Category Archives: Running

Trying to rediscover my running mojo

I can’t believe an entire year has gone by since my last post.  For some reason 2017 turned into a fallow year when it came to my running, such a pity after my accomplishments in 2016. The year just got off to a bad start in late January as I managed to put my back out by going down a water slide at the Doncaster Dome. It is always the silly things that end up causing the greatest damage.

That slight jar to my lower back meant a trip to the doctor and then about 8 weeks in rehab to fix my back.  The only thing I wanted to know from the physio in that first session, was ‘would my back be fixed enough to allow me to run the London Marathon?’  After waiting nearly 10 years to get into the London Marathon I didn’t want to lose the opportunity now.

The main issue was that I could only do strength and conditioning exercises so I wasn’t putting any miles into my legs.  I took a risk and ran a half marathon as this would give me a good gauge on whether I could run a marathon.  It was a struggle, and painful at times, but I managed the half in just over 2 hours; I decided then that I would run London.

Marathon day was soon upon me and quite frankly my training plan had been non-existent due to my back.  I was feeling strong, probably due to the excitement and adrenalin, and ended up enjoying the day and just going for it. I eventually crossed the finish line in just under 4 hours 15 mins.  The lack of miles in my legs caught up with me at around mile 22 when cramp suddenly set into my calf and no matter what I did I just couldn’t shift it.  Up to that point I was still on for 3 hours 45 mins and I actually felt ok, apart from that cramp that just would not ease.  The run, walk, hobble motion for the last 4 miles was so demoralising, and I still remember that feeling as I approached Big Ben and the 4 hour pacers, Susie Chan and Paul Addicott, went by me…. Noooooooo!!!

Given the virtually non existent training, I have to be happy with my time.  I know not many people could run their first marathon on no training in that kind of time.  But that sub 4 hour time was so close.

Anyway after London I completely lost my running mojo and I think I only ran four time between Apr and Dec, with the longest runs being two 5km treadmill runs when I was on holiday in Cyprus in Oct.

This leads me to 2018 and how do I relight that spark to go running again. The first target is just to get the motivation to get out of the door and the best way I can achieve that is to set myself a challenge.  The last time I set myself a running challenge was in 2016, which lead to me having one of my best ever running years.

I was reading about the remarkable Nick Butter who has set himself a mammoth challenge of running a marathon in all 196 countries over 550 or so days. I could not emulate this, but it inspired me to come up with a more modest idea that would lead me to about 1500km for the year.  This is my plan.  I have 197 countries and I want to run for each of those countries.  The length of the run will be decided on how many letters there are in the name of that country.  For example, SPAIN has five letters, therefore that would be a 5km run. The DOMINICAN REPUBLIC has 17 letters so that would be a 17km run.  You get the idea.

In case anyone is interested my longest run will be 28kms! Not once, but twice as their are two countries with 28 letters, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The most popular distance is 7km, with 41 countries, and 10 counties only have 4 letters in the them.  I will be saving these short runs for when I really need them. By my calculations if I successfully complete this I will, as a minimum, have run 1640km.

As I am a sucker for rounding up my distances I can see me rounding up the 15 countries with 9 letters to 10km runs! It will just grate on me if I don’t do it.

This challenge at least got me started as I was out on the 1 Jan 18.

 

Virtual Ultra Triathlon: The Final Results

The end of the year certainly didn’t quite go to plan at all.  Just goes to show that you have to take advantage of the good times because you never know what is going to happen further down the road.

Thankfully I didn’t pick up an injury, however moving house and a new job threw a major spanner in the works.  I never for moment envisaged that my new gym would not have any rowing machines available and this proved to be a problem because it is not a simple thing to improvise.

So what were my final results:

Running – Ardnamurchen Lighthouse to Lowestoft.

Success. I managed to complete this part of the challenge, 855km, back in September and I then decided to push on to reach 1000km for the year.  This took some motivation including running 30km whilst on holiday in Gran Canaria and then having to run 14km on the 31 Dec to take me over the finish line to finish on 1001km for 2016.

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Cycling – John O’Groats to Lands End.

Success. For some reason my map said I had finished before I had actually reached the distanced that I had pre-planned, which was 1550km.  As previously mentioned the move of house and jobs greatly affected my routine, however I was able to continue my cycle commute at my job.  Unfortunately the distance of my daily commute reduced from 7km to only 2km a day.  Thankfully with some additionally time on the bike in the gym I was able to reach my target.

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Rowing – The length of the Thames

Capsized. This is where it all went wrong. By the end of the year I had reached 272km which on my virtual map put me at Canary Wharf.  Like an episode from the Boat Race, the Thames water was choppy and my rowing boat started to take on water.  No matter how much bailing I did, it was time to abandon my boat, swim to shore and have a well earned pint.

It was really disappointing that I ended up being 74km short on my target.  If I had known months ago that my new gym would not have a rowing machine then I could have aimed off for it. Sadly this is the very nature of life, you can never predict what is around the next corner so you must always endeavour to do as much as you can today.

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-10-41-43Conclusion

When I set myself this challenge a year ago I knew it was going to be tough, but then, if it were too easy where would the challenge be.  I certainly learnt where my strengths lie and that is with my running.  An injury free year meant that I not only reached this target, but kept going and broke through the 1000km for the year.  I also learnt that if it wasn’t for the fact that I cycled to and from work, I would have found that aspect of the challenge even more difficult than what it was.

The biggest lesson I learned was that I really do not like rowing!  Getting on a rowing machine every now and then is manageable, however when I had to hit a weekly target doing something that I didn’t particularly enjoy was difficult.  Finding the motivation was difficult when I would sooner get outside and go for a fun, especially during those beautiful summer days.

I am delighted that I completed two thirds of the challenge, a little disappointed about the rowing but I will get over that.  Time to move onto something new, that doesn’t involve rowing.

 

Oh trainers where art thou?

Am I the only person that gets an emotional attachment to their running trainers?  Surely not!  It was in May this year that I had to force myself to admit defeat and walk through the front door of my local Sweatshop to buy a new pair of trainers.  I felt like I was betraying my old faithfuls, the trainers that had performed so unbelievable well for such a long time.  But alas the time had inevitable come when even my old faithfuls had begun to fall apart at the seams and duct tape just couldn’t repair them.  When I thought about it, my current Brooks trainers had been going strong for 2 years now.

I returned home and took my old faithfuls off for the very last time; it was a teary moment.  As I gently put them away, I was amazed to see they were being put to rest with all my other trainers.   Had I really kept them all, was I a running hoarder?  I stood there looking at these trainers, realising I could track the years going all the way back to 2011.

These are my trainers:

Jan 2011 – Mar 2012

Asics Gel Nimbus 12

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Asics Gel Nimbus 12

Not entirely sure when I bought these but I believe it was early in the year. They lasted me 1 year, 2 months.  Very hard to say how many kilometres I covered in these as I didn’t really document my runs back then.  I moved to London in Aug 2011 and I know I started to run around Richmond Park as well as along Embankment during my lunch hours.  I think it is therefore reasonable to suspect these trainers covered about 400km in the 14 months I had them.  I remember thinking how unique they looked because the laces were at an angle towards the inside of the trainer, presumable to match the contours of the foot.  They were quite a rigid pair of trainers and they certainly felt as if they gave me plenty of support to the ankle.

Briefly brought out of retirement in 2016 when I realised by Brooks Ravenna 5s were about to split open.  Went for a 15 mile run in them and then retired them again as soon as I was home.  They should have stayed retired.  It was only when I wrote this that I realised how old they were.

 

Mar 2012 – 29 Jul 2013

Asics GT-1000 – 100km ultra

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Asics GT-1000

As my running started to progress I bought these in March 2012 and had to quickly break them in for my first ultra in May.  They lasted me 1 year 4 months and I would say a rough distance covered in these trainers was around 500kms.  Although I found these trainers incredibly comfortable, the main thing against them was that they were too lightweight and didn’t feel like they were durable enough.  Given the distances I was running these were just not giving me the support I needed.  They would have been a fantastic trainer for distances up to 5km.

Having said that, these did me proud getting me through my first 100km ultra marathon.  The fact that I had a massive blister at the end of the race was not the fault of the trainers, but more to do with the fact that I had run through so much mud that my feet were soaking.  I had to retire these soon after my ultra, but we will never forget the emotional and very painful 22 hour journey we had together from London to Brighton.

 

29 Jul 2013 – 10 Feb 2014

Asics Gel-DS Trainer 17

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Asics Gel-DS Trainer 17

Having learnt my lesson on my previous trainers I bought these on the 29 Jul 2013 for £90.00.  I spoke to the staff at Sweatshop, had my gait analysed and discussed how far I was running.  After trying on a few recommended pairs, I went for these mostly because they felt comfortable and my loyalty to Asics. Even though they only lasted me about 7 months, I managed to cover around 550kms.  An average of 16.4p per km.  I felt as if the gel cushioning gave out far too quickly, resulting in me getting knee problems and shin splints.  I have been running off and on since I was 11 years old.  As I have grown older I have learnt that when I start to get shin splints, it is a strong indications that my trainers have worn out.  As soon as I change my trainers my shin splints disappear again.  Another thing that was troubling me slightly with these trainers was that the stitching on the side was starting to rub the inside edge of my foot.

 

10 Feb 2014 – 23 May 2016

Brooks Ravenna 5

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Brooks Ravenna 5

I bought these on the 10 Feb 2014 for £105.00 from a Sweatshop in Teddington.  I had always bought ASICS for as long as I can remember, however when I was in Sweatshop they didn’t have any ASICS that I liked or were in my size.  The staff recommended I try Brooks as they thought they would be ideal for my gait and the distances I was covering.  I must admit I was slightly apprehensive about changing brands, but given the minor issues I was having with my last pair of ASICS, I took the plunge and went for the Brooks.  I now know these were the best trainers I have ever had as they lasted me 2 years, 3 months!!! They also covered a staggering 1,400km and the only reason I had to stop wearing them was because the sides were torn and falling apart.  They were so reliable that I called them my ‘old faithfuls’.  Looking at the stats they have been a bargain working out at 7.5p per km.

 

23 May 2016 – Current

Brooks Ravenna 6

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Brooks Ravenna 6

After the performance of my last Brooks trainers, I went into Sweatshop in Windsor on the 23 May 2016 and automatically asked to see what Brooks they had.  I tried on a pair of Ravennas, Ghosts and Glycerin trainers.  After some debate with the shop assistance, some jumping around, jogging on the spot, ankle flexes and various other silly manoeuvres more akin to a Monty Python sketch, I chose the Ravennas.  Only after I chose them was I informed they were on offer at just £75.00.  I am now hoping the updated model last just as long as their predecessors.

 

 

Virtual Ultra Triathlon: September Update

Wow did September fly by quickly or what?  It certainly hasn’t helped that  I am away from home at the moment on a course and the routine is quite long.  Breakfast is at 0700 and then in class pretty much all the way through until 1830.  We then have 45 minutes to shower and change for dinner at 1915.  You don’t really feel like going for a run after dinner as you still feel bloated, if you choose to miss dinner then you just eat rubbish in your room.

Having said all of that I have managed to squeeze in some sessions and I am pretty much on track for what I expected this month.

So, after nine months this is where we are at with my virtual ultra triathlon stats:

Running – Ardnamurchen Lighthouse to Lowestoft.

Completed!  I only needed to run 37km to get to my final total of 855km which was the distance from Ardnamurchen lighthouse to Lowestoft.

As I don’t want to stop running simply because I have reached this target, I now intend to push on through to 1000km for the year.  I have 141km left to go on this target.

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Cycling – John O’Groats to Lands End.

According to my tracker I managed to cycle a total of 27.13km this month.  My total distance for the year is therefore 1315km, which means I have completed about 84.84% of my challenge.  The really good news is that I only have 235km to go.  I have slowed down considerable this month mainly because I am now not cycling to and from work every day.  I can’t sustain this level if I want to reach my target by the end of the year.  Now that my running has finished I need to put in more effort to the cycling.

My virtual location is still on the A30 travelling through Cornwall, although as highlighted last month the map does seem to be slightly inaccurate.

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Rowing – The length of the Thames

According to my tracker I managed to row 15.1km this month.  My total distance for the year is therefore 259km, which means I have completed about 74.86% of my challenge. The means I now have only 87km left to go, however at the rate I went this month it means I will not reach my final target on time.  I therefore need to up the rate and complete a minimum of 30km next month.

My virtual location is currently at by Battersea Power Station and moving rapidly on through the centre of London.  It has been a quiet month for rowing so I haven’t passed by many locations, however some of not are Richmond, Kew Gardens, Chiswick, Fulham and Hammersmith.

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September was a good month in that I finished the running aspect of the challenge, however my cycling and rowing have taken a heavy hit.  If I am going to finish those disciplines then I really need to focus and dedicate some quality time.  In October I really need to complete 30km on the row if I am going to stay on track.  I do know that in November I will be back at work and therefore cycling every day.  This I would suspect will add 75km to my total, so If I can get 60km completed this month it means I only need to get an additional 50km on the indoor bike in November and December.

A difficult month with some work to do, but I am confident that I can still get there.

 

Virtual Ultra Triathlon: August Update

It is amazing that we are already in September; where has the year gone to?  I knew August was going to be a tricky month as I was on holiday for a couple of weeks and I would be finishing my current job as well.  This meant I was going to have to put in some long hours to ensure I handed my job over in a good state. Not much time left over to devote to my Virtual Ultra Triathlon challenge.

After eight months here are my virtual ultra triathlon stats:

Running – Ardnamurchen Lighthouse to Lowestoft.

Although difficult I managed to get a couple of runs completed this month totalling 42.46km.  My total distance for the year so far is therefore 818km, which means I have completed about 95.67% of my challenge.

I see no reason why I will not complete the final 37km in September, which would be 3 months ahead of schedule.  What I intend to do is push on through and try and get to 1000km before the end of the year.

My virtual location is not unsurprisingly still on the A47 having just passed Norwich and on my way to Great Yarmouth.  My final destination of Lowestoft is now within touching distance.

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Cycling – John O’Groats to Lands End.

According to my tracker I managed to cycle a total of 171km this month.  My total distance for the year is therefore 1295km, which means I have completed about 83.55% of my challenge.  The really good news is that I only have 255km to go.  At the rate I am going I should be completed in October.

My virtual location is on the A30 having just entered Cornwall.  The map seems to have gone slightly off as I have over 200km to go, yet my map says I have half of that.  I am guessing the map has taken me through a quicker route, probably along a motorway.

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Rowing – The length of the Thames

According to my tracker I managed to row 25km this month.  My total distance for the year is therefore 244km, which means I have completed about 70.52% of my challenge. The good news is that I am still approximately 13.13km ahead of schedule.

My virtual location is currently at the home of rugby, Twickenham. In the last month I passed through towns such as Chertsey, Shepperton, Walton-on-Thames, Hampton Court and my old home of Kingston upon Thames.

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August was a pretty good month considering I was away for 2 weeks.  This meant I had to work incredible hard during the remaining weeks to try and get my totals up to a respectable amount.  I am now going away on a course for 8 weeks, but there is a gym and I know some running routes so I see no reason why September will not be a good month.

With only 37km to go, I should see the finish line this month in my running challenge.  It will feel great to finally complete one of my three challenges.  The distance left in cycling is far too much to complete in a month, but hopefully I will be able to bring the total down my a healthy margin.  Sadly the rowing aspect of my challenge will go all the way through to December as I have 102km remaining in that challenge.  It seems I am averaging about 30km a month, so mid December should be the end.  If my running has come to an end, I may be able to concentrate on the rowing slightly more.  Unfortunately rowing isn’t one of my favourite activities, which means motivation to get on the rower is always a challenge.

Virtual Ultra Triathlon: July Update

The fact that it has taken me two weeks into August to write this post, tells you a little something about how July may have gone for me.  After completing my ultra in June, I slowed my running down realising I was so far ahead of schedule I could afford to have a rest.  I had one cross country event and I also started my annual holidays.  This all had an impact on my statistics.

After seven months here are my virtual ultra triathlon stats:

Running – Ardnamurchen Lighthouse to Lowestoft.

It wasn’t difficult to calculate my running total for this month as I only ran once, which was 4.57km.  My total distance for the year so far is therefore 775km, which means I have completed about 90.64% of my challenge.

Not a good month of running but I needed a break.  I am still a Ta very healthy 276km ahead of schedule after 7 months.

My virtual location is not unsurprisingly still on the A47 just passed King’s Lynn.

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Cycling – John O’Groats to Lands End.

According to my tracker I managed to cycle a total of 137km this month.  My total distance for the year  is therefore 1124km, which means I have completed about 72.52% of my challenge.  The really good news is that I am approximately 220km ahead of schedule.

My virtual location is on the A361 just passed Taunton.  Now in Devon I am rapidly approaching the finish with a very winding 400km to go.  This last month has seen me pass by places such as Stroud, Bristol, Portishead, Weston-super-Mare, Bridgwater and Taunton.

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Rowing – The length of the Thames

According to my tracker I managed to row a very respectably 38.35km this month.  My total distance for the year is therefore 219km, which means I have completed about 63.30% of my challenge. The good news is that I am approximately 17.17km ahead of schedule.

My virtual location is now approaching Chertsey having now passed through my current home town of Windsor.  During this month I have passed through some well known places such as Henley-on-Thames, Cookham, Bray, Dorney (home of the 2012 Olympic rowing), Windsor, Runnymede (home of the Magna Carta) and Egham.

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July was a very indifferent month as I basically did no running at all, however I maintained my cycling levels and escalated my rowing to try and make some descent headway into my target.  This was all planned as I also knew I would be starting my summer holidays, which would also run into August and possible impact on that month’s totals as well.  When I started this challenge I knew there would be good months and bad months, the key was identify when they were coming up and ensure the good months covered them.

August is going to be another indifferent month as I will be in the last two weeks of my summer holidays.  I do not intend on doing any of my challenge during my holidays as this is precious time with the family.  I also know I am going to be away from home during September and October on a course, plus we will be moving to our new home in Edinburgh in November. It is going to be very interesting to see how I manage the remainder of the year, but I have no doubts I will complete this challenge.

Virtual Ultra Triathlon: June Update

Well this is the halfway point of the year and I am finally over 50% of the way on each of the three disciplines.  Both my running and cycling are months ahead of schedule and I suspect I will reach my running goal by the end of July.

After six months here are my virtual ultra triathlon stats:

Running – Ardnamurchen Lighthouse to Lowestoft.

According to my tracker I managed to run a total of 190km this month.  My total distance for the year so far is therefore 771km, which means I have completed about 90.18% of my challenge.

Another really good month of running, almost reaching 200km for the month. This puts me a very healthy 343km ahead of schedule after 6 months, or another way to now look at it is that I am only 84km from the finish line!  The question for me will be do I keep on going even after I finished this part of the challenge?

My virtual location is now on the A47 just passed King’s Lynn.  This month has seen me pass through my ancestral homelands of Rotherham and Tickhill in Yorkshire and then moving through Tickhill into Lincolnshire.  I passed through a variety of places such as Winthorpe, Stragglethorpe, Sleaford, Fosdyke and Sutton Bridge.

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Cycling – John O’Groats to Lands End.

According to my tracker I managed to cycle a total of 133km this month.  My total distance for the year  is therefore 990km, which means I have completed about 63.87% of my challenge.  The really good news is that I am approximately 215km ahead of schedule.

My virtual location is near the M5 by Upton St Leonards, just south of Gloucester.  The route during the last month has seen me pass through Stafford and skirt along the Welsh border through towns such as Acton Trussell, Walsall, West Bromwich, Droitwich Spa, Worcester, Twyning and Stoke Orchard.

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Rowing – The length of the Thames

According to my tracker I managed to row a respectably 24.40km this month.  My total distance for the year is therefore 181km, which means I have completed about 52.31% of my challenge. The good news is that I am approximately 8km ahead of schedule.

My virtual location is now just passed Reading, getting closer to my current home of Windsor.  In the last month I passed through places such as Mapeldurham, Pangbourne, Moulsford, Wallingford and Dorchester.

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June turned out to be an inserting month.  I had another ultra marathon which significantly helped me towards my running target.  However I spent a week away in Snowdonia on my Mountain Leader Foundation Course, which meant my cycling and rowing were not as high as they needed to be.  I suspect I will complete, or almost complete my running challenge this month, therefore I can start to dedicate more time to my cycling and rowing over the next couple of months.

July is going to be a month of consolidation, hopefully complete my running and aim to get my cycling and rowing totals down.  I am due to go away on holiday later this month, so this will have a slight impact on my totals.

Virtual Ultra Triathlon: May Update

Yet another reasonably month with May seeing all my totals being pushed even higher.  The challenge on the 11 May didn’t quite go to plan due to the weather.  After a night of torrential rain and with high humidity on the day, that race sapped your strength far more than we expected.  We were aiming for a finish close to 2 hours, and we were on track for that after 9 miles.  Unfortunately one member of the team developed cramp in both legs and we finally finished in 2 hours 44 mins.  Considering the injury we were lucky to finish at all.  Great effort by all the team.

After five months here are the virtual ultra triathlon stats:

Running – Ardnamurchen Lighthouse to Lowestoft.

According to my tracker I managed to run a total of 102km this month.  My total distance for the year so far is therefore 581km, which means I have completed about 67.95% of my challenge.  The good news is that I am approximately 224.75km ahead of schedule.

Another good month of running breaking the 100km mark again. This puts me a very healthy 225km ahead of schedule after 5 months.  Another way of looking at it is that even if I do no more running between now and the end of August, I would still be ahead of schedule.  Looking forward to an action packed running fest this month hopefully breaking the 100 mile barrier for the month.

My virtual location is now on the A639 at Castleford and feeling good to be in Yorkshire, passing places such as Harrogate, Wetherby, Ripon, Wath and Catterick.

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Cycling – John O’Groats to Lands End.

According to my tracker I managed to cycle a total of 146km this month.  My total distance for the year  is therefore 854km, which means I have completed about 55.10% of my challenge.  The really good news is that I am approximately 208.17km ahead of schedule.

My virtual location is on the A34 just north of Stafford by Ashton-by-Stone. It feels like I am travelling down the spine of England at an increasing rate.  In the last month we have passed by such places as Stoke-on-Trent, Kidsgrove, Holmes Chapel, Knutsford and Warrington.

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Rowing – The length of the Thames

According to my tracker I managed to row a respectably 30km this month.  My total distance for the year is therefore 156km, which means I have completed about 45.09% of my challenge. The good news is that I am approximately 11.83km ahead of schedule.

My virtual location is now just passed Reading, getting closer to my current home of Windsor.  In the last month I passed through places such as Mapeldurham, Pangbourne, Moulsford, Wallingford and Dorchester.

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It was another tough month but I managed to just get over my monthly target.  This now takes me to nearly 12km ahead of schedule, which hopefully I can continue to build on and finally hit the halfway point of the challenge.  I managed to pull  muscle in my back just below my shoulder blade, whilst lifting a suitcase of all things.  Nothing would relieve the knot in my shoulder for 2 days, but after a 3km row I found that it surprisingly helped to loosen my shoulder.  Rowing has its benefits.

Overall May was another good month breaking the 100km again.  There were some good races including the 12 miles on the 11 May and a couple of Star Wars races on the 4th and 5th May.  I my 40th birthday weekend in Nice and in Monaco watching an absolutely enthralling Grand Prix.  Delighted to see Lewis Hamilton get his first victory of the season.

June is going to be an interesting month.  I am hoping to get some good distances covered before I depart on a walking holiday in Wales in the last week.

Lets see if i can really push these targets up in June.

The Long Steady Run (LSR)

For some it is called the Long Steady Run or Long Slow Run (LSR) for others the Long Slow Distance (LSD). Personally I have always called it the Long Steady Run.  Something about saying I am going for a LSD just doesn’t sound quite right,  I’d expect people to give me a strange and suspicious looks.

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Along the Thames Path near Dorney, May 2016

But what does a LSR really mean?

Whether you are training for a 5km, HM, Marathon or Ultra, we should always factor in a slow run.  Most days in our training programme we will be pushing ourselves both mentally and physically to try and get that optimum performance.  This naturally starts to put a strain on your body and mind.  The LSR then comes into its own for a couple of reasons:

  1.  The LSR forces you to run slowly, thus allowing your joints, muscles and ligaments to recover.
  2. Because you are running slowly you are able to run further, seemingly with less effort.
  3. Running slower for longer teaches the body that it is capable of exercising far longer than you expected.
  4. Realising that you can run further gives a positive mental boost and helps break down some of those mental barriers.
  5. Surprisingly a LSR helps you to mentally destress and gives you the time to really appreciate your surroundings.

Everyone should include a LSR into their training programme. It doesn’t matter what distance you are aiming for, a LSR is relative to your specific training programme.  If you are aiming to run 5km, then 3km could be your LSR, likewise if you are aiming to run a 33 mile ultra then a marathon could be your LSR.

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Thames Path near Maidenhead, May 2016

So get out there and experience the LSR. The fact that you are running slowly means you get the time and have the energy to really appreciate your surroundings.  You can even stop to take photos without worrying about how it will effect your finish time. You will be amazed what new things you discover on a long run, not just environmentally but you will also discover deeper things about yourself.  You are tougher than you think.

Keep Calm and go for a LSR.

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Thames Path, under the A332 near Windsor, May 2016

Virtual Running: What is it?

I thought it about time that I mention virtual running.  This is something that I was introduced to about a year ago.  I had never heard of it before, but as soon as I looked into it I realised it was exactly my thing.

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POW Half Marathon, 2015

The concept is simple.  You sign up and pay to enter a virtual race, you run the distance in your own time, submit the evidence and receive the medal.  Most virtual races, and I ensure I only choose races that do, donate between 10% – 20% of the entry fee towards a nominated charity.

Who are virtual races aimed at?  I would say they are aimed at people just like me.  With a busy work schedule and a young family, getting away at weekends to go and run official races is incredibly difficult.  Unfortunately for me the only time I get to run, are at times when there are no official races.

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Virtual Runner 10km Halloween Run, Oct 2015

I don’t consider myself materialistic, but it was disheartening to do all this training and have nothing to show for it.  I loved seeing other runners achievements, showing off their hard earned bling and I wanted to be apart of it.  Virtual running allows you to do this.

Virtual Races seem to be very popular in the USA and they are now on the increase here in the UK.  One thing I have noticed about the races in the USA is that they are more expensive ($25 – $30 or £17 – £21) compared to the UK (£10 – £12).  It was especially disappointing to see the RunDisney Virtual races clocking in at $142 (£98) for three races, with nothing seemingly going to charity!  A virtual race should never cost more than a real event.

Some of the Virtual Race websites that I have come across are mentioned below, however it should be noted I have only used POW Virtual Running and Virtual Runner to date (see photos as an example).

UK

  1. POW Virtual Running.
  2. Virtual Runner.
  3. Virtual Running UK.
  4. Run Mummy Run.
  5. Run For Bling UK.
  6. Virtual Run 24/7.
  7. Virtual Fun Run.

USA

  1.  Virtual Strides.
  2. Moon Joggers.
  3. Virtual Run Events.
  4. Will Run For Bling.
  5. Virtual Run World.
  6. Hogwarts Running Club.

In the last year I have completed 12 virtual races. The last two races were both Star Wars related, so I was keen to get out and run for #Maythe4ththBeWithYou and #RevengeOfThe5th.   I am guessing you need to be a Star Wars fan to understand what this means.

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The Virtual Runner Poppy Challenge, Nov 2015

One of my virtual running highlights was the Poppy Challenge medal, which was in support of The Royal British Legion.  The aim of this virtual race was for the total distance of all those taking part to come to 88,824.6km, which represented how many poppies were at the Tower of London.  When broken down each person had to complete a minimum of 33km in the month of November.  You could run once or you could run 30 times, it didn’t matter as long as your total monthly distance was 33km or more.  Given my knee injury I was delighted to complete 56km in support of this challenge.

Not all virtual races are the same, some require a set distance on a given day and others require a distance to be achieved over a period of time.  This is the great thing about virtual races, you choose the ones that work for you.

The last thing to say on Virtual Racing, is to make sure you remember what races you have entered.

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POW Gotham 10k, Jan 2016
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Virtual Runner, Any Distance Race, May 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If anyone has any other virtual race websites they wish me to add, send me a message and I will update this page.