Time to get my act together…again!

Well, I had grand plans of getting my act together almost 28 days ago but didn’t and now the Southampton Half is less than a week away and my weight has increased even more and I’ve not been near a pool for weeks. In more positive news, I have been out on the road bike twice in the last fortnight. There’s little point in dwelling on the part though. Time to look forward. 

My biggest challenge this year is about 20 weeks away. I’ve signed up for the New Forest Marathon (I’ve now seen the elevation profile and am having 2nd thoughts!) I had planned to run the Bournemouth marathon but I’ll be away in the USA over that weekend so have deferred my place. My plan is to complete Sunday’s Half and then stay focusing in on the Marathon training. 

Between now and the 13th September, I’ve got a few events including the May Day Tri, Ensure 24 and parkruns but that’s it. I have a training plan which last 16 weeks and will include a couple of 20 mile runs along the way. Given that junior parkrun fills up by Sunday mornings, I’m either going to have to take a few Sunday’s off or choose another day for my long runs. I’m thinking early morning runs on Thursdays might work to make my training week look like:

  • Monday: run (LRR training)
  • Tuesday: cycle
  • Wednesday: swim
  • Thursday: long run
  • Friday:  cycle
  • Saturday: lake swim + run (tempo at parkrun)
  • Sunday: rest

It’s a plan at least and hopefully I can motivate myself to stick to it. 

Solo Run Leading… arghhh!!

This evening I lead my first Lordshill training session as solo Run Leader. It was a little worrying to take full responsibility for the group especially as I didn’t know everyone. However, there were enough friendly faces to reduce the fear. A little. It’s a little daunting leading a session when at least half the runners in the group are far better runners than me. Oh well. There was no turning back now. 

Fortunately, I was asked by Dave what sessions I’d be happy to lead when we discussed the session plan for April and May. There were a few sessions we had done before that I was happy to plagiarise. One of these was a fartlek session that Stuart has led in early February.

As with all sessions, we start with an introduction, check for any injuries, warm-up, have the main session and then cool down and stretch. I spent some time giving some thought to what dynamic stretches I could include in the session as this is one aspect that Dave tends not to do at every session. Having googled some ideas, discussed some suggestions with Club Coach Ben, checked out my books on dynamic stretching and Plyometrics, I had some ideas of what to include. However, my intent was to be creative with what we did once we got to that bit of the session.

I had planned to use the Flats on the Common but the fair is due to start on Thursday and lots of the rides have already started arriving. Ben had kindly posted some pictures on the Run Leader Facebook group and several of us had chipped in with suggestions. Again, I had given some thought to a few alternative paths we could use in the event that the Flats wasn’t usable.


I typed up a cribsheet and laminated it just as a back up which summarised the session just in case stage-fright kicked in and I was left dazed and confused.

31-03-2015 13-04-23

I felt prepared. However, that didn’t stop the worry that something might go wrong… Not enough to give sleepless nights though.

I was as prepared as I could be and headed off to the Common with a quick detour via Lynda’s to collect the club gazebo.

When I got to Tauntons, it was clear that numbers were down. There must have been about 60% of the usual turnout. It’s not clear why that was but I suspected the strong wind and drizzly rain played a big part.

After registration was complete, Ben did his speeches and it was time for me to step up. Gulp!

I started off by welcoming everyone and asking if anyone had any injuries. I then explained the composition of the session. Everyone appeared to understand it. So far, so good.

We then headed onto the Common where I led the group for the warm-up. It’s always a little difficult getting the pacing right and I was hoping for slightly quicker than 6 mins per km. My Garmin was giving all sorts of pace values so I tried to keep things steady. While I could hear chatting, things can’t have been too fast.

Once we got to Cemetery Road, I started with the dynamic stretches. Some high knees, heel flicks and arm circles. By this point, I’d not lost anyone. As we left the car park area on the road, there was a good spot to do some leg swings so that’s what we did. 12 on each leg and then some lateral leg swings.

At this point I was tempted to add some walking lunges but chose not to. It was good to have an arsenal of possibly things to do and then pick and choose on the night.

Having run past the Hawthorns Centre towards the Flats, it was clear that the location wasn’t going to work for the session so I decided to relocate to my plan B and use Coronation Avenue South which runs north from the Cowherds Pub.

Once we got there, I explained the structure of the main session – the Fartleks – and set the group off.

The path has an incline in one direction which made it tougher than the Flats. Also, there aren’t regularly spaced lamp posts to use so I decided that trees could be used instead. In hindsight, I should have chosen a longer gap for the efforts and instead introduced this half way through the session to mix things up.

The path section we used was about 500m long compared to about 750m from the Bellemoor Triangle to the Hawthorns. Given the session we were doing, this wasn’t a problem and meant I could position myself halfway along the path and see everyone taking part.

I’d decided not to run the main Fartlek bit so that I could oversee the group, provide some encouragement, provide instructions as necessary and rest from my 9 mile run the day before.

After about 20-25 minutes, I gave the participants notice of how much longer they had. As there were 2 whippets in the group who were half a lap ahead, I decided to cut the loop in half to bring the runners closer together so that there wasn’t so much waiting around one we finished the main session. This appeared to work well although I think I could have been a bit career with explaining this at the time.

Once we regrouped, I handed out some jelly babies before we headed off for our cool down. My brain was a little frazzled by this point and I was getting’cool and warm muddled up. I decided to let Jonathan and Teri lead the cool down so I could act as tail runner as we headed down to the Bellemoor Triangle.

Once we got there, there was time for a few more jelly babies, a few stretches and a couple of announcements before we completed the session.

Overall, I was happy with how things had gone. As suggestions to myself for improvements, I think I should:

  • Slow the pace of the warm-up a little
  • Make sure instructions are even clearer
  • Always remember jelly babies

All  feedback from  those that took part grateful received.

28 days until the inaugural Southampton Half Marathon

With only 28 days until the inaugural Southampton Half Marathon, I’m a long way from the fitness I had hoped for but turning things around it’s still possible. 

I’m on the wrong side of 13 stone by several lbs and am not looking forward to getting on the scales later. I need to lose at least 6kg to be at a weight I’d be reasonably happy to run at on the 26th April. 

I need to kick start things and keep on track if I stand a hope of completing the Half Marathon in under 2 hours. My recent 10K finish time at Eastleigh implies that I should be able to run a half in 1 hour 50 minutes. That really doesn’t seem attainable though. Especially on a course that’s not pancake flat. 

So, it’s time for a 28-day challenge. I’ve come up with the following which is going to be tough to stick to (especially in the first 2 weeks):

  • No crisps 
  • No biscuits
  • Only WW chocolate bars (max 1 per day)
  • 3 hours running per week
  • 1 x 45+ minutes cycle ride per week 
  • 1 x 45+ minutes swim per week 
  • 1 x 30 mins S&C session per week
  • 1 x 15+ minutes skipping session per week
  • Daily hamstring stretches
  • Daily calorie tracking via myfitnesspal 
The S&C session will be home-based and likely consist of a few sets of:
  • – kettlebell swings
  • – KB upward row 
  • – tricep dips
  • – push ups
  • – pull ups
  • – squats
  • – lunges
  • – lateral lunges
  • – bicep curls
  • – plank
I’ll post a blog regularly of what I’ve done and stay accountable.

A wreck on the Southampton Half Marathon course recce

Things have been a little hectic this year and my training has suffered. As I come to the end of my time with my employer of over 10 years, I’m hoping that my new job will give me the opportunity to get back on the bike and in the pool a little more than I’ve managed over the last 3 or so months.

Where possible, I’ve tried to keep up with my running and get at least 3 runs in per week. With the Southampton Half looming less than 5 weeks away, this is important and my focus has definitely been on getting miles under my feet.

After Sunday’s Eastleigh 10K my Garmin advised that I’d need 72 hours to recover. Approximately 31 hours later, Lordshill Road Runners group E was recce-ing the Southampton Half Marathon course. Nuts. I was pleased that I wasn’t the only one that had lost their mind as the group included friends Ellie, Lauren, Jonathan, Angela, Rosie and Martin Wood ask Dive the 10k.

We didn’t start at the official start area at Hoglands Park but instead started at the Common where we normally meet for the Monday night sessions. This would mean that we’d meet the challenging parts of the course after a couple more miles of running than we would on race day.

The course is a little complicated and we didn’t have the benefit of signage or marshals so we made a few mistakes along the way.

The first challenge on the course is the out and back over the Itchen Bridge. This was always the bit of the course I was dreading and our Run Leader, Dave, gave us the choice of whether to miss out this section in the recce. I’m sure several of us hoped the consensus would be to avoid the bridge but we did it. It was the first point of the recce where I was starting to think about opportunities to take a shortcut back to my car.

I was tail running which I was pleased about as our pace was higher than we’d agreed amongst the group.

We made it safely over and back across the bridge and then weaved our way around St Mary’s Stadium where we saw a runing group lead by John Grant. I was running along with Ellie whose calves were screaming.

We then headed towards Bitterne Triangle before following the river through the aptly-named Riverside Park. Fortunately, that section of the course is flat but the most challenging section of the course still lay ahead – the long incline along Burgess Road. Eek!

By that point, I was feeling it and resorted to a few walk breaks as we scaled the ascent. Fortunately I was at the back so managed to get away with it. I don’t think the rest of the group will ever know 😉

Having made it to the top of the hill, we then followed University Road and roads in that area before heading onto the Common where we were again given the opportunity to cut out part of the course. A few did but not all. I’ll not name and shame because those that cut across the Common were the sane ones. I decided to follow the course. How I then regretted that decision.

As the rest of the group sped off, I plodded along at a snail’s pace (a very slow snail at that) back towards the Bellemoor Triangle. My snail’s pace grew slower still until forward motion was almost non-existent and I’d taken root.

I eventually caught up with Ellie and we then made the most of the descent and increased our pace as we rejoined the group at the Bellemoor to muted applause.

In total, we covered about 19.7km so not quite the full Half Marathon distance of 21km but close enough for me.

Although there were times where I seriously doubted my decision to run the course the day after a 10K race, in hindsight, I’m glad I did. It was a good opportunity to experience the course and to do so while fatigued which should make race day seem slightly less of a challenge. We’ll see.

In other news, my role as Race Director for the Lordshill 10K is going well with good progress being made to clear of the several pages of tasks. There are only a handful of things I need to do before other Committee members ramp up their involvement.

I’ve signed up to the Good Friday Triathlon near Oxford. I’m hoping several triathlon friends will be doing it too.

Finally, on Monday, I get to lead my first LRR training session solo as Run Leader. Eek!

That’s all for now.

Eastleigh 10K 2015

My first proper race way back in 2010 was the Eastleigh 10K. As a local race, this event is right on my doorstep which makes it an attractive option. I’ve run it every year since 2010 and this year, although it fell on my 46th Birthday, that wasn’t going to stop me. 

Due to some concerns from local retailers about the impact the 10am start had on their businesses, the start time had been changed to 9am. This meant an earlier than usual start to my day with my alarm set for 6:10am with the intent of leaving home for 7am to secure a good parking place. 

I was feeling more confident about the event than the last few years as I’d been training more and was hoping to get close to the PB I’d set way back in 2011 with a finish time of 49:49. 

With breakfast consumed, it was time to head out to Fleming Park. The journey took 7 minutes which meant I was rather early. 

On arrival, I headed for the main hall to collect my race t-shirt and see if I could spot any fellow Lordshillers. I wasn’t disappointed to find a small group just inside the door including Lauren (who’s like a rocket and running really well), Paul and a few others. 

After saying hello, I went off to collect my T-shirt and speak to Race Director, Steve, and his trusty sidekick, David Blackman. David had very kindly managed to wangle race number 1 for me for which I was very grateful. 

Once I had my (very good quality) technical t-shirt, I caught up with several other Lordshillers before noticing that the queue for T-shirts was getting longer and longer. I spoke to David and asked if I could help, grabbed a pen to mark the race numbers of the runners who’d collected a T-shirt and set to work. 

I really enjoyed helping out as it meant that I could wish the other runners a good race. It also gave me the opportunity to see a few running friends as they collected their T-shirts. 

Almost an hour later with the time approaching 8:40am, David thanked me and let me go to warm-up. I’d missed the Lordshill photo but I had enough time for some dynamic stretches and a light warm up. As I warmed up I spoke to Jonathan Smith who was looking to finish sub-50 so we decided to run together. Great!

At about 8:45am, we walked to the start with several other LRRs. We found what looked like a good position to start and waited the 8 or so minutes for the gun. 

Before we knew it, we were off. It was perfect running weather. Clear, dry with a gentle-ish breeze. 


I won’t go into any real detail about the race other than to say that it went well for me for the first 7km. John and I were running together, occasionally checking each of us was ok. At about 7km, the course heads away from the finish again and I always find the 7-8.5km section of the race a struggle. 

Until that point, my km splits were roughly 5 mins per km and I knew I had to hold it together to get close to a PB. Unfortunately the mental struggle got the better of me and I started to lag behind John and shouted for him to keep going. 

I’d lost it at this point last year and finished in about 53 minutes. I didn’t want that to happen again so knuckled down and tried to up my pace to get back on track. Fortunately, the last 3 km are flat so there was no reason why I couldn’t get close to my PB. 

At about 8km, the course starts heading back towards the finish. I tried to keep my pace knowing that once I got to 9km, I’d be almost finished. 

I kept Jonathan in my sights as best I could. The last 600m is on an uneven path which is well lined with spectators. I had to up my pace to get closer to 50 minutes. At about 9km, my Garmin was giving a predicted finish time of 50:20. I still had some work to do. 

As I ran the last 600m, my predicted finish time kept doing down. As I got closer to the finish, it shows 49:57. There was still hope!

With a couple of 100m to go I heard Chris Stocks shout some encouragement. Thanks Chris. One last chance for a PB. 

I crossed the finish line with my Garmin showing 49:51. 2 seconds slower than my PB. However, I was happy to get so close after 4 years. I also knew it was an age-grade PB. That’d do for me. 

Here are my finish times over the years:

  • 2010: 57:22
  • 2011: 49:49
  • 2012: 52:41
  • 2013: 50:03
  • 2014: 53:13
  • 2015: 49:51

Thanks to everyone that gave encouragement around the course and for the team that organised the event. Here’s to the 2016’s event. 

Reaching 100 parkruns… finally

I can remember my first parkrun experience like it was yesterday.

Due to another commitment, I was unable to run at the first Eastleigh parkrun on the 8th May 2010 but I did manage to get down to Lakeside Country Park with our Labrador as the event team were tidying up and spoke to the then Event Director, Brett, to say that I hoped to make it to the next event. Little would either of us know at that time that within 6 months I’d be taking over the role from him.

Another commitment meant that I couldn’t get to the 2nd event but I vowed to make it the following week, Saturday 22nd May 2010. Third time lucky… At that event, I stood on the start line with 71 others not realising just how parkrun would change my life over the next 4 ½ years.

In that time, my parkrun journey has included many exciting opportunities, including helping to set up new parkruns at Royal Victoria Country Park in Netley, Southampton Common, North Walls Recreation Ground in Winchester, Brock College in Brockenhurst and, most recently, Southampton junior parkrun at Riverside Park, Bitterne. It’s been great to have run many parkruns with my 8 year old son, Daniel. However, my proudest moment to date has been as a Batonbearer for the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay. After running my 100th parkrun, I may have to rethink my proudest moment though…

My youngest son, Connor, aged 6, likes to tell me that I ‘eat parkrun, sleep parkrun, dream parkrun, am parkrun’… I have to resist temptation as remind him that I am not parkrun as ‘parkrun is a free timed 5km event held on a Saturday morning’! If I did, he’d no doubt say ‘parkrun! BORING!’ I’m beginning to wonder whether my name should be on his Birth Certificate.

It’s true that parkrun has consumed a fair amount of my time over the last 4 years or so but I wouldn’t have changed that. There are many special people that make our events so amazing. My contribution has been small compared to many that help every week.

Since 2010, there have been many times where I’ve wondered whether I’ll reach my 100th parkrun. The elapsed time, in which other parkrunners have almost reached 250 events, has mostly been due to my volunteering at parkrun events. In fact, looking at my volunteering stats, I’m reported to have undertaken over 330 roles at almost 190 events! In the last year or so, I’ve been that I’ve been able to run at more events whilst being able to get my volunteer-fix by helping out at Southampton junior parkrun. That’s made me feel less guilty about running on a Saturday morning.

With some careful planning and a parkrun-double on New Year’s Day, I managed to coincide my 100th event with a fancy dress event at Eastleigh parkrun which involved wearing hi-viz! D’oh! Fortunately, the fancy dress and the promise that there’d be cake meant that many parkrun friends who usually run at other events decided to converge on Fleming Park. In fact, the attendance of 197 runners was one of the highest for the event (apart from the 200th event on the 19th April 2014) since Netley Abbey and Southampton parkrun events started in March and July 2012 respectively. It was great to be joined by so many people who’ve become friends in the last 4 or so years. Perhaps the lesson to learn here is that parkrunners like cake!

It’s been an amazing experience to have been involved with parkrun locally and my 10th parkrun was the icing on the (cup) cake! To have so many friends share my 100th parkrun with me was very special. Thank you so much for your part in my life over the last 4-5 years. To quote the title of Debra Bourne’s book about the first 10 years of parkrun, parkrun is ‘much more than just a run in the park’.

Of course, my parkrun journey has only just begun and completing 100 parkruns just marks the end of one chapter with a new one already started.

In the first chapter, I’ve become a runner, Race Directed several races, carried the Commonwealth Baton, competed in several triathlons, recently become a Run Leader and made lots of friends. In the next chapter, my involvement with parkrun will become stronger and I’ll slowly plod towards my 250th parkrun which, with luck, will be before I reach my 50th birthday (this will require me to run parkruns for about 7 in 10 weekends between now and then).

‘Leadership in Running Fitness’ Course – my experience

As an active member of Lordshill Road Runners, I’ve been participating in training sessions for several months now and have really enjoyed them. On some weeks, they are the highlight of my training week. It’s great to train with others and it’s also been a great way of making new running friends.

At training, we’re indebted to those that deliver these sessions; the coaches and Run Leaders (also known as a LiRF or Leader in Running Fitness) who often put their training on hold for an evening to help others. They do so voluntarily out of the goodness of their hearts!

For quite some time, I’ve been thinking of training as a Run Leader but never quite committed. However, late last year I decided that I’d stop procrastinating and sign up for the next Leadership in Running Fitness course which was being held at my local sports/leisure centre – Fleming Park in Eastleigh.

As my intention was to help out at club training sessions, I was fortunate enough to have the course paid for by the club. I had offered to self-fund but was grateful that the club’s coffers were bursting at the seams!

As a club with well over 300 members, we’re fortunate to have 2 coaches and several Run Leaders. However, this isn’t really enough as it means that for many sessions a group of 15 or more runners only has one Run Leader. Although this isn’t often an issue, the bigger issue is that it’s difficult to cover sessions when those Run Leaders want to take a holiday or need a break (and believe me, they deserve one). We do have several trained Run Leaders who are currently inactive for a variety of reasons (work, family, injury etc) as well as some that have taken the training course but never led a session. I’m not too sure why that would be the case…

From a club-perspective, I’m sure that the ideal would be to have so many coaches and Run Leaders that they can lead sessions for so many weeks and then take a few weeks off to concentrate on their own training or take some time off and chill out and I hope that this post will help encourage some club members to consider taking a LiRF course to allow this to happen. It would also be great if a few of the more experienced Run Leaders would consider taking the extra steps to become a Coach in Running Fitness.

Of course, there may be lots of great reasons for not wanting to become a Run Leader:

  • I’m too busy training – just because you’re a Run Leader doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a session. You could lead the pack during a tempo run or long run
  • I need to focus on slower paced runs – drop down a group and help with that group or act as tail runner for your group
  • I’m not confident leading a group – you can simply act as tail runner and offer support to the others in the group
  • I can’t commit to leading every week – the more Run Leaders the club has, the more time Run Leaders can take time off.
  • I don’t have enough technical knowledge to feel confident in the role – next to no technical knowledge is required to be a Run Leader. Most of it is common sense!
  • I’m injured and can’t run – Run Leaders can lead a group from a bike or, in many sessions, from a stationary position!

Anyway, back to the day of the course…

The course started at 9am and when I arrived at the Park Suite at Fleming Park, I was quite surprised to see about 30 chairs set up. I was expecting about 15 to be on the course but this was a big underestimate.

I recognised several faces from various places. There were a handful of club members there from LRR, as well as Henry from WADAC. I also recognised a couple of local parkrunners and parents of children that take part in Southampton junior parkrun.

The course was a mix of theory and practical and was delivered by two experienced coaches; Suzy and Beth. There was also another lady, Peggy, whose primary role appeared to be making sure that the course was delivered correctly and to appraise Suzy and Beth.

The first task we had to do was to call out what we wanted to achieve from the course and these were then written on a board. After that, we had to each write down why we wanted to be a Run Leader on a post-it and affix it to a board. We then had to take someone else’s post-it and then try and find that person. This was a great way of introducing ourselves to each other.

Although the LiRF role was probably introduced as a way of getting Running Groups set up in communities (as part of Run England), many clubs have chosen to get enthusiastic members trained up to help deliver their training sessions in a safe way. I’d say that a majority of those present were going to be providing the latter.

After we’d done our introductions, we discussed the roles of a leader and what being ‘individual centred’ might mean. After that we heard about the ‘Athlete Development Model’ which comprises of 3 stages:

  • fundamentals
  • foundation
  • event group

Next up, we discussed the various stages of planning a training session and the importance of ongoing risk assessments and safety for participants.

Next, We moved out of the conference room for our first practical which was related to the safety and organisation of the warm up for a session.

Initially, the trainers gave us a warm up session and then described the approach they’d taken to make sure that we as participants understood what we had to do, that we did so safely and that the person leading the warm up was positioned well to keep an eye on those taking part in the session.

As part of the warm up, we were introduced to the Endurance Technical Template which provides a few simple pointers for a good running form (imagine having a helium balloon attached to your head and that will lead to a good running form).

In the warm up, we were reminded that dynamic stretching and flexibility exercises were important and that static stretches prior to activity were not considered best practice. We were also reminded that the warm up should be progressive and build up gradually to ensure that the participants were ready mentally and physically for the main part of the session.

With a fair amount to take in, it was then our turn to split into small groups to deliver a warm up session to the other participants.

In each group, we were given a target group demographic so that we could tailor the warm up to them. These included:

  • a group of children
  • a group of ex-sportsmen and women
  • a group of over 60s
  • a group of beginners

Each time we lead such an exercise, we could add one to our tally of leader activities.

The practical sessions were a great way to make use of what we’d learned and to bond with the other people on the course (they were also a way of keeping warm on a very chilly day!)

After a coffee break, we covered cool down and stretches in the studio. There were about 6 different stretches covered and the method of delivering the demonstrations was interesting. It basically consisted of a brief intro to what the stretch was for, a couple of pointers for what to look out for in the stretch, a silent demo and then some open questions back to the group to make sure they understood the stretch and its benefits.

Our next practical exercise was to then each deliver a stretch demo. After each, we were given feedback from the group and the trainers.

Before long it was lunch-time, a chance to speak with the other participants and to look forward to the rest of the day.

Our next session was a theory session on:

  • performance factors
  • components of fitness
  • FIT factors
  • and Energy Systems

This may sound overwhelming but the reality was that none of the theory was very challenging and, as will the rest of the course, was delivered really well in a fun, engaging and easy-to-understand manner.

The biggest practical session then took us outside. Before we did that though, we were introduced to several example session plans. These included sessions such as:

  • Out and back
  • Fartlek
  • Indian File
  • Raid the Goal
  • Fixed point repetitions
  • Meet and retreat
  • Loop back
  • Relays or pairs running

We were then split into groups of 3 or 4 and each group was given a session to delivery. This meant that in each group, we had to:

  • perform a risk assessment
  • decide on equipment needs (cones, whistle, etc)
  • provide a suitable warmup
  • provide the main session (ours was ‘out and back’)
  • provide cooldown and stretches

As we weren’t quite sure of where we’d be delivering the session, we had to work out the main session once we got to the location where we were delivering it.

Fellow LRR, Ashley, was in my group and we decided to do the main session part with an ERC member, James handling the warm up and Matt providing the cool down and stretches.

Before we could do that though, we had to participate in a couple of the other group’s sessions. These were fun and gave a good opportunity to steal some good ideas and also avoid any mistakes they’d made.

After each session, the groups provided feedback along with the trainer.

When it was our turn to deliver the session, Ash and I quickly organised how we’d do the main set. We decided on a pyramid set of timed runs with the out being at a steady pace with the back being faster. The pyramid was:

  • 10 seconds
  • 15 seconds
  • 20 seconds
  • 15 seconds
  • 10 seconds

We had 2 minutes to deliver the warm up, 4 minutes for the main session and then 2 minutes for the cool down and stretches. Clearly, a very condensed session but more than long enough to get the idea of what worked and what didn’t.

After James had delivered the warm up, it was time for Ash and I to take centre-stage! Eek!

It was amazing how long the 4 minutes took. The group participating in the session were trying really hard. So hard in fact, that I think a couple of the runners almost broke themselves! Result! 😉

Once Matt had delivered the cool down, it was time for some feedback.

Overall, it was very good. I’d forgotten to ask some open questions to allow the participants the chance to demonstrate that they understood what they’d be doing in the main set. However, we got praised highly for running alongside the runners to give them feedback and encouragement (and for us to keep warm!)

That was the last practical of the day and after the last group had delivered their session, we returned to the ‘class room’ to go through a paper exercise of delivering a 6 week programme for participants working towards a 5km run. Ash and I worked together on this and worked out a detailed plan including locations, paces and session types.

The last couple of sessions were related to the role of the leader in injury prevention and management and the personal development of Run Leaders. Again, these weren’t that detailed or technical and as with the rest of the course, there was a lot of audience participation and discussion.

Before long, the day of training was over. We’d learned a fair amount, put lots of it into practice and had a good amount of fun along the way. The course was really well delivered throughout and a great mix of theory and practical sessions. The theory was never dull or too detailed and there were plenty of opportunities to talk about each subject and for people to share their experiences. Also, there wasn’t any individual assessment so really no pressure at all to perform.

So… Now I’m a Leader In Running Fitness! I’ve already put some of what I learned on the course into practice! This evening, I attended a LRR training session and assisted experienced LiRF, Dave, by tail running in the group and by delivering the post-cool down stretches. I had anticipated that Dave would ask me if I wanted to do those and had been practicing during the day so that I didn’t look like a complete wazzock! I’m not too sure whether I managed that but would like to think that I got away with it.

Overall, the training was excellent. I’d recommend it to any club member who wants to do a little extra for the club. For our club, the more members we can get to help with Run Leading, even if it’s only helping with part of the session, (e.g. the introduction, warm up, main session, cooldown or stretches), the easier it becomes for the rest of the Run Leaders. As Run Leaders become more experienced, they could start to lead the sessions and then provide an opportunity for a couple of Run Leaders per group and/or the ability for RLs to have time off to concentrate on their training. If you’re a LRR member and want to give a little more to the club, why not consider becoming a LiRF! You don’t need to be super-fit (I’m not!), be one of the faster runners (I’m most certainly not!), know all about running technique and optimising perfomance (I don’t!), be the most popular member (I’m not!) or do more than help out in a group. Try it, you might just love it! Take a look at what the course entails and then contact the coach in your club (or any committee member). If you’re a LRR member, it’d be best to contact Ben Pitman. Please let them know that this blog post helped you decide to go that extra mile (if it did!)

I have come away from the course and this evening’s training session feeling really positive. I’m even considering taking the next step and taking the course to become a Coach in Running Fitness! You know me, I love a challenge!! 😉

Daniel returns to parkrun and ‘beats’ me again

Yesterday, I completed my 99th parkrun and it’s now only 6 days until I reach my milestone of 100 parkruns. It’s taken almost 5 years to get this far and it was great to be at Eastleigh parkrun to complete #99. Not only that but after 68 weeks, my 8 year old, Daniel, joined me for his 27th 5km event.

Daniel’s first parkrun was back on the 15th December 2012 and he completed about 25 parkruns before deciding that 5km was too far for him. The reason for this decision was that Southampton junior parkrun had opened (in November 2013) and he much preferred the shorter 2km course.

In the 26 parkrun events, Daniel has run at 7 different venues including Eastleigh, Netley Abbey, Southampton, Brockenhurst, Winchester, Queen Elizabeth and Bournemouth. Of all of these events, he has a favourite – Eastleigh parkrun. I’m not sure why but suspect it’s due to familiarity of the event and the fact that he’s quite well known amongst the core community there who always give him encouragement – even if he’s one of the last to finish. One thing that is guaranteed each week is that he’ll cross the line ahead of me and this has happened on each of the 27 parkruns he’s completed to date. My street cred (what little there is) has plummeted – as has my RunBritain ranking.

However, given my achy foot of last weekend, I welcomed the opportunity to walk/run the course which is how we take on the 5km.

We start off with the good intention of running most of the way but Daniel’s inner demons and fatigue mean that by the 3rd lap we’re running and walking in equal measure. For those that think that juniors shouldn’t be running 5km, rest assured that the distance is littered with walk breaks and the actual running distance is likely to be less than half of the total distance.

Like his Dad, Daniel has no natural running ability but enjoys the events. It’s our opportunity to do some physical activity together. As parents, our role for our children that do sporty things is to, more often than not, act as chauffeur and then watch from a distance and this is my role each week for Daniel karate, diving and swimming lessons. At parkrun, we get the chance to run(/walk) together.

I’m not a pushy parent. A little positive encouragement goes a long way but there are times when the frustration of having to hold Daniel’s hand the whole way around (I shouldn’t complain) or an unnecessary walk break require a stern word. There have been tears mostly born from a stitch (too much breakfast before the event) but sometimes caused by my insistence that he ‘let go of my hand’, run ahead of him briefly, suggest that we keep up with a group in front or simply the fact that the day has a ‘y’ in it. Ultimately, these minor blips are soon forgotten as Daniel sprints to the finish line in a surge of energy that comes from nowhere to beat me again ( 😉 ). Humph!

Honkin’ like a donkey

I’m not sure what my blog readers have done to deserve a mid-week update but you’ll know for the next time.

On Monday, I decided that my achy foot needed a rest and that running would have to be put on hold for a few days. With that in mind, I made the decision to not run in next Sunday’s Stubbington 10K and transfer the place to someone who’d not been able to get in prior to entry closing. Having found a suitable replacement and asked that rather than pay me for the place that they make a donation to charity, I decided that I’d focus on the pool and bike for the week until parkrunday.

This did mean that I would miss Lordshill training which was disappointing. However, it gave me an excellent opportunity to get back to the Monday evening STC swim session. I decided that I’d attend the 8pm session as it’s normally quieter. I wasn’t disappointed.

There were only 3-of us in the lane; Donna, Liz and myself.

The session consisted of a warm-up (200m swim, 200m pull, 100m swim) followed by 10 x 50m fast. My first 4 or 5 sets were at a reasonable pace. I did catch up with Liz and then drafted Liz fort the rest of the sweet!

At some point, we had to do 100m kick – one of my worst nightmare in the pool and some drills that involved no arms. At that point I was beginning to regret my decision to attend.
We then had to do another 5 x 50m at race pace before cooling down. In total we swam less than 1.8km and it had felt tough. Having said that, it’s should have done after not having swum for a fee months.

Just got a moment to explain the blog post title… it could have been ‘It does what it says on the tin’. I’ve recently changed anti-perspirant/deodorant. For quite a while I’ve had times where I’ve honked like a donkey and that’s been after regular showering and the use of Lynx. I’d hoped to smell delightful after such a regime but must have been very unpleasant to be close to. There are plenty of reasons to avoid me, but I didn’t want body odour to be the main one. The Lynx Effect hasn’t been as the TV adverts had portrayed at all. Instead, it would appear that the roll-on I’d been using had become ineffective. I decided that I could no longer suffer my own stinkiness so choose a different under-arm wiff-neutraliser. The difference has been amazing. I still smell gorgeous (some creative licence there I think we’ll both agree. If only I could buy a spray that could make me look half decent let alone gorgeous) after 24 hours and feel that I can spent time in the company of others without them wondering whether I’ve been living in a shop doorway. As out turns out, I checked out The Lynx roll on bottle to find that it was only an anti-perspirant. D’oh. Please note that I’d prefer that you didn’t all tell me know how smelly I was. Let’s just consider it as an understanding between us.

A friend recently told me to stop putting myself down. In complete honestly, I do it for ‘entertainment’ (using the term very lightly) and don’t have a low opinion of myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far, far, far from perfect and have lots of faults. You know what they are. Moving on…


Back to my week… Tuesday was a ‘rest day’ which meant I could be lazy. Rest days are bad. They mean I have to watch what I eat and can often result in eating several hundred calories more than I should. As one of my goals, I’ve started recording what I’ve been eating using myfitnesspal. This app is amazing and without it, I have no self-control over what I eat.

I’ve also started using an app called ‘Way of Life’ in which you define a series of daily goals. I’ve chosen several including:

– Tracking food
– Not ordering from Amazon
– Practicing guitar
– Not eating crisps
– Going out for a run
– Do 3 hamstring stretches a day
– Eat fruit

Each goal can be categorised as good or bad. At the end of each day, you go through each goal and indicate whether you achieved it. It’s given me some focus and appears to be working.

One of my daily goals listed above is ‘Do 3 hamstring stretches a day’. I can’t touch my toes (well, I can but you know what I mean) and haven’t been able to for as many years as I care to remember. I’ve been told that being flexible and being able to touch my toes is a good thing (unless ‘soap on a rope’ is also part of the equation). So, I’m trying to get to the point where I can reach this goal. Once I can do it, expect me to be showing my new skill off at every opportunity. Apologies in advance.

Back on track. My enforced, self-inflicted running ban meant that on Wednesday I decided that I’d go out on the bike. Having swum on Monday meant I’d also decided to not get out of bed at an unacceptable hour for the STC Swim session.

There was every likelihood that I’d bail due to poor weather conditions which included high winds and wintry showers. (Un)fortunately, the weather gods decided to reward me with a 45 minute respite from the wind and rain so that I could enjoy a 40 minute cycle ride in the sunshine. I took the opportunity to try out my Garmin Virb Ellie action camera which had been reduced it price to such a degree that Amazon were practically giving out away. Why did I want to record my journey on an action camera? Well, because I can. It’s sad to admit that I’ve really enjoyed playing back the footage especially when stats from the Virb’s GPS are included (it’s also possible to pair ANT+ sensors such as cadence and heart rate although I’d forgotten to do that) and overlay those over the video footage.

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I really enjoyed the ride (and reliving it numerous times) and am looking forward to a break in the forecast wintry weather in the next week to be able to get out again.

2015 week 2

It’s the 12th January already and from a training perspective, things haven’t quite give to plan.

Monday was Lordshill training. I made the decision to run with group E and enjoyed the session (I’ve blogged about it already so won’t go into the details again).

Tuesday was due to be a bike session but it was raining and windy so I bailed. I could have used the rollers but didn’t. Not impressed with myself.

Wednesday was due to be my first STC swim session of the week but I didn’t get out of bed. D’oh!

On Thursday I did some exercise. Woo hoo. I’ve enjoyed LRR training and have been toying with the idea of returning to Run Camp for the early morning track session. With both LRR and STC offering track sessions, the decision to pay for Run Camp instead is due to the fact it:

– fits better into my weekly schedule. I simply wouldn’t get away with another evening out training
– incorporates strength and conditioning which saves me having to fit my own session in

There were a couple of familiar faces in the group (Steve, Darren and Jenny) but the others were strangers. The session comprised of a 800m warm-up followed by a kettlebell set and then 4x400m, another kettlebell set, 4x400m, kettlebell set and then a cool down. Although I enjoyed the session, I struggled a little/lot and missed the old gang of Run Campers.

Later in the day, the ball off my right foot started to feel achy. This was similar to the ache I had after using Vibrams. With Stubbington 10K on Sunday, and big plans not too far off, I don’t want to get injured. What had caused the ache? I’m not sure. Maybe I need to retire my adidas Boosts. It’s more likely that my ridiculous lack of control with eating has led to the inevitable piling of the pounds and almost reaching the heaviest I’ve been for a couple of years. I’ve only got myself to blame and really need to focus on eating more healthily. My weight gain has meant I’m feeling less confident about getting back into swimming too. I know that I just need to bite the (calorie-free) bullet and just go to the pool and try to do so a couple of times a week.

On Friday I’d another bike session planned but work got in the way alongside a high dose of ‘can’t be arsed’.

On Saturday I had a decision to make. Having opened so many parkruns Inn the area, choosing one is sometimes a challenge. I had narrowed the choice down to Eastleigh, Netley Abbey or Southampton. Each has their attractions for the day and with the help of an iPhone app (and enough attempts to get the decisIon I wanted), I headed to Royal Victoria Country Park, the home of Netley Abbey parkrun.

The weather wasn’t kind with high winds and a little drizzle. However, it was good to see many parkrun friends and enjoy the 3-lap out and back course which affords lots of opportunities to shout encouragement to them. Of the local parkrun, the course is the best for that in fact I’m beginning to favour NA over Eastleigh at the moment although Southampton has a few positives that make it another contender for my local favourite parkrun with its all tarmac course and the fact many friends run at the event. I don’t feel as if I have a home event as such (other than Southampton juniors) although Eastleigh parkrun is officially my home event.

Whist at Netley Abbey, Southampton parkrun welcomed a massive 700+ turnout. Clearly a combination of students returning after their Christmas break and those with New Year’s Resolutions bolstered the numbers to a new attendance record which was likely one of the highest in the country for the weekend.

In the afternoon, we took the boys to a fun swim session at Totton Leisure Centre. This gave me a little opportunity to do some swimming. Well. A free widths of the pool and a few rubbish attempts at tumble turns before the pool filled with kids on floats. At least I can say (with a large lunch of salt) that I’ve been swimming.

Sunday was junior parkrun day. As Daniel and I were leaving to head down to Riverside Park, Connor decided to join us which, as he’d only just got up, meant a rush to get him dressed and fed before driving to RP.

We made it in time and arrived at 8:30am, unloaded the equipment and headed straight out to set up the course. Both Daniel and Connor helped and we got back to the start area with a few minutes to spare. The turnout was massive. I did wonder whether we’d have enough finish tokens but with 125 junior finishers, it looks like the numbers in attendance were swelled by running parents. I suspect a few were using the 2km run as a means of getting some more exercise as part of a New Year’s Resolution.