Bushy parkrun -28th Jan 2012

Having had a pretty light week in the running department this week I decided to run down to Bushy, race, and run back afterwards, adding an extra 6 miles to my 5k race. It was dry and a bit chilly but I soon warmed up after a few hundred meters.

Bushy seemed quite busy but I didn’t realise how busy until the end. I was able to skip my usual warmup of 3 laps of the pond having run rather than taken the car.

I had a steady run round (wearing my Camelbak pack for practise) with time for a chat with a friend or two. It was still a bit muddy in places which I carefully avoided due to running in sandals as usual (mud and huaraches don’t mix).

With my usual sprint finish I crossed the line at 23:15 (clearly too much chatting on the way round), and was greeted by both funnels full and seemingly not moving. Pausing to ask the runner next to me to get a token for me I dropped out of the funnel and went back to help out the funnel marshals who were struggling to keep the finish line clear and accelerate the movement of runners through the funnel.

The final total number of runners was 914 which explains the stressed marshals.

Hopefully I’ll manage to get more training in this week and I’m dropping hints about another run to Windsor on Sunday which would be good. If I get approval I may volunteer for funnel on Saturday (to help sort out the teething problems) and just run there and back to get some exercise, we’ll see.

Bushy 7 mile run – 24th Jan 2012

It was a bit late when I finally got out for a run, about 9:30pm so I decided to do my 7 mile circuit that brings me back through Bushy park. I donned my kit including headtorch and set off. It was a bit damp underfoot but not raining so it looked like I’d have dry feet in my sandals.

My training is all aimed towards my Ultras in March and June so is focussed on maintaining a low heart rate to increase fat burning, whilst keeping glycogen consumption to a minimum (you only store enough glycogen for around 18 -20 miles then you hit “the wall” the results of which are fairly common to see in marathons) which is pretty much the only way to survive endurance races. So once my heart rate had settled down after the usual first mile “spike” I settled comfortably into a 10:30 minute/mile pace and a heart rate of around 60% (max HR – resting HR) or 130 bpm. Not a pace to win any medals but one I can probably maintain for 50 odd miles without getting out of breath.

Anyway back to the run, it was roads and pavement until I got into Busy Park which by 10pm is closed to all traffic aside from pedestrians. Running through the park can be a bit unnerving as you keep getting pairs of eyes reflecting back your headtorch beam from the herds of deer that roam  the park. Its fine now, but during the rutting season you have to make sure you don’t run between a stag and his hinds, other wise your gentle run could turn into a sprint session! It is a very calm and tranquil place, away from the commotion of daily life, with just the quiet “pad pad pad” of my sandals.

Once back on the roads it was a fairly quiet run back home, with the usual tempting smell of curry as I pass an Indian restaurant in Hampton Hill (I keep thinking one day I must book a take away to pickup as I go past!).

Keen to take on fluids after my run, a gin & tonic went down very well with my rather late dinner.

: – )

Solihull parkrun -21st Jan 2012

My usual Saturday 5k parkrun, but with a slight difference.

As it was my Mothers 78th birthday we were up in Solihull for the weekend so Mother and I ran in the Solihull event. This is a normal event for Mother whereas I normally do Bushy (much flatter).

It was a brisk morning but rain held off till later which was good. the Solihull course is in Brueton Park and a 2 lap course with a bit of a climb on each lap. This is made easier by the luxury of having a tea shop opposite the start!

I came in 23:36 (44th out of around 140) and Mother finished in around 36 minutes.

It was a bit different running in a field if that size after Bushy at 900-1000 people! My 100 club shirt, combined with my sandals caused a bit of a stir.

‘Why are you running in those funny shoes?’

‘Why are you running in those funny shoes?’.


Now if only I had £1 for every time someone asked me that, or else stood just beyond my peripheral vision (or so they thought) at a race start and pointed at my feet. My journey to ‘barefoot’ or ‘minimalist’ shoes started whilst on holiday in Vermont, USA in August 2010. We were on a family hike through woods that brought you out at the top of a ski lift that was closed for the summer. As we started to descend I saw a family group still ascending the mountain but didn’t pay much attention. A few minutes later it was pointed out to me that the kids were not wearing any shoes or boots and that their Mother had some of those toe shoes things on. Toe shoes, what are they I asked my Wife, who then explained she had read an article in the scientific journal Nature about barefoot running and a new type of shoe that had pockets for each toe. ‘It’s supposed to be better for you, something about normal running shoes distorting how your body would naturally run, which results in injuries” she said.

I was now curious and once back at the house we were renting (which fortunately had WiFi) I began surfing these shoes and the Harvard scientist (Prof Daniel Lieberman) who published the paper in Nature. I also nagged my Wife to get me the full paper from Nature.

Crouched over my little iPod Touch I read and read, watched interviews with Daniel Lieberman on YouTube and was, ok I admit it, probably a bit obsessive for a few days. By the time we were due to spend our last 3 days holiday in Boston I had already found out where the nearest store was that sold these Vibram Five Fingers things (CitySports).

On the evening before I intended to visit the store I planned a nice stroll around Boston that just happened to go past the store (so I knew where to go as I would only have an hour tomorrow).

They day arrived and I headed down to the store, Amex card in hand. Wow, it was a huge store covering all sports…. and over by the running shoes a display stand of Vibrams. After 20 minutes with a knowledgeable assistant I walked out with a pair of Vibram Bikilas and a book titled ‘Born To Run’ that I had never heard of, but was strongly recommended to read. Between them, those 2 items have had a tremendous impact on my life as a runner.


Fast forward 19 months and I have met 2 key characters from the book (Barefoot Ted and Caballo Blanco) and have been running in Barefoot Ted’s ‘Luna Sandals’ for over a year (I love them).


Even my office shoes are Vivobarefoot ‘barefoot’ shoes as I found that it accelerated my transition from normal running shoes and enabled me to run a half marathon 2 months after first switching to Vibrams.

I’m now training for 2 ultras in 2012 (50 & 69 miles) and will enter the Copper Canyons Ultra Marathon (the race featured in ‘Born to Run’) in 2013.

Here’s a video about the Copper Canyons Ultra Marathon, the scenery is stunning and running it will definitely be an item to tick off my “bucket list”.


So basically, that’s why I wear those funny shoes!

Twickenham to Windsor 22 mile training run – 15th Jan 2012

This had been on my “to do” list for months, and I finally did it. My plan was to run from Twickenham to Windsor along the Thames Path and then get the train back after refueling in a local cafe.

Windsor route along Thames Path

I left home at 8:00am Sunday morning, fully wrapped up with hat and gloves and 1.5 litres in my Camelbak along with Clif bloks and bars. It was just light so I didn’t need lights. I wore my new Luna ATS Sandals with Toe Socks for a bit of extra warmth (I’ve been running in Luna’s for over a year and love them).

As the Thames Path is on the south side of the river it was road running till I got to Shepperton (1.5 hrs) after which I joined the Thames Path when it crossed to the North bank.

Once on the Thames Path it was a nice scenic run past boats, rowing 8’s, loads of wildlife and some rather nice houses that back to to the river. It was hard to believe this is the same river that flows under Westminster bridge.

The Thames path crosses banks a few times which gave me a chance to try and remove the mud that was building up on my sandals as the morning started to warm up by stamping as I went over each bridge. I saw a few runners, and later on walkers on their Sunday morning walk (probably an attempt to justify the enormous Sunday lunch they are having later).

The muddiest bit was around Runnymede where I had to check I was still on the right track as Thames Path signs seemed to be few and far inbetween (and poor 3G signal meant my iPhone maps weren’t that useful).

After Datchet it was good to see Windsor castle appearing in the distance after a few large loops of the river which finally bought me into Windsor. I left the path at the bridge which is just behind the Windsor & Eton Riverside railway station.

View from my late breakfast

The discovery of a cafe by the bridge resulted in well earned “bucket” of Earl Grey tea and a wonderful bacon sandwich, before getting on the next train back to Twickenham.

Sunbury 10 mile training run – 10th Jan 2012

Tonight’s run started a bit late at 9:30pm but at least it wasn’t raining. My plan was to run for around 1 hour then turn round and run back.

I set off on the way to Sunbury at a 130 HR pace, although for the first mile it was sat at 180 till I warmed up after which it dropped as usual. Wearing head torch etc, more for the benefit of motorists than for me to look where I was going as it was all going to be pavement and road running.

It was a pretty quiet run with plenty of wildlife (rabbits, foxes) particularly when I was alongside the Thames at Sunbury on Thames.

I turned round at 5 miles and made my way back, getting home at just after 11 pm to a large mug of tea and a welcome hot shower. Another 10 miles in the tank.

Sunbury 10k training run – 8th Jan 2012

Wanted to go for a long run but as I was going to take my youngest son (12) to football training decided to get up early and run first.

Got up at 6:30am and ran for a nice casual 5k towards Sunbury before turning round and running back. Pitch black at the start so headtorch etc required but it was nice to see the sun coming up on my run back home.

Looking forward to more daylight as I really want to continue that particular route, eventually right the way to Windsor along the Thames Path (but at 20 miles I need a few hours free). The main reward at the end of such a run would be breakfast in a cafe and getting the train back to Twickenham!

Bushy parkrun – 7th Jan 2012

A bright morning drive in Bushy park on the way to the weekly 5k parkrun. Traffic in the park halted by a large stag standing in the road until he was happy that all his doe’s had safely crossed over. Incredible looking creature, trying to squeeze past him on a bike would probably result in you becoming a kebab!

Seemed quite a lot of people waiting for parkrun (New years resolutions no doubt), but it was only after I finished and jumped into the funnel to help them out that I realised quite how many people were running. Exactly 1,000 people, which broke the previous parkrun record of 846 (also held by Bushy).

The funnel layout needs a revisiting if we are going to get those kind of numbers very often.

South Downs Way – 28 Dec 2012


As I was going to be spending a few days in Sussex after Xmas I planned a long run using the nearby South Downs Way as a route.

I started out at 8:30 on Wed 28th in My KSO Treks and my Camelbak (with a few bloks and munches) put on my head torch and headed out the door. It looked like it may rain and as I would have to run 5 miles due south just to get to the downs I packed a waterproof as well.

It was a quiet run through Glyndebourne and Glynde before I hit the steep climb up and on to the Downs. Once on top it was clear and the path heading East to Alfriston was obvious.
I passed a few walkers but no runners for the next hour before descending into Alfriston (a downhill run I would regret 10 minutes later when I had to climb back up).

If I was looking for a quaint pub for lunch then Alfriston looked like the place but alas I wasn’t. A quick look at the Church and I was heading back up on to the Downs towards Lewes.


I could see the radio transmitter mast for miles so I knew where I would have to leave the high tranquility of the Downs and descend, back to sharing my path with cars.

Still feeling strong I continued through the last 2 villages, stopping briefly to put on a jacket as the rain made an appearance 2 miles before the end.

It was a great run, not fast, but after over 4 hours of running, 21 miles and 2,000 foot of climbing I still felt I could carry on.

Here’s the Garmin Data:


A good training run and the start of my build up for the 50 mile Paris trail run in March.