown drive, determination and self discipline to be here, let’s face it a lot of people are still at home in bed !!

Whether its race day or a training run not starting too quickly requires willpower, its so easy to get carried away but a measured start pays dividends every time.

As your run progresses, inevitably you’ll reach a point where self doubt becomes a factor. Shall I slow down ? Should I shorten my run ? Regardless of your ability you need to decide what your response will be and which tools you can call on.

We can probably pinpoint the moment the voices start asking these questions of us and its at that point were some previously prepared thoughts can really help.

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For the shorter distances were your lungs are starting to complain I try to recognise the discomfort and concentrate on the next 100 metres, focus on a point, maybe a lamppost maybe a tree. Once you’ve reached your focus point, set yourself another. During each 100 metres I try to concentrate on controlling my breathing and if that means running slightly slower for a short period, then that’s fine too.

Once you’ve dealt with that moment of feeling out of control a wave of confidence will sweep over you. Running is meant to be challenging but being prepared for the self doubt with a positive strategy can be very empowering. Combine willpower and acknowledging how much you want to reach your goals, for a winning formula.

That burning feeling of lactic acid isn’t going to go away but talking yourself through it rather than talking yourself out of it will see you through. Resist the temptation to slow down for as long as you can, I sometimes try a shorter but quicker stride. Practice this positive thought process of not giving in.

Ultimately this short term discomfort will be rewarded with the time on your watch.

Willpower for marathon training is a different matter. Naturally you are running for considerably longer so its all about spreading your effort in the most realistic and practical manner.

I practise staying positive when running uphill, short burst of walking vigorously for ten strides and then running again can work wonders for your mind set.

Your training will take you most of the way to twenty miles, its the last 6.2 that need willpower. You’ve reached the famous “Wall”, you need a plan to avoid the famous bonk. Break it down, one 10K, two parkruns etc. Remind yourself of what you’re doing, I think its still only 1% of the worlds population that have run a marathon.

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Giving your willpower a helping hand by having kept hydrated and energised will add to your mental fortitude. Having the confidence that you “can do it” goes a long way and quite simply “I’m bloody going to do it” helps too. Get fired up, dig deep and as 20 miles become 21,22,23 its surprising how empowering your willpower feels.

I’m quite happy to admit that I get emotional towards the end of a long run. You’ve answered those negative thoughts and that buzz will prepare you for the next time. Positive reinforcement is a huge weapon to have in your armoury.

These thoughts are based on my running experiences and my emotions, both come together in the phrase “your legs achieve what your mind believes”.

I recently read that willpower is the capacity to override an unwanted thought. In sporting terms its replacing negative thoughts with positive strategies.

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This photo is of 401 marathons Ben, half way up Butser Hill waiting for other runners to catch up. If anyone epitomises willpower it’s Ben and it was inspiring to meet him.

While training your legs and lungs make some time to work on your willpower.

Thanks for reading.

Roger #irunoffroad

 

 

Running 5k the Parkrun way

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Five kilometres / 5,000 meters / 3.1 miles, however you look at it this distance will now forever be associated with parkrun .

Fareham’s Cams Hall estate had a cold and crisp feeling to it but when combined with the Autumn sunshine and the waters edge track, it makes for a great location.

With 342 people eagerly awaiting the standard nine a.m. start I observed the multi-coloured assembly of people in their running/walking attire. I pondered what do these weekly events mean to people.

To Mo Farah it’s a 13 minute romp, however, with the average Fareham parkrun time being 30.20 this shows what an all inclusive fitness phenomenon parkrun has become and ………… it’s free !!

Now, it’s worth saying at this point that I’ve only done 16 parkruns, however, I’ve been running for thirty years and I can honestly say the fact that no one has a race number pinned to their chest “really” does make a huge difference. Taking away the pressurised feel of a race means you can run/walk or jog at its purest form. You are running for you, whatever your goals are.

An unbelievable 1,803,378 people had participated in parkrun ahead of this Saturday, that’s in the UK – not Fareham !! 🙂

 

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What also makes parkrun unique is the army of volunteers and the core teams within this. Setting up, marshalling, token sorting, result publishing and packing up … it all takes time, effort and dedication. These volunteers are the ultimate reason for parkruns success.

I bumped into numerous local club runners, some who I see on the trails and some who I haven’t seen for ages. There were people from work and complete family groups who’s kids I’d never met before.

The course quickly skirts Fareham creek and runs parallel with the golf course. Another enjoyable feature is that it’s an out and back route so you get the chance to say hello or well done to potentially every single person taking part !! The track is fairly narrow so be warned as the fast boys come back towards you at quite a rate 🙂

After the initial rush of blood I found my pace and eased off slightly. Three miles need pacing just the same as a marathon !! Set off too fast and you’ll regret it. As we passed the boats bobbing up and down in the creek my first mile was 7.55 and I had Martin and Debbie that I know as markers ahead.

The pace meant my lungs were certainly being worked harder than normal and as I passed Alison marshalling at half way I knew I’d need to maintain this effort. The motivation of numerous shout outs, given and received, can’t be underestimated and even though the second mile dipped a little I geared myself up for the final push. In the end I was just outside my pace but regardless of this I had a big smile on my face.

I generally run my marathons at a 9/10/11 minute pace so a time of 25.06 was quite pleasing (8 minute miles) and so was my 85th position. Talking with Dave and Amy that I know, below, we all agreed Fareham is a great location and the 9 a.m. start sets you up for a productive day.

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So, in summary, to all my running readers we know parkrun is a great community event and its worth making time to pop along more often, I know I will.

Secondly, to the wider blogging community if you’ve heard about parkrun but haven’t ventured along ….. as a famous clothes manufacturer says #justdoit !! The benefits aren’t just physical, there’s a whole new community waiting to welcome you.

Find a parkrun near you with this map UK events

Thanks for reading

Roger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IOW Marathon

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The weather forecast for the Isle of Wight marathon promised wind and heavy rain but as it turned out fortune favoured the brave with the warnings only being accurate up to an hour before the start – thank goodness for that !!

Ryde Harriers were hosting the 62nd running of this event which promised an undulating course (1,450 feet) as you can see from the graphic above. The route combined quiet country lanes, a section of old railway track, occasional sea views and some busier roads.

My marathon running buddy Paul Coates and I had chosen this race for its location and we weren’t disappointed.

We drove to Southampton, with both the windscreen wipes and our imaginations working overtime as to what lay ahead.

iow1Boarding the Red Jet high speed catamaran bound for West Cowes the view out of the window felt more like a car wash than a ferry !! The £17 return for the 25 minutes each way meant our international experience was about to start #ferry #sailing #abroad !!

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Once on firm ground we jumped on a bus that took us up the hill heading out of Cowes to the IOW Community Club which had changing rooms, a variety of facilities and lots of like minded people.

iow3With three quarters of an hour left before the 11.30am start the rain (which had been forecast until 1pm) had virtually stopped. Gathered on the start line there was a noticeable sense of relief that the elements had been kind to us !!

Now, with no idea where we were running I’ll try my best to describe the 4 & 3/4 hours I was out on the course.

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Paul, is much quicker than me so, after some banter and video with his GoPro he headed off in front of me after about 2.5 miles, just as the rain reappeared.

After 4 miles of a steady 9/10 minute pace I developed a curious tightness in my “right buttock” !!! (expect the unexpected on a marathon)

Stopping to stretch wasn’t a problem and in the scheme of things I only wasted a couple of minutes even with three short loosening up attempts. If anything it was more embarrassing at such an early stage of the race.

All sorted, errrr “no” – ha ha, next my big toe started rubbing, only a mile later !! So, it was off with my trainer and a quick inspection. By mile 6, with hardly any swearing at all, (kind of), I was back into my pace and running happy….. Quite a buzz.

What I’d like to mention here is how enthusiastic the marshals, locals and the Harriers on their push bikes and in their cars were. Motivational comments are always welcome in a marathon 🙂

I passed a signpost to the West Wight Alpacas farm near Wellow and then one advertising Alpaca Jumpers, you don’t see that every day. Glorious sea views appeared at about mile 9 as we were on the outskirts of Yarmouth then next, as I headed back inland, I was surprised to be guided off road at about 11 miles. This turned out to be the old Yarmouth railway line and a brief let up from the tarmac.

The railway station has been converted into a restaurant and it was full of supporters, “again”.

Half way was marked with the 4th feed station, fresh oranges and flat coke … “spot on”. I was on course for about 4.40 at this stage but was aware of the 300 feet elevation between miles 22 and 25 as well as the numerous smaller hills we’d already negotiated. Location wise we weren’t that far from the Needles but heading back up towards Cowes.

The weather was cloudy by now and the temperature was starting to drop but I benefiting from the steady early pace. I overtook a few runners between 15 and 21 miles and started using the sponges that were on offer between the feed stations.

Time wise I was around 10.20 mile pace and revelling in the IOW peace and quiet, apart from the vintage buses that rattled by occasionally. To be fair I was largely on automatic pilot for an hour or so and that’s exactly what I enjoy. The tap tap of your trainers, the mile markers passing you by and the knowledge that you are “reasonably” in control.

As promised the three miles between 22 and 25 heading towards Northwood were quite challenging, but I do like a good hill. Using a run walk strategy when needed, again I overtook a couple of runners. Sometimes not knowing a course can be a benefit because you simply manage what’s around the next corner and you aren’t planning ahead at all.

It’s definitely worth a slow jog on hills rather than the easier option of walking, straight away. I read a phrase the other week that applied to those last miles, “There’s comfort in your discomfort” and that’s very much the case when you know you only have a parkrun’s distance left.

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As I crossed the finish line in 4.42 I was pleased with my run and were I am in my training. Completing a training run marathon was very satisfying. Your run is just that, your run, it doesn’t always have to be about speed !!

Paul had finished earlier in 4.06 which is testament to the athlete that he is considering he ran 3 marathons over last weekend in Cornwall. As the ferry docked we were asked to disembark and thanked for travelling with Red Funnel.

I felt a bit light headed on the trip back home because it dawned on me I hadn’t eaten since breakfast time and according to my watch I’d burned 3,812 calories. Thankfully I knew a large chicken roast dinner was waiting for me at home.

Thanks again to Ryde Harriers and Paul for a great day out. The Isle of White is certainly worth a visit whether as a tourist or a runner.

 

 

 

 

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.

irunoffroad

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 🙂