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 and really adds to my well-being. 

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.

2019 : To blog about “why” I run as well as “where” I run

Race to the King : June 22nd entered  

“Your legs achieve what your mind believes” pcm2014b

 Me in my element !!

Running sets you free !!

 

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My last two blog posts have charted how I’ve turned around quite a few weeks of low motivation for running. It’s great to say I’m back on track.

I finished work a little earlier on Friday because the sunshine was streaming through the office windows. Yes, the local woods were calling me ….. “come and run, come and run”.

I only had limited time but 5K was still on the cards and after the recent rain that run-shine really charged up my batteries, #solar power.

The pace wasn’t great and I’d admit to stopping for a couple of photos but with the late afternoon sun peaking out between the trees it was a joy to be out there.

I often add hash tags like #getoutside #nature and #countryside to my twitter posts and its locations and moments like this that both inspire and motivate me. Running sets you free 🙂

As off road runners we can sometimes take these glorious places for granted but it reinforced why I love what we do and why I enjoy writing about it.

So, that was me fired up for Saturday morning. The alarm went off at 7.30am and I looked out of the window to see thick fog. OK, I’m not going to lie this was a little disappointing after Fridays pre Spring and Summer sun but the fact that I hadn’t spent time pondering whether to get out of bed in the first place meant ….. “the boy is back” !!

I had eight miles planned for the next step in my progression which also included 1,000 feet of elevation. I may have lost some basic fitness but I still have good legs from cycling 🙂

This Strava elevation graphic gives you the basic idea of what I wanted to achieve, and did.

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Setting off from Meonstock my first priority was to enjoy it. I headed for Beacon Hill which is on the South Downs Way and is at about 40 of the 53 miles of the Race to the King route.

The race uses a country lane to get to the top so I used this approach rather than the trail alternative. I’m a firm believer in practicing what I’m going to encounter. The heavy mist meant small droplets of water were dripping off the overhanging branches and the rows of vines in the vineyard to my left could only be seen for a hundred metres.

The lane that leads to the trig point ramps up in three different places so the order of the day was slow and steady. I was very pleased to reach the top without walking.

I took this photo on the way back down, no views across the valley but the eerie mist made my trail experience quite different to the norm.

ex3Reaching Exton I set my sights on Old Winchester Hill. I knew it would be muddy and the trail didn’t disappoint. Good traction, balance and feet to eye coordination were all employed to the max. That said I needed to walk through a couple of very boggy sections !!

The final leg of OWH is the steepest and with damp tree roots, care needs to be taken. Once at the top again I was robbed of the view so I settled for a trig photo while I took a drink.

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The various destinations are mapped out but one was missing …. Rogers route back to running 🙂

I took care on the descent (if you are running RTTK this is probably the most technical section of the whole run)

Returning to Meonstock I’d bagged eight miles and two trig points but most importantly I was smiling and plotting my next run.

“All blue eyes is back”

Thanks for reading, Roger

“Message in a Bottle” 10K run #police

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Since last weeks blog post entitled “Are you a running believer” I haven’t run. So, in many ways that would suggest I’m not, hmm …… ??

99.9% of my blog posts are positive but I think it’s important to recognise that sometimes we have a dip in our enthusiasm. The good news is I’ve turned the corner.

I’ve been contemplating on what piece of the jigsaw has been missing and the great news is that on todays wet and windy six miler I have realised what it is.

Seems I’m not alone at being alone with these running mojo thoughts. Thank you to the people who have contacted me on this topic.

So, here goes my train of thought. I sing or hum to myself quite a lot while I’m running, weird maybe ? but I do like music. The Police, (the band) had a big hit with “Message in a Bottle” and while I was humming this a number of things fell into place.

For younger readers or simply people that enjoy the song here’s the video.

While I’ve been trying to process why I’m not enjoying running I’ve been looking for an answer. So effectively I’ve been a castaway, an island lost at sea and maybe unknowingly I’ve been sending out an SOS, hoping someone gets my message in a bottle.

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A month has passed since I metaphorically sent my note but I should have known right from the start only hope can keep me together and that’s why I set off today in the wind and rain to find my answer.

I wasn’t even sure in which direction I’d run today and then I started singing, not out loud, well parts of it were … ha ha and as the rain started I pondered that the classic messages would be sent from a desert islands.

So, I decided on running a circular six mile route which I’d imagine was an island. OK, Stubbington might not have beaches of palm trees but today it would be “my” island.

This is the beauty of running on your own, you can think about nothing at all or you can explore your thoughts. I decided not to look at the pace on my watch, just to run how I felt. This did mean slowing right down on occasions and then it struck me. It was almost like a coconut had dropped on my head !!

I haven’t been running so I’m not as fit, if you aren’t as fit the overall experience isn’t quite as enjoyable. If you miss training runs then unknowingly you feel unfit and you don’t believe in yourself as much. I’ve almost been avoiding running and using life events as an excuse.

It’s time to get back to basics, enjoy your running and it will pay you back with that endorphin buzz, a better nights sleep and an excited anticipation for when you go out next. That’s the simple answer.

Ran out this morning, don’t believe what I saw, the answer was in front of me, on the Stubbington shore (again metaphorically speaking).

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This is a Strava image of my running desert island that I ran in an anti clockwise direction. My revelation happened at the bottom right hand corner and from then on I started planning how I’m going to fit in more running.

The idea of swopping one of my cycle commutes for a run commute will start this week and I hope to try and get back to attending my Fareham Crusaders running club night on a Thursday.

Running has helped my physical and mental wellbeing for over thirty years, maybe my kitchen photo at the beginning of this blog shows I just needed a “Sting” to remind me.

Thanks for reading, Roger

Are you a Running Believer ?

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I love running, it’s been really good for me, it helps me relax, it helps me sleep, it gives me a sense of achievement and it boosts my wellbeing, so why am I struggling to get out ?

We all have callings on our time, jobs, family’s, responsibilities etc etc but it’s really important to have a distraction, a hobby, a pastime. Mine is running.

I wrote a blog recently about wellbeing and to be honest I haven’t been taking my own advice. I talked about making payments into the “Bank of Me”. Creating a life balance between you, your family and your work is the key.

This might sound selfish but I’m not the same person without running so, ironically, getting back out there will benefit everyone.

I cycle commute virtually every weekday but unless I’m running I find the edge goes off my lung and leg capacity.

Maybe a run commute could be the answer ? That way the family have the car and I get to run 🙂

Have I just answered my own question, ha ha !! That’s the power of collecting your thoughts while writing.

I’m a firm believer that physical fitness takes mental strength and for that you have to believe in yourself. I’ve entered Race to the King which is a double marathon in June so I now have a focus.

It’s time to become a “believer” again !!

Running the local fields this weekend has fired me up, so, watch out 2019 I’m coming to get you !!!

Roger

The last 4 miles of Race to the King #revisited

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I’ve entered the 2019 Race to the King which is a 53 mile and 5,000 feet elevation race from Slindon in Sussex to Winchester in Hampshire.

I wanted to start my preparation by revisiting the section of the race that gave me the most satisfaction and curiously most dissatisfaction too, in 2017 – the last four miles.

I suffered with stomach issues in the last hour of 2017 so, without going into too much detail, I wanted to retrace this final stretch and replace the previous memories with a positive mental images to draw on, come June 22nd this year.

So, in 2017, while running through the forested section of Cheesefoot Head, carefully avoiding the tree roots, two significant thoughts occurred to me. I’ve run 49 miles and, yes, I’ve run 49 miles. Ok, so I’ve repeated myself but its in a New York, New York kind of way.

Up until running RTTK my garmin had never shown me 40 miles covered and now it was on the verge of showing me 50. I knew my first sight of Winchester would be over the next hill and to be honest I got quite emotional.

When I say emotional I mean, pride, self fulfilment and the kind of raw excitement you simply don’t get unless you’ve really challenged yourself and come out on top.

However, this tidal wave of positivity was soon to be dampened by curious churnings in my stomach and lets not mince words here, farting. Yes folks, the kind of farting that has an unnerving “Indian Jones temple of doom” kind of vibe.

Moving on, I crossed the busy main road which was quite a revelation after hours running along peaceful solitary trails, across a pound field, along the edge of a tree line, through a short forested area and up a slight incline to then be rewarded with both my 50 mile alarm ringing and the sight of Winchester’s buildings in the distance.

90I’m not ashamed to say I shed a small tear and shouted out loud “come on Winchester lets have it” in my best Oasis/ Liam Gallagher ascent and I set about trying to minimise any unwanted stoppages with a run walk strategy.

Now, walking downhill in running terms is like drinking coke at a free bar, like fish and chips without salt and vinegar, all are quite simply unthinkable.

However, I had no choice and that’s why I wanted to return on my first day of specific training since entering RTTK so as to dispel those thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, expecting the unexpected is very much part of ultra running and I was 15 miles further into a race than I’ve ever been before but as Mr Sinatra says “That’s Life”.

The refreshing sight of sub eight minute miles this Sunday just gone won’t be repeated on June 22nd but I felt I’d laid the downhill walking to rest. The drop from the crest of the hill in this photo down to the road is probably 300 feet.

The short tarmac stretch of road then gives way to a South Downs signpost and a cunningly narrow entry to the next trail section. After eleven and a half hours you could be forgiven for running straight past this but having recced the route I knew exactly where I was going and it was covered in neon markers by RTTK.

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Decision making is quite a feat after hours of endeavour, estimating the resources you’ll need is one thing, running out of brain power is something that just needs practicing I guess !! That said my wife might say I run out of brain power every Friday evening once I’ve finished work … ha ha !!

Hugging the hedge line with the roar of the motorway crossing growing ever louder meant I could dream of the Cathedral finish line and attempting to catch the train home.

Now, I must have passed a hundred signs in 52 miles but this was defiantly the most exciting. If the sign had been a person I’d have kissed it 🙂

100 Knowing there’s a downhill road into the city centre buoyed me both then and now, I can remember feeling the aches and pains disappearing and thinking maybe sub twelve hours was still on the cards but as soon as I got onto the flat it was if two bystanders had strapped weights to my thighs.

The aforementioned run/ walk policy took over again but I was so close I could hear the cheers from the other side of the huge flint wall that surrounds the Cathedral. In many ways we were pilgrims on a quest, a quest to gain some sort of inner strength that will stay with us forever.

Even now, a year and a half later I still draw on the experience and the willpower that was required.

As I rounded the final bend I was treated to this magnificent sight, the last one hundred metres (only with lots of flags, banners and people) today it was “race finish” free !!

pop The trees almost frame the cathedral as if it was in an art work and on a chilly January morning a shudder ran down my spine, was it the temperature or was it me revisiting the setting of easily my greatest running achievement to date.

I say “to date” because I’m determined to improve on my 12.06 time and enjoy my experience in twenty one weeks time.

I’ll be taking nutrition advice from Mark at APT Nutrition and I’ll be out on the trails knowing that my passion, focus, inner strength and belief are 100% aligned.

You learn a lot about yourself when you take on an ultra run but this blog isn’t about showing off its a celebration of finding out what you are made of physically and mentally.

I run off road and I bloody love it.

Sunday’s January run was straightforward and yet inspiring at the same time.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your running

P.S. On that June race day I walked to Winchester train station from the finish and missed the Portsmouth train by five minutes, I simply couldn’t conger up even a light jog. I remember thinking, “to hell with it” there’ll be another one in an hours time !!

Roger

QE Parkrun – Running through the countyside

qeqeSaturday 9 a.m. used to be no different to 8 or 10 a.m. until parkruns appeared. A parkrun is just that, a run in a park, there isn’t the pressure of a race number and it really is all inclusive.

Last week myself, Paul and Nikki had planned to visit Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP), starting with the QE parkrun and then carrying on along the South Downs Way for some extra training.

This post is a thank you to the volunteers that hosted the event and a description of our experience which I’d thoroughly recommend. Parkrun tourism has become quite a feature of the 5K revolution so I hope this wets your appetite for a visit !!

QECP was originally planted in the 1930’s and the forested rolling terrain extends for quite a considerable area. The predominantly beech trees are managed by the Forestry Commission and the whole area sits within the wider South Downs National Park.

With BBQ’s, picnic areas, adventure playgrounds and an assault course, for “older children”, why limit yourself to just running the 5K, take the family and make a morning of it.

With a visitors centre full of local information and a café you really are spoilt !!

qeHave I wet your appetite yet ??

Once I’d mentioned on social media that we were visiting QECP I had tweets from both Dwayne and Paul, who are local running friends of mine and are part of the team that volunteers.

As we gathered for the pre run address we were told to expect gravel paths, trails and grass which was music to my ears. Joanne also joined us for one of Paul’s photo opportunities. Running through all that nature has to offer is such a privilege and a joy. The trees sway with the chilly breeze, there’s occasional bird song and you are breathing in clean crisp air.

The course is a two loop route with some challenging elevation but nothing that can’t be walked with a purposeful stride or run depending on your level of fitness. We were ushered slightly further up the first gravel hill so as to reach the official start point.

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Runners of all ages, abilities and motivations stood like coiled springs ready for the 9 a.m. start. Quite a few canine companions we wagging their tails in anticipation and we were off !!

The adrenaline soon kicked in as we climbed this first hill, conversations we quickly replaced with the huffing and puffing of the task at hand. This first hill didn’t last too long and naturally following the premise that what goes up must come down we were guided to quite a long downhill section.

Luckily the weather has been dry so a fair amount of caution could be thrown to the wind as we plummeted down the grassy slope. Turning right at the bottom of the hill you are presented with a combination chalk and grass to run on, as you make your way back to the start, and the end of the first smaller lap.

Climbing the original hill is now more taxing as you start from the bottom and follow the trail for longer up to the 3K marker. That said, you have the benefit of the marshals and well wishers at this half way point to spur you on.

Hills are a great training exercise so my advice would be to treat them as just that. Repeat after me … “hills are good for my running”. Down land areas break up some of the forest so as to give you views through the trees and maybe even a deer if you are lucky.

Once past the 3K mark you benefit from a more gradual drop in elevation and then you are back to the chalk and grass. Through 4K its a case of mustering what you have left and concentrating on your breathing.

This is the home straight as you approach the tokens and barcode finish, you’ll be emptying the tank from this point.

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So, this parkrun in the beautiful countryside comes highly recommended, throw in some hills and you have an all round workout for the body and mind. As an introduction to trail running the QE parkrun is an excellent starting point and scores highly on my wellbeing chart.

You may not come away with a personal best but you’ll be rewarded with a morning running through nature and pondering just how soon you’ll be returning.

Thanks, as always, must go the volunteers who make this, and every other parkrun work.

Enjoy your running …. Roger

Could you run an Ultra in 2019 ? Some confidence building tips

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In simple terms an ultra is a distance run that’s longer than a marathon. That said, I personally wouldn’t class the 27.2 miles I ran for the 3 Forts challenge or the 27.5 for the Purbeck marathon as these are trail running marathons which do contain some flexibility in their race titles. “Generally speaking” 50K i.e. 31 miles would be considered an ultra race (in my humble opinion).

My background isn’t extensive but two 50K’s, one 33 mile, one 35 mile and Race to the King (RTTK) 53 mile double marathon means I feel I’ve had enough experience to offer some thoughts on the topic.

The reason I entitled this blog as a confidence building read was so that once you’ve considered the various aspects of running beyond a marathon then I guarantee you’ll have a broader understanding of what you’re getting yourself into.

Whether you choose to continue or not is another matter but I’d definitely recommend it.

So, here are 5 trains of thought for you to consider…..

Are you committed ?

This may sound an obvious question but there’s a lot to consider before you take on your first ultra and commitment is probably the key.

It’s time consuming – the extra running miles, the planning and the extra kit washes !!

Are you ready to push your body beyond your comfort zone – both mentally and physically, and finally it can be anti-social with early long run starts and early nights to maximise your sleep recovery time.

When I say committed I’d say more specifically committed to “your” race plan. Don’t be swayed by other runners because they will have a separate agenda. My first ultra was the New Forest 50K which was three laps of just over ten miles and Steve Way lapped me on my second and his third lap. Yes he was ten miles ahead of me !! (England International).

Steve then proceeded to add another lap by running in the opposite direction and offering words of encouragement to the rest of the field. Ultra runners are very community based.

Absorb yourself in the challenge that you’ve set yourself but at the same time don’t become an “ultra bore” with no other conversation !! I may have been guilty of that in the past ha ha 🙂

Conversely a sense of humour is absolutely essential, after all you are attempting something pretty crazy !!

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Are you prepared to rethink your training ?

I took a good look at how I trained for marathons and then partly through trial and error and partly through advice I incorporated a number of new strategies.

Getting used to running slower, walking uphill, eating on the go, foam rolling, double day running and increasing flexibility all played a part in my preparation. However, one aspect that I hadn’t originally considered was cross training.

I used to commute to work on my bike with the sole intention of getting there as quickly as possible. If I’m ultra training I use the twenty minutes cycle time there and back to loosen up my legs, flush out the stiffness and maximise the fact that my bike is supporting my weight rather than my stiff joints. Walking and swimming are equally useful for cross training benefits.

Most ultras are through the countryside so if you are moving up from road marathons then there’s a whole new skill set to embrace. Trails, hills, gates, streams, cows, sheep etc etc.

The map below shows the 31 miles I ran December 2017, what it doesn’t show is the shingle. In many ways the shingle was just as energy sapping as hills. The route was flat but if you hadn’t been aware of the beach sections you’d have been cursing the race organiser !!

Train for the terrain.

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Research your Race

Study the profile of your race and, if at all possible, train on the course or at least train on similar local profile, this will mean that on race day there are no surprises. Trust me after a number of hours you switch to automatic pilot and that’s when you need to trust in your preparation.

I’d run probably 46 of the 53 RTTK miles previously so I was psychologically and physically ready for what awaited me around very corner. Conversely with The Ox ultra being 35 miles in Wiltshire, I’d never stepped foot on the course, but I’d trained for both the number of hills and 90% of the elevation by analysing the profile.

Training with other runners who are also entered in your ultra is a great way to swop accumulated knowledge. They may well have spotted something you haven’t.

The distance between feed stations and what they offer is equally important. In short do your homework, it’s an investment in the day that will really pay off.

Even if the race website doesn’t state what will be on offer it’s important to consider what you’ll carry and what you can pick up. The reality can also bite you, in that the further down the field you are, the greater the potential for limited feed stations increases.

If in doubt email the race organiser.

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Practicalities

How will you get there and how will you get back, you “will” be tired. I arrived at Winchester train station five minutes too late for the hourly train back to Fareham after 12 hours of running the RTTK. This meant I sat on the platform for 55 minutes waiting for the next one !!

There are numerous articles on training mileage and food, both of which can vary depending on you as a person so I’d just say try out a few before deciding on what suits you. Other bloggers are a great source for this as well as running magazines/ the internet.

Double day training suited me i.e. a long Sunday run 18/19 miles and then 5/6 on a Sunday. Doing this on alternative weeks meant a steady run in-between too.

Then, most importantly, once you’ve decided on your kit, food and drink, train with them as if it was the race, thus eliminating any issues ahead of the big day.

The very fact that you will be on the go for longer also means sun tan lotion and light weight jackets need to be considered. This all cumulated in me buying a proper pack so that I could easily carry whatever I wanted including soft flasks for my liquids (eco friendly and less bulky).

After all if a jobs worth doing its worth doing well. I got last years colours and the cost was considerably less so they don’t have to cost a fortune !!

One more thought, take your fully charged mobile with you. You might not even take it out of its case but if you go off course, injure yourself or just need some motivation then help is only a swipe away.

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On the day

Be the best you can be at the start line. What I mean by this is hopefully you won’t be carrying any niggles. Pre physio and pre race massage may cost you financially but they’re worth their weight in gold when you hear people talking about their “issues” before you’ve even started running.

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Set a realistic time that compliments your training and not a time you are dreaming of. For your first ultra I’d simply concentrate on finishing. This may sound negative but seeing as you are entering uncharted territory it’s always best starting conservatively.

Use any uphill walking as an opportunity to take on fluids, go over your race plan in your head, eat and why not text your loved ones just to let them know you are surviving, (It can be a long day for them too !!)

I found counting down aid stations broke the race into a number of smaller races. Landmarks and distance markers can be points to concentrate on too. For example the first time I reached 30 miles it gave me a huge rush of adrenaline. Conversely, when I reached 40 in RTTK that was a signal there was a half marathon left to run.

Finally, prepare yourself for a range of emotions. You’ll have spent a lot of time training but life can throw up any number of twists and turns. Expect the unexpected !! Self doubt can be managed but be prepared to “have a word with yourself” when everything doesn’t go quite to plan.

I walked for over a mile on flat terrain in the middle of the Imber Ultra on Salisbury Plain and I even stopped for a cut of tea. I stopped and drank it while I gathered my thoughts.

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Another runner stopped and walked with me for a while so that he could offer some motivational word which I thought was fantastic !! He didn’t need to stop, he just took it upon himself. The irony of this was that about ten miles later I caught him up which meant I could repeat the favour !!

Equally, I’m not ashamed to say I’ve shed a few tears of joy when 30 miles appeared in my first 50K and 50 miles appeared on my garmin in RTTK. A little embarrassing but totally understandable.

So, listen to any advice given, be a sponge and soak it up because distance running isn’t an exact science its a learning experience and a bloody great experience at that.

In summary, if you run slower, eat more and prepare there’s no knowing how far you can go !!

I’ve got my eye on Race to the King again this June, happy ultra running.

Roger

 

 

 

 

 

Maximise your Wellbeing, Go for a Run !!

 

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Ask yourself does this chap pictured above look stressed or anxious, is he thinking about an important meeting that’s looming at work, is he thinking about the impact Brexit might make on the mortgage rate ….. “NO”, he’s beaming with self esteem.

That chap is me and I’ve just finished the Isle of Wight marathon. My mood has been uplifted, I’ve been living in the moment ever since I boarded the catamaran that crossed the Solent and I’ve just spent 4 & 3/4 hours enjoying myself.

Maximise your wellbeing !!

Running helps me in so many different ways but I’ll cover the “BIG 5” below.

If it helps me …………. there’s no reason why it can’t help YOU.

  • Make a regular payment into the Bank of Me

We spent so much time governed by work timetables, family timetables and quite frankly life timetables that its really important to make some time for yourself. I’m not saying days or weeks just positive short bursts of “Me time” and that’s were my running comes in.

Plan this time around work and family but make sure it becomes a regular slot that everyone is aware of. This way ironically you have included it in your timetable.

I’m also convinced that I’m a better me on my return which benefits my family as well as me.

  • Get Outside

The timetables that dictate so much of our waking hours mean we stay in similar surroundings for long periods. The office, the house, commuting on the train etc etc these locations support why you are there and that’s why I find it so important to relocate outdoors.

Running along a riverbank with sheep to your left and a stream to your right just fills you with positivity and reminds you how valuable a change of scenery is.

  • Give yourself a Self Esteem target

Ok, when I say a target I don’t mean one that will add to your stress I mean one that makes you feel good about yourself. This might be a time for the distance you are running because that will reinforce you are getting fitter, which in turn, improves how you feel about yourself.

However, you could decide on making it to the top of a hill without walking, running for a certain amount of time or quite simply just breathing in the fresh air and feeling alive.

  • Your cumulative Feel Good factor

Once you’ve returned from your run you’ll feel energised, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and you’re much more likely to make healthier food choices. Instead of grabbing a chocolate biscuit it’s much more likely you’ll decide on an apple instead.

With less stress and anxiety I find I don’t crave comfort food, in fact I’m making positive healthy choices to complement my running. Why undo the good work you’ve just achieved.

That cumulative effect will also take you through the night because you are physically tired which makes for a better nights sleep with less pre sleep pondering on what’s happened through the day or what’s ahead of you tomorrow.

  • The Most important step of you run is the first one out of your Front Door

Running is part of my life and has been for thirty years. My mood changes from the minute I know I’m going out and carries on hours after I’ve got back. Running relaxes me mentally even if it challenges me physically.

Whether I’m running on my own or with others I take in my surroundings, I try to absorb the feeling of running through the countryside. The sights and sounds of nature calm you and refresh you.

The time I spend running is quality time, it’s “My time”.

Why not make it “Your Time” or “Our Time” by including your partner or kids.

Happy Running

Roger

Unilite Head Torch Sport-H1 Review

Image-56As the nights draw in why restrict your running to poorly maintained and badly lit pavements. Running with a head torch means you can mix up your exercise by combining pavements and off road paths, it really is a whole new experience !!

Following a conversation with Unilite Lisa I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to receive and write about their popular neon coloured model. I was also delighted to receive a draw string bag and flask.

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In summary the Unilite Neon Sport-H1, has a 175 lumens beam that’s more than sufficient for everyday use, it’s light, affordable, comfortable to wear and only needs one AA battery. The adjustable headband has plenty of scope for all sized heads and when the strong housing is combined with water resistance then you’ve just about got everything covered. Oh, and it comes in a choice of funky colours !!

When I say funky, that’s neon pink, green, blue and yellow 🙂

The Sensible section

At this point I’d like to say that wearing a head torch for the first time can take some getting used to, so I’d recommend practising in semi lit environments first.

I’d also suggest running slower initially because both balance and self awareness are effected due to there being far fewer points of reference. That said, you soon adapt !!

Night lights come in all shapes and sizes so in many ways the right head torch for one person may not be the best one for someone else. Naturally brighter lights tend to be heavier and more costly but ask yourself, do you want to light up the path ahead of you or the valley the path runs through ?

A link to the Unilite website description is HERE but what I’d like to offer are my observations on my recent five mile run.

Head torch running really can be both safe and exciting.

The Fun section – Lets go for a run !!!

5 mile

My running commentary starts as I ran down Titchfield Hill under the bright streetlights and along the freshly tarmacked pavement (no head torch required).

I then took a 90 degree left hand turn along a completely unlit path that’s both quite narrow and has no lighting whatsoever.

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Now, at this point of the blog I dabbled with adding some photos but I decided this almost defeats the object as the flash would have given a false impression.

The head torch gave me a good spread of light from right to left and a surprisingly long sight of around the seventy metres that’s claimed. From previous experience you often have to adjust the angle of your light, depending on your location and the terrain.

The 45 degree scope that this torch offers means you can concentrate on the immediate four metres in front of you. Being able to adjust your light to your surroundings gives you a real sense of being in control.

One point to note is that if you tilt it too much then all you’ll see is the first two meters, which, on the one hand doesn’t give you long to react and on the other hand your breath can cloud your vision on a cold day, which can be quite off putting. That’s not Unilite’s fault, that’s head torches in general !!

It’s quite liberating running at largely the same pace as you would normally while passing through an area that would have otherwise been off limits.

Once I’d finished this section of my run I was then confronted with a mixture of car headlights and only occasional street lights. Being able to adjust the beam downwards makes it safer for you and the motorists in that you aren’t shining your light straight at them but you still have great vision.

The next obstacle that your head torch helps with is the combinations of a grass verge and the pavement. Yes you would probably see the grass and tarmac changing with the street lights but you’ll see it a lot earlier and in much more detail with your own personal light source.

Ultimately if you have confidence in where you are striding then you can maintain your pace and feel comfortable that you aren’t going to fall. Once back onto the main road I chose to switch my head torch off but that’s the flexibility you have. There’s no need to stop it’s just a flick of a switch with this unit.

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Fast forward another mile or so and I turned off on the southerly section of the map above. This area is predominantly field tracks and a very rough farm road that has uneven concrete so it would be idea as a testing ground. Let the real Unilite fun commence !!

I know from experience that around the first corner of this lane there’s a large pothole. The Unilite beam gave me a reassuring illumination of this hazard and I’m sure that even if I didn’t know it was there I’d have picked up on it with plenty of time.

As I’ve said your senses do start to work overtime when you have limited light but it certainly makes for quite a buzz as your anticipation levels, as well as adrenaline, are heightened. This was demonstrated a mere 500 metres further along the path.

I thought I could hear voices which can be a little unnerving when you can’t see where they’re coming from !! Yes, I jumped and made a weird noise when two other runners passed me, coming from the other direction, at quite a speed.

Now, whether they eat more carrots than your average person or they know this farm road so well that they felt comfortable running in the dark, I don’t know, but they obviously saw me because they’d already moved onto the other side of the road.

That’s the beauty of a good head torch, people see you !!

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As I weaved my way along the farm road it struck me that I’d been wearing my Unilite head torch for nearly forty minutes and I’d hardly felt I had it on. The lightweight nature of this torch also lends itself to being carried and then used, as and when you need it.

With your eyesight focused on a particular beam of light it’s funny how small details become more noticeable. With the wind having picked up there was a swishing of the trees and as I approached the main road it almost looked like it was raining leaves.

Returning back to the roads near the house I tilted my Unilite torch down but it still picked up the dark green refuse bins and the dropped curves that lie in wait between the street lights on any road !!

Stay bright, be seen and experience a new way to run when you wear a Unilite head torch. I’ve run with mine three times now and love it.

4lightsOne final thought, if you haven’t come up with any “bright” ideas for Christmas presents or you’re still “in the dark” about what to get the runner in your family then look no further than this great accessory.

One final, final, thought, when you get back home and the front door opens, remember not to shine your light in their welcoming faces !!

If you’ve enjoyed reading this write up my blog can be voted for in the UK Blog Awards. Just follow this LINK , scroll down to iruoffroad and click the heart to vote.

Thanks for reading.

Roger

Naming your Blog

This post follows the process I went through when naming my blog. It took a lot longer than I anticipated but after three and a half years it still represents who and what I’m all about. Hopefully it will help other potential bloggers.

So, you’ve decided to go public with your passion, to tell the world how much you love your chosen subject.

How can you attract people to read your great content ? You’ll need a great name.

I considered both practical and emotional reasons but ultimately a simple solution emerged from an unexpected source.

Practicalities

  • Will your name work in terms of an email or a url address ? irunoffroad@hotmail.com   etc etc
  • If you branch out into branding what will it look like on a t-shirt ? Too short ? Too long ? Just right 🙂

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  • Has your newly thought up name already been thought up by someone else ? Consult namecheck , mine hadn’t and that was a great relief !!
  • Will your name have longevity ? From my point of view my next name will be  iwalkoffroad but that’s a few years off yet !!
  • Don’t limit your audience – the “i” can be read as me, Roger, or the person who embraces the whole concept and lifestyle that I’m writing about #irunoffroad
  • Look at other bloggers who write about your subject and see if any of their names spark a thought with you ?

Emotional

  • Will you still like this name in five years time ? It’s 3 1/2 years and I still love mine.
  • Don’t think small !! Shoot for the stars 🙂 Choose a name that you could see above a shop door or on the side of a delivery van.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of being too current or too trendy, I considered a few options along these lines and did use the “i” to make it feel contemporary i.e. ipad, ipod even if that might not be apparent immediately.
  • Slightly off topic but take some time to choose the photo that complements your blog home page. Mine has a classic South Downs Way photo with a trail that wets your appetite (see the photo at the top of this post).
  • A memorable name is often a simple name, irunoffroad does what it says on the tin !! I run off road …. its as simple as that 🙂 Having said that I did bump into a friend recently and he said what’s you blog called again ?? “I hate running” ho ho ho !!

So, after weeks of thought and with three blog posts written I had a chat with my teenage daughter.

She said, Dad, are you overthinking this ? , give me one phrase that sums up what you do ? , my reply …..

“i run off road” , it fitted all of the criteria already mentioned. Genius.

Good luck with finding your perfect Blog name.

If  you’ve enjoyed reading this post I’ve been nominated in the UK Blog Awards Sports and Fitness category. The voting closes just before Christmas and the link is here, VOTE

Thanks for reading and maybe voting !!

Roger