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.

 

 

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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.

 

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.

 

It’s Been A While…

It’s been a while since I last posted, or ran for that matter, so I hope you are all doing well.

Despite my best efforts to keep training over the last twelve months, things came to a bit of a standstill… literally. There are too many reasons to go into and it’s not that interesting anyway, so the short story is that I needed a break. A complete and total break from running… and I feel much better for it.

Now though, with a new year approaching, I made the decision to start up again – the training, the blog and the whole getting fit thing. So tonight when I got home from work, I decided to dust of the old treadmill (and yes, there was a lot of dust!) and see how it felt to have a bit of a run. And it was only a ‘bit’ of a run.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my treadmill doesn’t work in either miles or kilometres, but somewhere in between, so for the purposes of tracking progress, I’ll refer to the distance as TMUs (treadmill units).

I decided that I wanted to cover at least a mile so I knew that 1.6 TMUs would be enough and set off at a good steady walking pace and then had a go at a bit of a jog to see how it felt. Surprisingly, it didn’t feel too bad but I didn’t want to risk aggravating the old injury so I went back down to a walk to finish.

In the end, I covered the 1.6 in 18:49 so I was happy with that for now.

At this stage it really is just about testing the injury and building up strength, so I plan to mix things up with a bit of work on the exercise bike, treadmill and maybe some nice long walks if the weather permits. Then, all being well, I’ll look at starting a 5K program in the new year.

How has your running been going this year? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Just Because

challenge-you-1

I got an extra run in today¬†just because… I’m not sure why, but I kind of just felt like it.

I was going to run outside, but unfortunately the Garmin isn’t working very well. I thought it had died completely until I rubbed the contact points with an eraser and it jumped back to life! But it’s still not charging properly, so I ran on the treadmill instead.

It was a bit of a challenge after yesterday’s run. The old legs were pretty tired but still managed to get me to 5K in 32:02, so another good improvement.

Also, I’ve decided to do a Virtual Running UK 100 Mile Challenge this month. The idea is that the first person who gets to 100 miles will win a free medal. I know I won’t be first, and as I’m supplying the medal it would be a bit wrong to win it, but it will be fun to have a bit more of a goal this month.

If you want to join the challenge, just click the link above to get started. It’s totally free and anyone can¬†join.

How’s your running going this weekend? Are you taking part in any on-line challenges to keep your running on track? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

 

First of the Month

keep-calm-and-get-faster-quote-cdToday is that start of a whole new month and I’m feeling pretty good about this running lark. OK, so I didn’t manage to run as much as I’d planned in September, but I did managed at least one run a week, so that’s something of a routine, right?

And I even managed to achieve September’s goal of running 5K in under 35 minutes, with a nice 34:01 on the treadmill last weekend.

So, this month I need to up my game a little bit more. Knowing how hard I’m finding it to get back into a routine, I’ve decided to just add one more run per week. I’m already running every weekend, so I reckon it wouldn’t be too hard to make sure I run on Wednesdays too.

I’m still aiming for my sub-30 5K, but as I’ve not managed to run as much as I would have liked, I’m going to start upping the distance on the weekend run by half a mile each time to try to build up my stamina. Also, it will help to push myself a bit harder as running on the treadmill is a lot easier than running outside.

I started off this morning as planned, with a 3.5 mile run using a 7:1 run/walk ratio, resulting in a time of 36:14. I also noted that my time at 5K was around 32:23, so it was good to see a big improvement there too.

How’s your training going? What are your running/training plans for October? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

 

Easy Means Easy

I had to adjust the training plan this week due to a social event at work, so I ran this evening instead of yesterday. It should have been an outdoors run but I wanted to eat first and then it got dark, so I opted for the treadmill instead – a bit of a cop out, I know, but at least it was still a run.

In this phase of the plan, the idea is to run easy to make sure that I have enough time to recover before the next one. I still aim to do a bit better each time, whether it’s reducing the ratio or improving the average pace, but ultimately I need to make sure that I can run every third day.

The aim for tonight was run 3:1 ratios and to try to hit something around the 36 minute mark. That would be a huge improvement on my last run, but with the treadmill it’s much easier. Apart form the fact that there’s no wind, hills or obstacles in the way, the fact that the machine controls the pace makes it much easier to keep things nice and even.

In the end, I completed the run in 35:50 and felt pretty good afterwards. Of course, the next run will be tougher as it will be outside, but it’s still good to get it done.

How’s your training going? Do you keep your ‘easy runs’ easy or are you tempted to push harder each time? Please share your thoughts in the comments.