The National Running Show (South) : Olympians & one “Worthy” winner

I travelled up to Farnborough twice last weekend to absorb myself in this running community event. We were promised inspirational speakers, the latest kit, cutting edge technology, the best races, coaches, nutritional snacks and all under one roof. In short this had the makings of a truly memorable experience and it lived up to the billing.

On a personal note, the icing on the cake, was when Paula Radcliffe (our GB marathon phenomena) referenced my T shirt and commented, “I run off road too”, naturally, this made my day !! If this blog means too much reading, please skip to section 5 !! It might just change your life.

During the fifty mile drive home I decided to try and cherry pick my standout moments, rather than write an account of the whole event. Our venue, the impressive Farnborough International, set the tone for a first class weekend. Our hosts on the Inspiration Stage were Jo Pavey (5 time Olympian) and adventurer Danny Bent, both of whom seamlessly brought enthusiasm, knowledge and fun to the proceedings. Added to this free parking and concessionary tickets, then its a win – win. The venue and guys are pictured below.

1. Middle Distance running – Steve Cram

First things first, at the age of 61, Olympic gold medalist and presenter Steve Cram looks the picture of health, that combination of a lifetime involved with sport as well as the Sunderland air clearly agrees with him. Steve claimed never to have had a real job but to have been involved in what he loved all his life.

It’s probably worth pointing out at this stage that I arrived early, so as to get great vantage points. Typically there were hundreds of people in the audience behind me even if these photo suggests there were only a handful of us there !!

For the younger readers of this blog you will know Steve Cram as a presenter but for us older runners you will recognise him in the middle of the three guys on the screen off to the right of the stage. Bonus points for who else is pictured on the screen ??

Steve’s talk revolved around, “what running had done for him” and charted his early years when running the streets of Sunderland wasn’t the activity we’d take for granted these days, the use of a multistorey carpark for training, so as to include hills and avoid the weather, and the concept of multi day training, so as to build him into the champion that he became.

Steve was one of our top middle distance runners during the 80’s setting three world records in 19 days during 1985 for the 1,500m, 2,000m and the mile. It was interesting to hear Steve talk about his diet as a youngest that was influenced by his German mother. Steve’s trademark winding the speed up over the last 300 meters was no doubt fed by intense training and a good variety of food. A BBC Sports Personality of the year in 1983 and in 1999, an impressive 2.35 marathon time !!

When Steve talked about his commentating career he recalled his first attempt which could well have been his last as he was unexpectedly called upon to commentate on a race while his co-commentator wasn’t to hand. A combination of not knowing all the runners names or how to use the microphone amounted to a baptism of fire which was then coupled with swear words on the return of his colleague, that also went out on air, as Steve hadn’t turned off his mike. However, he is still a regular voice to this day on all the big athletics nights so practice clearly does make perfect.

2. Long Distance Running – Paula Radcliffe

With three London and New York marathon wins under her belt as well as numerous track and cross country wins on the world and European stage Paula’s greatest achievement was probably the 2003 London marathon time of 2.15.25 that stood as a world record for sixteen years !!

The mornings conversations had an added layer due to, our host, Jo Pavey’s running career chris crossing Paula’s so there were a number of insightful questions around negative splits, preparation and emotions which brought the historical facts to life.

One of Paula’s earliest anecdotes was that she’d attended the London marathon with her father at the age of ten and watched Ingrid Kristiansen which inspired her to become an athlete. Studying at Loughborough University would have meant great facilities for both sport and academic achievements and she certainly didn’t let having asthma slow her down.

Perhaps one of the greatest legacies an athlete can be remembered for is if they use their fame to give back to others. The Families on Track project is a great initiative that Paula has been developing. As well as encouraging her own children to be active and embrace healthy habits this project revolves around a lapped relay format with all the family contributing at different stages. So all ages and levels of fitness add up to an accumulated distance that they can all be proud of. Having fun together and developing their mental and physical fitness sounds like a great family bonding experience.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my blog it was an honor to say hello and have my photo taken. When I created this blog and called it “i run off road” the “i” was always meant to apply to everyone on the trails, not just me. It was a massive thumbs up when Paula immediately picked up on it.

3. Ultra Long Distance Running – Allie Bailey

After briefly introducing myself on Saturday and listening to her along with Dave Hellard and Jody Raynsford on Saturday, as part of the Bay Boy Running group / podcast, I was pleased to catch up early on Sunday to chat a little further with a person who has greatly promoted the recent decades activity of going beyond a marathon.

Allie’s videos, Instagram page and Facebook group (Ultra Awesome) show the infectious enthusiasm she has, as well as offering endless advice in a no nonsense way that means you know she isn’t doing it as a business, it’s coming from the heart.

I was interesting to hear what Allie had to say when I mentioned I hadn’t raced for some time and there was absolutely no judgement, choose you path and follow your own journey were typical of the generous spirit she offers everyone.

4. Running Exhibitors – My favorite three

There must have been one hundred names on the “who’s here” board so naturally over the two days I made my way around a large proportion of them and here’s a snippet of the best ones that I interacted with. The Club LaSanta Lanzarote complex has a world wide reputation and the photos looked fantastic with a 400m track, 50m pool, amazing scenery and the promise of activities from sunrise to sunset. The caption “Disneyland for Runners” made me smile but at the same time it looked quite accurate.

The Forestry England guys were kindred spirits and I had a great chat with them. Check out their Forest Runner 5K & 10K series from September 22 onwards. We talked forest bathing, I’ve previously blogged about this (just type it in the search bar) and I particularly like their marketing slogan of – Seek adventure, make memories and find your escape. I truly believe you don’t escape “from” your day to day life you escape “to” the countryside.

My third stall choice was a tie between meeting up with Umberto from Absolute 360 running and trying the Pulse Roll vibration technology. The Pulse Roll increases blood circulation, improves mobility and reduces muscle soreness, I guess you could say it was a massage gun to help in your recovery. I certainly felt the benefit on my calves !! Umberto is one of life’s boundlessly enthusiastic runners who I chat to on twitter so it was great to meet him in person.

5. Adventurous Running – Jay Worthy

Before attending the show Jay was probably the person I knew least about and for that reason I’d say he had the most impact. Jay Worthy is the host of a podcast called 28 Summers. Now, I like the idea of podcasts but I wouldn’t say I’ve embraced them yet. However, I’m now hooked on this fantastic resource of adventure, human endeavor and positivity. I don’t run with headphones but I’ve started to use then when I walk, so, these episodes will play an increasing part in my future motivation.

After an adventurous childhood, Jay described his journey on working his way up the corporate ladder to becoming a CEO with a high profile Chicago fitness equipment company, but, to achieve this he’d put his own wellbeing on hold and as he put it his adventurous side had gone into hibernation. The phrase all work and no play meant even with all the financial trappings, he wasn’t happy.

This is when the 28 Summers analogy turned his life around. Jay recalled listening to a motivational speaker who stated than the average American male lived until 78 and that speaker was 50 when he’d contemplated this, consequently this meant there were potentially 28 years left to fulfill any dreams he was harboring.

Naturally more can be achieved in the Summer, especially with your children, hence the name of the podcast. Jay took this onboard and now try’s to really “live” his life. After all, working for a future that you might not want is quite a revaluation. This concept of clocking up experiences and memories rather than counting down your remaining years puts a completely different spin on your outlook, no matter what your age, but more so if you are older.

To compound this he talked about how while trying to reclaim his mornings with exercise his life changed for the worst with no longer holding the position he’d worked for. Depression soon took over and he needed to try and find a way out. Jay talked about the perspective of looking down from a tall building or the top of a hill, the fast paced life at ground level can be viewed differently with an elevated view.

Focusing on health, family and asking himself “what makes my heart sing” has taken him full circle back to his childhood by searching out adventures endeavors. I also like the fact that as well as challenging his own thoughts he also challenges his children to think outside their comfort zones. I’m 60 at the end of May and this really struck me that at a time when people are considering pensions, savings and grey hair why not turn those negatives into positives. Trail running has already started me on this journey, I just needed this added focus to channel making the most of it.

I especially like the comment “No zero days” i.e. no matter how small the thought or action we can make a positive impact on our lives each day and if that sounds too much then “win your week” i.e. have more days in it with these stepping stones towards your goals, than not. These aspirations may sound quite grand initially and how could we achieve them on our own but if there’s one thing being part of the running community teaches you it’s that there’s so many like minded people who are looking for the same kind of adventure. Jay’s comment “find your tribe” summed this up in three words 🙂

Adventure might not solve all your circumstances, or the prospect of getting older, but the buzz of the outdoors with its vitamin D sunshine can only help. You don’t have to row the Atlantic, start small and build up. Jay mentioned his favorite T.S. Eliot quote, “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are”. I love this, until you start to find your limits you’ll never know what they are and by this it could also mean the limits of your enjoyment as well as physical capability.

As Bruce Springsteen famously once said “You can’t start a fire without a spark” and I believe listening to Jay has been the spark I needed to build on what I’ve started with trail running.

In summary

If you get the chance to attend future Running Shows there’s something for everyone.

Thanks for reading

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 !!!

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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

Gophysio Foam Roller workshop

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I’m sure most runners are familiar with the foam roller concept and I’d bet (like me) we’ve even bought one, but do we use it ??? Hats off to the folks that do, mine has been sadly neglected. Excuses like, “I’ll get around to watching some youtube videos” or “I’ve just run for 3 hours, I can’t justify more time rollering” may sound familiar.

However, the overwhelming thought I left the workshop with, had to be, why haven’t I been doing this for years and how did I manage to pick the pair of socks with the hole in the big toe (yes you take your trainers off) !!! I can now ease aches, pains and tension, as well as reduce the likelihood of injury. Considering that I mainly run marathons, feeling supple and not “creaking”, is a win-win.

I saw a Saturday foam roller workshop advertised on instagram and contacted Gophysio to see if they ran any mid week sessions. Friday May the 18th was their reply at 5pm which was perfect for me.

On arrival I was immediately struck by how smart and spotless the reception area was. I particularly liked the words of wisdom that you read, as you walk in … “Look after your body, it’s the only place you have to live” Jim Rohn quote.

The weapons of torture were also on display in reception !! Torture is often a word associated with foam rollers but used properly they’ll save you lots more pain in your running !!

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Tom the sports therapist invited the nine of us to follow him upstairs to the temperature controlled studio and I was again impressed that not only were there nine mats with a variety of rollering gadgets but there was also plenty of space between each mat.

Booking a smaller amount of people with enough space to do justice to the class meant Tom could freely walk around, checking on everyone. This personal attention ahead of profit making goes a long way in my book.

Tom kept the explanations of theory to a sensible minimum and we concentrated on one side of the body while we slowly went through our instructions, then for the last twenty minutes we could repeat the same for the other side of the body applying what we’d learnt. The methodical 35 minutes or so on one side meant we could apply our techniques with confidence in the second shorter session.

Exercise wise I’ll talk through generally what we did rather than attempt to offer instructions because I’m a runner and not a sports therapist !!

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We started with the sole of the foot and a small trigger point ball. Applying a good measure of weight and rolling the ball backwards and forwards. We then swopped to a nano foot roller (3rd from the left in the picture above) which did a similar job but had a broader range rather than the more specific ball (4th from the left in the photo).

Next we used the larger trigger point ball and a large foam roller on our calves (the final 2 items in the photo above). Starting at a mid point and rollering down, then rolling up. While swopping between the roller and ball you could feel the difference and choose whether you could cope with the more intense ball as it pinpoints specific areas. Moving over onto your side also meant you could feel the benefit across a wider area.

I felt I didn’t have as much control with the ball until Tom showed me that shorter movements were required or in some cases bending your knee and then straightening your leg achieved the same result. This instant feedback was the benefit of a smaller class.

We carried out a similar approach for the hamstrings, quads, TFL (the small muscle were your pockets are) and gluts. On each occasion Tom encouraged us to find “hot spots” and hold the ball/ roller at that point until the tightness had eased off. With your gluts being quite a large muscle I took more time to explore ….. ha ha .

The nature of marathon training means repetitive use of certain muscles. I cycle to work most days and even though this flushes out stiffness (active recovery) it doesn’t pinpoint areas. Naturally all runners would benefit from rolling regardless of their distances.

Splitting each area up into upper and lower sections meant I found I only had a small range of movement and I didn’t feel like my legs and arms were shaking due to being over extended. Supporting yourself correctly makes the exercises both safer and more comfortable. Shoulders and back work then followed.

Various questions were asked through the session and it was interesting to hear that the class was made up of regular roller runners and novices like myself.

I haven’t attempted to explain the science of the muscles and the exercises but suffice to say I felt considerably more flexible. With Dorchester marathon only a week away I certainly benefitted from loosening some “knots” and I’ll use my own roller through this last taper week.

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We thanked Tom for an excellent session, completed his feedback form and the chit-chat between us was just how useful the hour had been.

Top marks to Chandlers Ford’s Gophysio and at £15 for the hour long session it really is money well spent. I’d go as far as saying it’s an investment in your running future. I’ll be buying a trigger point ball to accompany my own roller.

Ultimate Direction AK 3.0 Running Vest

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Isn’t it funny how fate can combine to set up your perfect scenario. I’d been talking with my ultra running friend Mark Greenfield about meeting him part way through his run and my new running vest arrived just in time.

Mark is in training for the South Downs Way 50 miler in two weeks time and I was looking to add a two hour run to the 13 miler I ran on Wednesday.

How excited was I to wear my running vest, well, on a scale of 1 to 10 I’d say 25. I’ve used a variety of packs and waste bags over the years but ultimately it’s all about having the tools for the trade !!

After researching numerous other vests I decided on the Ultimate Direction AK (Anton Krupicka) 3.0, large, red vest. The colours also compliment our Fareham Crusaders running club tops.

Firstly, the design of the pack means the wide side panels and shoulder straps really do make you feel like you’re wearing a waistcoat and that’s what makes it a vest rather than a rucksack. The vest can effectively be split into three categories.

  • Two 500ml soft flasks sit comfortably in their holsters. The holsters have draw strings to tighten the flasks and the bottles sit on your chest for easy access. The clear plastic also shows you how much you’ve drunk.
  • There are “numerous” pockets on the shoulder and side panels sections of the vest. The two main side panel pockets have zips and are vary spacious. The front zip pocket took my valuables and the side panels my gloves, snood and gels. I could have fit numerous other items in but it was only a two hour run.
  • The main storage bag on the rear again has a large capacity and I used it for my rain racket.

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The secure zipped pockets, the lightweight nature, the accessibility and the scope to adjust the fit with straps meant it was very practical and very comfortable. I’d say the storage on your back would be used for items you ought to take but wouldn’t be looking to use for some time. Not needing to struggle for nutrition and liquids takes all the hassle out of a long run. Not needing to stop as well as eating/drinking on the move means your run isn’t interrupted.

The whistle that’s attached to the vest was a great additional thought and I know feel like I’m properly prepared for whatever adventures I choose to take on.

Todays run included muddy trails, shingle and sand. A combination of all theses elements as well as my effort meant the pack had mud and sweat on it. A look warm, water rinse, soon resolved that and it dried out overnight too.

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Todays run started with a fairly uneventful 4.5 miles to get to the coast, however, it did mean I could entertain myself by using the bottles and pockets without necessarily actually eating and drinking each time.

The coastal trail that heads along the Meon shoreline added far more excitement. The map is from my strava account. I’m irunoffroad Roger and here’s the link for Todays Run

The coastal path was muddy and had huge puddles. I find that if you can avoid the deep puddles, that’s going to keep your socks drier but sometimes there’s more risk of slipping if you constantly try to avoid the water. Yes, sometimes its better just to plough on straight through them.

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As I made my way inland I met up with Mark who’d set off earlier and was running more miles. I turned around and ran with him from about mile 6.5 to 10. When I say ran with him, I meant “tried to keep up with”. We bumped into Emma Noyce that I’ve talked to on social media a lot, but never actually met. Well done on your coastal run too Emma.

We decided to run along the shoreline instead of the coastal path for more endurance training on the soft sand and shingle. I took this photo of Mark and even though it came out quite dark I think it shows a man in his element !!

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What the photo doesn’t show is that the sand became very soft in no time at all and we probably got just as wet as if we’d have run the path’s puddles, all of which added to the entertainment value !!

Next was Titchfield Haven, this is a nature reserve and the trails are well known for being muddy. The poor drainage means its a great training run for testing your agility and gaining confidence in running on slippy mud, which is inevitable at this time of the year.

By the time we reached the other side of Titchfield village I had run 10 miles and Mark 20. We shook hands and said we’d meet up soon. He asked me how I liked my vest and to be honest I’d almost forgotten I had it on !!

All that remained was a few more miles on bridle paths and then my last leg on the road down Gudge Heath Lane to home and 12.75 miles.

I did stop for a drink at 11 miles because I’d seen someone watching me approach. Can you spot him, I had to zoom in 🙂 He scampered through the trees and followed me for about 50 metres !!

DSC01192So, all in all it was great to catch up with Mark and I love my new running vest. A real investment for the future.

Happy trail running 🙂

Soft flasks & saving the planet #refill

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The BBC’s Blue Planet II series really highlighted the growing concerns about the effect plastic waste is having on the environment. Cutting the “single” use of disposable plastic bottles “must” be the way ahead.
Drinking bottles are the most common type of plastic waste with an unbelievable 480 billion plastic bottles being sold globally in 2016 and as runners we use our fair share.
The simple act of quenching your thirst after a hard run and then dropping your bottle into the bin seems straight forward enough but on reflection that one single use seems such a waste.
The ever growing quantities of bottles that hydrate us as runners, may well be recycled, but many will go to landfill and it takes hundreds of years to biodegrade.
So, what’s the answer ………..
As a long distance runner my hydration strategy is a combination of tap water and hydration tablets. I’ve been drinking from reusable bottles for years but over the last two I’ve moved to soft flasks.
“Soft flasks” ??, I hear you say. Yes, you simply fill them up and then role them up when you’ve finished. You could almost compare them to using up your toothpaste tube. Once empty they fold up to virtually nothing and then naturally they’re ready to be refilled. Carry them or stash them away in your pocket / rucksack.
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Lets get the agenda of runners saving the planet on the table !!
Lets cut down our use of plastic bottles …….. thanks for reading

Revere Sport – running armband review, #mud #coast

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The chain of events that led me to write about the Revere Sport Endurance Armband started with a twitter message, progressed to updating my phone and then finished with me joining instagram .

Samantha from Revere Sport messaged asking whether I’d like to review their latest model, the Endurance Armband. It’s so new it won’t be added to their website until next week !! I requested the iphone7 compatible armband. I’ll attach the link here when it’s live on their website. Choice wise numerous iphones and Samsung models are available.

Todays run starting in Titchfield village because I had a particular image in mind. You don’t see many old style phone boxes these days and it struck me as a real contrast to the mobile phones that we all take for granted these days. It would also lend itself to Instagram too !!

My first impression of the armband was its quality, it certainly looks like it was made to last and that’s something you see less and less these days. This quality is also backed up with a lifetime replacement guarantee which means you are totally covered.

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Ok, yes I should have cleaned my trainers before I ran today but I knew they’d only get filthy again !! Love those trails 🙂

Sizing wise it fitted around my pipe cleaner bicep without any problem and the velcro strap felt secure. It comes with an extender strap to cater for small, medium and large biceps and I did think that if I was wearing a jacket this added scope may come in useful. I guess you could strap the armband around your wrist but it felt more natural higher up on me.

The case has an ample see through front that means you have full screen access to all your apps. Inside the case there’s a car key hook with plenty of room for the key, money, credit card slots and a gel. Everything is then securely held with two zips.

The backing to the case is a mix of neoprene/lycra and also has some padding which made it comfortable to wear. This padding would also protect your phone. Finally the bottom of the case has two covered outlets for access to a charger and headphones.

I’ve recently started taking an iphone7 on my runs so naturally I’ve been keen to ensure that not only is it safe but that it’s easily accessible for my blogging photos. The irony of this was that I asked two people to take my photo today and it felt hard handing over my latest phone, but luckily they did give it back …. ha ha 🙂

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While running my main observation was that the velcro and the fitting meant I had no rubbing or chaffing and more importantly I didn’t need to adjust it at all. Unzipping the case to take photos was quick and easy and to be honest over the six miles I almost forgot I was wearing it, which was just as well because I was concentrating on not falling over along the Titchfield canal section !!

Today was a short run down to the coast and naturally I’d carry more gear on a longer one but I’d still take the armband because of all the benefits I’ve mentioned. One final thought, if your phone is close by instead of packed away in a rucksack then you’re far less likely to miss a call or text. I do run to escape the modern world but it does avoid those “well I couldn’t get hold of you” conversations 🙂

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So, as far as I can “sea”, for the introductory price of £9.99 and even at the normal £11.99 the Endurance Armband ticks all the protection, comfort and quality boxes.

The Revere Sport running armbands will keep your phone close at hand, give you the opportunity to take photos and ultimately, peace of mind, knowing that it’s safe.

2017 Running Review : Thanks to all my friends, both old & new, for a great year.

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For me running isn’t just about your race time and position, it’s where and who you trained with and the shared experiences of both that training and race day. Running may not be the team sport that say eleven footballers have but as a group of individuals we support each other in so many ways. The running community is effectively one great big team.

2017 has been a memorable year with personally, my first double marathon and blog wise a number of achievements. However, most memorably it has been a year of widening my running circles and talking with people who have a similar outlook on life.

My main focus for 2017 was Race to the King (RTTK) with its 53 miles and 5,000 + feet elevation along the South Downs Way (SDW). Generally speaking I’ve found that if peoples reaction to what you say you have in mind are …. “that’s madness” or “oh my god” then you’ve pitched your challenge at the right level.

I entered Second Wind Running’s (SWR) Spring marathon (3,000 ft) in March and the 3 Forts Challenge in Sussex as April’s yardstick. The Spring marathon was on familiar territory around QECP but conversely the 3 Forts were further along the SDW and would be a pleasant surprise, especially with the 27.2 miles and those three big hills !!

One trick I’d recommend for races you haven’t done before is either recce different sections over the weeks before race day or watch the many videos that are available through bloggers and youtube.

The one common factor my top 5 races all had was that my training buddy Paul Coates entered them all as well.

The Spring marathon was notable for the heat and banter with a number of Pompey Joggers. This banter started with race organiser Phil Hoy who pulled up next to Paul and I before the race started. One of his marshals had commented “look there’s two runners over there” … he repeated this comment to us and then said … “no it’s Roger and Paul”, and then drove off laughing. We have exchanged many such comments with Phil but the timing made all of us laugh. P.S. I’d highly recommend Phil’s SWR events as challenging and very well organised.

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My second Joggers interaction was with bothers Simon and Jonny Langley, who I hadn’t met before but as we constantly traded places over four of the five hours, we certainly motivated each other.

In between these two races I attended the Running Awards as my blog had been shortlisted in the final 12 for the second year running. I’m very proud of this and once again this gave me the opportunity to meet people that I had only been able to tweet previously. Mark Gallacher, Liam Martin and Paul Addicott were all great company on the night. I also had a quick hello with 401 marathons Ben who won the category.

DSC00331 3 Forts wise I met Phil Hall at about 3 miles in. We’d only talked to on social media previously so it was great to actually have a chat face to face. Likewise I met Paul Webster from Fareham Crusaders and even though he shot off into the distance we did see him on the out and back section. The views from Devil’s Dyke were amazing, miles of countryside in one direction and the coast in the other. It did rain towards the end but I’ll be back in 2018. My valuable lesson from the day was that walking more hills than usual was definitely the tactic to employ for our RTTK adventure because I finished in good shape due to a measured approach earlier.

DSC00352The elevation had us all walking at points including Dave, Kate and Lucy from the Crusaders who entered a number of the big five I’m reviewing. I also made a point of eating which I wouldn’t usually do on a marathon but with RTTK ahead it was a strategy we needed to get used to following. Cliff bars, jelly beans and nuts were all experimented with.

My RTTK preparation included a 25 mile run to Winchester with Del Roberts from On the Whistle who I hadn’t met before and who is currently training for the MDS. This nicely leads me into a very inspirational evening I shared when a number of us listen to Dr Dan Roiz de Sa at an event organised my Absolute Running. Dr Dan specialises in extreme climate endurance and works closely with disabled athletes, usually ex military. He ran the Marathon Des Sables in 2017 with double amputee Duncan Slater.

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This inspiring evening also meant as a consequence of my blogging it, I ran in the following weeks with James Yeardley (Fareham Crusaders & MDS finisher) as well as chatted on social media with Tom Evans (the UK’s endurance rising star, who came 3rd overall !!) Talking with these people who have achieved so much really does fire you up for your challenges.

Consequently I raised over £300 for Walking with the Wounded as part of my RTTK run.

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RTTK was 53 miles, twelve hours and six minutes of my life that I will never forget. I measured my efforts early on and when Paul pushed on at about 22 miles that was when the day really started. I would like to thank Cat Underwood for her vocal support along the way and the organisers for the attention to detail that flowed seamlessly between the start and finish.

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I will leave the link to my blog from the day here because I simply can’t summarise what went through my mind and how the day panned out in a couple of paragraphs. Suffice to say I think that day was my finest in 30 years of running. I was also very proud that the organisers asked to use my blog in their 2018 race promotions. Read my Blog here

The Purbeck marathon was my 4th big race of 2017. I’d heard lots of great reports from Nikki Yeo and a number of other runners so Paul and I set off for Dorset to see what all the fuss was about. The coastal location and rolling cliffs meant we were in for both a visual and leg straining experience.

coastThis photo from Dave Fuller above and Paul and Ben’s below give you a flavour of the hills 🙂

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The coastal section was breath taking and once we came inland the hills just kept on giving. At around two thirds through I joined Essex Julie and Devon Chris. I don’t think Julie will mind me saying but I heard her before I saw her 🙂 #classic Essex. At this stage Nikki also caught us up. The next few miles were very hilly but also very entertaining. Thanks Chris, Julie & Nikki. With a bottle of cider as part of the goody bag it was another great race.

The remaining weeks of 2017 weren’t as full of running as they should have been but this didn’t stop me entering the Portsmouth coastal 50K.

On the run into the coastal ultra I guest blogged with Winchester Bloggers and look forward to attend a get together with both them and Portsmouth Bloggers on different dates early in 2018.

I’m proud that I was shortlisted in Runultras Best Blog during December too.

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The coastal ultra started in the cold early hours of the morning and ended in light rain but the 31 miles were made so much more enjoyable with the amount of runners that I saw racing as well as spectating. Fareham Crusaders male and female captains Paul and Mel also deserve mentioning here for their motivation.

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Meeting Craig from the clothing line Runr and Spencer from Centurion running also added to the day. The shingle sections were testing but the support was amazing. Special thanks must go to Hayley from Gosport RR and her tambourine !!

It’s difficult just mentioning a certain amount of people when our running community is so wide spread, whether it be the local clubs or the wider twitter runners and bloggers. Thanks to everyone that has helped make this a great running and blogging year.

I run off road because it makes me feel free. It’s a combination of mindfulness and challenging your efforts while pushing your limits. Running through the countryside is so rewarding but running it with friends is even better.

Once again thanks to Paul Coates who I train with the most. Thanks for the lifts and photos but most of all thanks for your company mate.  This is Paul, Nikki and me before the coastal ultra and thanks to Nikki for the early morning photo above.

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If you have enjoyed reading my review there’s still time to vote in the 2018 Running Awards Best Blog. This link will take you to the Publications and Online section, then its the Blog section and scroll down to irunoffroad.

So VOTE here

Many thanks for reading in 2017 and see you on the trails in 2018. I’m also excited for RED January (Run every day). Happy New Year !!

Roger

Doctor Dan really is “the man” !!

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Last week I had the pleasure and privilege to attend a talk from Doctor Daniel Roiz de Sa (Dr Dan). The location for this inspirational evening was Absolute Running’s fitness studio. Dr Dan specialises in Sport and Exercise medicine as well as activities in extreme weather climates. Dan is CMO at Gosport’s Institute of Naval Medicine, not that far from our local running shop, Absolute Running (AR). The evenings presentation was wide ranging but with a bias towards his work with the amazing Duncan Slater (athlete & double amputee) on the 250K Marathon des Sables (MDS).

Nick from Absolute Running is always keen to promote local endeavours and especially ex service personnel, so, with Duncan being ex RAF, this is how the evening came about.

Dr Dan has been involved in expeditions to the South Pole with Duncan, Prince Harry and other ex servicemen, various Olympians as they prepared for the Rio games, including Jonny & Alistair Brownlee and numerous other supporting roles for climate related extreme challenges. However, as he mingled with us and wrestled with his laptop I.T. issues you’d never of guessed that he was the key note speaker. It’s often the case that the people who have achieved so much are actually quite unassuming.

As Dan ran through the format of the evening his passion shone through and as an audience, we were captivate by his every word. The second central theme of the night was the charity that Duncan and Dan worked with on this project, Walking with the Wounded . WWTW was set up to help and promote the transition of ex servicemen back into the workplace. The admission money for the evening was being donated and the link above tells you more about their work.

The video below shows Dr Dan’s heat chamber and the special guest who popped down to Gosport to wish a fellow adventurer well. Dan can be seen letting Duncan into the chamber and explaining what to expect !! We learnt that diet, acclimatisation and lots of data was complied to give everyone their best chance possible, no stones were left unturned !!

Dan’s role was not only to complete the 250K (six marathons in six days) but to run ahead of Duncan so as to be there for any medical requirements. The nature of the event is that you are self sufficient with only water being provided throughout the running and tents as your overnight accommodation. This meant Dan’s pack included spare parts for Duncan’s ground breaking prosthetic legs as well as medical supplies, on top of what he needed to complete the race.

The MDS challenge is a constant battle with the sand dunes, exposed wide open flats, temperatures of 40 & 50 C and wind storms. Billed as the toughest footrace in the world the demands of the Moroccan environment would be too much for the vast majority of us but the combination of determination and willpower really came across as Dan showed us photos of dunes that had rope to pull on, because they were so steep !!

Dan left us with no illusions that the organisers will dnf (did not finish) you without too much compassion so this weight of responsibility must have been immense with Dan also trying to mange his own self preservation. Naturally it goes without saying that Duncan’s efforts were bordering on super human as the first double amputee to finish.

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Along with Dan and Duncan local ultra runner James Yeardley from my club Fareham Crusaders had also benefited from Dan’s heat chamber training so it was great to have a chat with him at Fareham Leisure Centre after a Crusaders training night recently.

This blog wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Tom Evans. From the minute Dan told us Tom’s story there was a sense of excitement and real anticipation in his voice. Tom is a Captain in the Welsh Guards and surprised everyone, not least the local favourites, when he came 4th on the first day. Tom eventually finished on the podium in 3rd place which is the best position any European runner has ever achieved. He was running for WWTW and naturally has catapulted himself into the marathon and ultra world with this performance. I suspect Tom will be seeing a lot more of Dr Dan !!

The royal seal of approval was given to Duncan on his completion of the MDS by Prince Harry, so Tom, James and Dr Dan can all say that they beat the desert.

princetweet A number of interesting questions were asked at the end and a heart felt round of applause completed a very motivational evening. Thank you Dr Dan.

We finished at 9pm, I said goodnight to a few of the local runners and asked Dan if he was ok with me writing this blog. Thanks must also go to Nick Carter of AR for organising the night and I think it’s fair to say that we all left feeling that we were capable of “so much more” !!

Finally, AR’s Nick has a series of Red Sofa interviews and this 9 minute episode is a measure of the respect and interest everyone had for the challenge that lay ahead.

Feedback ………. thanks very much Tom.

Tom

Ordnance Survey visit #getoutdoors

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This week I was lucky enough to be invited to the Ordnance Survey (OS) HQ for a tour of their mapping facility and to find out more about their campaign to get people outdoors. Myself and other “outdoor” bloggers have been seen encouraging people to do just that so it was interesting to hear their thoughts as well.

We followed a surveyor outside the building to see how he mapped the area “on foot” and then we heard that their airplanes cover a third of the UK every year taking photos with their 196 mega pixel camera !! The images are then combined (some in 3D) and processed along with inputs from the cartographers to arrive at the final product of their OS paper maps or the OS Maps download which is your digital guide to the countryside. As well as the OS having a twitter account they now also have an OS Leisure account too that’s used to support their #getoutdoors campaign.

We had an interesting and informative few hours with the OS guys and what really struck a cord with me was the slide they showed us listing the benefits of #getoutside.

Exposure to more sunlight hours, fresh air, the sights and sounds of the countryside, exercise – whether it be walking, running, cycling etc. The satisfaction of knowing you have made a positive impact on your health as well as probably meeting new friends while you are out. As a spin off once your feel healthier you will probably eat healthier so it’s a positive spiral. When you realise weight loss and stress reduction are natural spin offs then it’s a win/win.

As runners we take most of the above for granted because it’s our hobby, our sport, so keep spreading the word “Running Bloggers”. Live to run, run to live lower !!!

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My Sunday run was a steady 9 miles with the Solent Half marathon in mind next week. The Solent run is all tarmac rather than off road but it follows a very scenic route through the New Forest so that’s why I chose to run it.

The training run I followed today had a similar combination of tarmac rather than trails but if you choose your roads you can still have views to inspire you while you run. The changing colours of Autumn were very evident today, not to mention the conkers and falling leaves. I did 9.4 miles today and because I’m a trail runner at heart I saw no need to run 9.5 or 10 just to round it up ….. ha, ha ….. I can hear other runners saying “no” you have to round up 🙂 ok, it’s a personal choice thing.

In summary, it’s just great to be #outdoors.

If you have enjoyed reading my blog can I ask you please to vote for it in the Running Awards. The link is here http://therunningawards.com/vote/109/110#vote

Many thanks. You do have to register but it’s all quite painless !!