Changing gear, running in a country park, and being part of a club

Three weeks ago, I ran 118km and set new PBs for 50 miles and 100 km. One of the side effects (for me) of running longer distances is that it tends to slow my running down for several weeks. I suspect it is partly physical (wear and tear etc) but also mental (the metronome in my running brain gets slower for a long event and is reluctant to move to a faster beat. In four weeks, I have a half marathon and in six weeks, I have a marathon – so I need to improve my speed to run these in the same time I was running earlier in the year.

In praise of social running, sight-running, and Paris

I am in Paris today, one of my favourite cities, and I ran with one of my favourite running groups, the Let’s Run Paris group.  I have been running regularly since 1981 but I have only been ‘social’ for less than ten years. For me, social means a) running with other people, b) sometimes running with people I don’t already know, and c) actively sharing what I know and learning from what others know.

A weekend of PBs and some key learnings

This weekend I took part in my first 24-hour track race. I had set myself a target of getting PBs for 50 km, 50 miles and 100 km, and I wanted to run 100 miles within 24 hours. I hit three of these targets, met many amazing people, discovered many things about running around a 400-metre track for hours, and had some insight into how my body copes with running at this speed for longer.

I managed three last places today (in what I am going to call a Ray’s Pentathlon), but I had a great day

Today I attended the third session of the Notts Athletics Development League (which was my second session of this session). In the previous session, I took part in three events, but today I really pushed the boat out and took part in five events, discus, shot, 100m, 1500m and 5K. The first event started at 10am, and the last event (the 5K) finished at 1:40pm, so it was a fairly packed session.

A race plan switches to plan B, protecting myself by ‘running inside myself’

Today was the British Masters multi-terrain championship, run across 30K of the North Downs (18.6 miles). The Championship was run as part of a larger event, the Istead and Ifield Harriers’ 30K North Downs Race. This was the first time I have taken part in this race, and I was hopeful of doing well. Depending on the terrain and conditions, I would expect to be able to run 30K in about 2 hours 30 minutes, so I had 2 hours 45 minutes in my mind as a target (given this was off-road and warm). However, the temperature was higher than I had anticipated, reaching 30C°, and the race did not turn out as planned. As you can see from the profile of the route, the race starts with about 10K of uphill (with the odd downhill). The first couple of km were roughly at my target space, about 5 mins a kilometre. However, my heart rate was above my target range. For a two to three-hour race, I try to keep my heart rate at 139 beats a minute. But after 2K it was bumping up to 144, partly the hill and partly the heat. From 2k to 9k I kep trying to keep my heart rate at 139, but it was not working. The slope and the heat meant my heart rate kept bumping up, reaching 151 beats a minute. As a point of reference, if my heart if typical for my age, my maximum heart rate is 154 beats a minute, so 151 beats is too high for more than a sprint. Running inside myselfAt this point, I decided that I needed to switch to my plan B. My plan B, whenever the going gets too tough, is to ‘run inside myself’. This means taking my foot off the pedal by choice, before I have. My plan B is to make sure that I do not get into stress. I shifted my heart rate down to 135 (by shortening my stride length, which means going slower), and I started walking up every hill. Basically, I decided to run this race more like an ultra. Running inside myself, I was able to enjoy the scenery, have fun on the steep descents, chat with people, manage my water intake and avoid overheating. On two occasions there were people with hose pipes sprinkling the runners, and this was an amazing joy to receive. And the resultInstead of my target of 2 hours 45 minutes, I took 3 hours 20 minutes. This meant I finished 161st out of 428. The general race did not have a 65-69 age group for men, so I was grouped with men 60 to 69. In this group, I finished 7th out of 22 – I was not the only runner to be slower than that had planned to run. The winner of the 60-69 group was Ifan Lloyd who ran an amazing 2 hours 22 minutes, which meant he was 15th overall. In the British Masters Championship, I was running in the 65 to 69 age group and was delighted to win the silver medal. The winner of the Gold Medal was quite a long way ahead of me. Even if my run had gone to plan, I would not have got gold. Visiting New PlacesOne of the great things about taking part in championships is that I often get to visit places I have not been to before, and Gravesend is a place I had not visited before. I travelled down on Saturday, getting there mid-afternoon, and after checking in, I visited the town, the riverfront (it is on the Thames, downstream from London, and had an enormous garlic bread with cheese followed by gnocchi. Gravesend has played a major role in the defence of the UK, with gun posts dating back to Henry VIII in the 17th Century. One thing that struck me was how friendly everyone was. I had several conversations with locals, which did not fit my more Northern picture of the South of England, and I was delighted to have my pre-conceptions refuted. Although I was also delighted to spot a real piece of local culture, a café specialising in pie, mash and eels.

Not every run needs to be a race, nor even a training session

Last week I wrote about running in a half-marathon for the England Masters team. But, most of my running is not about racing. Twice a week I ‘train’, which tends to mean running fast for a period of time, often in some form of repetitions. But, most of my running is not about training. An average day is 10km (6 miles) of steady, low heartrate running. But sometimes, my running is just about joy, and that was the case today.

A trip to Snowdonia, my favourite type of running, social fell runs

Last weekend was a long weekend in the UK, with a public holiday on Monday. This provided a great opportunity to join friends, mostly from the Redhill Road Running Club and head over to Snowdonia for three days of social fell running. Of all the types of running I do, social fell runs are my number one favourite. These runs leverage the running fitness I have built up through training and racing; they are in wonderful countryside, they are in the company of friends, and they have a sense of adventure. I am a big fan of adventures. My adventures do not have to be big adventures, but I want a regular supply of them.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.