Portsmouth Coastal Marathon – A Christmas Cracker !!

maaDecember 22nd marked the 10th Believe and Achieve Portsmouth Coastal Waterside marathon and as you can see Fareham Crusaders running club (FCRC) were well represented. Throughout most of the race I ran with Mel, Ed, Jim, Trevor, Tracey and Dave pictured above but this was only the tip of the iceberg for local runners that we ran with and that created a special atmosphere thorough the day.

The 50K ultra starting time was at 8.05am followed by the marathon at 8.35 and with the beauty of the race being an out and back route this gave us a huge amount of scope for festive cheer and supporting each other at different points on the way. The high fives and banter were in plentiful supply !!

Our day started with a biting wind coming in off the sea and the usual race day toilet queues !! However, with us being right on the coast we were rewarded with a beautiful mornings sunrise. Thank you to Paul Coates for this photo.

Southsea marathon running

I made my way down to the start area to try and see some running friends before the ultra commenced. I saw Hayley, Ben and Richard from Gosport Runners but missed the two Paul’s and Nikkie from Fareham. With so many running today it was going to be a bit of a lottery as to who I saw and who I didn’t but it really underlines what a great coming together this event is for the local endurance community.

The Pyramids leisure complex is a great location for all your pre race needs what with baggage, race numbers and trade stalls all being gathered in the warmth of a large venue. I had a chat with Craig from the clothing and accessories Runr  company and then it was time to head for the marathon start.

As you can see from my Strava details the marathon actually came to 26.7 miles but who’s counting !! The course is essentially a trip along the seafront followed by a huge horseshoe around Langstone Harbour and then the return journey is the same but in reverse.

The 74 Kudos thumbs up are a mark of our local running community and how supportive they are. Thank you.


The 5.03 timing gives away how long it took me so the rest of this blog will chart my journey. The time was one of my slower marathons but some days are more about the experience than the race.

Our initial mile and a half along the seafront was full of chatter and anticipation especially seeing as the wind was clearly behind us which ultimately meant the last mile and a half it would be against us !! Deep Joy.

Passing Eastney swimming pool and public toilets a few people were already popping in, I guess a nervous wee is all part of the marathon experience ūüôā

We weaved our way through a number of streets that are parallel with the harbour area, again I took note of this because as a consequence we’d be running on the harbour mud on our return leg. One additional obstacle was a lady vacuuming her car with the extension lead across the pavement. Nothing unusual about that I hear you say, well, apart from the fact that she was doing it in her dressing gown !!

Once out onto the coastal path I felt much more at home with the combination of compacted gravel and mud along with a trademark of this course, “puddles” . The previous weeks rain had meant they were topped up nicely and rather than complain about splashed trainers and legs I was just thankful we didn’t have a wet 3,4,5 hours ahead of us.

Phil Hoy from Second Wind Running whistled by me at this stage due mainly to him starting late !! He would eventually finish 116th out of 850 so he must have overtaken hundreds of runners,  quite literally. I shouted encouragement and he waved as he disappeared into the distance.

Passing behind the Harvester pub parallel with the Eastern Road I explained where we were heading, to a couple of London runners. The nature of the harbour is that you can see across to where the 13 mile turning point is from about 3 miles in !!

Farlington Marshes meant we were at around 5.5 miles and it was great to see Mike Harper marshalling us through the car park then, a mere 500 metres later, Jamie Hurrel also of FCRC cheering us on as we ran by. When I say us, this loosely describes the people I mentioned at the beginning of my blog plus FCRC Karen, all within two or three hundred metres of each other but the order was constantly changing after feed stations.

The next section towards Hayling Bridge is the muddiest and also has sections of broken concrete to navigate as well as leg sapping shingle. Around this point we were cheered on by Emma, Nick and a number of other Gosport RR guys. Thanks for the encouragement. Once onto the bridge we were 10 miles in and the leading marathon runner was heading in our direction.

From this point on I saw Mark Overton who ultimately finished 7th in the marathon in a time of 3.05 who I know from South Downs Way running and that opened the floodgates for numerous runners I know. Richard and Stephen from Film My Run both placed in the marathon top 60, then came the 50K runners. Emyln Hughes from FCRC who finished 10th in the Ultra ran by with Dan Del Piccolo not far behind and Roman and Ben from Gosport fairly soon after.

The faces continued but unfortunately the track became boggy and waterlogged so more attention was needed on foot placement and less on face spotting. I saw Richard Law from Gosport and my friend Deb from Sussex during this sock soaking section and then it was time to turn around and face the same mud and puddles from where we’d come from. Apologies to anyone that I passed but missed saying hello !! I must have run near Dr Dan, and Tracey Slade but didn’t spot them.

Mile 15 saw a chunk of inspiration with not only a number of my Crusader friends catching me up after a longer stay at the feed station than mine but also these two young lads spreading their Christmas Cheer. Yes, 26 .7 miles carrying fully decorated xmas trees. Hats off to you lads. What was also impressive was the continuous positive feedback they received from all the runners nearby.

Christmas tree

Knowing that we’d run through the worst of the mud and water and were heading back to Hayling bridge I could now start to consider the last ten miles. I said hello to Kim Carter from Gosport RR and we agreed we were “getting it done” marathon wise. My longest training runs in the last three months have been 18,19 and 20milers. Frankly that isn’t enough running them only once but considering I’d lost a lot of motivation prior to that three months then the next two hours would test my mental resolve as well as fitness.

Challenging yourself is why we run, I don’t think the pace is actually relevant it’s your own personal battle.

Before crossing the bridge I spotted the group of my FCRC friends that I’ve mentioned. I’d already filled both my two 500ml soft flasks earlier so I had plenty of fluid and I still had gels and energy bars so I bypassed the feed station and pressed on. This would become a feature of the next few miles with the gang catching me and then me catching them.

To be fair a couple of the group were having some “issues” so they weren’t running at their usual pace but it helped me having regular ironic chats with friends as well as passed and caught each other with banter.

Returning through the muddier and uneven sections on the outskirts of Havant I concentrated on picking the best lines possible and was thankful I’d been on a few training runs to familiarise myself. Once again Emma Noyce from Gosport RR cheered us on as we passed by, thanks Emma.

I chatted with FCRC Mel Seddon and we discussed our preparations for the race. Mel is an accomplished regular endurance runner and she was very encouraging which spurred me on. I’ve had a hit and miss year but its the enthusiasm of your fellow off road runners that reignites your passion for what you do.

The 20 mile point came and went and occasional short walks were employed. Reaching Farlington Marshes again meant there were about 5.5 miles left and it was great to see Del Roberts from On the Whistle running who kindly shouted encouragement and took this photo. Thanks Del.

pcm6.5Pressing on for the next two and a half miles I was starting to stiffen up but I was pleased to keep a slow but purposeful jog !! More ultra runners were now starting to pass me and in a way this spurred me on because they weren’t running a lot faster than I was.

The last feed station came and went and the short section of harbour mud beckoned at around 24 miles. Yes it was muddy, yes there was seaweed and yes I walked !! I could feel cramp setting in so I decided it would be better to try and walk it off.

The smelly mud motivated me to start running again because as we know time and tide wait for no man and to be honest the tarmac / paving of the seafront came as a huge relief. Yes the wind was against me and yes I walked a bit but the end was in sight. Southsea seafront often has people out on Winter walks and I bet everyone of them was thinking who are these muddy sweaty people ? Well, we are proud of our mud and sweat, it was what we came for ūüôā

FCRC Karen and Jim had forged ahead but as I crossed the line, even though I felt a bit light headed, I was very pleased to have completed 26.7 miles and my 22nd marathon.

I collected my medal but my overriding need was just to sit down ha ha !! After a few minutes gathering myself and my thoughts I concluded what a great day it had been and I ought to stand up and see who I could talk with.

No sooner than I’d stood up my great running buddy Paul Coates, who was completing his ultra 50K, arrived, closely followed by some of the FCRC marathon gang and ultra Nikki and Paul Pickford. We chatted, said hello to others and Paul added a clip of video coverage talking with me to add to his gopro account of the day. Here we are with out good friend Teresa from Second Wind Running “kind of” photo bombing us !!

marathon runningBecause Teresa is our mate I’ve tracked down a second photo :-) Happy Birthday for the 29th too !! A rose between two thorns.

pcm12Marathon Madness it says on the medal, yes they probably are correct !! Thanks to Rob Piggott and his Believe and Achieve team that hosted the half, full and ultra.

As I collected my kit bag I had a chat with Matt from Runr and Dave Fuller from our club before heading off home for a soak in the bath !!!

A great day with so many running friends. Our local running community is what makes running special. My running isn’t a hobby its a passion and sharing it with like minded people is what makes us all “Weekend Warriers” on this Christmas Cracker of an event.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year



59.59 and beyond : Running for more than an hour


I’ve set my garmin watch so that after 59 minutes and 59 seconds all is see are¬†the hours and minutes. It’s curious that once I can’t see the seconds¬†then I¬†know I’m on a descent lengths run but¬†more importantly¬†I’ve transitioned into “time on my feet” which is necessary for both building strength and confidence.

A large part of running for me is to escape the pressures and expectations of life. Lets face it, they aren’t going away and naturally they are important but its great to put them on the back burner for a while. Not seeing the seconds flashing past has a calming effect !!

Stress in its many forms can be positive but time out is very important in getting that life balance which so many of us seek.

This Saturdays plan was for twenty miles and to be home by twelve noon. The twenty miles were in preparation for the Portsmouth Coastal marathon, twelve noon was quite simply for lunch with my family. It’s also worth saying here that its worth letting people know where you are running just in case a planned run¬†doesn’t go to plan.

I kept my route simple, ten miles out and ten miles back with a mix of terrain both underfoot and in terms of elevation. The 600 feet elevation was an attempt to add an extra degree of effort which will help when running the flat marathon. The route was simply to enjoy the autumn colours.

Autumn colours Run trails running blog blogger
Autumn Leaves Trail running

The rain that greeted me for the first hour meant I could trial wearing a few layers as well as a jacket and cap. This might sound like overkill but it’s always good to assess how you feel with various combinations of kit and then you know what suits you on certain days. After all you need to know what’s comfortable if you are out for a while. Vaseline can also be helpful on friction points like toes and underarms ūüôā

When I’m running for longer time periods I break it down into either time slots or landmarks that I’m aiming to reach, this way it all seems more achievable. Even the out and back approach means that would probably be an hour and three quarters out and the same back, which immediately sounds less than three and a half hours straight !!

Running for longer periods certainly helps me with my mental resilience, it’s laying down an experience that can be called upon in future weeks. I’ve also made a point of running a similar route but adding on additional miles form previous weeks i.e. 7 out and 7¬†back, then 9 and 9 and¬†now 10 and 10.

As each hour ticks by I also find a growing level of self belief which in turn boosts your anticipation for the remainder of your run. Naturally this needs an even pace and in many cases a slower pace if you are extending the time you’ve been out previously.

Distance running is as much about mental belief as it is about pure pace.

Naturally where you are running ought to be inspiring because if you are committing yourself to a few hours then you want all of your senses to be rewarded.

I notice I smile more on longer runs because¬†by definition there’s more to take in. This run brought me into contact with the beautiful autumn scenery as well as horse riders, mountain bikers, walkers and the occasional squirrel.

Having enough resources in terms of food and drink is important and I always include a “get out of jail card” such as a garage or local shop that I can pop into in the later stages of my run if required. This is were a good running vest comes into its own. I drink squash and combine it with SIS gels (orange) and SIS Go energy bars (banana fudge).

Trail running trails run runner off road blog blogger blogs
Running vest

The waistcoat nature of a running vest means numerous pockets and easy access to your drinks. The majority of the time there’s no need to stop which is invaluable as I find continuous motion is much better than stops and starts. That said there’s always time for a photo of where I’ve been and not just the washing line which my vest was hanging on ūüôā

People often say to me what do you think about, well, the very nature of being on the move means your surroundings are constantly changing so I alternated between quiet country lanes, muddy tracks, uphill, downhill, wet and dry weather conditions and then an occasional horse, along with like minded people who I see getting outdoors. All of which are thought provoking.

Distance running¬†for a certain amount of time can almost become hypnotic especially on solo runs but I’m a strong believer¬†that what you miss out on, conversation wise, you benefit with inner satisfaction when completing a long run on your own steam. That said having company does make the miles pass quicker.

Naturally everyone needs to build up their miles and even an extra mile a week with occasional shorter runs, to ease back, can help. Do what suits you.

One other factor when considering being out for a while is the mud that had collected on my trainers and the back of my legs which is always amusing to whoever might see me on the final tarmac mile and a half of my runs.

So in summary, a long run will help you sleep at night¬†due to the efforts but you’ll also retire knowing that your mood has been lifted, your abilities improved, your confidence boosted and the knowledge that you can be proud of what you’ve achieved.

This achievement is time orientated but not necessarily the pace you ran at, its the time you were out for.

Thanks for reading


Full Steam Ahead !! 14 miler


After last weekends eighteen mile run I decided to drop back to fourteen this week and prepare myself for a twenty / twenty one miler next weekend.

With HMS Prince of Wales being in dock at the moment this was a perfect excuse to run down and take a photo, after all its not everyday you see an aircraft carrier !!

My mood has been buoyant after¬†the success of a¬†three hour stint last week and coupled with this I’m into my third week of eating better too. I’m convinced its having an effect¬†as I definitely feel that I have more energy.

I’m taking full advantage of the vegetarian options at work and alternating this with jacket potatoes and side salads. After recently watching the Game Changers Netflix film meat consumption and a plant based diet are topics I’m looking into both for my general health as well as supporting my running.

These small steps I’ve outlined, when combined with taking three pieces of fruit¬†to work as well, can only help !! When I saw a vegan sausage roll in Greggs while picking something up for my daughter I couldn’t resist buying one and I’m pleased to report it was quite tasty. I saw this week that Chris Froome is the latest high profile athlete to follow this route. I’ll keep you posted.

Trail running healthy run runners trails off road

Todays run¬†featured a mile or so¬†of¬†muddy field running and then after that it was flat and tarmac. Now, flat and tarmac aren’t my preferred option but I¬†decided I couldn’t miss the aircraft carrier. My pace was good initially and I was pleased not to drop below ten minute mileing for all fourteen.

After all, ten minute miles will give you a 4.22 marathon and at this stage I’d take that. The early chill meant I ran with my egloves and as the sun began to appear it was one of those bright and cold mornings that keep you focused.

The six miles down to my viewing point were even paced and I saw a number of people driving through Gosport on route to the Gosport Half marathon which, as usual, was fully booked. Congratulations to everyone who ran it.

The return leg of my run meant heading for Stubbington and avoiding the fields because quite frankly I was moving well so I decided to work on maintaining my pace.

It’s gratifying when your pervious weeks efforts seem to be paying off and I kept¬†a steady pace.

running runner irunoffroad endurance strava mud off road
Strava trail running

As you look at my Strava photo you may wonder why I’ve added the phrase “Jolly Roger”¬†, well I was pleased with my run and as coincidence would have it I’d passed a pub near Priddy’s Hard with¬†just that name. Fait …. ha ha !!

ship2With five weeks to the Portsmouth Coastal marathon I’m pleased with my progress and¬†with the Naval aspect from today the phrase “Full Steam Ahead” seemed quite apt for my blog.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone that read my “Life Affirming” blog from last week. I had a lot of positive feedback which is both pleasing and hopefully may have inspired others to #getoutside and experience the joys of exercise in the fresh air ūüôā

Thanks for reading



A Life Affirming run


The definition of life affirming is, quite simply, an emotional uplifting effect. My eighteen miles on Saturday were just that. This run was my longest in four months, both in terms of distance and time and it helped me to answer some questions that have been nagging me.

“Why do I run” might sound peculiar as I’ve been running for over thirty years but¬†perhaps its only when you are questioning yourself that you truly come up with the answer that’s in your heart of hearts.

I’m in the later stages of training for the Portsmouth Coastal marathon and with six weeks to go I needed a three hour run.¬†That’s exactly my point, “needed”, not wanted to or¬†was looking forward to, more that it was necessary.

However, by the time¬†I finished I’d achieved much more than eighteen miles and three hours on my feet, I’d tapped into my self belief, self confidence and self esteem. In short I’d improved both my mental and physical health.


Our bird bath with a thin covering of ice.

As I left the house it was a cold morning and on reflection I should probably¬†have started with gloves but in a funny way being cold heightens your senses. I’d made one concession to the cold and that was to wear my favourite Helly Hansen long sleeve base layer. This one garment says “long cold run” as soon as I put it on. It’s a comfort blanket in many ways because I know I’ll be warm and protected from the elements.

As I left the tarmac pavements at a mile and a half I was presented with an Autumnal pallet of coloured leaves laid out in front of me. Natures gold, yellow, brown, green and copper patchwork once again heightened my senses as I took it all in.

In recently weeks I’ve been working¬†on¬†increasing my miles¬†and its days like this that make you appreciate why you commit yourself to marathon training, you feel alive !!

With each passing season I realise I’m closer to sixty than fifty and that maybe my most athletic years are behind me but in distance terms there’s no reason why I can’t improve. Having running as both your hobby and your passion means fitness, health and even longevity are all being given a helping hand.

Rtail running off road irunoffroad trails run runner
Meon Valley trail

With it being Remembrance Sunday the tree lined old railway track, that heads out of Wickham, almost looked like soldiers standing on parade either side of me. The wind picked up briefly and shook the branches. I had multi-coloured leaves falling down on me as I ran through, it was beautiful.

The smile on my face lasted for the rest of my run, through fifteen miles which had been my longest recent run and through the rain that met me in the last two miles. That rain didn’t dampen my spirits and my abiding memory from this run, along with the¬†falling leaves,¬†was what crossed my mind in the rain.

“You’ve still got it Rog”, was what I said to myself out loud.¬†This may sound a little arrogant but trust me I wasn’t running fast enough to be showing off !!¬†This wasn’t a mojo moment this was¬†emotional. I connected with my running ūüôā

I was living my running, I was uplifted and it was life affirming.

Go for a run and find your positive place !!

Thanks for reading


Knott Kinetics : Run & Injury Prevention talk

kkGroupI recently attended a talk given by Knott Kinetics¬†of Gosport. The phrase “prevention is better than cure”¬†was¬†their topic.¬†The evenings venue and hosts were Knott Kinetics and more specifically Lawrence Knott, the managing director and owner, who was accompanied by two other guest speakers, Edyta Sikorska – Sports Therapy & Chas Staines – Exercise Rehabilitation, both of whom work with Lawrence.

The evening was a joint venture with Nick Carters 545 RunClub that’s a free Wednesday night organised run in and around Gosport. The choice¬†of a 5K or 3K run meaning all abilities are catered for, it’s free and it’s most definitely all inclusive. Sadly I couldn’t make the 5.45 start time but plenty did, as can be seen in the photo above, with Lawrence front and centre of the predominantly Gosport Road Runners !!

Naturally as a running blogger I’m an interest observer and clearly not qualified in this field but I’m going to try my best to pass on some of the great advice we listened to. I have attempted to fill the odd gap here and there as I simply couldn’t remember all of the advice we heard. If I’ve got anything wrong, bear with me !!

As a quick background Knott Kinetics treat beginners through to elite athletics with sports therapy, massage, exercise rehabilitation, strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, osteopathy and acupuncture. Complementing this they offer yoga and palates too.


The main reasons I was draw to come along this evening was¬†after reading on their website that they wanted to promote pro active healthcare i.e.¬†“you” becoming a better version of you and¬†secondly the phrase, I’m sure you will agree that we can all do more to help ourselves. This kind of self help encouragement strikes me as very forward thinking.

Now, ask any runner what their biggest fear / annoyance / frustration is and invariably they will say, being injured !! But, we can minimise the risks by taking “ownership” of our actions, after all it’s better to prevent an injury than have to recover from one. Being injured affects quite a wide circle of our friends and family because they have to put up with us ….. ha ha !!!

I made sure I was right at the front of their exercise studio to get the best possible seat as the presentations started.


Pictured above is Edyta talking to us about the Achilles tendon, how it worked and what could be done to strengthen it.¬†The¬†talk combined some serious and some amusing demonstrations by her fellow contributor Chas, as she used him to illustrate her talk. Naturally this topic was quite specific were as Lawrence and Chas had wider ranging subjects¬†which I’ve decided to concentrate on. Thank you Edyta I now know considerably more about my Achilles and¬†its function.

Lawrence was up next and he underlined the nature of what the business was trying to achieve with some of the principals that I’ve already mentioned.¬†At this point I have to say the combination of¬†a welcoming reception,¬†a good sized studio, weights, cardio machines and ¬†naturally the treatment rooms all make for a very professional combination.


Lawrence concentrated on the core principle of running form and what can be done around optimising the best foot position. Naturally as runners we all bring different attributes, some helpful, others not son much but everything is correctable.

Working from the initial thought that each running stride is sending a shock wave of four times your body weight up your frame then this will inevitably have implications for your ankles, tendons, muscles, knees, hips, back and even neck !!

The talk lead us through having the correct footwear for our running as well as the possibility of using orthotics to correct flat feet. Your feet will both propel you forward as well as take the impact of every running stride. Naturally shoe choices are a huge factor in staying injury free.

Do you pronate, if so you’ll need shoes that have flexible soles and padding for the areas of impact.¬†Are you an over pronator ? you’ll need support for your arches or maybe you’re a supinator then you’ll need cushioning on the rigid outer edge of your foot. Finally, if you are a terminator you probably wont even wear shoes but you’ll make return trips to the clinic …. “I’ll be back” !!

We discussed that balance and strength are key to good form and this was a pre runner to what Chas would talk about later.

Lawrence also included the audience by challenging us to stand on one leg and test our stability. I liked the humorous side of his delivery as he overemphasised bad habits and the effects of poor form.

Listening to¬†the mechanics of running certainly made me consider my posture and it’s easy to see¬†how as we increase mileage then overuse of¬†any incorrect element will¬†eventually lead to injuries. Stand tall, chest open and keep your upper body and pelvis stable.

Warm up, have stability, strength and balance, combine this with the correct running posture and then economy and efficiency will follow on, leading to faster times and longer periods of uninterrupted running.

Finally I think its fair to say that we all run forwards !! This naturally means that we work some muscles more than others and this can lead to muscle imbalance and an increased risk of injury. This imbalance was were Lawrence lead onto Chas as the final speaker.


Chas gave a compelling talk as to the necessity of building a good foundation of strength and conditioning as the cornerstone to success. One of his opening comments was that given a choice would we run for half an hour or use strengthening exercises ? He knew we’d all be running but he then tried to convince us otherwise.

How many of us have lost our running form in the later stages of a race because we are tired. Strengthening your core and conditioning can help both improve and maintain your running form, which in turn, makes you more efficient. Increasing your strength increases your endurance and will prevent injuries.

Chas mentioned that both people new to running as well as seasoned runners should view strength training as part of your total running package and if you don’t then you could be missing out on various gains that improve your technique and lower the risk of injury.

Strength training or resistance can be achieved with free weights, rubber bands, general gym machines and bodyweight exercise. The good stress that this puts our body under forces it to adapt and boost its ability to take on extra loads.

Stronger legs, arms and shoulders will all contribute to a stronger core and as mentioned earlier an imbalance of the muscles can also be worked on. Chas takes a Monday evening class at 6.30pm and is also available to be booked for individual assessments.

Strength training our muscles and bones will naturally help fight off stress fractures which are a common overuse injury. The training doesn’t all need to be in the gym and it doesn’t need to take up hours. Naturally advice from¬†an expert like Chas is recommended as to which exercises suit you the best.


Chas was keen to underline that every top athlete uses strength training¬†so if it helps them then there’s every chance it can help us. That concluded the talks and¬†we finished with “any questions” which actually went on¬†for nearly ten minutes and was a testament to all the speakers being eager to help.

The audience was mainly Gosport Road Runners but I do hope my blog will be of interest to all the runners in our local area as well as further afield.

Huge thanks to Lawrence and Nick for organising this run/talk night as well as Edyta and Chas for their thought provoking talks.

I was impressed with future possible talks that Knott Kinetics are looking to host such as mental wellbeing, nutrition and multisport training so keep your eyes peeled !!

Thanks for reading



Langstone Harbour running

Image-13The coastal path that follows Langstone Harbour makes up a large proportion of the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside marathon. This event is in its tenth year now and has built up quite a cult status what with the race being the weekend before Christmas.

My training had to be put on hold last week due to a back twinge so the aim of todays run was to get back to double figures.

This blog isn’t so much about the ten miles of running but more about my observations of the area with its tidal mudflats and seabirds.

Over the recent years I’ve looked at my running from a different¬†viewpoint. Yes, I run¬†to the best of my ability but, no I¬†don’t beat myself up over my pace.

Running gives me¬†a sense of wellbeing and mindfulness purely due to the locations that I pass through and the sights that I take in.¬†Photography also allows me to express the enjoyment that I¬†experience while I’m¬†out running. Stopping for a moment¬†to¬†take a photo means that I can both look back on my adventures as well as share them with others.

Image-14The two photos that I’ve used so far really capture just why¬†I chose to enter the Believe and Achieve marathon. Naturally the event has a Christmas buzz with many¬†people wearing fancy dress and¬†with rum and mince pies on offer over the previous years these are also reasons for me to return having run the marathon and ultra options before.

The weather conditions this morning were perfect with no wind¬†and the water was as¬†flat as a mill pond. Race day may well be¬†a different matter !! It will definitely be colder in December but extra layers and gloves can remedy that. I love running on the “South Downs” but it’s also good to visit the coast on occasions.

Running next to the water¬†offers a completely different¬†experience to the hilly trails inland.¬†There’s something relaxing and hypnotic about running next to the sea.

My route took me along trails close to the seawall and with the mud flats to your right, the yachts moored out in the deeper channels and¬†wading birds¬†to watch¬†you¬†get¬†a sense that you’re travelling through daily coastal life.

The trail is fairly narrow with the exception of a tarmac section near Farlington marshes but the majority of the time there’s the smell of seaweed, occasional shingle¬†and the lapping of the water onto green¬†algae covered¬†rocks.

Virtually the only people I saw were fishermen who were¬†out early morning bait digging and it struck me that this was probably something they’d been doing for years. I do like to run through areas with some natural history and the old Hayling railway bridge at half way is a great example of this.

Image-15The clear water was a perfect mirror to the yachts masts and the individual supports of the long gone railway bridge were a reminder of times gone by. The low tide certainly brought in various birds that feast on the rich offerings. Their calls and chirping was a constant feature of my run.

Some sections of the coastal path are rough underfoot so it’s important¬†not to get too distracted with¬†your¬†sight seeing but overall the conditions¬†underfoot were good.

I’m thoroughly looking forward to a longer run along the coast path next week and as an added bonus I aim run earlier in an attempt to catch the sunrise.


Commit to get fit : 10 miles


My 2019 running has been quite hit and miss due to a number of¬†factors which I won’t bore you with. Todays ten miles were fantastic !! I really connected with my running, my surroundings and my¬†desire to commit. So, after a number of false starts I feel it’s time to focus on the remainder of the year.

I currently only have one race booked and that’s the Portsmouth Coastal marathon¬†which is¬†the weekend before Christmas. I may well enter some other races but the PCM is currently my goal.

Today was a game changer !! After a much better weeks sleep I woke at 7am, half an hour before the alarm and I said to myself, “lets make the most of it” and get up¬†!!

Driving out to Meonstoke only takes about twenty minutes but I used this time to ask myself what did I want to achieve. My conclusion was that I needed ten miles with as few distractions as possible and quite simply to soak up the sights and sounds of a relatively early countryside run.

I decided to run the three miles to West Meon village, follow the High Street up and down and then return to Exton for Beacon Hill. The secondary aim of today was to run past where I dropped out of Race to the King. My feelings were predominantly of frustration the last time I was there and I wanted to replace this with positivity.

Pace wasn’t a factor for today, I decided a sense of reconnecting was my main goal. As I joined the Meon Valley trail I immediately felt relaxed, almost as if I was¬†leaving¬†the old 2019 behind me and embracing the remainder of the year.

I didn’t feel I was running away from the stresses of my life, more that I was heading towards a better way of dealing with them.¬†Being¬†in a good place¬†really is the best way¬†to deal with¬†whatever life challenges you with. Running hasn’t¬†100% been my happy place this¬†year but I was determined to change this today.

I decided not to look at my gps stats but just to accept whatever came my way and take a photo if I thought it was a good reference point. My first photo was at about two miles in.



It always strikes me that the animals I see on my travels look happy. It’s a bright sunny day and they are grazing outdoors.¬†A simple existence and yet¬†that’s all I was aspiring to on my run, just to co exist with my surroundings.

As I reached the end of the trail (it’s an old railway line) the remnants of¬†West Meon station’s platform can be seen and I passed through a narrow footpath that takes you to the High Street. This path can’t be more than four feet wide and the walls look like the original stonework from the railway which opened around 1903.



I do enjoy running through history because I like to try and imagine what it would have looked like. My trip up and down the High Street took in the stores, the old post office, a butchers and a pub.

Returning towards Meonstoke I had¬†Exton in my thoughts. I’d clocked up¬†about five miles and was in a good steady rhythm. With few distractions¬†the countryside allows you to listen to your body. This might sound a little self indulgent but I find it¬†motivates me.

Even breathing means I’m pacing my effort, the¬†sound of my footsteps becomes a beat to tune into and you really are living every second because¬†its what you are concentrating on. The simple process of¬†following one stride after another.

Mindfulness and Wellbeing are¬†important to me¬†and I feel I’ve drifted away from them in recent months. Today I felt connected with what I wanted to achieve.

Heading through Exton and up Beacon Hill¬†I wasn’t even really thinking about when I dropped out of Race to The King in June.¬†I was too busy taking in what was around me. The stream that flows through the village, the flint walls, the birds song and the upcoming hill !!

I was pleased to keep a steady pace to the trig point at the top of Beacon Hill which is were my first blog photo was taken. The South Downs Way was made for blue skies and sunshine !! I can definitely say that the effort it took to reach the top of the hill was well rewarded.

The downhill return meant I could speed up and let myself go !! After a number of measured miles due to fitness restraints it’s good to just “run free” downhill.

So, what did I set out to achieve ?

A ten mile run (Tick), inspiration (Tick), mindfulness and wellbeing (Tick) but most of all the sense that I’d¬†thoroughly enjoyed and hour and three quarters of “me time”.¬†Running makes me happy and¬†it has a positive effect on the rest of my life.

I’m ready to¬†commit to¬†get fit with more training and deal better with¬†what every the rest of 2019 has in store. I promise future posts will be less about me and more about running …. ha ha !!

Thanks for reading


Hydration for Runners : Dr Dan


From right to left this photo shows Dr Dan, myself and Neil Jarrett along with a number of Gosport Road runners. The reason/excuse for us meeting in a pub was a talk by Dr Dan on hydration, hosted by Alton Sports, the 5.45 running club and the Four Ale Tap Room.

The 5.45 club is a Gosport running community initiative set up by Nick Carter. All are welcome to the Wednesday “quarter to six” run, whether you’re a club runner or not its an all inclusive invite. Additional to these runs are occasional visits to drinking establishments and talks that are arranged.

Gosport Road Runners (GRR) naturally form the majority of the group but I’ve always felt welcome as a visiting Fareham Crusader runner. Doctor Daniel Roiz De Sa is the Senior Medical Officer at the Institute of Naval Medicine in Gosport as well as a GRR runner. Hayley Sparshott (another GRR runner I know) was also there.

Unfortunately travel commitments ( I caught the bus) meant I couldn’t arrive early enough for the run but a good number of runners had set off from the Alton Sports shop (just up the road). So, a run, talk, real ales/cider and sandwiches …. “yes”, that’s my kind of night ūüôā !!

Our venue for the evening was the Four Ale Tap Room which had numerous beverages on offer considering its relatively small size. The atmosphere is friendly and the chap in charge was as knowledgeable and passionate about his ale as we are about our running. I had two pints of berry cider¬†which went down very well ūüôā


Now that I’ve set the scene I’ll try to summarise some of the points Dan made. Naturally Dr Dan is an expert in his field and has years of analysis to call on, I’m simply going on what I remember so please¬†bear this in mind¬†while reading !!

Summer running is a curious and ever changing sport. One week the temperatures can sore into the thirties and then another week the humidity can be just as sapping even if the temperatures are ten degrees less.

So, what’s the best way of coping ?? This depends on your age, height, sex, weight and conditions so bear this in mind too and just remember even the best athletes don’t always get it right … we’ll never forget Jonny Brownlee staggering towards the finish line in Mexico¬†due to¬†his heat exhaustion.

Running¬†when the¬†air temperature his hot will increase your core body temperature. The body sends more blood to circulate through your skin, this leaves less blood for your muscles which then increases your heart rate. If humidity is added to this, then sweat doesn’t easily evaporate and you’ll need to take action against dehydrating.


This photo from Race to the King shows the kind of hot Summers day that’s beautiful to look at but needs quite a lot of planning and thought¬†hydration wise.

Water not only makes up 60% of body weight in men and 50-55% in women but also regulates temperature. Water is lost in urine and sweat, so, to avoid dehydration you need to replace it regularly with both fluid and food. Water, sports drinks, soft drinks, tea and coffee are your obvious starting points and as a measure six to eight glasses of fluid are needed each day.

What I hadn’t considered was that you take in water from the food you eat. Some 20% of your total daily water intake comes from food with¬†fruit and vegetables being 80% water,¬†so eating “real food” on longer runs becomes important¬†as well as on a daily basis.

Becoming dehydrated usually includes a dry mouth, the start of a headache and worsening concentration. One other clear sign is when the colour of your urine becomes darker !!

So, keep well hydrated in the¬†build up to your race, stop drinking alcohol 48 hours before and don’t forget to have a drink as soon as you wake up on race day as well as an hour beforehand. Sipping on a regular basis while running is much more effective than drinking a large amount in one go and you are far less likely to need to go to the toilet !!

At this point I’d also like to mention reducing your single use plastic when drinking. I now take my cup and soft flasks whenever I run. I carry two 500ml flasks and refill them. Help save the planet too !!



Another factor to consider is where will you source your fluids from ? Races have feed stations but while out training include garages and shops for your top ups.


I’ve considered my fluids : Water – No calories, Low Fat Milk – nutrients & protein, Hot drinks – drink to suit and¬†Sports drinks – for activity beyond an hour, I¬†personally use SIS hydro tablets that you dissolve in 500ml¬†of water and these include electrolyte.

Other¬†practicalities that were also discussed were, avoid the mid day sun if possible, always wear suntan lotion, it’s personal choice but a visor or a cap can help and finally wear loose fitting wicked material¬†shorts and top¬†to prevent heat building up under your clothes.

Dan mentioned a number of athletes and personalities he’s help and to bring his experiences right up to date he told us he’d be working with celebrity SAS winner Wayne Bridge as he¬†prepares for the 2020 Marathon Des Sables. Wayne will be able to acclimatise in Dan’s heat chambers and be monitored but we can also acclimatise to the heat by running progressively longer each time during the build up to our chosen race.

The last time I listen to Dan was after his own personal 2017 MDS race and a talk that he gave on it. Dan raised sponsorship for Walking With the Wounded in 2017, Wayne will be in 2020 and I did for my Race to the King 2017 focus event so in a small way we have something in common.


So, it’s a huge thank you to Dan for the talk and the various¬†people that¬†helped to make it happen. Typically August seems to have settled into a cloudy 19 degrees but that’s still no excuse not to stay hydrated for your best efforts when running !!

Thanks for reading …. Roger

RTTK : My first DNF but 41 miles covered


Forest Gump once famously said “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never¬†know what you’re gonna get”. As I stood on the Race to the King (RTTK) start line this phrase crossed my mine.

The last six months have been a mixed bag with no races, varied training, occasional injuries and then the prospect of running from Slindon to Winchester, or at least the possibility !!

I ran RTTK in 2017 and finished in a respectable 12.06, that time clearly wasn’t realistic this year but you only live once so I decided “what the hell” lets go for it.

In the end I called time at 41.5 miles and Exton village, it was both a hard and an easy decision, in that I knew, enough was enough. The remainder of this blog charts how the day panned out. The race was emotional but most of all it was full of the great people that trail running attracts.

After a 4.45am alarm call and a 6.05am departure from Fareham train station myself, Paul, Jamie and Mark were taxi bound heading for Slindon. The sun was out and anticipation filled the air.

Once at the start venue we saw a number of familiar faces, Tracey, Zoe and¬†Sabrina from Fareham Crusaders, then Lee and Neil from Gosport and I was particularly pleased to meet Deborah who I talk to on twitter but hadn’t actually met.



Paul, Jamie, Neil and I set off at 7.45am with Lee and Mark already fast disappearing into the distance.

The initial mile and a half allowed for some overtaking so the field largely found its pace quite early on. The temperature was already warm and as Paul and Jamie eased away from me (not intentionally) I decided not to chase them but to run my own race at my own pace.

For regular readers you’ll know I like to take photos to show where I’ve been, the two photos above plus one more from the start were the only three I took through the whole day. Why ? Because I decided I had to give 100% concentration¬†on this attempt. Thanks to Paul Coates FCRC and Su Baldock from Gosport RR for the remaining photos ūüôā

As I approached the first pit stop at about 8 miles the scenery was breath taking, classic South Downs Way. It had been a long and gradual climb to reach the top of the Downs.


Each aid station has an amazing choice on offer and great marshals. I filled my 500ml soft flasks, grabbed a couple of energy bars and set out (they even had portaloos ).

By mile ten I was into a rhythum and was starting to contemplate what the rest of the day would hold. The sky was blue, the grass was a lush green and the white chalky paths made for a scenic contrast.

When running on your own it’s very easy to talk to yourself !! I commented out loud, “the heat¬†is certainly building” !! As I crossed the road at Cocking there’s a steep hill and three quarters up it I noticed Mel from our running club. Yes, she’d run past me and not noticed and likewise I hadn’t initially twigged it was¬†her.

The ironman tattoo on her calf and the Crusaders t shirt caught my eye, we discussed how these 12 miles or so had gone and then as the theme of the day would develop, she moved on ahead.

Around mile 13¬†I had my¬†second wake up call of the day with a pain in my hip. I ignored it for a while and then decided to use some deep heat. The second pit stop at 16 miles appeared and after a quick chat with Aaron from FCRC, refills and some spectacular Tuna sandwiches I set off again on the long uphill country lane opposite. It was also good to chat again to DiscoDeb as her twitter name says ūüôā

As with all climbs you may be walking (no one was running) but you can still be productive. I took my cap, sun tan lotion and more food out of my rucksack while walking with purpose !!

Once up on the Downs again a refreshing slight breeze helped but I decided to blast the hip pain with a double whammy. Paracetamol and more deep heat. By the woods up ahead and 18 miles I was hot and getting even more heated with the pain in my hip.

Granted the tablets hadn’t kicked in yet but¬†my frustrations¬†were heightened when¬†I couldn’t find were I’d put the deep heat. I had a paddy, emptied virtually all my rucksack onto the trail and there it was. A couple of passing runners asked if they could help but I assured them I was fine, I was lying, I was annoyed.

In situations like these, in the middle of no where, there isn’t much choice but to press on¬†so¬†I used a combination of running and walking. The irony of being pissed off is that passing runners sense your frustrations and pass with either a knowing “I’ve been there” nod or they genuinely want to help.

Around this time Sabriana and her husband overtook me and I wished them well.

The kindness of total strangers immediately brought me down to earth ūüôā I knew the remaining thirty odd miles well from this point as we approached the first of the two Beacon¬†Hills so I offered as much course knowledge advice as I could to everyone that enquired after my wellbeing. Trail runners are great people.


With Beacon Hill staring us in the face this also meant basecamp wasn’t too far away and even though we had a series of hills to master with Harting Down the 2.5 miles or so to the camp are largely shaded and downhill or flat, all of which I knew would lift my spirits.

Running into basecamp at about 23 miles it dawned on me I’d been running for over five hours and was on the verge of only the second marathon distance I’ve run in 2019. These facts gave me a boost and I left the camp with a renewed approach. I think I saw Tracey from FCRC here but I’m a little cloudy on that one ?? The multi-coloured flags were waving in a slight breeze which was very welcome.


The next coupe of miles were shaded which helped immensely as it was about 1pm by then and I was starting to get a headache. This could have been the heat or dehydration or stress with my hip but either way I needed a distraction to take my mind of it. My saviour was Su Baldock from Gosport Road Runners.

I’ve never met Su before, I just noticed she had a Gosport RR t shirt on.¬†I know lots of GRR runners and without exception they are all friendly. We initially chatted in general terms and then when I mentioned I had a blog she told me my 2017 RTTK¬†write up¬†had been essential reading for a number of¬†her fellow club mates which was very gratifying to hear.

As was the case for the whole race Su headed on in front of me and I set myself for the long gradual climb up¬†New Barn Lane and the steep incline through Queen Elizabeth Country Park. I kept my sense of humour by imagining the many times I’ve run this lane but in the opposite direction. I tried to recall all my running friends that have accompanied me in this area and again the trail running community spirit spurred me on.

Once through QECP the legendary Butser Hill presented itself.


Again I used the hill walk to eat and text my family to ensure they knew I was still alive even though it wasn’t all going to plan. Butser really hurt my hip, I was starting to suffer with the heat and to be honest I wasn’t in a good place. I knew the 31 mile pit stop was on top of the hill and I pondered on dropping out.

I’ve never DNF’d (Did not finish) so I refilled with liquids, flat diet coke¬†and peanut butter sandwiches (which I hate) but it was good to get proper food inside me as well as gels and snacks. I must mention another positive from this race in that there were no single use plastic cups so my refill bendy cup came into its own. Well done RTTK for tackling plastic issues.


I soldered on past the Sustainability Centre and down Salt Hill. The tough undulating¬†downhill played havoc with two sore toes I’d largely been ignoring¬†and for the first time in perhaps nine hours I actually stopped, sat down and contemplated what was my next step.

Yet again, the sound of a friendly trail running companion asking the way meant I could offer my local knowledge and consequently my mood was lifted. I told a few runners about the cold water tap at Meon Springs and their eyes lit up !! I poured more over my head than I drank ūüôā

Old Winchester Hill was a slow walk and I entered the pitstops with a resigned demeanour, I was close to packing it all in. Zoe from FCRC passed me and we said hello briefly but I knew the end was in sight. I could have asked to be signed out there and then but I felt I owed it to myself to reach 40 miles. I plodded on.

The trig point on Old Wincheter Hill is a favourite location of mine but it wasn’t today, I was getting moody and the day was catching up with me. On the descent my hips and toes hurt but more than anything I knew I wasn’t enjoying it.

I’ve mentioned before that I sing to myself when running and as I contemplated my situation The Clash “Should I stay or should I go” came to mind. It was time to go.

I rang my wife and she came out to pick me up near Exton. So, 41.5 mile in approaching eleven hours with various stops and it was all over. My first DNF in 30 years.

The final irony was we still needed to go to Winchester to pick up my kit bag and at the same time I could officially register dropping out.

It was the right decision and I haven’t changed my mind. I still love trail running ūüôā

Huge congratulations to everyone that finished. I managed 3/4’s of the distance on not enough training, a hot day and pain, others may have finished with a similar scenario but enough was enough for me.

I really appreciate the supportive comments that I’ve had on twitter, facebook and instagram from friends. I appreciate that they respected my decision and not one person offered sympathy because it wasn’t needed. I made the decision.


I’m proud of the 41.5 miles that I covered and yes, “I’ll be back” !!

5,000 calories and all but one of the big hills covered meant my appetite has gone crazy. A Harvester breakfast was the only answer on Monday #dayoff .

Thanks for reading. Rog ūüôā


Winchester to Wickham 19 miles & 1 video

Saturdays run started by catching the 7.30am train to Winchester so this was the exact reverse of last week. After covering 25 miles a week ago I decided to cut my run short to 19 today and save my strength for Race to the King in three weeks time.

Videos are a new addition to my irunoffroad social media and I’ve had great fun experimenting with the two I’ve made so far. I’ve created a YouTube channel so feel free to subscribe for future running adventures, cheers.

After bumping into Jamie, Paul, Zoe and Tracey from Fareham Crusaders who were on route to Eastleigh for their own “train-ing” run I left Winchester in bright sunshine and good spirits.

The video above shows you Winchester Cathedral where Race to the King finishes, I then followed the South Downs Way up towards Cheeseford Head with fields of glorious poppies to the right and left of me.


Once I’d passed the tank experience (also video’d) it was noticeable the trail was becoming busier with mountain bikers but to be fair they were all considerate by announcing their presence.

I chatted with Lidya from Winchester who’d caught me up. This is the beauty of trail running when you can chat with someone you’ve never met before but the conversation flows about why and where you are running.

Not long after I bumped into my good friend Paul Coates who was running in the opposite direction. We stopped for some banter which again is on the video.


I pressed on towards Exton and then Meonstock Post Office for liquid refills. The temperature had increased during the morning and must have been around 20 degrees so I bought Lucozade as well as water.

Joining the Meon Valley trail I had seven miles to Wickham were I’d decided to cut my run shorter to 19 miles and my wife picked me up. Something she rarely needs to do. ¬†I think its really important to listen to your body when you know you’ve pushed yourself but are still within your limits. I also had a quick chat with Karen Jenkins from the Crusaders along the old railway line.

My double marathon isn’t far away now so it’s taper time and flexibility work. Arriving at the start line uninjured and having flushed out the stiffness of long runs means you start with a degree of confidence even if I haven’t done the volume of training I’d liked to of due to issues earlier in the year.

Thanks for reading and watching ūüôā