Injury, recovery and looking forward to Canada – 9th August 2012

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog for a couple of weeks due to a calf strain I received whilst out on a run with James.

It took me 2 weeks if ice, massage and ‘the stick’ to work the sore lump in my calf out of my muscles. Having done that I did a slow and careful (listening to how my body was working) run for 10 miles along the river last week, a 5k parkrun in Brighton last Saturday and a 10 mile run to Richmond and back via Crane Park yesterday morning (the photo below).

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I’m now getting my running gear together for the family holiday in British Columbia, Canada where I hope to get in quite a few trail training runs (whilst everyone is asleep) and hiking in my Luna’s. My only concern is the wild animals they have over there (bears, mountain lions) as the most I am used to in the UK is angry squirrels!

I have my usual half marathon in Bristol, UK at the end of September with my friend Phil, and I would like to break my long standing PB/PR with something nearer to 1:45 so I must remember to go easy on the pancakes and maple syrup!

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Richmond – Teddington Lock 9.5 mile circuit – 4th July 2012

Having failed to go for a run on Tuesday I was definitely going on Wednesday night and arranged with my neighbour James (Race Director of www.ringofire.co.uk) to meet up around 8pm and fit in a run.

I intended to do my my usual 9.5 / 10 mile river circuit (but maybe I should have told James first ….oops)

We started a few minutes late but wearing my Luna’s and carrying  a water bottle we headed into Crane Park. Having been training alone for months I’d normally settle into my comfortable 10:15 min/mile “ultra” speed but with James I know it will be faster so we settled into around 9:30 min/mile.

It was nice when we finally cut through Twickenham and reached the Thames, where we ran along to Richmond Bridge. Once over the bridge we turned right and headed past a few restaurants on the river, Gaucho’s always smells wonderful (http://www.gauchorestaurants.co.uk/restaurants/restaurant.php?id=richmond), before reaching Petersham meadows.

The path is quite rocky and muddy on this section so we hopped over the wall into the meadows and ran along the grassy path that runs parallel, before joining the river path again a few hundred metres later.

We passed a few people walking, but the light was starting to fade, and we had to do a fair bit of navigating mud and puddles at times where the tree canopy above is quite dense so it is pretty dark. Much later and I would be wishing I had my headtorch as it is far too easy to kick a rock, and in sandals that hurts a lot!

It was a fairly warm evening but having neglected to tell James exactly how far we were going (else he would have brought water as well) meant we shared my water bottle as we got quite thirsty.

We discussed “The Wall”, how beneficial my kettle bell training was for hill climbing and and how some of the race arrangements that I viewed as successful may be relevant to James’s event. We also talked about me having to make a decision soon about running the 50 mile Copper Canyons Ultra Marathon (CCUM) in Mexico in early March 2013 as entries have now opened.

We reached Teddington Lock, crossed the river, and headed back through Teddington to home. Running on pavement is always a real “downer” after the trails along the river.

It was a good run and nice to be able to chat with James as we ran, which is also a good check that we were running aerobically!

Thanks James.

Barefoot Ted, parkrun and Richmond – Teddington Lock 10 mile circuit – 1st July 2012

After my 69 mile ultra last Saturday (www.thewalllrun.com) I’d taken it easy with no running until I attended Barefoot Ted’s talk at the London “Run and Become” running store on Friday. Barefoot Ted will be known to many runners as the character in Chris McDougall’s best-selling book “Born to Run”.

I met Ted last year at his talk and it was good to go for a short run with him around Green Park. even my son Sam came with us, making it the furthest he has run in a long time. I must get him to buy his own Luna Sandals and stop borrowing mine!

I did my usual parkrun at Bushy Park on Saturday morning (along with 819 others) and was pleased to finish in 23:09. Topped it off by joining a parkrun volunteer photo with Paul Sinton-Hewitt (parkrun CEO & Founder).

I awoke to brilliant sunshine on Sunday morning, grabbed my gear, tied on my Luna’s and set out at 8am for a 10 mile circuit along the Thames.

It was hard to believe that 1 week earlier I was just gingerly climbing into bed having completed my 69 mile run.

The river at Richmond was quite busy but not enough to spoil the view along the river from Richmond towards Ham House.

I saw a few runners on the river path, but not as many as I would have thought on such a pleasant morning.

The photo below shows the trail that continues all the way to Kingston and beyond. Its a bit rocky in places but good practice for careful foot placement in sandals. Practice that came in very useful a week ago. I consider myself very lucky to be able to run in places like this.

The legs felt good, with no traces of tiredness so as long as I don’t wake up tomorrow with sore legs it looks like the post-ultra repair work is complete, enabling me to get back into my normal running schedule. That said, the only race I have got coming up is Bristol half Marathon on 30th September and the Cabbage Patch 10 mile in mid October.

At Teddington Lock I crossed over the river (I’d have loved to carry on to Kingston but wanted to get home before everyone wakes up) and headed back through Teddington towards home.

A nice run, at around 10:30 min/mile pace a great start to a sunny Sunday, alas it rained later (but I had already had the best bit of the day).

Last 8 mile run before Ultra and an admirer with antlers – 19th June 2012

So here we are at last, my last training run before my ultra on Saturday.

My Ultra kit is now in piles on the bedroom floor waiting to be sorted into:

  • What I’m running in on Sat
  • What is going in my drop bag
  • Everything else

So once I’d extracted enough gear to wear for my last training run I got a lift with Theresa who was taking Oliver to Scouts (I’d have to end up back home afterwards to get the car to go and pick him up later).

Outside Bushy park I checked my Luna laces, grabbed my bottle of Nuun and headed off into the park.

I had run perhaps half a mile before I saw a herd of deer near the path and as they all had velvet covered antlers I stopped to take a photo.

Whilst I was getting my iPhone out one of them took an interest in me and started to wander over. I stood my ground for a bit until I took the following photo and then carried on running as I didn’t want it to turn into a fartlek session pursued by something with antlers!

They are beautiful creatures.

It was a lovely evening which made me think about the advance weather forecast for the location of the Ultra. Basically it sucks.

To quote the BBC Weather website for Carlisle where the run starts:

“Further rain or showers are likely during the weekend, some heavy with a risk of thunder. Temperatures remaining below average.”

So pretty much my entire run was spent wondering if I was I fully prepared for running in waterproofs, do I need to change anything, shall I start in Luna’s and carry my VFF KSO Trek, or start in VFFs and carry Luna’s, do I need a warmer top as a spare, should I put more stuff in my drop bag etc etc?

It would be such a shame if it is raining as it won’t do the scenery justice, in fact as most of it is exposed it is more likely to be horizontal rain, in which case I won’t see much at all.

Fingers crossed the weather guys have got it wrong, after all they have before (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Storm_of_1987).

Anyway back to my run, it was a gentle run round Bushy at around 10:20 min/mile just to stretch my legs, admire the scenery and (as you can see above) not fret too much about the impending Ultra.

I was shaken out of my musings by a female runner heading towards me at some speed. Judging by her form and physique (and six pack!) she was probably in one of the Olympic teams training at St. Mary’s college round the corner. She was certainly fit (in both meanings of the word).

I reached Teddington Gate and headed back home by road, sorry to leave the scenery of the park and now my thoughts turning to Saturday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richmond – Teddington Lock circuit 10 mile run – 13th June 2012

It was 9pm last night before I got out of the house for a run, so it was back to using my head torch again. Oh well I may end up having to use it on my ultra if I slow up too much in the latter stages, anyway so good practice.

I wore my Camelbak, more to carry my waterproof as the sky still looked like it could decide to rain at some time in the next 2 hours. Stuck some tape on the top of my feet (to prevent knot rubbing), tied on my Luna’s grabbed a bottle of Nuun and set out.

I was doing my 10 mile circuit, through Crane Park, along the river to Richmond, over the bridge and back along the river to Teddington Lock where I cross back again and then head back home through Teddington.

I was aiming for around 10:00 – 10:20 min/mile pace which I seem to settle into almost without thinking these days. That level of “autopilot”  is what I’m going to need a week on Saturday if I’m to run farther than I have ever run before, 69 miles!

As it was starting to get dark I wasn’t listening to my usual diet of running podcasts (UltraRunnerPodcast, Trail Runner Nation, Talk Ultra) , though I reckon I can recite Sunny Blende’s (from Chris McDougall’s “Born to Run” book) nutrition interviews (http://www.eat4fitness.com/) on running Ultra’s from memory!

I saw a couple of runners on the way to Richmond, but none after that point as it was getting dark and the path to Teddington is very dark in places and wooded. I was grateful for the incredible light from my headtorch (http://silva.se/products/sport/trail-runner) which gives a powerful central beam and 2 wide side beams which is very useful when you need to see outside of the usual “light tunnel” you get with some lights.

Alas the river had been high recently (and we’ve had lots of rain) so I was having to negotiate my way round lots of mud & puddles, trying to keep from getting mud between my feet and my sandals, as it is the one thing that makes running in them nigh on impossible, as you just slip and slide around on top of the sandal. It is the one reason I will be doing the ultra with my pair of Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek in my pack, just as a backup in case my Luna Sandals become unwearable due to mud.

Don’t get me wrong I love my Luna’s, and have done trail runs where I have had to run through mud, but I’ve been able to wash off the mud quickly by standing in a puddle (boy do you get some funny looks) or using cups at a water station to wash your feet clean (funny looks there too), but if it is just miles of muddy trails then I’ll switch to VFFs.

I finally got home at 10:45pm, hungry (only had 2 shot bloks) but feeling like I could keep on running.

One week tomorrow I’ll be on the train to Carlisle (I’m taking the slow scenic route over what is considered the most scenic railway in england, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Settle-Carlisle_Line), starting The Wall 69 mile Ultra at 7:00am the next day.

Only a week to go, almost time to start laying out my running gear!

Chelsea to Barnes Bridge and back 14 mile Thames Path run – 10th June 1012

Having dropped Sam off at judo I had around 2.5 hours to kill so I headed off over the River Thames to join the Thames Path towards Barnes. I reckoned I’d be able to get to Barnes Bridge before it would be time to turn back which would give me a good total run of around 14 miles.

It was quite warm, though rain was forecast later. There was more runners than normal on the trail, probably due to the expected weather later.

A surprise, I passed a runner going the other way and we both smiled, pointed at each others footwear and exclaimed ‘nice sandals’, yes we were both running in Barefoot Ted’s (BFT) Luna Sandals! It was the first time I have seen anyone in the UK wearing them. I shouted to him that BFT is in London later this month and we both headed off our separate ways.

I was carrying my Camelbak and was determined to drink my 2 litres of Nuun during the run, along with eating a few Shot Bloks.

My Ultra is 2 weeks away and I’m starting to taper my run distances, 10-15 miles on Sundays and 2×10 mile runs in the week.

Today was a test of the ASICS Trail (lots of storage for food and non slick shoulder tops) top I intend to run the ultra in, so it was good not to find any issues with it.

I finally got to Barnes Bridge and turned around opposite the composer Gustav Holst’s house (according to the blue plaque).

A lot more people had come out for a Sunday walk along the river by this time so I had a lot of dodging and weaving around people trying to walk whilst ready Sunday papers and buggies.

I finally crossed back over the river and made my way back to the car, 14 miles completed and only one more 14 ish mile run next Sunday before the ultra.

I’m fighting the temptation to start laying my running kit out on the floor and deciding what goes in my running rucksack and what goes in the drop bag. Tomorrow I’ll stock up on my nutrition for the race, Clif Shot Bloks and Clif Bars.

I’m starting to suffer from surpressed excitement!

Richmond – Teddington 10 mile circuit – 7th June 2012

Having woke up early and planning to work at home today I grabbed a bottle, tied on my Luna’s and headed out the door to get in a 10 mile run before sitting down to work at 9am.

It had rained during the night hence the ground was still wet so I was wondering how wet and muddy the path would be once I crossed over the river at Richmond and headed back to Teddington.

The roads were getting busy with commuters on their way to work with dozens of them hurrying to Twickenham station, most of which were oblivious to a runner in a bright orange top trying to thread his way between them.

I was soon running alongside the river by Marble Hill park with only the odd cyclist avoiding the traffic and cycling to Richmond station along the river.

A lot of sticks had been washed up on to the path which indicated it was a high tide last night, so I could well be dodging muddy sections after Richmond Bridge as the section of the path from Richmond to Teddington lock can flood quite badly.

I crossed over the bridge and turned right on to the Thames Path and avoided the very rocky path (I don’t want to break a toe at this point in my training by stubbing my foot on a rock) by hopping into Petersham Meadows and using the grass path on the photo below, and continuing the path off to the left towards 17th century Ham House (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ham-house/) which is visible from the path.

I was still averaging around 10:30 min/mile which is slightly faster than my intended ultra speed (aiming for around 11:00 min/mile) but it was still very comfortable and felt like I could keep it up for hours , which is just as well really.

Having avoided quite a number of flooded sections of path I reached Teddington Lock and crossed over the river where I could see some of the boats that took part in the Queens Jubilee pageant, generally in the Dunkirk little ships category.

I headed back along the pavement through Teddington and back home after an enjoyable 1:45 minute run.

Same again on Sunday I think, tide permitting.