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.

 

 

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 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 Update

I haven’t blogged for a few weeks so thought it would be good to give you a little update on my Couch to 5K progress…

I re-started the program at the beginning of January with the idea that I would do just one ‘Day 1’ session per week and not worry too much about the others until I felt I needed to. And so far this has worked quite well. I got to Week 5 Day 1 on Saturday without too much trouble, but then decided that I should probably do all three sessions of Week 5 since the third one is the first continuous run of the program.

As I had the day off work today (a guy was coming out to fix my leaky roof) I decided that this would be a good opportunity to get W5D2 done. Also, I got a new Garmin at the weekend and I wanted to try it out – those things really do motivate me for some reason!

For this session, I had to walk for a 5 minute warm up, then run 8 minutes, walk 5 minutes and run another 8 minutes before finishing with a 5 minute cool down, so I headed to the seafront so that I wouldn’t have to keep stopping and starting to cross the road as much.

Now that I have my new Garmin, I was able to see that I started my run too fast so I eased off a bit and tried to get into a rhythm. One of the nice things about running with a GPS watch is that it helps with pacing and it also gave me a boost to see that I could still maintain something close to my old pace. Ok, so I’m not quite there yet, but it was encouraging.

The first 8 minutes of running was a bit of a shock to the system though, and I did struggle. However, after the 5 minute walk break, the second 8 minutes felt much more comfortable for some reason. I even managed an extra little jog on the way home and extended my cool down to get a full 5K for this month’s virtual race.

I’ll probably be in last place for this month’s 5K, but given that most of it was walking I’m not going to complain about my time – 43:19 really isn’t anything to brag about, but I’ll take it.

I’m also having a lot of fun with the data that my new Garmin throws out. I’ll maybe do a post on it another time once I know a bit more about it, but here’s a screenshot from today’s run that shows the type of info that it gives you.

My next run will be on Saturday or Sunday, so that’s all for now. Happy running and say hi in the comments so that I know you’ve dropped by.

 

C25K Week 2

Today I completed my Week 2 run for Couch to 5K, to try to get back in shape. As with Monday’s run, I found it ok and was pleased that I’d managed to keep some of the old fitness despite my time off over the last year or so.

I used the same route as Monday, along Portland Road towards Portslade Station and back again. It’s only about 3.5K including the warm up and cool down, but it’s long enough for me at this stage. Also, being Saturday, by 10 am the traffic was getting busy enough to annoy me when I had to cross the roads, so much so that I missed about half of an entire run section and had to improvise a bit to make it up.

Hopefully it will be a bit quieter on Sunday, when I plan to do my next run. I’m thinking of maybe skipping to Week 3, but I’ll see how I feel in the morning.

I hope your running is going well. Please feel free to say hi in the comments to let me know you’ve dropped by.

Happy Running!

2018 Up and Running!

Happy New Year!

As promised, I’m back on the blog and the C25K program as from today, and it feels amazing!

I had a bit of work to do this morning and overslept slightly, but I was willing to forgive myself (what with it being New Year’s Day and all) and took my time. By the time I’d finished my work, it was 2pm and, even though mid-afternoon is not my favourite time for running, I was itching to get out.

My Garmin seems to have misplaced itself since my move in the Summer, but for once I wasn’t really bothered about recording my run data. This is very unusual for me as I used to be a real data addict, but it could be a good thing… we shall see.

So, Garmin-free, I dusted off my kit, grabbed my iPhone and headed out the door into the cool New Year’s Day drizzle. My iPhone is pretty ancient (I’m still using the 3GS after all these years) so it doesn’t run any tracking apps these days, but it still has the original Zen Labs C25K app on it that tells you when to run and when to walk.

I decided to avoid the seafront and headed along Portland Road instead. It’s not a route I’ve used much as it involves crossing a few roads, but as today is a Bank Holiday the roads were very quiet, so it didn’t matter too much.

I found the run pretty comfortable considering how long it has been since I’ve run outside, but it was still challenging in its own way. Even though my legs seemed to have remembered how to pace themselves, I was starting to feel it a bit by the end of the run.

When I got home, I mapped my route and saw that I had covered about 3.5K including the warm up and cool down, so I’m pretty happy with that.

How’s your training going? Did you go for a New Year’s Day run? Are you returning to running after a long break? Please share your thoughts in the comments?

Time To Hit The Restart Button

restart2016 has been an odd year for me in terms of running. I had big ambitions and had to push myself hard to achieve them, but it wasn’t much fun. I was tired, I was struggling and was barely able to achieve the minimum that I had set myself, so in the end I just stopped. I didn’t run, didn’t blog and barely logged on to see what everyone else was doing. I just couldn’t face it. I needed a break, so I took one.

But now that I’ve had some time off, enough time to miss what I really love about running, I figured that the time is right to hit the restart button and get back to Couch To 5K… and stick to it.

This time round though, things are going to be different. I’m not going to think about races, or parkrun, or PBs or anything like that. I’m just going to run to get back in shape. For the most part, this will probably be on the treadmill, as I found the cold air really played havoc with my breathing when I did the Poppy Run in November, but that’s ok. I’m not making any apologies for running indoors. Not this time.

My goal, my one and only goal is to be able to run 5K without walk breaks. That’s it. Nothing more.

Of course, that might change later on, but for now I’m going to try to be sensible, take it easy and stick to the program for the next nine weeks and see how it goes.

So, this afternoon, I completed W1D1 on the treadmill. 30 minutes of walking and running and walking. Not difficult, but got the old heart rate up again for the first time in over a month, so it’s a start.

How’s your training going? Have you set any running goals for 2017? Please share your thoughts in the comments.