irunoffroad : Youtube

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I’ve decided to create a youtube account and see how it develops. It may come to nothing but I figure its worth a go !!

Our countryside running can offer all sorts of experiences, whether anyone is interested could be a different matter 🙂 They might think it’s a load of “bull”.

I read that it’s not until 30 seconds of playing that a view is registered on youtube but initially I’ve posted a couple of short videos as testers.

Naturally its also called irunoffroad for consistency.

I’ll update my progress … click on this link  Youtube

Thanks Roger

Guest Blog : Thames Path 100 miles – Richard Hill

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Run report for Thames Path 100 miler – May 4/5 2019 Richmond to Oxford

Forward

This is the first time I’ve posted a guest blog. My friend Richard Hill ran 100 miles last weekend. The length of the post my be a challenge in its self but I heartily recommend you make a cuppa and read it all. Very few of us will ever achieve 100 miles, I take my hat off to you Richard.

Before
Starting location is quite a distance from where I live on the South coast so I stayed in a Travelodge in Teddington on the Friday night and had a lovely dinner in the Ribs & Burgers restaurant on Teddington high street. Good nights sleep and a few train stops in the morning and arrived at the Old Town Hall for kit check and number collection etc. Got there quite early as I don’t like queues.
Didn’t really know anyone there, a couple of names on the entrants list I knew of but not that well so just hovered about for an hour or so people watching which I quite like. People have some funny routines before long runs.
Whilst I was stood watching the world go about its thing a very friendly chap asked me how I was feeling about the run. He wasn’t joining in himself but was planning to pop over to Hungry in a few days to run 100 miles a day for 6 days around a caravan park on a 1km loop. You don’t have these kinds of conversations every day! The excitement in his eyes was quite palpable.
It was a nice chat as we had something in common which I don’t often find in runners. We both love the heat and hot sunshine. I find the cold just saps me but the sunshine and hot weather is so energising. Not often you find runners with that same view. He was also the guy that started the run at 0930 with a bloody awful airhorn, locals must have loved that.
This was to be my second 100 miler having completed the Autumn 100 in October just gone. As I finished that event below 24hrs, which was my goal, I approached the TP100 in pretty much the same way and hoped for the same result. One thing that had been stuck in my head since the end of last Summer was something I heard on a Bad Boy Running podcast that had an interview with the Race Director of Centurion.
I can’t remember if there were any stats but essentially he said there is a high DNF rate among second time 100 mile attempts (having successfully completed the first). I found this quite alarming and it stayed with me since. The reasons for this DNF rate will be numerous but a big factor I presume is knowing you have a buckle already and when at a low ebb perhaps it’s that bit easier to bin it. I’m grateful for the Centurion RD to have shared that as I think it was significant in mentally preparing for TP100.
Just a quick note on why I chose to do this (everyone has their own different reasons). First off I think these events are called the wrong thing. Anything further than a marathon is an ultramarathon. The term ultra usually means beyond normal or extreme and I don’t think that’s the right description, it’s just another distance but not so uncommon anymore. Maybe its ultra for the people at the front that compete but then that’s same as those who can routinely run sub20 5k.
In fact for me, if I could routinely run sub20 5k I would perhaps consider it a greater achievement than hobbling through 100 miles. I can hobble 100 miles but I can’t routinely run sub 20 5k, in fact I haven’t even done it so go figure! As there are so many people enjoying longer than marathon distance events it isn’t beyond normal anymore and personally I’d be happier for the sport to drop the Ultra term, it just doesn’t fit in my view.
But anyway, reason why I entered is quite simply that 100 miles fascinates me. I have done lots of running in the past few years and I heard about Centurion on a social run one evening in the woods and that they had a qualifying system to get in. So I go look at their website and lots of things were different and a bit odd. For 100 there is no medal but a belt buckle (why is that?), they have a stats page that just didn’t make any sense. Some people have completed many 100 mile events and they are all logged on there.
Couldn’t really believe it at first but obviously there is no reason for it not to be true. Delve a little deeper and there are quite interesting chunks of info about various things like safety issues. One that caught my eye was the risk of muscle breakdown and release of myoglobin into the blood. Combine that with poor hydration and you can expect renal shutdown. Ok then! So I head off to the Western states website to find out about belt buckles and read endless Wikipedia articles about kidney issues among others.
Essentially the seed is planted and the fascination has just grown with time. So that’s the why, an event in which running is by no means the key factor. For a bloke that doesn’t enjoy the sensation of hard running but really enjoys long jogs in the countryside with likeminded folks and a reasonable touch of challenge it fits pretty well.
Having just read what I’ve written I realise it sounds a bit flippant. To complete 100 miles on foot non-stop in under 24hrs is a huge challenge that will inevitably end in failure without meticulous planning and preparation. But it is profoundly rewarding to successfully complete.
That wasn’t a quick note.
Forecast for the race was cold, northerly winds and possible showers with close to freezing overnight. So I stayed in the Old Town Hall to keep warm. When I eventually got outside for the race brief the sun was shining and it was lovely and warm. Typical.
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During
Plan for this event was the same as A100. Finish the race within cutoff and if it looks possible go for a sub24. So I started off with 6 minute km pace which for me was far too quick over this distance but I didn’t really want to go much slower as it feels unnecessarily slow. That was a mistake. I should have started much slower, maybe 6.30 or 6.45 km pace.
I had a bit of knee trouble at the start of the year which meant five weeks off running and I hurt my calf once I had got back into it in March by pushing too much too early. The calf had been a bit of an issue since and sure enough it cramped up after the first check point at Walton at about 20k.
I honestly thought I might have to bin it (not a whimsical thought it really did feel that bad). I was up against trees stretching it and trying to heel strike as I ran as I couldn’t run the way I normally do. I was feeling pretty low and despondent. 140k to go and I was already in a lot of discomfort.
A guy I chatted to before the start came alongside and really lifted my spirits and encouraged me to keep trying to find a way and he helped enormously. I didn’t know his name but I cross matched his bib number from the event photos to the results list and this was Patrick, it was his first 100 and he did really well to finish. Thanks Patrick, you likely won’t know it but you really helped me out.
Couple more check points further on and at 50k the muscles had softened a bit and I felt ok to go on. I was cursing the Altra shoes for having no heel though. I’m a huge fan of Altras, this is the second 100 miler with not even a hint of a blister and I don’t use tape or Vaseline, just socks and Altras. But they are flat with no heel and with a tight sore calf a shoe with a heel lift would have been wonderful.
Between here and Henley I don’t remember much. There were a few showers and I remember being amused by the runners fumbling frantically to sort out their rain jackets. The showers didn’t last much more than a few minutes at a time. There was one guy (in a green grand slam teeshirt) who didn’t seem to give a toss about the rain, just carried on regardless. He was also listening to the football on the radio (only just audible so not at all annoying). He looked like he was in a very happy place, good for him, he made me smile.
I got to Henley 51 miles at ja little over 10hrs. As this was the half way point I was feeling pretty good as a finish was still possible and a sub24 was achievable too. As the forecast was for chilly temperatures I changed my tops for new dry thicker ones so I wouldn’t get too cold.
I used the drop bag service for here and Streatley. Chose not to have a crew or pacer as that would add extra stress for me and I like to be as self-sufficient as possible.
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Having got settled for the second half and made good time against my plan I started to enjoy things a bit more, the Thames Path trail is quite beautiful with lots of interesting landmarks, Hampton Court, Windsor Castle, Lambs etc etc. It didn’t feel samey at all even though there is 100 miles of it. Probably because every childhood summer holiday I ever had was on a canal boat somewhere in England I felt quite at home on the towpath.
I had no headphones with me, I almost never listen to music when in a race (almost always when  out on normal runs to work or wherever) so there were plenty of nature sounds to enjoy along with a bit of banter from Joe public pointing out a few times that there are things called trains.
I’m not a running blogger although I did write a run report for my A100 finish last year (which was more as a keep sake for me personally) but my friend Roger who is a blogger suggested I do a blog for his blog (if that makes sense) so I’m trying to jot stuff down that might be helpful for anyone thinking of trying for a 100 or maybe of interest to anyone that might bother to read. Trouble is though I can’t really remember much from here so that’s a bit rubbish for a run report but I’ll try to dredge up what I can and sorry I didn’t bother to take any photos.
Between Henley and Reading it got dark at some point and according to strava my pace slowed up a bit. Two things that feel important to me to get a finish are only ever focussing on the next check point. I have a little laminated timesheet that tells me how far to the next one and that is all I think about in terms of distance. The second is pork pies. I have a completely unfounded theory that when we start running our stomachs shut down (flight or fight response perhaps) and that if at the start you simultaneously begin eating real food the stomach tends not to shutdown.
It seems to work for me but this might just be me, who knows. I received these two tips from the RD of the GU36 in Guernsey. So thanks again to him and by the way the GU36 is probably the most enjoyable running event I’ve completed so go check it out, it sold out in 9hrs last year so be quick.
Reading to Wallingford via Streatley is the 4th & 1st leg of the Autumn 100 course so was a bit familiar. I don’t bother to reccy a course as they are so well marked by the Centurion team, it’s too logistically difficult to do a reccy for me and its nice to discover stuff as you go. I’m not likely to ever enter a self-navigation event so I’m just not that fussed. This section was a bit of a haze, was mostly focused on the next stop and maintaining my hydration & nutrition plan.
On that I keep to a pretty simple plan that works for me. Breakfast was a pot of instant porridge, coffee, protein shake, and a banana. Once the race started I ate a large pork pie over the first 10-20 km (they get a bit warm and manky if you leave it any longer). The rest is a combined drink/eat plan based on Tailwind. One sachet in a 600ml bottle every 10k and did this throughout. Also scoffed sausage rolls, pork pie quarters, and fruit here and there at check points.
That’s it and it seems to work out fine for me. I was a bit worried at one point (before Henley I think) as I swallowed a bug (about the size of a ladybug) and it got stuck in my throat and caused me to cough so much I started wretching and thought I was going to puke up all my tailwind but thankfully it was just a bit of dry wretching that eventually dislodged the bug and all was good again. I use my own tailwind sachets rather than the free stuff at checkpoints because then I can control the strength and type.
Up till about 9pm I used naked flavour zero caffeine and then from 9pm till sunrise I alternated between naked zero-caffeine and green tea caffeinated. This seemed to work out well for me. Just as a bit of context, each sachet of green tea tailwind has about 70mg of caffeine and I was taking one about every other 70minutes or so, about 4 or 5 packs in total (total caffeine of 350mg). Go check out how much caffeine is in a medium costa, it’s about 280mg in one cup! I’m sure this is a news scandal in the making. There must be some serious costa addicts out there.
At Streatley there is another drop bag opportunity so I put on some loose fitting jogging bottoms as I could tell it was going to get chilly, also picked up the remainder of my tailwind, had a quick pee and I was on my way. I try quite hard to minimise time at check points. It’s wasted time that needn’t be lost. If I missed out on sub24 by 30mins and I had fannied about at the checkpoints I’d be pretty hacked off so I grab and go. Surprising how many folks linger around nibbling away.
Between Streatley & Sunrise (a little before Abingdon I think) I have only one recollection which was the check point that deviates from the towpath (possibly Clifton). Only reason I remember this one is the people who either don’t know how to focus the beam on their head torches or for some unfathomable reason prefer them on flood mode! Its horrible being blasted by a 1000 lumens right in your face. I always try to be careful with my beam as I know how bright these things are and also a small focussed beam on the ground is surely the best way to light your path. That really did irritate me so I remember that bit.
Actually two other things of note from this section, first I discovered that I can walk faster than some people jog. By this point I was reduced to a fast walk as I was in quite a lot of discomfort and had lost the will to try and even attempt to run. There is obviously an overlap between a fast walk and a slow jog. According to the results I picked off 23 places but as I walked most of it I wasn’t alone in my discomfort! The second thing of note, and a new experience to me, was some mild hallucinations. Nothing extreme just occasionally I found myself being startled by what I thought were deer or badgers only to find they were bushes or gates or tree stumps. This happened quite a bit but I got used to it.
Sunrise came and then into Abingdon which is a very pretty place. I’d like to go visit there one day for a run.
From here to the finish was very unpleasant. The relentless flat course had trashed my leg muscles and my mind. Thankfully it was only 10 miles or so to the finish. Had it not been a race I would have instantly stopped. I could sense damage in my body and my mind was really unsettled. I really don’t think there is anything in this world that could have lifted my spirit at this stage. The towpath was rough and I had truly had enough. I once considered entering the GUCR 145 miles along a canal towpath. That will not be a consideration any longer.
I run because I enjoy it. Between Abingdon & Oxford it was not fun and had the event been the TP90 I would have had a much nicer day out.
Didn’t even bother to stop at Lower Radley check point I just grumbled by and gave a cursery nod at the utterly wonderful volunteers. Those folk at Lower Radley check point (the last one) will probably never enter another running race after seeing the state of us all! It must have been like a zombie apocalypse..
Eventually I could see the finish line. As I entered the field the guys behind the line were shouting at me to run as I was close to getting under 22:30. To be honest I couldn’t give a toss but I did try to run and nearly fell over so I walked across the line in 22:29:39. 15mins or so slower than Autumn 100 but I am very grateful for that time nonetheless.
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After
The after bit is the bit that is very different from my experience at the Autumn 100. The weather towards the end of the A100 was heavy rain and so I think the weather caused me to slow to a walk rather than physical and mental exhaustion. Here however I was walking at the end because I was more drained and uncomfortable both mentally and physically than I can ever remember in the past 44yrs on this chunk of rock. At the end of A100 I had a coffee and a roll and went home without incident. According to the strava log I was back to a normal running routine the next Thursday.
TP100 was different.
After crossing the line someone gave me a teeshirt and a buckle and took my picture. The photographer then asked me to hold the buckle in the air. I just refused and walked off. I am so sorry for my rudeness (I think he might have chuckled a bit, hopefully). I sat down in the pavilion thing and drank a coffee and then called a taxi. When I got up to walk to the taxi I nearly fell over and the next thing I knew I was being supported by two medics into the back of an ambulance. That’s where I stayed for the next hour or so. My blood pressure had dropped through the floor and I couldn’t stand by myself anymore. Blood sugar was perfect though (thanks Tailwind). I have since sent a message of thanks to the medics. They were amazing to say the least.
Lesson learnt is not to try too hard. Next time I’ll take it a bit easier. Talking of next time. I sent a text to my wife that said: ‘I will not be running100s ever again. It’s too damaging. I’m done and I’m happy about it.’
Eventually, again, I called another taxi and struggled into it and headed for the station. Being unable to walk in any normal way the prospect of the journey home wasn’t good. Got a train to Southampton and then had to change platforms for one to Fareham. This was not easy.On the Fareham train I ended up sat next to the lady who had just won the Southampton marathon that afternoon so the conversation to Fareham was really nice and fun. A fitting end to the day.
Once home and showered I had virtually no appetite and felt rough on and off till Tuesday. Don’t know much about muscles but the ones that allow you to lift your leg when sat in a chair didn’t start to work without intense pain until Monday evening. Obviously had no sleep Saturday night and Sunday night I barely slept again, not tired and legs too sore. Monday night got a full sleep, thankfully.
It’s now Tuesday evening and still not much of an appetite. Apparently I burned 11,000 calories during this event so I guess I’m going to get hungry at some point soon.
So that’s that, still knackered but I have a buckle I will treasure for ever.
Finally I want to say something about Centurion. Put simply they just care and it really shows. It’s a slick and nurtured operation with attention to detail at a level I haven’t seen elsewhere. There is no bullshit about being the hardest or the most extreme blah blah blah, they just give objective straight honest information and they really care about every aspect and everyone. Impressive.
Kit stuff
Start to Henley:
Started with a buff over my ears (bit of earache of late) with a baseball cap to hold it in place and keep the sun out of my eyes.
Light compression top (to stop nipple rub), tech tee and fleece top. Used a lightweight windbreaker at times.
UD race vest to carry stuff, mandatory kit etc.
Sealskin gloves (not real seals I don’t think).
Naked belt to carry bottles and phone.
Kalenji lycra shorts to stop chaffing thighs (and plenty of body glide in the crevices
..).
Calf sleeves to try to help my knackered calf – nice and warm too!
Injinji socks – same pair throughout.
Dirty girl gaiters – I really don’t understand why more people don’t use these. Not one bit of grit got in my shoes the whole race.
Altra Olympus 3 shoes – kept them on the whole race. Never touch my shoes once on, just let the feet bed in. No blisters.
Henley to finish:
Changed headwear to a warm beanie
Used a LED Lenser NEO10R & a spare battery that I swapped out at some point. Magnificent light and comfortable. Also carried a SEO7R and spare battery as back up and a crappy petzl emergency light. This is more than mandatory kit but I feel it’s really important to guarantee a good light source if going overnight. To be stuck with a faulty main and only an emergency backup may well end the race and that would be gutting.
Changed into a merino wool baselayer with a thick kalenji cold weather top.
At Streatley I put on some cold weather kalenji jogging bottoms.
I also have a Naked running vest that I wanted to try out but I didn’t wear this as my wife says it looks like a ladies croptop!
Thanks very much Richard for your insight into a 100 mile race.
Fantastic !!

Running Butser Hill – the beauty & the beast

Image-7I’ve been drawn to Butser Hill for over a quarter of a century. This iconic hill was the location of my first race when I moved to Hampshire and I never tire of return visits. Situated not far from Petersfield it towers above the A3 and offers any elevation hungry runners, walkers or riders the opportunity to test themselves.

Why ? I hear you say …. well, apart from the personal satisfaction, the views are amazing !! Portsmouth Spinnaker tower and the Isle of Wight to name two.

I arrived early enough to have the whole hill to myself. The shadows that darkened its lower slope would soon disappear as the morning sun rose and a steady trickle of “outdoors types” appeared from Queen Elizabeth Country Park on the other side of the A3.

Image-6 Butser can be climbed from a few different angles but I stuck with the main path that then forks off to the right on its way towards the trig point at the top.

Sheep and cows both graze on different slopes and at different times of the year so the grass is short wherever they have been. Naturally, our four legged friends can leave behind clues that they’ve been there, so bear this in mind.

Its worth saying that the visitors centre is currently being modernised so temporary structures are in place.

In order to gauge the height of the hill this next photo shows the view looking back from the fence line and gate that crosses between the wooded areas.

Image-9The hill gradually ramps up and then there’s the steepest section of 150 metres or so. The fact that you can only see the heads of the two walkers gives you an indication of the gradient. It’s here that your breathing and fortitude are tested, “keep on going” !!

Once through the gate its onwards and upwards for a gradual climb towards the satellite mast and then the terrain flattens once you reach the summit and the trig point.

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Image-10Statistically the elevation is around 500 feet from the car park to the trig and 400 from the lower slopes of my first photo. This is enough to earn it the “beast” status I refer to in my title. Distance wise thats about a mile and a quarter and a mile.

I could let you into a secret that there’s actually a car park just the other side of the satellite mast as well as a cafĂ© but you’d be missing out on the challenge of getting there !!

My personal aim for the day was four ascents. Hill 1, ran all the way, Hill 2, ran most of the way, Hill 3, combined walking and running, Hill 4, probably a 50/50 run/walk.

Yes your calves and thighs are tested to the full on the way up and there’s an inevitable jarring of your quads as you make the descent but you really can’t replicate this kind of hill training. Strength and confidence are gained in equal measures.

On one of the descents I had to negotiate “Hill Security” ….. I asked kindly if they’d “move” over. With this area being part of the South Downs National Park all the livestock are used to visitors but these cows are big old units so I showed them lots of respect.

Image-11The countryside is such an asset and it’s often closer to us than we think. My focus today was strength work running up and down this hill but in the process you are treading a path that’s been used for hundreds of years along the South Downs Way and effectively going back in time because it would have looked exactly the same, apart from the main road !!

In summary, a beautiful location that’s well worth a drive out to.

Thanks for reading, Roger

Trail running : A tale of the trails

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As a trail running blogger, by definition, I love to write about where I’ve been. I enjoy sharing my experiences and maybe, just maybe it will motivate others to follow in my trainer footsteps on a rural run.

My most recent run was along the Meon Valley Trail (MVT) which heads north out of Wickham with a gradual incline, as befits an old railway line, on its way toward West Meon.

The trail is reasonably wide and is sheltered on either side by well established trees that form a green tunnel of foliage at this time of the year. I planned seven miles of the MVT which would take me to the point where the South Downs Way crosses and I’d use this to run up Old Winchester Hill.

I ran on a Friday morning which curiously gave my adventure an unexpected feeling of freedom, on the one hand I felt like I was skipping school (even though that was many years ago) and on the over I knew most people would be on their way to work. Starting at 7.30 a.m. also gave me a mindful experience with few distractions.

My early start was rewarded with the views of a white carpet of frost on many of the fields that back onto the MVT as well as the birdsong that comes from there being no one else interfering with their morning rituals.

To my left the Meon River winds its way towards Wickham and ultimately Titchfield and the sea. The water flows at quite a pace due to the gradual incline and it is crystal clear. On a good day you could potentially spot either a kingfisher or a vowel. An additional benefit of today’s run was the seasonal abundance of beautiful bluebells.

The wind swishes through the trees and there’s an occasional rustle of branches, probably due to a squirrel. Days like today are to be fully absorbed, who needs headphones when there’s so much to take in.

As I reach my appointment with the South Downs Way I leave the shelter of the trees and start the climb up towards Old Winchester Hill. I can immediately feel the sun on my face and the wind on my cheek as the elements welcome me to the open countryside.

The trail isn’t too muddy but I pay attention to the sections were horses have churned up the soil. As my elevation ramps up the tree roots that appear from under the hedgerows remind me that taking in the views needs to be combined with focusing on the matter at hand.

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My next reminder of Spring is the sight of lambs with their protective parents. I try my best not to startle them but I guess they’re quite familiar with ramblers and runners.

Reaching Old Winchester Hill the surrounding countryside pans out 360 degrees around you from the trig point.

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Green, yellow and brown farmers fields all contrast against the mornings blue sky. Again on a good day Red Kites and buzzards can be spotted, however it was man made fight that I observed today with two paragliders.

There’s one last drag up to the highest point in this area of the park and it kept the best until last. Yet more contrasts of colour.

friday6All that was left was to retrace my steps, take care on the downhill and carry on soaking up both the views and the peace and quiet.

Mindfulness is all about living in the moment even if that moment lasted 18 miles and just over 3 hours.

Go for a run in the country and connect with your surroundings.

Thanks for reading

Roger

Cancer Awareness & the Parkrun Spirit

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Saturdays 14 miler had just about everything that’s great about our local running community and the unseasonably warm weather complimented the warm welcome that the 5K Your Way – Move Against Cancer guys received from regulars at the Lee-On-The-Solent Parkrun 

My plan for the morning was ……….

Head over towards Titchfield village, then along the canal to the sea, follow the coast along to the parkrun, meet Sue and her Cancer Awareness group, run the 5K and then head back home.

So, first things first, who are 5K Your Way- Move Against Cancer ? Well, “in their own words”, they are a support group with a difference. A community based initiative to encourage those living with and beyond cancer, their families, friends and those working in cancer services to walk, jog, run, cheer or volunteer at a local 5k Your Way parkrun event, on the last Saturday of every month.

I first became aware of the group after seeing a twitter post by Sue Rourke and then reading the following page on the Lee parkrun website … Click on this link !!

Considering that we live in an age when small deeds are labelled as “epic” or someone that buys you a pint is a “legends” Sue, really is, inspirational.

I’d encourage everyone reading my blog to click on the link above and take the time to read about a lady who has incurable cancer and is fighting it on her own terms by encouraging others to come along. Sue, who has run 5K’s and up to a marathon is part of a national network of such groups that parkrun has embraced.

The seven miles that took me to Lee included a favourite stretch of mine, the Titchfield Canal. I met Keith from Fareham Crusaders on route and then saw a number of other running friends as I looked for Sue and her group.

112leeTo be honest I was quite surprised at the size of the 5K My Way group and as Sue lined us up for the photo that starts my blog it was clear a good 50 extra people would be participating in the parkrun.

I chatted to Sue and her passion for the project shone through.

Some ran, sum jogged, some walked but everyone followed in the parkrun tradition of encouraging each other. Becky from the group gave everyone new to the parkrun experience a briefing and then this was followed by a warm introduction from the event director.

Lee parkrun is an out and back course so there are numerous occasions on which you pass each other. Naturally this meant “well done” “thank you” and “keep going” were all terms used over and over again.

Unfortunately, on this occasion, I couldn’t hang around at the end to chat more because I still had a few miles left to run but luckily I saw both Sue and Becky as I headed back up the coast. I stopped and chatted to both ladies promising that I’ll be back in four weeks time (April 27th) when I can spend more time getting to understand their supportive work.

I recognised a whole host of Fareham Crusaders, Gosport Road Runners and other friends from our local area that all share and contribute to the parkrun spirit. As of today another fifty people joined our community and I’ve got a feeling the two groups will benefit each other.

Lets out run cancer together.

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This is my Strava map from today with the parkrun being the furthest stretch along the coast. With the breaks in my running the pace dropped off a bit but hey !! “who cares”, today was a memorable morning.

My family, just like so many others, has been affected by cancer which is why I was keen to write this blog.

Thanks for reading and please, follow those links for some truly inspirational reading.

Roger

 

 

 

 

 

SKINS DNAmic Compression shorts Review

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How many sponsored reviews have you read that claim the product was “pants” ?? Not many, I’m sure. Thanks very much to SKINS for sending me these to try. I have nothing but praise, they offer support, wick away sweat and are so comfortable you almost forget you have them on !! I wear them on all of my long runs now.

Yes, we are talking “pants”, and more specifically SKINS DNAmic Core compression shorts. I’ve used other compression shorts and a combination of underwear, with them, so this was to be new territory with just wearing one pair.

The reason I’ve put off writing about them is because I wanted to give them quite a few outings and make sure I’d run for two hours plus.

Your running under garments may not be an issue during a 5 or 10K but once you start running longer distances then comfort and support becomes a topic that needs to be addressed.

I’ve previously blogged about SKINS compression socks and as a company I believe they live up to their marketing claims, ….. i.e.

“We create bloody good sportswear that makes everyone the best they can be”…. TICK

“We believe that how you play sport defines how you live life” ….. TICK.

I completely agree with both of these statements and especially the second because as an endurance runner I believe that willpower, staying power and an ability to cope with whatever’s thrown at you, over long periods, all transfer into your self belief when tackling, non running everyday tasks.

Previously I’ve worn compression shorts that were a similar length to cycling shorts but these feel far less restrictive, don’t show from under my actual running shorts and still provide great support.

You’ll be pleased to know I resisted the temptation to include a photo of me wearing my tight shorts. I’m aware that such images could have long lasting effects !!! Ha Ha 🙂

I chose extra large, not because of any physical attributes, but because from experience I’ve found one size up helps me.

Trail running puts a different kind of demand on your body compared with road running. The extra demands that running up a hill put on your thighs and bottom are then matched with the pounding on the way downhill. SKINS compression shorts suit the demands of these activities.

The support that SKINS compression shorts offer can be measured in both physical and mental terms.

My shorts reassure me that I’ll have no chaffing or friction issues and no riding up of underwear because I’m wearing one garment that fits me very well, including my sensitive area. As the hours of running effort pass by SKINS help to make the process bearable.

I’m reassured because I know the support will minimise any strains or injuries and wearing them will make a huge difference to the muscle soreness that I might otherwise be suffering, both during and after my run.

Sore hips are a frequent source of trail running pain, what with the changing elevation and terrain. SKINS compression shorts won’t magic this away but they certainly make a noticeable difference. Equally, walking up and down stairs the following day can be a painful experience so wearing them on your training/race day will continue to help your recovery.

I’ve had IT band issues in the past which can appear all the way up the side of your thigh and into your buttock. No longer !!

Armed with all of these benefits I set off with confidence on my long runs knowing that I’m giving myself the best possible foundation with compression shorts.

Thanks for reading

Roger

Breakfast Club – #running #community

gos2When you hear the phrase “community spirit” a number of traits come to mind ….. energy, willingness, pride and teamwork. All of these attributes can be seen when you visit a GosVegas running session whether it be Wednesday at 5.45pm or as I did this week, an 8am Sunday Breakfast Club.

The GosVegas running community has a far wider reach than just its base in Gosport because it draws in like minded people from both local running clubs and parkruns. So, whether you belong to an affiliated club or whether you’ve been swept up with the phenomenon that parkrun has become, these two friendly and free opportunities are well worth a visit.

The catalyst behind this all inclusive offering of positivity is Nick Carter, who’s had quite an impact on our running community. The principle reason for me writing this post is quite simply to spread the word and encourage more people to tap into their spirit.

The Sunday Breakfast Club offers an hours worth of running followed by a chance to unwind in the Bayside café. Located in Stokes Bay this means free parking until 10am, the café as an HQ and plenty of scope to run.

On arrival a bracing wind was blowing in off the Solent and as thirty of us gathered in the car park there was a sense of amusement as to the speed we’d be running with the wind behind us. Conversely, Stokes Bay and Gosport may be flat but when you’re running against winds like this it almost feels like hill work !! So, we were in for a good work out.

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As well as Nick, I’d met Kim, Emma and Nicky from Gosport Road runners before we set off. Nicky gave me a rough idea of the route that we’d follow just before Nick asked us to gather for a group photo.

Having our photo taken at the beginning of the run was another “inclusive” touch. Naturally the group would split up during the run and some people would jump into their cars as soon as they’d finished but, regardless of your pace, we all felt part of the session by being included in the group photo.

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As we followed the coast down to the golf course I chatted and introduced myself to Paul, Nickie and Faye. We all commented on the glorious view, what with the Isle of Wight as the backdrop and the white crested waves that were being blown up by the wind.

As we rounded the Gillkicker Fort I chatted with Fareham Crusaders Sarah and Nick. From half way on I ran with Faye and we soon found out that we had a mutual running friend she works with, we’d both served on the committees of our running clubs and we’d both run similar races.

The route wound its way along the sea wall and then back through more residential roads. Nick appeared at the bottom of Jellico Avenue to point us in the right direction and before you knew it we were battling against the wind and heading back towards the café.

I clearly wasn’t expecting a photo on arrival because even though I smiled and gave a thumbs up I managed to have my eyes closed …. ha ha !!

gos3 I was a little pressed for time so my visit to the cafĂ© was fairly short but I was there long enough to chat with two more runners and marvel at the breakfasts that were being served. The nautical theme of the traditional breakfasts amused me, what with it starting with a dingy, increasing in size to an IOW Ferry and then the largest offering was … you guessed it, a “Titanic” full English.

So, in summary I chatted to more people that I didn’t know than I did know which, in its self, sums up their running community spirit. In this day and age of mobile phones it’s great to actually chat with like minded people and experience a sense of togetherness.

Thank you Nick and your welcoming GosVegas runners. I’d definitely recommend popping by and as a famous action film start once said …… “I’ll be back”.

Enjoy your running and thanks for reading.

Roger

Running with a “Spring” in your stride

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The phrase “Winter miles make Summer smiles” can apply in a number of difference circumstances. For me it refers to building my running miles back up again after a quiet spell. Rediscovering your self belief is a powerful emotion and this weekend has fuelled the fire even more.

I ran on Friday and Saturday for the second week in a row and as you can see from the photo above I’ve washed my Ultimate Direction running vest now that I’m on the verge of justifying it with the miles I’m achieving.

Running 3.3 and 8 miles last weekend and then 4.5 and 9 this now means that I’m on track for a training run approaching two hours. My clean and considerably better smelling running vest is another metaphor towards starting a fresh. I’m excited, I’m ready to commit.

There’s no better feeling than leaving work on a Friday afternoon knowing the weekend is waiting for you. Having plans with goals attached to them really does add to your anticipation.

My largely desk bound job does mean the first half of my run commute feels a little laboured but once you’re out there all those project lists, meeting requests and deadlines simply fade away.

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I’m a firm believer of living in the moment and that’s exactly what I did. I took this photo because I went out of my way to include this stretch. Getting outdoors and discovering these footpaths add an extra dimension to your running.

Saturdays alarm clock went off at 7.30am and it was a case of “up and at them”, I polished off my porridge and contemplated where I would run. My target mileage was 9 ish miles and knowing the coast is about 3 & 1/2 I set off in search of the seaside.

The early morning mist soon burned off and the glorious morning sunshine came streaming through. Technically today was still a run in the Winter sun but the daffodil’s and snowdrops really add to your sense of anticipation that Spring isn’t far away.

I said hello to quite a few runners including Lee Rhodes, over literally 200 metres. I crossed the road he said hello, I said I’m puffing and blowing already, he said I’m off to the parkrun, I said I’m off to the coast, so we wished each other well and carried on.

abb3Arriving at the coast I was reminded just how lucky we are in this part of Hampshire to have the South Downs in striking distance as well as the sea on our doorstep. With the Isle of Wight on the horizon and the shingle stretched out ahead of me the only question was when to turn around and head back.

abb2I stopped for a drink and took these couple of photos before setting off. There’s something very relaxing about running by the sea, you can taste the salt on your lips and the sound of the lapping waves adds a sense of calm.

Running challenges me on some days and it relaxes me on others. The benefits are endless and I’m so glad I’ve rediscovered all of these aspects.

Today might have been February but I was running with a “Spring” in my stride. Nine miles to add to yesterdays 4 & 1/2, even with a slight cold, has motivated me for the coming weeks. A pace of around nine minute miles was fine for what I had in mind.

Talking of a run in the sun if you follow this link I’ve been impressed with their Instagram page photos and website, who knows one day it could be irunoffroad in Spain !!

On my return home I was reminded of a badge I made with my kids probably ten years ago. It sits with all my other favourite endurance race medals.

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It’s good to know that ten years ago I considered “I’ve still got it” and even though I’ll never be fast I’m still content with being fit, healthy and happy.

Yes, I believe “I’ve still got it” 🙂 ………. Thanks for reading

Roger

 

 

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