Taper Fun & Strava Invite : Blog N0. 60

Ok so the plan for today was a Park Run followed by a few miles along the coast. With this in mind everything got turned on it’s head when I had to pick the car up at 8.30am on Saturday. So, it was onto plan B, what was plan B ? good question … I didn’t actually have one. Luckily I’m only about a mile and a half from a footpath called the Deviation Line which was used as a link to the Wickham railway.

With only 8 or so miles in mind for today, what with 33 on the horizon next Sunday at The Imber Ultra, it was taper time. I decided to have some fun by taking my camera and experimenting with a video. It’s only short and it isn’t meant to be a masterpiece but hopefully it sums up why I run off road. My Blog will be a year old next week and I’m always looking to add new features to them.

The trail wasn’t too muddy underfoot and the cold crisp air was quite refreshing after spending a week in a hot office. The sights and sounds of the countryside were mixed in with the traffic from the motorway but once I’d run through the underpass that was soon left behind me. I stopped and walk for a horse rider and we both agreed it was a lovely morning to be out and about.

The woods on the other side of Knowle village had an erry silence and I tried to capture that with the shot of the trees blowing in the wind. After all my recent miles turning around after only 4 seemed quite strange !! On my return trip I couldn’t resist jumping a big puddle and dropping down the embankment for a short sharp hill, although as you’ll see in the video I did nearly loose it at the bottom.

In a funny way with today’s blog being the last in a very eventful year and the taper run being preparation for the furthest I’ve ever run, it feels like a moment to reflect on all the time and hard work that I’ve used to get to this point.

  • Will next weeks 33 miles be the springboard to longer distances, who knows ??
  • How will irunoffroad fair in the Running Awards Best Blog, who knows ??

All I know is that I’ve enjoyed writing a Blog a week, for a year, and if people have enjoyed reading them, then they might be kind enough to vote.


Breaking News !!!! Thanks to Strava for inviting me and other Bloggers for a pre Running Awards 5K, Q & A session with special guests and more. Much appreciated.

a1     Thanks for reading …. Rog 🙂







Where are we going to run this week ?

Your weekend run will almost certainly be the longest simply because you have the most time available. A Long Steady Run (LSR) will also vary in length depending on what you’re training for. With 52 weekends a year the question still remains, “where ?”


Maps are a great starting point, whether that’s Ordinance Survey (OS) or Google Maps but again you need to know where to look. Researching the area and asking fellow runners will help you choose between flat or hilly, road or countryside, Strava segments or your local park. Personally speaking I like to get off the beaten track and breathe in lungful’s of countryside air, that’s why I’d like to share with you a fantastic site that will answer all your questions.

Gps-routes.co.uk have assembled all the key information in an easy to use format with a huge choice of routes that are only a “click” away. As I have discovered there are hundreds of footpaths, trails and rights of way that you simply wouldn’t know existed unless you’d been told about them.

The “Walking routes in England, Scotland or Wales” are then divided up between counties which makes this resource very specific. You can also find alternative choices of national trails and country parks as well as rail and canal walks. Naturally whenever the site says “walking” we can read “running” in its place !!

Once clicked into your local county there’s an alphabetically listing of the routes and they all have photos, the distance and a summarised description. All of this information will help you make that first decision of which route sounds right for you. Click on the route’s link and a standard format appears. This standard layout is again very helpful when you are comparing one route with another.

The route description is followed by a link to an OS map that can be either viewed, printed or downloaded. The following sections have photos, videos (if available),GPS route downloads and a Google maps option with the route marked in red, so all of the information you will ever need for your LSR. Discover your local area by running it.

Gps-routes.co.uk your next run is only a click away !!



4 Speakers, 1 goal : better marathon”Perform”- ance

Listening to the advise of four knowledgeable people, in very pleasant surroundings, who look at a topic from different angles, must be quite rare. Our subject for the night was “Marathon Talk” with the venue being the recently built Hilton hotel, which is part of Hampshire Cricket’s Ageas Bowl complex. Our speakers were, in order of appearance,

  1. Dan Young : Head of Sport & Exercise Medicine at Perform, (Ageas Bowl)
  2. Jo Meek : Team GB ultra marathon runner
  3. Kyle Pepperman-Hackett : Clinical Sports and remedial massage therapist
  4. Louise Damen : 2014 Commonwealth marathon athlete


I’d received an email from a non marathon running friend who’d suggested the talk would be right down my street. Once I’d asked if I could attend I then found myself in the pleasant position of being able to invite some running buddies too. I chose a handful of people that I’ve run most frequently with and who’ve helped me with my Blog so, in a way, it was a thank to them. It was funny to meet up with everyone in jeans and t shirts rather than trainers and running kit 🙂

Once we’d arrived and been served with our tea and coffee I popped “back stage” to pass on Kyle’s 3rd place trophy from the Chilly Hilly 10K that he’d run with some of us the previous day. As I was passing Kyle his trophy this also meant I could say hello to Jo Meek as we both have Blogs and follow each other on twitter, “small world” !!

Around 70 of us took our seats and Dan’s 25 minutes revolved around training errors, leg pain, shoe selection (pronated, neutral, supinated) and that 90% of running injuries are “over use” related and usually consist of several related factors. Dan’s advice on avoiding injury came from his Perform sports medicine centre background who treat the public as well as the cricketers. Reducing the number of training days you loose to injury keeps us running for longer and avoids those “grumpy injured” days that both us and our partners can relate to !!

Jo Meek’s section of the talk revolved around her ultra marathon experiences. It was very interesting to hear about her preparations for the MDS with heat chambers and back to back runs which resulted in her being the second lady and 20th overall in 2013. Jo’s ultra races have taken her to both Europe and America with solo achievements as well as being part of the GB gold medal winning team at the 100K world championships in 2014. Jo runs locally for Winchester and even though she has a 2.45 marathon pb she can still be found running competitively in local park runs trying to keep ahead of the young Winchester whippets.

Kyle was up next, he treats club runners and up to international level. I mentioned his 3rd place earlier, that also goes with a 10K 31.20 pb so he “understands” performance at the top level but, as he said, all runners are ultimately looking to get quicker whatever their pace and that’s exactly what he talked about. Biomechanics consist of your foot strike position, knee flexion, hip stability and arm swing. His video analysis of your running gait can be done frame by frame so all in all a visit to Kyle for a running MOT would make you faster and more efficient. Kyle’s practical demonstrations also brought home what he was explaining.

Our evening was rounded off with Louise Damon (2.30 marathon pb) her topic was marathon day preparation and her experiences at the Commonwealth games. I was particularly interested to hear that Louise will run 40K about 5 weeks before a major marathon. She mentioned caffeine as being part of her preparation and the fact that she would reduce her twice a day running down to once in the last week. She mentioned taper and the fact that what you do in the last two weeks won’t impact on your fitness. The three day countdown of Olympic village food choices was another interesting slant on our marathon knowledge. Finally I was heartened to hear that even Commonwealth runners use Vaseline on their toes too 🙂

Naturally it’s tricky to sum up a two hour talk but suffice to say everyone in the room left with food for thought and golden nuggets of advice from all four speakers.



23 miles of Trails !!

The plan for today was to run 23 miles in preparation for the 33 miles I will be running at the Imber Ultra in 4 weeks time. That’s 70% of the race mileage and plenty of time to recover. Today “marked” the welcome return from injury of Mark Greenfield to our long runs, also accompanying us were Howard Stinton for the outward 8 miles and two newcomers Jess Davidson and Trevor Kettle, who would be with us for 16 miles.

The 23 ish miles were an out and back run along the South Downs Way from Queen Elizabeth Country park (QECP) to Old Winchester Hill (OWH) and back. This was then to be followed by Mark and myself on a 6.75 miles loop that takes in part of the Staunton Way. Total elevation 2,600 feet. Naturally Strava & other apps may state differently but over 2.5K !!


Our 7.30am start meant getting up at 5.40am for me but we were still home by 1pm with all the miles done. As we set off from QECP the darkness had just began to lift and Butser Hill was approaching. We had no “pace” agenda today what with the hills, miles and mud so a couple of fine tuning stops weren’t an issue as we began our ascent. Howard soon disappeared up the incline but then also looped back. The wind picked up as we got to the top of the Downs and made our way to the Sustainability centre and those huge houses opposite. The wind could almost be looked at as extra resistance training !!

A steady descent down wireless hill, due to the slippy chalk, was then followed by a mixture of muddy trails and roads until we reached the path that leads to OWH. It was at this point that I had a “coming together” with the ground, a combination of the camber and a lack on concentration meant I did a graceful forward roll !! We then pressed on to the bottom of OWH which naturally meant running back up. The photo below shows the steep incline waiting for us. Jess and Trevor have a long hilly run in Cornwall planned so I threw this steep section in just to add some more ascents.

16.5 Howard left so as to run home and the four of us made our way back. The return route had the advantage of the wind behind us but also a number of long gradual hills. As we made our way from a long concrete path onto the mud again there was a shout from one of the two oncoming runners, Chris Hall from Stubbington Green gave me a hearty “hello Roger”. The long chalky climb up wireless hill was a real leg burner but we all taped out a rhythm and were pleased to make it to the top. Trevor had picked up a calf strain so well done to him for largely ignoring it. A couple of wet miles followed with those puddles that fill up the whole track as well as your trainers and we were back at Butser.

16.5 trev 16.5jess

Quite soon after these photos Mark ended up on the seat of his pants when his legs went away from underneath him but again, as with my fall, it was laughable more than an injury !! At QECP we thanks Jess and Trevor for joining us and they both said they’d be back for more “Thomasson Tours”.

All, that remainder were 6.75 miles with about 850 feet of elevation which we took in our stride with short walks when needed. The 20 mile marker was celebrated by taking on some sweet snacks we’d brought and even though the wind was still blowing at least we’d missed the rain. On arriving back at QECP it was “job done”, 23 miles, 1 fall each and a very satisfying feeling that we were both on track for our future targets. It’s a reflection of Mark’s general fitness that after only a few weeks of gradual training he bounced back with this long run. Another mark of the run was that I washed off the worst of the mud before putting my compression socks in the washing machine and I cleaned my shoes as soon as I’d had dinner as they were filthy and smelt !! Mud, glorious mud 🙂

Great morning, great views and great company.