A Long, Slow Run/Walk

With ten weeks to go until the South Coast Challenge, I figured now would be a good time to start increasing the distance on my long runs.

My plan for today was to run/walk 12K on the trails, but after consulting my legs, they told me that a hilly run was not a good idea today. So, I opted for a nice flat route alone the seafront instead – well, you’ve got to listen to your body, especially the old legs.

I set out at about 7:30-ish. It was warm and sunny and there was plenty of space to run along the promenade, so I headed East towards the Marina. Knowing that I had no chance of running the entire route, even if it was mostly flat, I opted for a flexible run/walk ratio with a one minute walk break after each kilometre.

As I approached Madeira Drive, I realised that there was an event going on. In addition to the open air cinema on the beach (for the European Football) a large section of the road was cordoned off with British Heart Foundation banners. As it turns out, this was the finish line for the London to Brighton Cycle Challenge, so I figured I might pop down later this afternoon to have a better look and cheer on the finishers.

As it was though, I was only 3K into my run, so I didn’t want to stop there and then, and plodded on towards the Marina and up the switchback to the road above the cliffs. I’d forgotten how long the inclines were on that road, so I took a slightly longer walk to keep myself going and managed to complete the 6K in 42:34 before turning round for a nice long downhill section.

Typically, however, as I started the descent, my stomach started to grumble and I realised that I was going to have to find somewhere to sort myself out. As it happens, there was an ASDA at the bottom of the hill, so I took a short detour to see if they were open.

Unfortunately, they weren’t, so I had to press on until I was back on Madeira Drive. I figured no-one would mind if I used the porta loos that had been set up for the cycle race, but in the end I didn’t have to as there were some public toilets in between so I used them instead.

After that, I felt much better and started to enjoy myself again as I ran past the banners and saw a couple of the cyclists finishing their race. They looked surprisingly fresh considering their long journey, as did the volunteers who (we were told via the loudspeaker) had been there for 8 hours already to greet the finishers and present them with their medals.

Before long, I hit the 10K mark and realised that my detour meant that I would hit 12K a bit sooner than expected, so I decided I to carry on to 13K, which would take me just beyond the starting point. Of course, when I finally reached 13K, I figured that since the roads and streets were still quiet, I might as well plod on for another kilometre to get me a bit closer to home.

In the end, I managed a total of 14K in 1:44:15, which isn’t bad at all for me at this stage. And, when I got home I also realised that the first 5K was the fastest 5K I’ve done in a long time, even with the walk breaks.

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So, all in all, it was a pretty good session. Now I just need to figure out what’s going on with my stomach before I do my next long run.

How’s your training going? Did you see anything interesting on your run this weekend? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday Run Fun

With five months to go until my next Ultra, I figured it was time I started getting some miles beneath my feet.

At the moment I am trying to get back into running again but it’s a slow process, so I figured that the least I could do was go for a nice long walk today, and maybe jog a bit if I felt like it – the key was to spend time outdoors and get the old legs moving again.

My plan for today was to go out for an hour and a half, using a route that included a variety of surfaces as well as some decent inclines. Running along the seafront is fine for most of what I do, but as the South Coast Challenge is going to involve some pretty varied terrain, I wanted to get as much variety in to these early runs and walks as possible.

The area that I live in is fairly urban and, although there are some nice parks, most of the paths aren’t that much different from the road or pavement surface. So, I decided to head for a small trail between Woodland Drive and Woodland Avenue that I had used before. It’s only about a kilometre or so, but it does have a nice incline and the surface of the path has a good mixture of mud, stone, shingle and exposed roots to keep things interesting.

Although my plan was to walk this section, I couldn’t resist breaking into a little jog here and there, just warm up the old leg muscles and get them used to running uphill again – well, the less steep sections anyway.

The trail ends at a main road, which is a bit annoying as it means having to stop before crossing the road, but I think my legs were happy for the rest to be fair.

As I headed across the road to the open field that would take me to the next trail, I noticed that the wind was picking up a bit and it was starting to rain. This was good. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed a bit of rain to cool me down mid run, although I was pleased that it didn’t come to much.

The run across the field was nice. I ran the downhill and some of the flat sections until I came to the gate that would take me into Coney Wood, which I had only ever ventured into once before, but remembered that it had some nice narrow trails and plenty of downhill sections to keep things interesting.

This part of the run was a lot of fun, with much more downhill than I remembered, and plenty of hazards like fallen trees and more exposed roots to keep me on my toes – literally! This was really good practice for downhill running and I tried to remember to land mid foot and avoid braking with my heels too much.

It was a bit disappointing when the trail came to an end and I emerged from the wood on to a residential street, but as I had completed over 4K, I decided to keep running and see what my 5K time would be. As it turned out it wasn’t bad at all, considering the uphills and walking, and I ended up with a time of 42:15 for the first half of my run.

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Of course, now I had to turn around and do the whole thing in reverse, which meant a lot of walking to get myself back up the hill. But I did run some of the flatter sections and a bit of the field, before running the whole downhill section of Woodland Ave/Drive. That took me back to the park, so I continued walking and jogging until I had completed my hour and a half, which took me to a bit over 10K.

By the end of it I felt pretty good and was tempted to turn into Hove Rec for an extra couple of kilometres, but in the end I decided just to keep going until I had finished the 11th kilometre and called it a day at that. My final time for 11K was 1:33:11, which was pretty good for what was originally just going to be a walk.

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I think that my 1K a day since Thursday might have helped a little bit as well – if not in terms of fitness, then at least in terms of feeling motivated and ready to get this training started.

Spring Forward

Please tell me I’m not the only one who thought they’d overslept for their early morning long run today… anyone… no… really? (waits as a huge tumble weed blows slowly across the bloggy sphere…) Ok, so It’s just me then.

After bailing out on last weekend’s final long run before the taper, I’d planned to get up extra early this morning for a slightly-shorter-long-but-won’t-quite-kill-me-run instead. So needless to say I was a bit disappointed when I woke up at 8:15 instead of my usual weekend time of something between 6:30 and 7:30.


Still, once I realised that it was really only 7:15 if I ignored the fact that everyone, including the people who control my phone, computer and Garmin, had decided to steal an hour, I started to feel much better. At least it was Sunday, so I could still pretend it was early and, since it was cold wet and drizzly outside, the chances were that not too many people would be venturing out to block and congest the later part of my route.

The plan was to run something between 15 and 21 kilometres. I wanted to make up for missing my last long run but at the same time I didn’t want to leave myself feeling completely exhausted two weeks before race day, so I’d see how it went.

I didn’t really have much of a route planned and decided to start with a couple of laps of Hove Rec to get some shelter from the wind and rain. After the third lap, I realised that the path was going to get a bit busy as more and more kids started arriving for their rugby practice, so I headed back out to the streets again and ran up Shirley Drive as a long way round to Hove Park.

When I reached Hove Park, however, I saw another much larger group of kids running around the paths. It looked like some kind of organised event as they were all wearing yellow tops and, as I turned the corner to the long straight stretch of the path, I realised that there were dozens more of them gathering at the parkrun start line. Junior parkrun perhaps? I wasn’t in the mood to find out, so I cut back out of the path and decided to stick to the roads instead.

Not in much of a mood for people dodging, I decided to explore some of the quieter streets around Poets Corner before heading back down to Portland Road and route that I’d been using for my last few shorter runs.

I decided round about then that I wasn’t going to do the 21K, but that if I ran back along Portland Road and took some detours down the streets that run adjacent to it, I could probably manage about 15K without killing myself. So that’s what I did.


In the end it was 16K and, despite falling asleep for an hour while watching Netflix this afternoon, I feel pretty good. My legs don’t feel too bad and I wore my ankle support which seems to have helped, but most importantly, I feel more mentally prepared than I did this time last week.

Yes, missing my final long run is a worry; yes, the marathon is going to be hard and it’s going to hurt; but either way I know that I want to do this, so I will.

How’s your training going? Do you have to plan or adapt your routes to avoid congested streets and paths? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

The Penultimate Long Run

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 21.25.09With only five weeks left until the Brighton Marathon, I figured that I’ve just about got enough time for two more long runs before the big day.

While most marathon training programs suggest a maximum of 20 miles in the final long run before the marathon, I’m not convinced. For me, being able to run an extra 6 miles (10K) for the first time on race day seems optimistic at best – if there’s a wall at 20 miles then it makes sense to me that that’s where I’d hit it if I’d never gone beyond it before. After all, with my pace, we are talking about more than an hour on top of that to finish a marathon.

So, my plan for today’s run was to run something between 35 and 37K, or four and a half hours, depending on how it went.

To be honest, I wash’t really feeling up for it this morning. Despite getting up early, my stomach wasn’t quite ready for running until after 8:00 am, which meant that I would finish later than I had planned. Still, as it is Saturday, I had the whole day so it didn’t really matter that much.

I didn’t plan a route and thought it better to just play it by ear in case I decided to cut it short. My stomach still wasn’t great when I headed out so I wasn’t going to take any chances by heading off towards Saltdean too early. Instead, I ran along some of the main roads in Hove for the first 10K, until nature called me down to the public toilets on the seafront.

Once all of that was sorted, I took my first gel and decided that I would be fine to head to Saltdean on the undercliff path.

The first half of the run went really well. I took a gel every hour, stuck to my ratio, hydrated at every walk break and was on pace to hit my target of 37K in 4:30. But then at around 23K things started to slow down.

I know that you can’t run that kind of distance without some discomfort, and I can usually handle the aches in my calves and the backs of my thighs, but not today. Today just after 23 kilometres, I had to stop, just for a few minutes, to stretch out my legs before I could go on.

The stretching seemed to do the trick and the pain went for long enough to get me through the marina and back onto the promenade. But by then I faced another problem. People!

While I love seeing runners and walkers and cyclists out on the promenade, by late morning the place was crammed with people with dogs and scooter powered children, strolling along, taking their time and generally making things too crowded to run. Frustrating as this was, I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to drop my ratio to negotiate the crowds and, once I got back to Hove Lawns, I made my escape to the main road.

By this point I had covered over 30 kilometres and, while my legs were pretty much shot, I still felt confident that I could get to 37K within 4:30. The only problem though, was that the pain in my legs was getting a lot worse and I was having to stop more and more frequently to stretch, so I decided to make a deal with myself. I would run for 4:30 and then finish whichever kilometre I was on before calling it day.

So that’s what I did. 36K in 4:31:19 – just one kilometre short of my goal and just over six short of a marathon. Not bad going all things considered.

In terms of running 42.2K before marathon day, I can’t see that happening, but if I can add another few kilometres to my final long run in two weeks time, I’ll be happy with that.

How’s your training going? How far do you run for your final long run before a marathon? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


2015-02-07_SummaryNormally I like to blog about my run straight afterwards, but yesterday’s LSR left me feeling pretty tired, so I thought I would leave it until today.

While most marathon training plans have you running a maximum of 20 miles in one run before the race, I want to get as close to the full distance as possible before the Brighton Marathon. With the Half Marathon in two weeks time, this meant I would only have time for one long run this month and then two next month before I start tapering for the full marathon in April.

As my last long run was 27K, this would mean an increase of 5K for each long run between now and April if I was going to reach 42.2K before the race – sounds crazy, I know!

So, knowing that this could be difficult, I decided to let myself off the hook a little bit and not worry about getting the full distance done. Even an increase of 3K for each long run would still take me closer than most marathon training programs, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I ended up running the full distance for the first time on race day. In saying that though, I still want to get as close as possible, so I decided that although my minimum distance for yesterday’s run would be 30K, I would still aim for 32K as long as I was feeling ok.

The weather was pretty good for once. The sun was shining, the temperature was reasonably mild and the wind was behaving itself on the seafront, so I decided to run east under the cliffs towards Saltdean, turn around and run all the way up to Shoreham Power Station and then back along the seafront to my starting point.

I wore my new hydration pack for the first time, which was great as it has a small pouch where I could keep my gels and keys, although it did take me a kilometre or so to figure out how to stop it bouncing around so much. The trick, it seems, is to keep it low on the hips rather than around the middle of the waist.

I took things fairly slowly, and my pace was pretty consistent for the most part. I took a gel every 8K, which kept me going, particularly towards the end of the run when I was beginning to flag. The lowest point was on the road to the power station at Shoreham, between 24 and 29K. My legs felt like lead and the walk breaks weren’t helping – in fact, the pain seemed worse when I slowed to a walk, but I knew that I had to keep my head straight and my mind focussed, so I kept plodding on.

Once I got back onto the promenade again, I started to feel much better. I knew that another 2 kilometres would take me back to Hove Lawns (my usual starting point) and, if I jogged back though the streets towards home, I could easily complete the 32K. It wasn’t hard. It hurt, yes, but as long as I took it slowly, I knew I could do it.

In the end, I completed the 32K in just under 4 hours. It hurt like hell, but I felt good. The IT band had behaved itself thanks to some mid-week stretching, and the milder weather probably helped too. But the most important thing was that I managed to stay positive and get the distance done.

In saying that though, I have to admit that I’m looking forward to not having to do another long one this month. For the next two weeks I’ll be getting myself ready for the Half Marathon, which will involve some shorter runs, a couple of speed sessions and hopefully a bit of a trail run next weekend.

How’s your training going? What’s the longest run you do before a marathon or half marathon? Please share your thoughts in the comments?



Another Long Run

2014-12-07_OverviewWith only a few weeks left to complete the Virtual Jeff Galloway 13.1 by the end of the year, I really needed to get a long run in this morning. So, at around 8:00 am, I headed for the seafront for a nice slow 19K.

I was expecting it to be cold and windy (which it was) so I took a pair of gloves with me to stop my hands from freezing off. Unfortunately the only gloves I have are the fleece type, which were a bit too warm once I got going. I tried taking them off during my walk breaks but they got pretty sweaty and were difficult to put back on again, so in the end I just carried them. Note to self: buy some gloves for running!

The run itself was pretty good. I was aiming for 19K using a 3:1 run:walk ratio and decided to start off with the wind behind me. Usually I do it the other way round, to get a helping hand from the tailwind on the way back, but I felt I needed to push myself a bit more this time.

So, I headed East along the seafront, through Brighton Marina and the undercliff path towards Saltdean. Despite the chalk surface on the undercliff path, I love running this route and, judging by the smiles and ‘good mornings’ from the other runners, cyclists and dog walkers I encountered on the way, I’m not the only one.

At my 10K turning point, however, I discovered that the headwind was much stronger than I had anticipated. That’s the problem with running on that path – you’re right on the sea and there’s absolutely no protection from the elements!

Still, I needed this to get my head back into training mode. Recently, I haven’t really been pushing myself hard enough and it has been too easy to say ‘that will do’ when I feel like I’ve had enough; but as I was 10K from home, that wasn’t really an option.

So, I pushed on against the headwind, sticking to the 3:1 ratio that I’ve been using and tried to stay relaxed. And, funnily enough, I actually enjoyed it!

It took 2 hours 17 minutes to complete the distance and my legs were pretty much done by the end of it, but apart from that, it felt really good.

I plan to do the Virtual Jeff Galloway 13.1 in two weeks time to give myself a benchmark for the Brighton Half Marathon in February. Ideally, I’d like to complete this one in under 2 hours 30 minutes, as the only other time I completed the distance was back in April with a time of 2:33:36. It will be interesting to see what difference (if any) it makes using run-walk-run before making a final decision on what strategy to use for February’s race.

How’s your training going? Do you have any more races before the end of the year? Have you taken part in a virtual race? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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