Parkrun Volunteers

volunteerI’ve been itching to get back to Parkrun for weeks now, but with the injury still not one hundred percent healed, I don’t want to risk making it worse by running on the inclines. However, after reading my local Parkrun’s race report last week, in which they made a plea for volunteers, I decided to do my bit for the cause and earn my right to run.

Parkrun is, of course, completely free of charge, but there is a rule somewhere that says you are supposed to volunteer three times each year in return for your free run. I doubt if this rule is enforced and, from what I’ve seen of the volunteers at my local park, I doubt it would ever need to be. But it got me thinking that maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to get some volunteering done before I return to running in the park.

So, this morning I headed out half an hour earlier than usual on a Parkrun day to join the rest of the volunteers for our pre-race briefing. Unsurprisingly, they were a friendly bunch, from complete beginners like myself to seasoned runners – some were even volunteering and running today!

I was assigned to barcode scanning duty, which was much easier than I thought it would be. The best part though, was chatting with other volunteers and seeing people finish their run with huge smiles on their faces.

I even bumped into an old friend who I haven’t seen in about a year. He doesn’t do the Parkrun very often, but just happened to choose today to get back into it – a perfect excuse to hang around afterwards for a well earned coffee and flapjack!

I won’t be volunteering next weekend as I’m doing a Santa Dash on the seafront, but I will be doing it again soon.

Oh, and did I mention that you get points for doing it?


Map My Run

With all the app issues that I’ve been having over the last week, I decided to follow Tara and Sharon’s recommendation (click on their names to visit their awesome blogs) and try out the Map My Run app for this morning’s run.

The thing I liked about this app when I checked it out is that you can create your routes (map your run) and download them to you phone before you head out. This seemed like a good idea as running apps generally map you rather than your route, which can be a problem.

If, like me, you run a route with a very wide path (about the width of a two way street for the most part), your distance is going to vary from run to run as you weave past other runners, dog walkers or large groups of people out enjoying a leisurely stroll.

So, my plan for the Map My Run experiment this morning was to download my 5K route and see if I can use the same route to judge my time over my next few 5K runs. Of course, plans are always subject to last minute changes, and this morning was no different.

The first part of my 5K route is a short jog east, just beyond the public toilets, before turning round to head west to the lagoon. However, as I approached my starting point, I suddenly had an overpowering urge to pee – probably something to do with that second cup of very weak coffee that I drank to warm myself up.

So, instead of running around the public toilet building, I delayed the start of the run, used the facilities and then moved my starting point little bit further east, beyond the toilets. In terms of the run, this was clearly a good plan, but it did mean that I wouldn’t be using my carefully mapped out run.

Still, it did mean that I could test out the GPS on the app, which turned out to be OK (ish). Apart from telling me that I was going much slower than I knew I was at times (really, even I don’t sweat like that at 9:03 min/km any more), the distance markers every 0.5K seemed fairly even.

Of course, when I got home and checked the map, I realised that it had me running on the beach for most of the time, but the distance overall was only about 200m out, so not too bad.

MapMyRun_Wet Feet
Jumping Over Walls and Running Into The Sea

My main gripe with the app at this stage is that the pause button took ages to respond, adding an extra 30 seconds or so to my time; on the upside though, the Map My Run website does give you a 3D fly by of your run.

Anyway, all in all it was a good run. I’ll just have to do another 5K tomorrow to test the app properly!

To PB Or Not To PB?

After a good night’s rest, I headed back to the seafront this morning for a cold, damp run. These conditions were perfect for me, with just enough drizzle to keep me refreshed without the constant need to wipe the rain off my glasses.

I decided that, since my RunKeeper app has messed up on my last few runs, that I would try the Nike+ Running app instead. I know quite a few people who track their runs with Nike+ so thought it would be worth a try.

The run started well, following my usual 5K route with a nice slow jog for the first half kilometre before allowing my pace to pick up a bit. The app seemed to be working fine, giving me an update every five minutes about my pace and distance, which seemed to be a bit quicker than usual.

When I hit 30 minutes, the app told me that my average pace was around 6:25 per kilometre. With just under half a kilometre to go, I realised that I was on track for a PB, so I picked up the pace a little bit more and set my sights on what I thought was the 5K finish point.

To my surprise, however, the app told me that I had finished much sooner than I thought it would. So I stopped and checked my time. Apparently I had run 5K in 31:59, which is a whole 26 seconds off my PB!

I was delighted, of course, but given my recent experiences with the RunKeeper app, I was also slightly skeptical.

When I got home, I checked the route on-line and every other source I could find told me that I had only done about 4.6K; but the map on the Nike+ app seemed to have tracked the whole route correctly. It hadn’t got stuck, headed off into town or sent me running into the sea as has happened on previous occasions. In fact, it seemed to catch all of my zig-zagging across the promenade perfectly, showing where I ran close to the railings or up by the beach huts.

So what happened? Did all that zig-zagging around add another 300-400 metres to my route? I’m really not sure and I don’t want to record it as a PB because I didn’t run the whole route that I normally run. But it was a good run and I feel great for doing it, so perhaps I’ll just leave it at that for now – 4.67 K in 31:59 today.

Tomorrow, I’ll try the whole route and see what happens.

Some Days Are Better Than Others

Some days are better than others, but yesterday wasn’t one of them. Not in terms of running anyway.

I have the whole week of work for what I like to call my Christmas Shopping Week. The idea is that I get all of my Christmas shopping done in the last week of November before the shops get too crazy, and by having the week off, I get to go into town early during the week to miss the weekend crowds.

Of course, I haven’t actually done much of that yet, as time off work also needs to be utilised for other things, like fixing things that are broken, catching up on some reading and, yes, you guessed it, running.

Yesterday was going to involve most of those things. I had the plumber booked for 8:30 am and someone was coming round to change my gas meter between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm, so I figured I’d go for a run in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, after a morning of hanging around the flat eating rubbish and drinking way too much coffee, the run in the afternoon didn’t go too well.

I had planned on running my usual 5K along the seafront, but after about 3K I had to give up. My legs were fine and my breathing was ok, but something in my stomach wasn’t too happy, so I stopped and walked the rest of the way.

When I got home, I didn’t feel great and ended up having a very early night. I think I went to bed at about 8:00 pm, waking up again at about midnight before sleeping through again until this morning.

Still, today is another day and, with a nice light breakfast and cup of very weak coffee, hopefully I’ll get a better run in this morning.

Back In Training

Hove SeafrontAfter yesterday evening’s running success, I decided to head to the seafront again this morning for an early session. It was cold, possibly a touch colder than last night, but the Autumn sunshine and bright blue sky really lifted my spirits. I had forgotten what it’s like to run in daylight!

As with last night, my RunKeeper app messed up, so I had to use my own judgement throughout the run. I had judged the distance slightly short yesterday, so made sure that I ran a little bit further today to make up a full 5K.

Even though it had only been thirteen hours since my last run, it felt pretty good. The pace was slightly faster, a little under 6:50 per kilometre, but it didn’t feel like I was pushing any harder. This is kind of what I’m going for at the moment – running the 5K distance while sticking to a slower pace that doesn’t aggravate my injury.

I have to be honest though, even with the ankle support, the Achilles did feel a bit weaker than usual after this morning’s run. Nothing to complain about, but not as good as I’d hoped, so I’ll have to find some other way of supporting it and reducing the impact.

It does feel good to be back in training though.

Cold Weather Running Gear

With the season’s temperatures continuing to drop, I decided to invest in some cold weather running gear last weekend. Well, a long sleeved shirt and a pair of legging/tight type things.

To be honest, I really hate shopping for clothes, but I did kind of enjoy visiting the running shop. They didn’t have a huge selection of clothes to choose from, which made it a bit easier to find something suitable, and they did have lots of other running accessories to distract me when it all started to become a bit too much.

Needless to say, as well as the clothes, I ending up buying some additional running related items: a bright yellow foam roller and an ankle support to see if they might help with the injury; and an arm band for my iPod since the legging/tight type things don’t have pockets. I did manage to spend a small fortune, it’s true, but it was certainly worth it, as I found out this evening.

When I got home from work, I was feeling pretty tired and all I really wanted to do was curl up under my duvet to keep warm. But then I remembered that I hadn’t actually road tested my new running gear yet. And with the temperature dropping to around 5C, tonight seemed like the perfect opportunity.

I decided to wear the legging/tights under my normal running trousers as I’m not used to wearing such figure hugging clothing, and I wore the long sleeved shirt under my usual t-shirt. I also used the ankle support to see if it would help with the injury.

As expected, it did feel pretty cold outside as I headed for the seafront, but it wasn’t too bad – no worse than running in a t-shirt on a cold spring morning, except that my hands were a bit colder. My legs felt great though! Perhaps it was the tightness of my new leggings or the fact that I was wearing two layers, but they didn’t feel cold at all.

The run itself went pretty well. Even though I was wearing the ankle support, I didn’t want to push too hard in case I caused more damage. So I kept at a pace of around seven minutes per kilometre. But then something very strange happened.

My RunKeeper app told me that I had suddenly completed 5K when I knew I hadn’t even reached 3K! My pace was all over the place.  According to the app, I was doing about two point four minutes per kilometre at one stage. Fortunately though, I was running my usual route from Hove lawns to the lagoon and back, so I knew how far I had run and, even with my shoddy mathematical skills, I was pretty certain that I wasn’t going that fast.

As it turned out, the app mishap wasn’t such a bad thing as it meant that I had to try to pace myself by feel, which will be useful when I do my 10K in February – apparently they don’t allow headphones in that race.  This had concerned me when I first heard about it as I usually pay a fair bit of attention to the pace updates from the app and try to adjust my running accordingly.

However, this evening, I was surprised to find out that I actually managed to judge the run pretty well –  I ended up running just under 5K at an average pace of 7 mins per kilometre, which is much slower than my goal pace, but pretty much what I’m aiming for in my training runs at this stage.

The best part about the run though, was that I didn’t get overheated like last time; and I didn’t freeze on the way home either. I actually felt pretty good throughout the entire run and would have happily run some more. But, of course, I’m trying not to overdo it, so I stopped as planned and headed for home feeling good about my running and very pleased with my new running clothes.

Of course, I’ll probably need to get some more layers when it starts to get really cold – perhaps a nice lightweight running jacket and some gloves… and maybe a hat… oh and one of those things that runners wear around their necks to keep warm… 😉


Sunday Morning Run

Having signed up for my local 5K Santa Dash, I thought I’d better do some training to make sure that I can still manage to run the distance. My running has been off and on (mostly off) for the last few weeks due to injury and the last thing I want to do is make things worse, but I am aware that my fitness level has dropped quite a bit so I wanted to do something to keep myself on track.

So, this morning, I woke up early and headed for the seafront for a 5K run. I can’t remember the last time I went that far without walking so I was keen to see how I would cope, not just with the distance but with the drop in temperature as well.

I don’t really have any proper running clothes so I pulled on a hoody over my t-shirt to stop myself from freezing. This seemed to work and I felt pretty good for the first half of the run. The sleeves are long and loose so they were good for keeping my hands warm too.

At about 3K, however, I was starting to feel a bit too warm. I don’t mind getting hot and sweaty when I’m running. It’s just part of it, but this didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to stop, even for just a few seconds, so I somehow managed to wriggle the hoody off and over my head while still running. This wasn’t easy and there was one scary second in which I couldn’t see where I was going, but thankfully I managed to get out of it without bumping into anything.

It felt much better running in a just t-shirt again, but it was annoying having to carry my excess baggage for the rest of the run.

In the end though, I didn’t quite manage the full 5K. I’m not sure why, but even though I’d cooled down a bit, I just didn’t feel right. So I quit at about 4.7K and headed home, which was just as well as my stomach started protesting about something.

It may have been something I’d eaten or perhaps I was dehydrated, but at one point I thought I wouldn’t make it home. Luckily I don’t live too far from the seafront, so I managed to make it back to my flat and the bathroom before anything nasty happened, but it was a close call!

Anyway, I feel fine now, so it’s all good. I’m going to put it down to overheating and plan to buy myself a proper long sleeved running top for future cold weather running. I may even splash out on one or two other running related items if my bank balance can handle it.

How do you cope with cold weather running? What kit would you recommend? Please share your thoughts in the comments?