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Tuesday started with a meet with Hamish White, the environmental Officer at Elmbridge Council. A small section of the Hampton Court Half route runs through woodland and I needed to be able to reassure him and two local Elmbridge councillors that the race would not cause disruption to local residents.The continuing bad weather came in hard and I arrived at the car park in torrential rain. Driving up the Portsmouth Road the Thames was in full spate, almost overtopping the banks along the Queens promenade in Kingston.The meeting in the car park took place under umbrellas.

Fortunately all agreed that the route was sound, but that is more than can be said for the ground, which was distinctly muddy.While passable, we will hope that the exceptional recent rainfall is followed by a dry spell to let the water table recede to normal seasonal levels.

Back to training in the evening, with The Stragglers Thames Ditton Group, which meets every Thursday at the Thames Ditton Cricket Club. Always a friendly bunch, we had a good turnout with twenty or so runners including a couple of newcomers. We split into two groups and I did a gentle but very pleasant four miles with the slower group. Still feeling stiff from Sundays run!

Should really get out tonight according to the schedule, but lots on so will see how it goes. May well depend on the weather. If its raining again, forget it!

 

 

Despite the chill wind the Tadworth 10 (mile) was a good race to kick off the New Year. Described as undulating and challenging it lives up to its word with a succession of steep ups and downs in the environs of the Epsom Racecourse. Also a good marker for fitness as the training programme for the Brighton Marathon on April 6th reaches the end of week 3.

As expected on current form I ran this slower than I would have liked 89.03 against a target 85, but given the conditions and the course not too bad. Would have done 85 on a flat course, honest!

Post race statistics (courtesy of a very quick results service by Sport Systems) show that I finished in the top 52% at 331/638. It looks better when you compare within age category. Running as an MV60 I was 8th out of 28 in this group, and on age grading of 61.82% 199th. One of the few advantages of getting older as a runner is the ability to improve age grade rates!

Next target race is the Brighton Half which runs on February 16. I am hoping to hit around 1hr 50 for this which keeps a 4 hour marathon in sight. Unfortunately this clashes with a great local 10k, The Valentines 10k in Chessington, organised by the 26.2 RC. The following week (February 23rd) is both my birthday and the inaugural running of the Hampton Court Half Marathon, which i am organising. Looks like a strong field of 2000 plus runners and we hope a regular fixture in the Spring Half calendar.

After a gap of a year, best intentions for 2014 to keep Running Wild going with regular updates. Best, Peter

 

 

Fortunately, being a Monday, Christmas Eve coincided with a rest day on my programme, so I didn’t have any running planned. Just as well because plenty of last minute preps for Christmas Day (Admit it, Christmas day really needs to be brilliant for all the effort that goes into it!)

In the evening the whole family (thats me, wife Stella and children Alex, Victoria and Olivia) all drove down to Ham and walked over the footbridge at Teddington Lock to the Parish Church of St Mary with St Alban for the five oclock crib service. We are not regular churchgoers but have been attending this service for 25 years since the birth of our first child Alex, and all three children were christened here. Its a very pretty church with a lot of history and worth taking a look regardless of faith.

Suitably uplifted, we then took a short walk to the nearby Anglers pub which sits on the river alongside the bridge. A large pub and very popular, with a big garden which fills up in the summmer. Next door is the smaller but also very worthwhile Tide End, a regular Thursday haunt for dissident Stragglers.

A couple of pints of London pride and then a bus to Teddington where our friends the Pages were hosting a Christmas Even drinks party. Very well attended, Interesting to see though how the dynamic changes. The “kids” are now all young adults,. The parents and all definitely into “middle age”. Stella and I left about 9pm and walked over Kingston Bridge and through the shopping centre past Bentalls to the bus stop, where we picked up an 85 which whisked us up Kingston Hill to home. Kingston was pretty quiet. A few lary youths having some sort of altercation at the bus stop but that was it.

Fell asleep on the sofa watching “The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo”. Read the books but not seen the movies. So all in all a good run up to Christmas and excellent rest day.

 

 

If you are familiar with the parkrun concept you will know that the basics are a 5k run in a park. Some courses though are not actually in parks. The Aberdeen course for example runs along the seafront and I am sure there are many others following this format. The Kingston park run was originally planned to run along the river Thames starting in Canbury gardens, about half a mile downstream from Kingston Bridge. As it turned out the organisers had not realised that on the first event there was also a major regatta based at Kingston Rowing Club and the whol;e area was a chaos of crews and boats. As a tempory measure the start was moved further downstream to a grassy area near the Hawker centre. The temporary area became permament and the course now starts from here and runs East along the Thames on the towpath for about half its length, before following a loop into the hamlands and back. Commonly referred to as a “P” shape.

This Saturday was a struggle for me. Having gone down with some bug the night before I woke at around seven feeling distinctly out of sorts.I’m not running today I told my wife, I’m going to take it easy. After a few cups of tea I felt marginally better and decided to go for it. A run always speeds up the metabolism, so whatever you’ve got, you get it through the system faste,r is one of my motto’s.

It was raining fairly steadily when I drove down to Ham. A slightly smaller group than usual were gathered. We walked/jogged a couple of hundred metres to the start. The Thames was muddy brown and flowing fast, the water high on the banks.We set off into a grey gloom.

I thought I was running OK in the circs, and could see a number of marker runners just ahead. Julie Garner, Keving Furlong of 26.2 and Warren Hardcastle were all in range. After we left the tamac at Teddington Lock we hit mud and puddles all along the unmade pathway. I was wearing trail shoes and didn’t bother to try and skirt the edges, heading cross country style straight through the water. Passed a few people in the process. Over the last mile I could hear someone right on me and couldn’t shake them off. Eventually Paul Dunn came alongside. I gave a kick and pulled back slightly in front and eventually came in a couple of seconds ahead. All in all quite a satisfactory run. Then I went home and slept most of the day!

174th park run to date!

I was running last night with a lady entered to run in London 2013. It will be Helen’s first marathon and she was interested to hear if I had any tips. I mentioned a few things which came to mind but it got me thinking and I decided to see what advice I could come up with for first time long distance runners. I am sure there are more, but here are my Top Ten Tips:

1. Start training in plenty of time. Assuming you are already doing some running you can work on the following. For a marathon allow 16 weeks from the start to finish of your training programme. For a half marathon you can probably do it in 8. If you are starting from scratch, add on longer

2. Find a schedule that suits you. There are a lot of different race schedules available and you should find something in either a running magazine or online for example Runners World. Don’t worry if you can’t do exactly what the schedule says. Just adapt it to fit with your life.

3. Plan in some races. It really helps to get into the swing of racing so that you are both physically and mentally prepared on Marathon Day. Enter a 10k and a Half Marathon. Consider finding something longer (for example the Spitfire 20 in March).

4. Find a training partner or group to run with. It makes a massive difference to your motivation if you know you are meeting someone on a cold night in January. Otherwise you could be tempted to stay in the warm …

5. Don’t push too hard too early. A lot of injuries occur because runners think they are improving quickly and push on too hard. The general rule is dont increase weekly mileage by more than 10% per week.

6. Don’t run hard sessions back to back. For example, if you do a speed session on Tuesday, don’t do a long run on Wednesday.

7. Mix it up, keep it fresh. Most schedules will do this, but look at alternating Long runs with speed sessions, hills and mid distance mid pace runs.

8. If you get injured, see a good sports physio. If you are a member of a running club they will have links but you should track one down through running shops, online, running magazines etc. They can usually get you back together and on track quicker than you would think. If you can’t afford it look for advice online or in print.

9. Don’t skip sessions too often! If you are on a schedule to run 4/5 times a week, missing the occasional run is not too important as you are doing enough. But miss a couple in a row and then duck out of the long run on Sunday, before you know it you are no longer running regularly and will probably end up deciding not to do the race.

10. Finally, most important enjoy your running! It will hurt at times and you won’t feel like going out, but the runners high when the endorphins kick in more than compensates. And whatever state you finish in and whatever your time you will feel great when you complete your first marathon and become a “Marathon runner”.

If you are looking for a Half Marathon as part of your spring marathon training, or want to train for a Half as the first step in distance running, have a look at the Richmond 13.1 HM, Sunday 31st March 2013 at Richmond upon Thames. (www.perseverance-events.com)

The Stragglers have two training groups in action on a Tuesday night. The first is aimed at Athletes in training and alternates each month between intervals and hill sessions. The meet is at 7.30pm on Ham Green just opposite the Hand and Flower. Its always a hard session, but a great way to improve times on shorter distances or to fill in the fast session on a marathon programme. The second meet is of a different character, with usually one or two groups leaving the cricket club at Giggs Green for a steady run of around 5 miles. I’m not yet ready for the intervals and hills so opted for something easier with the Giggs Green crew.

As it happened, being just before Christmas numbers were at the lower end. Fortunately there was not the option for a quick group this week so I ran with a medium pace crew and had a thoroughly enjoyable jaunt up to Hampton Court and into Bushy Park briefly before the return half of the loop. My Garmin gave a total distance of 4.42 miles and an average pace of 9.37, although we were mostly running closer to 8.30 -just had a number of stops to bring the group together. The leader was Jim Sell, one of the oldest active runners in the club and now a V70 and going strong. OK so I can’t say it was a hard session but its miles on the clock, time on your feet and there will plenty of opportunity to push on in the months leading up to Brighton in April.

Earlier today I cycled down to Hampton Wick to do a bit of promotion work for the Richmond 13.1. I dropped off leaflets at Sigma Sports, the serious enthusiasts bike shop frequented by road riders and triathletes. Then across the road to Lanson Running, which is really the only running shop in Kingston (although just over the bridge from the town centre.) A friendly reception in both establishments. It’s great to go to dedicated sports shops where the staff are really keen to promote running, cycling and general fitness.

Another good day for 13.1 entries with a further 12 runners signing up taking us to 110 to date. 150 by Christmas?

Once marathon training officially begins, distances and times become obsessive. If the schedule says 24 miles, rather like the Dickens character, achieve 24.1 miles, result happiness. Reach only 23.9, result misery!  Since the end of my marathon season* last year which ran from late December through to around late May, I have hardly used my Garmin forerunner 205. OK its come out for a few races, and did good service when we were planning the River Relay in September. I used it a lot on planning runs for the Richmond 13.1 course. But for general running I just work on known distances and don’t worry too much about the time.

This escape from the tyranny of time is great as on a summer lap of Richmond Park I feel free to look at the scenary, perhaps picking up the pace if I am closing on another runner, or more likely, when another runner overtakes me!  All is good until I get out on a club run. Inevitably, bent over and panting for breath I’ll ask, “did anyone get a time on that?”

The start of the new programme is already signalling an end to “time out”. The log book and training schedule are already up as an excel spreadsheet and ready to run. The Garmin has come out of the draw and onto the charger. Its definitely time for “time in”. So for the next six months I’ll be another running anorak, poring over distance and time, looking at average pace and setting out benchmark races. Its great, its absorbing, it takes over your life. Who among us can say, hand on heart, that we won’t be sneaking away from the TV on Christmas afternoon for a quick peek at their training programme? (If you can say no to this question, don’t worry. It doesn’t make you a bad runner, just a normal person!) I’m already looking forward to Time in, but its good to know there is a Time out phase to follow.

* My 2012 marathon season included the Paris Marathon In April, the Three Forts Challenge in early May (27.1 miles off road and very hilly, technically an ultra?) and the Green Belt Relay in late May (2 legs in two days totaling around 24 miles).