The Running Foundation

talk

Firstly I’d like to thank Nick for organising¬†and inviting us. There were a number of interesting points which¬†certainly gave you¬†“food for thought” not least of which being, don’t let a niggle become a problem, seek advice.

The¬†Solent Hotel was¬†our¬†venue for the evenings Running Foundation (RF) talk.¬†The RF are a¬†combination of¬†Nick Knight’s¬†four podiatry clinics,¬† Pinnacle¬†personal training and the Lowford Clinic.¬†So¬†with one group you are covering Chiropractic, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, sports massage and personal training all under one umbrella ( ella, ella !!) The evening’s talk also included¬†Alton Sports from a¬†running shop point of view and a fifth contributor that was Vanessa from¬†England Athletics,¬†giving a¬†runners perspective.

Second Wind running’s Phil and Teresa had joined me for the evening and I recognised fellow Crusader Kate Robinson once we sat down with our¬†drinks.

We started with Sean from¬†Alton Sports¬†who talked through the service that their four shops will offer you, when you¬†buy¬†the correct¬†trainers and socks. “Socks” I hear you say but it does make sense that you get the best combination for your feet. Look after your feet and they will look after you !!¬†I asked about toed socks but this came down to personal choice.

Nick, the podiatrist talked about choosing the right footwear and his number one point was comfort. He advised that the fit was more important than being a slave to shoe size. Running up and down the street will give you a more natural test than a treadmill but clearly being in one spot does help analysis. The power of the lace was an interesting concept. Too tight and you suffer from numbness, a slipping heel can be corrected by using those final shoe holes and to stop the infamous black toe nails thread one lace from the first eye to the last eye diagonally and then lace up from there for a better fit. Nick said Plantar Fascia was the most common issue he came across. The remedy is different for each individual but sandals first thing in the morning as well as self massage and toe curl stretches with ice bottle rolling under your foot in the evening will all help, combined with medical advice.

Kristina the Chiropractor from Norway¬†& the Lowford clinic talked to us about neck, back, shoulder and hip pains. Her demonstrations made me think that I really ought to help myself by including exercises into my week for strength, stability and mobility. I particularly liked the video she showed us about awkward runners to get across her point … Don’t be that guy ūüôā Both Kristina & Andy showed us a number of exercises.

Andy from Pinnacle PT ¬†was¬†both ex army and a sandal runner with endless enthusiasm and energy. The gym he works from concentrates on strength and conditioning. From a runners point of view he made the very good point that exercises done with your right and left legs will point to one side being weaker than the other which can then be addressed so as to give a balanced running motion. He recommended mixing easy paced, threshold, interval and reps running which we may be aware of but don’t actually do enough of.

Finally Vanessa Lowe gave an insight on 10 mile training from an England Athletics viewpoint. Join a club, have a plan and stick to it, warm up and practice what you’ll do in the race, in training.¬†A great tip for uphill running was to concentrate on positive¬† backward arm drives which I will¬†be using tomorrow. Finally, again, another comment that I could relate to and don’t do enough is that a warm down is preparation for your next run.

All in all an interesting and very useful night.

The Ox Ultra : 36 miles

startToday was a new experience in a number of ways, the furthest I’d run, the longest time I’d been on my feet and my first White Star Running (WSR) event, in short, it was emotional !! The Rushmore Estate in Wiltshire was the location and with an 8.30am start this mean my alarm clock went off at 5.15am. WSR have had a growing reputation with¬†their more relaxed approach, humour and really looking after runners which made for a great experience. Can you see me starting my watch, behind and to the left of, number 134 in my maroon¬†Fareham Crusaders¬†top¬†?

The race instructions from WSR set the tone for the day. Comments like “write your mobile number on the back of your race number in case you get kidnapped by the locals” and “anyone caught littering will be carted through Tollard Royal in chains”¬†this meant¬†I was really looking forward to my visit to the Wiltshire chalk downs.¬†The weather forecast was for light rain showers later in the day¬†so I packed my Ron Hill jacket and my favourite race nutrition,¬†SIS gels, cliff bar and Jelly Belly jelly beans.

Preparation wise I’d been to see Sharon at Rural Retreats for a sports massage¬†and printed off the maps but 36 miles worth of maps don’t mean a great deal when you’ve never been there before !! As it turned out I was never in any doubt where I needed to run so that’s quite an achievement over such a long distance and hats off to the WSR organisation.

The rural setting meant parking in a field and porta loos for the 100 + runners as well as an onsite ice cream van, fish & chip van and cider shack !!

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As we¬†got into the run it was noticeable that there weren’t any mile markers but instead boards with motivational saying, quite a¬†good idea seeing¬†as most of us have garmins. The¬†nature of running around a countryside estate meant¬†the course went from open fields one minute¬†to¬†1 metre wide rights of way through yellow rapeseed fields the next.

I haven’t found the total elevation for the route yet but it must have been 3,500 ft + as the up hills really did seem to outweigh the downs or maybe that was just my mind playing tricks on me. As with all off road races there was lots of chatting while¬†running through the first few miles as we all¬†got into our rhythm. My race number being 118 was certainly a comment that came up a few times ūüôā With 3 feed stations in the first 10 miles we were certainly being looked after and the views would have been suitable for landscape oil paintings.

The section between 12 and 15 miles was quite tricky in that it was narrow tracks of slippy mud with over grown hedgerows and to add to that it had started raining. At points like this it’s safer to walk and just laugh at how ridiculous the whole situation is. Not knowing any¬†points of reference it’s hard to explain the course but as 20 miles approached the boost of flat coke at a feed station was really great.

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We shared the day with various park uses on the Wiltshire Downs including these trail bikes !! Reaching 20 miles and knowing you still have 16 left could be daunting but I decided I was over half way and with the sun coming out again life was improving. We next headed along a dove which¬†would have been used to drive cattle to market in years gone by. I also chatted to a local lady runner who gave me an idea of what was left which was very useful so “thank you” to her.

WSR¬†are famous for their¬†“Love Station” which is placed at a point where you will really need it. Our’s was at 29.5 miles and at the end of the drove,¬†which¬†had been slightly uphill for some 6 miles or so.¬†Alcohol and lots of food, as well as the¬†offer or a huge, were very tempting but the organisers had cleverly placed it at the top of a hill so I decided to press on and get some well earned “easier” downhill miles under my belt.

The rain had started again by now as we tackled another section of unrunable mud before passing through a farm with some inquisitive cows who must have wondered why their quiet day was being interrupted. Pressing on down some country lanes the hardest hill was coming up at about 32 miles. A one metre wide track of mud that ran up hill through some beautiful woods but my god it was hard work and I was starting to feel a bit dizzy so the final feed station at 33 miles with the sight of a downhill run towards the finish line flags was exactly what we needed.

A cheeky 400 metres up hill to the finish line summed up the nature of the race and that was that. I had tried to even out my effort and walked when I thought I needed to, this resulted in me coming 81st out of 106 so 75% through the field which seeing as I’m still learning about Ultra running I was happy with. How tough was it ?¬†My time was 7.59.31 which is easily my longest effort to date.¬†A great day, T Shirt and medal, thanks to White Star Running. I learned¬†a lot about myself today and if I can offer one piece if advice it would be that¬†we are all capable of more than¬†we think ūüôā Happy running.

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Field of Dreams run

Today was taper time so I thought I’d take a trip around our local fields and video just why I enjoy running off road. I could describe the nine miles that included fields on the outskirts of Fareham, up towards Stubbington and then back towards Ranvilles Lane but¬†seeing as a picture paints a 1,000 words then sit back for 73 seconds and enjoy the run.

I was pondering on which music to use as I ran¬†but in the end it was an easy choice. Mother Nature ….. she’s so lovely ūüôā ¬†This has to be my shortest Blog ever but with next weeks long race on the horizon that blog will more than make up for it !!

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One final thought, if you find the perfect location for a selfie, make sure you take 2 photos, just in case this happens !!

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South Downs Way Rollercoaster

 

After last weeks 21 flat miles today was a complete contrast as we tackled a section of the the South Downs Way (SDW) that has Exton at the bottom of the valley¬†then¬†Beacon hill and Old Winchester hill (OWH) either side, “twice”. Parking a mile or so away from were the Meon Valley Trail crosses the SDW fellow Fareham Crusader and regular Thomasson Tours runner Paul Coates and I set off at 8am so as to avoid the heat. With temperatures of 21 degrees forecast for later in the day this meant the first 2016 appearance of suntan lotion !! There would be¬†about 2,000 feet of elevation in the four hills¬†so you could say we’d be on a countryside rollercoaster.¬†I¬†always remember someone telling me that if you wanted to master the Geordie (Newcastle) accent, Kawasaki and rollercoaster are two really good words to practise, …. try it¬† ūüôā

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The 100 miles (160 Km) long South Downs Way National Trail follows the old routes and droveways along the chalk escarpment and ridges of the South Downs from Winchester to Eastbourne. The undulating route gives you wonderful views while running.

After the first flat mile we¬†left the old railway line and started the twisting and turning trail that weaves its way up towards OWH. The trail’s mud has been subject to horses and¬†mountain bikes so with the recent dryer weather the going underfoot was quite rutted but not as slippy as usual. The hedge initially hides your view of the hill but there’s no mistaking that you are climbing. Paul is a stronger runner than me but¬†it was only a week ago he ran the 3 Forts Challenge¬†so we chatted about his experience there.

As¬†the¬†track levelled out around the base of OWH you could see down to where we’d started and the¬†countryside that surrounded us.¬†The steepest climb was approaching¬†us with a sharp 90 degree turn straight up the side of the hill. Onwards and upwards !!

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The views from the trig point (650 ft above sea level) meant you could see to Southampton. We descended¬†down the¬†hill and on route to hill number two we passed through the sleepy village of Exton. The ever helpful SDW signposts directed us across a field of cows as well as¬†two electrified¬†fence styles¬†!! The cows were largely uninterested in us, it was more the fact that there must have been over a hundred of them.¬†It was funny trying to avoid both the “cow traffic jam”¬†and their “mess” (watch the video). We left the flatter fields and pressed on up the gradient to the millennium beacon and reached our second trig point of the day after a short chat with a group of mountain bikers.

A¬†steady descent was needed, what with the hills camber and then it was a case of dodging the cow pats as we retraced our steps back to Exton. I was pleased to keep my Saucony’s “cow pat free” as we headed back through the “still” sleepy Exton (not that it gets busy you understand) and that was rollercoaster number 1 done.

Ready for the next hill said Paul ?, I replied “why aye man” (Geordie for saying yes, enthusiastically). As we ran along the narrow track that takes you back to OWH we passed 4 runners coming towards us, one¬†commenting that Eastbourne was very busy (84 miles away) I replied, give our regards to Winchester (16 miles away), all good banter. We approached OWH from a different¬†track for variety and had to take it steady with the number of tree roots,¬†one of which Paul almost came a cropper on !!

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We were met with sheep at the trig point this time and added it to the video. The sun was noticeably hotter now and I stopped by a stream for some refreshing cold water over my head.¬†With the temperature around 20 degrees I was glad of another walk past the cows and to be honest struggled to half way up our last hill. Paul carried on and I settled for 3 & 1/2 hills.¬†I covered just under 1,800 feet of elevation in 16.5 miles and Paul about 2,000 in 17 but the¬†overriding memory from today was¬†just how much enjoyment we’d¬†had running through the¬†countryside in full bloom,¬†as the month of May started summer in Hampshire.

On returning to the Meon Hall I drank two 500ml bottles of cold water in 5 minutes !! No sun burn and plenty of laughs with Paul #goodtimes. Thanks to Paul for the videos too.

Wickham Whistler

DSCF4502Today I thought I’d try something different, a 3.5 mile, multi lap, timed event with a maximum time limit of six hours. The newly created On the Whistle Ltd (OTW) team had come up with this concept and seeing as¬†the Meon Valley Trail (MVT)¬†is quite close to¬†me I was keen to support it by entering. With today being OTW’s first event they must have been really pleased to have sold out a few weeks ago with 150 runners.

The MVT was origionally the railway line from Fareham to East Meon and today was the anniversary of the last passenger train to operate on the line some 55 years ago !!

The¬†Wickham Whistler is in reference to the guards whistle¬†so lets get all the puns out of the way now. Yes everyone had been “training”¬†and it was “full steam ahead” for the 9.30am start until the end of the tracks at 3.30pm. Race HQ was aptly named the Aid “Station” and¬†it was near¬†this tent that you collected your coloured wrist band after each lap.¬†When you no longer wanted to head out for another lap there was a bell to ring to¬†“signal” you had finished. I was aiming¬†for a steady¬†21 miles or 3 1/2 hours.

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Before¬†collecting my number I’d talked with Kiernan¬†E. from OTW who I know from being a director at the QE parkrun and it wasn’t long before I bumped into some familiar faces near the start line. Crusader runners¬†Paul Coates, Joy Rich Smith,¬†Sharon & Paul Gwyn as well as twitter runners Hannah & Graham and Phil Hobby from Stubbington Green runners.¬†Phil Hoy & Teresa from Second Wind Running¬†were there (well done Phil on your London marathon 2.59.47). I also spotted fellow blogger¬†shewhodaresruns Tina. However, the surprise of the day was¬†to see Steve Cousins from Film My Run who¬†takes his gopro to numerous races and his films are really worth a look at. You can read Steve’s report and watch his film of the Whistler here. Uplifting music,¬†creative camera angles and a real sense of why we run the trails.

So¬†the stage was set as¬†we stood on the “platform”, sorry, start line. The one factor that came across immediately was how friendly everyone was, local club runners, unattached runners and the quick boys all had time for words of encouragement as Kiernan gave his pre race talk. I think the nature of the six hour time slot had relaxed everyone so the concept really did work.

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The laps ticked away with the sun shining and thankfully the tree cover did mean we were sheltered from the direct sun but I still came away with a bit of a glow on my face as well as a great big smile.

Now, an out and back distance of 1.75 miles could be seen as a bit boring, however, this meant¬†frequent encouragement, banter, high five’s and either a smile or a nod to¬†our fellow runners, something that just isn’t possible in the pressured atmosphere of a 5 or 10K. The nature of the route also meant¬†we ran under four different railway bridges too !

There was a slight gradient on the outward leg but this naturally gave you a slightly easier return trip. My first 4 laps passed without any incident and, as well as chatting with people, I did enjoy that for once there weren’t any big hills to tackle. I love a hill but it does make a change to run a largely flat but still beautiful countryside route. Laps 5 & 6 were harder but still enjoyable. I left taking any video until the last lap,¬†then I rung the bell¬†and that meant the end of a great day.¬†Hopefully the film sums up the route and the people.

Considering this was On The Whistle’s first race it went without a hitch as far as I could see, so it’s a big vote of confidence to Kiernan, Claire & Del. As our American friends say the medal was “awesome”.¬†Race Results¬†I came 48th out of the 143. Finally a date for my diary July 17th and OWT’s World Emoji day run¬†with the same¬†6 hour format.

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Running Awards 2016 : #community

DSCF4472I’d like to say thank you to Strava and the Running Awards for¬†looking after¬†us Bloggers before and during the Awards. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to everyone that voted for my blog which meant I could be shortlisted and attend.

As I made the two hour drive I pondered on how surreal the day felt. I joined twitter Christmas 2014 and started my blog a year ago, in that time I have talked to and met so many like minded spirits and that’s the beauty of¬†our running #community, so,¬†as The Clash once said it was “London Calling” !!

On arriving at the O2 I’d pre booked parking so there was no stress involved there and I had all afternoon to take in the sights and sounds of the area as well as the London marathon exhibition. On walking towards the O2 I saw this sign in memory of Prince which I thought was a nice touch, what with it being such an iconic music venue. Later that evening there was also a sign that referred to the¬†weather … “Purple Rain”¬† ¬†ūüôā

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As I caught the tube/train across to the Excel there was no doubt it was London marathon weekend as I saw countless club T shirts. I chatted to 2 Welsh runners on the tube and chaps from Exeter & Hull while waiting for my return trip. The Excel was a hive of activity with runners collecting their numbers etc before entering the Expo.

I’d sum up the Expo by saying it was like being a kid in a sweet shop.¬†My highlights were meeting Mike Gratton of 2.09, talking with the chap from the Lock Ness marathon¬†(“If you’re going to¬†put yourself through hell, you might as well do it¬†in heaven”) and the enthusiasm of the Runtastic people.¬†The Runners World Trailblazer lady was very interesting and I told the Saucony people how much I like my Peregrine 5’s.

I noticed the time was getting on so I made my way back to the car, full of anticipation for our run with the Strava guys out of¬†the Intercontinental hotel that’s just behind the O2.¬†A number of people including the bloggers had been invited to go for a run with the Strava representatives before the Awards and attend a Q&A chat with Parkrun COO Tom Williams, Strava UK’s Simon Klima¬†and Marathon Talk’s Martin Yelling. As I registered I recognised Runners Knees (ukrunchat’s Darren Smith) from our twitter conversations and we were paired up with room keys to change in the hotel and shower after (separately) ūüôā

As we stood outside the hotel for a quick H&S chat¬†our group included¬†Susie Chan & Shaun Marsden, Runners Knees,¬†the The Mohican runner (Richard Hayes) and Nikki Jones, who is a local blogger and friend of mine, as well as her also being shortlisted for the Blog Award. I also chatted with Ryan from Ireland and Shaun about his recent Arctic adventure. As we reached half way this group selfie in Greenwich Park, from Susie, summed up the informal chatty run that we’d been on. The 6.6K also ran along the Thames to give us that “London” feeling.

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I apologise to the other guys for not¬†remembering¬†your names. We headed back, showered and changed and¬†as we¬†walked over to the O2 Indigo Rooms I chatted to Ian Visser who concentrates on speed, hence his twitter name & blog being called Sub what ? The awards styled “running man” outside was a reminder that there would eventually be winners later that evening but¬†to be honest I was chuffed with my shortlisted lanyard.

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The other Strava groups gathered in the Balcony bar as well as¬†our guests for the Q&A. We talked about the impact of parkruns, the growing strength of Strava with photos to develop¬†more of a¬†social media side and all three guests kept up a lively and interesting chat with the banter we have come to expect from Marathon Talk.¬†Food, drinks and more chatting followed in another bar and then it was time for the Shortlisted bloggers to join the rest of the “downstairs” invited guests.

Photos : The Balcony bar & the dinners downstairs.

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With wine and beer available on the table I carried on with my coke (hey ho !!) and I chatted with Rhona Red wine runner who’d come down from Scotland to combine the marathon with the awards. I cheered loudly when Absolute Running placed third as they are my local running shop. Equally ¬†I’ve chatted to Andy Palmer recently from White Star Running so it was great to hear their name called out by Mike Bushell from the BBC who was hosting the night. Well done to everyone that was either shortlisted or in the top three for all the categories.

In the end my Blog didn’t feature in the top three but I’m pleased and proud with how far it has¬†progressed and¬†the new running friends that I have made along the way, in our great running #community. Happy Blogging !!¬† & there’s always next year ūüôā

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PS I may add more photos of the night as they become available.