A Parkrun Adventure

Living in Brighton and Hove, I’m very lucky to have four parkruns in my town, each with its own unique atmosphere, route type and various quirks.

Having completed three of the four over the last few years, this weekend I had agreed to join a friend for what promised to be the toughest of the four – Bevendean Down… but you do have to go up before you can go down!

The only reason that I had never completed the Bevendean parkrun was that it isn’t within easily walking distance. However, the promise to meet up there with a friend was good motivation to get myself up and out a little bit earlier than usual.

I had to get the 8:00 train from Hove and then change at Brighton for the 8:14 to Moulsecoomb and then walk for about 0.7 miles to get to the start line. It should have been easy enough, but not knowing the streets around that part of town, I managed to get myself a little bit lost.

I took a wrong turn down a trail that I thought would lead to the start line, but ended up leading me to load of brambles. Fortunately when I turned back into the street I spotted someone who looked like he was heading somewhere for a run and decided to follow him.

Within a few minutes, I found the parkrunners waiting in the field and went to join them with about 5-10 minutes to spare.

The route itself is two laps of a field, with a long slow uphill section, followed by a nice downhill. Knowing that I would be very slow and would probably have to walk a fair bit, I went to the back for the start.

The first part of the run was nice and flat, but with soft ground underfoot and a slight camber, I found it took a bit of getting used to. As we started the first climb, I knew that despite my already slow pace I was going to struggle, so I suggested to my friend that she run on ahead and I would walk some of the uphill.

I didn’t mind being at the back and it was nice to chat to the tail runner during my walk breaks – which were many and long!

When it came to the downhill though, I made sure than I ran and enjoyed being able to pick up the pace a bit. It was weird running downhill on grass as the ground was soft but pretty even for the most part, unlike trails where you have to watch out for stones and bits of tree.

The second lap was much the same as the first, but with a bit more walking. However, I did make the effort to try to pick up the pace a bit more on the run to the finish.

My official finish time was 39:10, which I was very pleased with. Plus, I achieved my highest position ever coming in 26th place overall… ok, so there were only 27 runners and the tail runner always finishes last, but it’s a statistic that made me smile!

After the run, most of the runners and volunteers went for breakfast at The Bevy, a community owned and run pub just down the road. The food was amazing and everyone was very friendly (we all got a free bag of spinach for some reason!), although next time I will remember to take my muddy shoes off at the door!

(I found an article about the Bevy, which explains what it is all about much better than I can, so click here of you want to read a truly inspiring story!)

As parkruns go, this is definitely my favourite. Even though the route is much more challenging than any of the others, the fact that there are fewer runners makes it feel much more welcoming and everyone was very friendly.

I’ll definitely be going back for more, although I doubt I could handle the hill every week!

Did you get a run in this weekend? Please share your thoughts and comments below.




C210K Week 11

Now that I’ve moved on to Couch to 10K, I need to do some longer runs and, after Saturday’s parkrun, I realised that I need to start getting out more than once a week. So this evening seemed like the perfect time to start.

Despite the weekend’s snow, the temperature was lovely and mild when I got home from work, so I dropped my bag, got changed and headed straight out. I can’t remember the last time I did that!

It was still light at 5:45pm, so I headed to the seafront where I knew it would be nice, flat and fairly safe if it started to get dark before I was done. My plan, if I had a plan, was to try to run 5K without stopping. After Saturday’s parkrun I needed to know that I could go the distance without walk breaks.

With the Burgess Hill 10K coming up in a few weeks though, I also had in mind that I needed to try to work on my endurance and start building up some distance. I wasn’t going to push it, but I figured that if I went slowly enough then I would try to hit 40 or 45 minutes, depending on how I was feeling.

With all of this in mind, I set off at a nice slow steady pace, heading East towards Hove Lawns and the Peace Statue. There were quite a few runners, dog walkers, and dog runners around, but it wasn’t so busy that you had to dodge around people.

I hit the first kilometre in 7:30 flat, which I figured should be slow enough to make sure I got my distance done, and managed to maintain that same pace through kilometres 2 and 3.

As I turned and headed West towards the lagoon, I noticed for the first time that there is a wind farm in the sea just off of Hove beach. I know it’s a while since I’ve trained along that stretch, but I had no idea they were putting in wind turbines – makes sense I guess as it can be pretty windy down there.

This evening though, there wasn’t much of a breeze and the sea itself was calm and flat. It looked lovely in the twilight with a beautiful orange sunset over the sea beyond Shoreham. I really should take my phone out with me when I run so that I can share these things.

Anyway, the run was going well. I felt happy and relaxed as I shuffled along at my 7:30 pace. 4K came and went and I knew that I had the 5K in the bag so I decided to run to the end of the promenade by the lagoon, turn round, and see if I could keep going all the way back to my starting point.

I had no idea what the distance would be, but I reckoned it would be about 6K, which with my steady pace should bring me in at about 45 minutes. As it turned out, it was 6.16K in 45:57, so close enough to the mark.

But the best part about this evening’s run was that, even though it was slow, it gave me the confidence to know that I can run at least 5K and that I’ve still got a good chance of achieving 10K by the beginning of May.

Also, the clocks go forward this weekend, which means an extra hour of light in the evenings to get some more mid week runs in after work. I can’t wait!

How’s your running going? What time of day do you like run or train? Does your routine change when the clocks change? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Parkrun Fun

I forgot to post about last weekend’s run, but I did get a run in. I had arranged to do a parkrun this weekend, which is only 5K, so I had to make sure that I got out last week to do something a bit more than that. So here’s a quick recap:

Last Weekend – C210K Week 10:

I was scheduled to run for 40 minutes continuously, but it didn’t quite work out that way. Knowing that I needed to get some hills in, I decided to run in the park instead of the seafront.

The hills themselves didn’t feel too bad, but I found that I was struggling and, after only 26 minutes of running, I had to take a walk break. I took a couple of minutes to recover and set off running again, but something just wasn’t right and I had to take another couple of breaks.

I still managed to do the 40 minutes, but the distance was short of what I had hoped at only 5.4K, so I’ll admit I was disappointed with my 7:25 pace.

When I got home, I checked my stats and soon realised what the problem was. After about 15 minutes, my heart rate had started to climb and was soon hitting between 160 and 170 bpm, which really is way too high.

So, this weekend, while I wanted to put in a good time for parkrun, I also knew that I would need to pay more attention to what was going on with my body.

This Weekend – parkrun fun!

My ideal goal for this weekend was to run 5K in something between 35 and 37 minutes. The weather forecast said snow, so I guessed I would probably have to walk at some point.

Like last week, however, I found the going quite tough and was gutted to have to take a walk break shortly after the first kilometre. I probably could have run a bit more if I had slowed down, but my mind was more concerned about my heart rate as I was feeling some amount of discomfort in my chest with the icy cold air.

So, I said to my friend to run on and settled myself into a more comfortable pace with plenty of walk breaks and, surprisingly, I managed to finish the 5K in 34:50! While I was disappointed with the walk breaks, I was pleased with the end result.

When I uploaded my data, I was surprised to see that my heart rate hadn’t been too bad for that first kilometre. The problem had been that my pace was to fast for my current level of fitness, as I had completed the first kilometre in 6:15 – hardly surprising that I had to stop and walk!

Despite the fact that I know I always set off too quickly at parkrun, I hadn’t thought to check my watch to see if I needed to slow down. I guess it was partly to do with the fact that I was running with a friend and partly to do with the fact that I assumed I was going slow enough because of the amount of people who were overtaking me.

Either way though, it doesn’t really matter. The main thing is that I enjoyed the run, got some practice running in a group event, and managed to complete the distance in a time that I was happy with.

I’m doing another parkrun next weekend, so I’ll have to remind myself of that again nearer the time!

How’s your running going? Did you get a run in this weekend? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


C25K Week 9

I wasn’t really in the mood for running this weekend. It had been snowing last week and the temperature in my flat had been so low that the condensation on the inside of my windows had frozen. Getting warm and staying warm had been a real problem this past week, so needless to say, I wasn’t really in the mood for getting cold again!

Luckily though, I noticed my downstairs neighbour going out early, so I figured I could use the treadmill without disturbing anyone – the machine itself isn’t particularly noisy, but I doubt she would appreciate half an hours worth of running going on right above her living room.

The trouble with using the treadmill, apart from the fact that you miss out on running outside, is that my treadmill isn’t very accurate in terms of measuring speed and distance. Luckily my new Garmin is very clever and seems to have some idea of distance even when you’re running on the treadmill – probably because it measures steps or something, but I’m not really sure how it works.

Anyway, knowing that neither the Garmin nor the treadmill would be particularly accurate, I decided to go with whatever gave me the slowest time. That way, I should be doing at least 5K and hopefully a bit more to make up for running indoors.

This approach seemed to be about right. I figured it would have taken me sometime between 35 and 40 minutes to run 5K outside at the moment, so when the treadmill hit the 5K mark in under 35 minutes, I kept going until the Garmin agreed that I had completed the distance.

In the end, according to the Garmin, I completed 5K in 37:57, which I think is probably about right going by my current form. Either way though, it didn’t matter that much as I knew that I was still making progress in terms of time on my feet.

Next weekend, I hope to get outside and will aim to run for 40-45 minutes straight as I begin to prepare for my 10K race at the beginning of May.

How’s your running going? Has your training been affected by the weather this past week? Did you get a run in this weekend? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


C25K Week 8

I didn’t run last weekend as I had been feeling under the weather the week before, which meant that this week’s run was going to be a bit more challenging than usual.

My plan was to run for 30 minutes without stopping so I needed a road-free route to make sure that I wouldn’t have an easy excuse to stop. Normally, I would use the seafront, but as today was the Brighton Half Marathon, I decided to avoid the crowds and head for Hove Rec instead.

The nice thing a bout Hove Rec is that each lap is 1 kilometre (or thereabouts) so it’s easy to keep track of how you’re doing. Also, it has a bit of an incline, which can be good or bad, depending on what you’re trying to do.

At this stage in my training, I really need to start thinking about hills. I’ve signed up for an off-road 10K in May which I expect will be rather hilly. Also, I’ve agreed to do Bevendean parkrun in a couple of weeks which is pretty hilly too, so I need to start preparing for that.

So, I headed off to Hove Rec just before 9:00. It was a cold, crisp, sunny morning, so quite nice for running and I was feeling fairly positive about the whole thing.

The first lap was a bit of a struggle, but I persevered, slowed my pace and used the downhill to recover. The second lap was better, but after that I decided that I’d had enough of inclines and completed a half lap before heading for home. The roads were fairly quiet so I was able to cross without stopping or walking, and in the end managed to complete 4.31K in 30 minutes.

When I got home and went to upload my data, however, I was disappointed to see that for some reason the Garmin hadn’t tracked my route. I’m not sure why that is as the GPS was definitely on and the distance had recorded ok, but there was no map of the route.

Still, it’s not a problem. The main objective of today’s run was to keep going for 30 minutes, which I managed, so I’m happy with that.

How’s your training going? Did you get a run in this weekend? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

C25K Week 6

This weekend was my C25K Week 6 run. I had planned to run on Saturday but drank a bit too much whisky on Friday night so had to hold off for Sunday instead.

I woke up later than planned but I figured that there was no rush to go out. Sundays on the seafront are usually fairly quiet at this time of year so I had a bit of a lie in, took it easy and then headed out some time after 9:00.

My scheduled run was to be 23 minutes continuous (no walk breaks) but I thought I’d see if I could do 25 – no big deal if I couldn’t, but it was a nice sunny morning and I was in the mood for it so it was worth a try.

Despite the lovely clear blue sky and sunshine, there was a good strong breeze along the promenade. I decided to start by running West, into the wind so that it might be a bit easier in the way back.

To be honest, after a few minutes of running I did wonder if I’d even make the 23, but I tried not to think about it and just let my mind drift off and enjoy the fresh air.

At the end of the promenade, instead of turning back, I decided to go right and do a loop around the Lagoon. I’ve run that way a few times and the pavement is a bit narrow, but there weren’t many people around so it was fine.

As I predicted, the run felt much easier with the wind behind me, and by the time I looped back round onto the promenade I was feeling pretty good. 20 minutes came and went, and as I approached 23 I knew I was good for another couple of minutes.

I finished the run at 3.55 kilometres, which works out at a pace of 7:03, which is pretty much where I should be. When I got home though I was pleased to see that I had run negative splits, so that’s a good sign that things are on track.

So, all in all it was a successful session. The rest of the day was spent running errands and then I settled down to watch some football in the afternoon. My team won 6-1, so I was very happy indeed!

How was your weekend? Did you get a run in? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


C25K First Continuous Run

Today was Week 5 Day 3 of Couch to 5K – the one when you have to run continuously for 20 minutes without stopping.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do this, what with only running once a week up until last week, but decided to not worry about it too much and just give it a go. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

I decided to use the seafront again as it’s pretty much the only flat route around here that doesn’t involve stopping to cross the road, and headed off nice an early. The walk to the seafront is about 10 minutes, so I used that as my warm up and then started my run nice and slowly, keeping an eye on my pace.

I found the first 800 metres or so a bit of a struggle. My legs felt kind of heavy as I plodded along the promenade, but after a while things seemed to loosen up and I got into my stride. I headed West, away from the busy area and the Saturday morning parkrun (I’m not quite ready for running in even a small crowd just yet). There weren’t too many people around and the weather was cool with a slight breeze and drizzle, which is perfect for me.

After 10 minutes, I turned around and headed back the way that I had come, enjoying the freshness of the sea air in my lungs while trying not to think about how far I still had to go. It certainly wasn’t easy and I knew that my body was having to work harder than it had done in a while to keep going, but I did keep going and made it to the end. A full 20 minutes, with no walk breaks.

The 10 minute walk home helped me to cool down and when I got home I checked out my stats.

The blue line shows my pace, and the big straight-ish part in the middle is the 20 minute run which, it turns out, was fairly consistent at 6:55 per km. The red line shows my heart rate, which ranged from 140 to 180 bpm throughout the running section, so I definitely gave myself a good workout. The little grey dots show my cadence, which is all over the place, but I can work on that later. For now, I’m just happy to have had a good run.

For the rest of the day, I did feel pretty tired and basically did nothing, but I guess I earned it.

Next weekend will be the Week 6 run. I’ll probably not bother with the midweek runs and go straight to the continuous run. It’s only an additional 2 minutes so it should be ok.

How’s your weekend going? Did you get a run in? Please share your thoughts in the comments.