Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: Running (page 2 of 3)

The Gallery – longest day

I haven’t joined in with the Gallery for an awfully long time which is quite ironic given that the theme this week is the longest day. But when I saw Tara tweet the theme I really couldn’t resist. I’m close to the peak of my training now for my attempt to run 100km on July 19th to raise money for Save the Children and Tommy’s. Which of course means lots of weekend long runs and with 2 small children at home the best time for me to do it is early in the morning.

It means I can be back by around 8.30am and still have a whole day ahead to be with them and hopefully give the lady of the manor a break. Plus when the weather is like it is at the moment getting out early is definitely a good thing. So it was on the longest day that I headed out at 5.50am onto the trails near home and I thought given that it was the summer solstice it would be fun to run down to Avebury where lots of people would have been watching the sun rise.

I don’t think I’m ever going to see so many people on one of my early runs again and there were definitely some interesting people out there. But it was a beautiful morning and also the perfect time for a running selfie. This was taken at 6.45am although you’d could easily mistake it for midday!

Avebury selfie

P.S. If you happen to want to sponsor me then you can find my donations page here.

Rinse and repeat

I’ve reached the point in my training which I knew would come eventually, where the getting up at 5.40am starts to become dull, where it takes me twice as long to tie my laces in the morning than normal and where the thought of just rolling over and snoozing becomes oh so tempting.

I like to call this the hill of doom

I like to call this the hill of doom

My work schedule hasn’t helped things, I’m currently doing a coverage for a colleague in the US, but from here which means lots of late night meetings. Hardly conducive to being  bright and fresh in the morning is it? But it’s also just the repetition, 560 miles run this year now and that takes its toll. There are only so many different routes you can take from home, especially when you run with a dog. You become blasé about the beautiful scenery and sunrises and it becomes just another run.

This isn’t me and isn’t why I run. I run because I love it, I love being outdoors on the trails, being part of the scenery. I don’t want it to become a chore or something I ‘have’ to do. But that morning slot is my main opportunity to run so I can’t go out at a different time and of course Bracken still needs his exercise.

So what to do? Well they say a change is as good as a holiday so I’m doing a couple of new things with my training. First I’m adding in some speed work to my runs, either short sections on my normal run where I up the pace, or stopping and doing a 4 or 5 sprints up a section of the trail. It adds a new element and challenge to break the plod, avoid every run being the same. It of course also has benefits to my training and helps build some extra speed into my legs.

Second I’m increasing the cycling, which may sound an odd way to improve your  running but there is some logic. I need to do a good amount of cycling anyway given that there is 70 miles of cycling in the race, but by increasing the amount I do it gives me the cardio workout and means I can do an easy run in the morning and not feel guilty. I’m also trying to do some days where I do a bike and a run, straight after each other where possible. Perfect training for that transition in the race and a great new challenge to keep me sharp.

The race is less than 3 months away now and despite my bravado is starting to get a bit real, I can feel the nerves building and the doubts as to whether I can do it. I re-watch the race video every so often and get that goose bump feeling at the thought that it’ll be me stood next to the North Sea on 14th September waiting to cross Scotland in a day. Scary stuff, but also a great motivator.

But if all that fails you just have to remind yourself as you lie under your warm duvet that you never regret a run.

Not a bad place to run I guess

Not a bad place to run I guess

Reward a runner

April and May is peak marathon season in the UK with the London Marathon of course but also many others happening around the country. With this in mind MandMDirect have a competition running for one person to win £150 of running kit. They are looking for you to nominate a runner that you know who has either run or is running a marathon this year.

I’m sure most of us know one person taking part in a marathon and quite likely doing it for a good cause too. Some shiny new clothing will not only make them look the part it’ll also make them run faster. Guaranteed*. The competition closes on Friday so what are you waiting for?

MandMDirect deliveryIt’s all pretty simple really, just pop over to Facebook (link below), enter the details of the runner you want to nominate and upload a photo. The winner can then choose £150 of running kit from their website. Having been given a voucher to spend on their website I can tell you that £150 will go an awfully long way as well.

I managed to get all of this stuff for less than £50 (that’s 2 tops, a pair of short and 3 pairs of socks!), that’s pretty awesome value and close to 50% of RRP. It’s top brands like Asics so no cheap or poor quality clothing. Plus I think red is actually quite slimming don’t you think? Very important when running in the countryside like I do…

You can find out more details by visiting their Facebook page here.

*This may be a lie

This is a sponsored post, MandMDirect asked me to mention the competition and sent me a voucher to try out their service for myself. I do however think it’s a cracking competition and always happy to work with companies that are supporting running.

 

So you want to be a runner?

So you want to be a runner do you? The sun has started shining and you want to get that bikini body ready or you watched the London marathon and felt inspired? Well let me warn you right now, once you start you won’t stop. Once you experience the endorphin high of a good run you’ll be longing for the next opportunity to slip on those running shoes and head out.

Still with me? Then read on.

A few people have asked me recently how to start running so  thought I’d share my top tips for getting those legs moving. Nothing revolutionary or new here but it can be a daunting thing to begin an exercise regime for the first time so hopefully this might just help you take the plunge.

  1. Just do it; if you want to be a runner then put on some trainers and go for a run. Seriously. Forget needing to buy all the gear etc, if you go out and run you are a runner. That truly is the great thing about running, it’s such a simple thing. You pop on your trainers and away you go. Of course some comfortable clothing and shoes will help things but don’t let that be an excuse for not starting.
  2. Shiny new trail shoesInvest in some good trainers; yes you can run in any shoes, barefoot even, but if you want to give yourself the best chance of actually enjoying and sticking with running then a good pair of trainers will really help. Find your local running shop and spend some time getting advice and trying a few pairs on. Most likely you’ll be spending at least £60 so make sure you’re serious about sticking with it.
  3. Use the couch to 5k program; if you’re just starting out this is a great way to learn how to build up your running. It’s a program offered by the NHS in the form of free podcasts that in 9 weeks will get anyone running 5k. It means you haven’t got to think about how far to run etc and perhaps more importantly ensures you don’t do too much too soon. You can find all the details here.
  4. Ben running in snowDo a Park run; the idea of this is very simple, ever Saturday in parks up and down the country there are 5k runs. There is no entry fee, you just turn up and run. It’s not a race but it does give you motivation every week to get out for a run and challenge yourself. It also gives you a nice record of how your fitness improves and a chance to meet other local runners. There are now thousands of them being organised so unless you live in the middle of nowhere there is probably one down the road. The Parkrun website has all the details
  5. Enter a race; there is nothing quite like the looming presence of a race approaching to keep you motivated with running. I know for me having a race is often the difference between getting out for a run or not. Getting up every morning to run has been tough in the cold mornings we’ve had so far, but knowing I have my race in September to aim for has meant that I’ve been braving the weather. Oh and tell lots of people that you’ve entered the race, that added threat of embarrassment is also a great motivator! If you want to find a race then the imaginatively named Find a Race website is as good a place to start or find your local running club who may stage their own races.

There you have it, would love to know if anyone has any other tips that helped them. I’d also love to hear about the races you’ve entered, always looking for inspiration.

The gallery – Adventure

I’m linking this post up with this weeks Gallery, you can see all the other entries by clicking here.

Part of the reason I am so addicted to running is the adventure, be that investigating a new city or getting out in the middle of the countryside. I love that feeling of exploring, of each new step being a step into the unknown. You see and experience so much more when you’re on your own two feet rather than in a car.

With each new challenge or adventure the hunger just grows rather than being satisfied, always looking for the next race to tick off, the next crazy adventure to attempt. The bucket list continues to grow, there are simply too many races out there that I want to do. Races in the mountains, long races, multi day races, multi sport races, races abroad, marathons, ultra marathons the list goes on.

Cannot wait.

For now though, I will have to make do with some mini adventures in the snow during my lunch breaks.

Swindon trail in the snow

The Gallery – Fitness

Anyone that follows me on twitter will know how much of a running addict I am and how generally I am out most mornings at 6am running with the hound. The first step out of a cosy warm bed is tough, more so when it’s dark and cold, but with every step you take away from the house you become more relaxed and excited to be out in the silent town or city.

That hour before the place really wakes up is just great, I love hearing just the sound of my feet hitting the ground and my panting for breath. I very rarely run with any music preferring to drink in the environment instead and just have some thinking time. If you are ever training for a long race I can thoroughly recommend imagining what you would spend a lottery win on, it can keep you busy for ages and the run flies past!

I do of course always have my trusty training partner with me, who ever so easily trots past me when I think I’m running at a decent pace and never seems to tire. He is a handsome chap though so I don’t mind too much.

But running for me is not just about keeping fit it’s the enjoyment of being outside and seeing things you just don’t notice from a car. That’s why if you look at my Instagram feed many of the photos are from runs, trying to capture those moments where the morning light is just perfect. Below are a few of my favourite shots from the past few months, all taken with a couple of miles of home.

The running dad – it’s all in the planning

If you’re a bit OCD like me and enjoy planning things almost as much as doing them, then this post is for you. If you don’t ever plan and do ‘what feels right’ then this post is also for you, even if you don’t know it, you do need it.

If you have a particular race (or series of races in my case) that you are training for then you need a training plan. Without one you’ll train a lot less than you need to and without the variety of training needed to really be succesful. It keeps you motivated to train as you don’t want to miss sessions and makes sure you build in some speed sessions and hills etc into your routine. The vast majority of my training is done on my own, so I like to keep a record of exactly how much I have done and when (you see I told you I was OCD). This can also help you see the progress you have made if you tend to run the same routes fairly regularly.

I recently bought some running shoes from Sweatshop (who are thoroughly recommended by the way) and with it came a voucher for a free customised training plan from Full potential so I’ve been trying to follow that. Always good to get a new approach to training, but no matter what plan you follow I think there are a couple of key things that all training plans should have;

  • Hills and speed sessions; this either involve various lengths of hill sprints for the hills session or a training session where you run at a number of different speeds. Both of these help train your body to run faster and also builds strength for any hills you may have during your race.
  • Variety; there needs to be a real mix of sessions, even in a marathon training plan where mileage is important. Also make sure for any long runs that you have a variety of routes planned. It’s also worth trying to do these longer runs at roughly the same time of day as your race wherever possible.
  • Not just running; I’d suggest getting at least one cross training session (cycling or swimming for example) into each week. Also never underestimate the importance of stretching.

This week I have been taking my own advice and I’ve managed the following:

  • Monday – 4.5 mile easy pace run – 36
  • Wednesday – 4x6mins at threshold pace with 2 mins race in between
  • Friday – 25 min trail run with Bracken
  • Saturday – 26 min trail run with Bracken

The only thing I need to do now is a few longer runs once a week and also a bit more stretching/cross training. Running with Bracken is great because it kills 2 birds with 1 stone and he NEVER runs out of energy which is useful in a training partner. Although it can make you feel very slow and unfit watching him trot by you.

Older posts Newer posts