Friday 20 September 2013

Bullock Smithy 56 mile

2013 Bullock Smithy. 56 miles of Peak District fun. some nice weather too. I've done the run twice before and each time have ended up tagging on with someone and running with them from around the half way point. This year I decided to run it at my own pace and had selected it as a good long run before Poland and the Beskidy Ultra Trail 220km. 

The race has 14 checkpoints each with various food and drink although I didn't make much use of any of the edible goodies. There is a cooked breakfast upon finishing (which due to the 12noon start time was at about 10pm for me) very nice though! 

Basically you choose your own route between the 14 points provided it's a footpath or road you can use it. From the start in an open park near Hazel Grove there is about 3 or 4 different exits people use so it's a little chaotic if you aren't expecting it. I chose to set off out along the main road and settled behind a group of 5 runners, one of which was the eventual winner and also course record holder who hung on to a lead of just under 10 minutes on me by the finish - Well done! 

We spent a couple of hours running together and within sight of each other. He seemed to know the route very very well and the couple of times I passed him he could pop up in front of me again. It would be well worth recceing this route if you're wanting to race on it although it's not such a serious 'race' as a challenge. There is a 24 hour time limit allowing hikers to complete too! 

With route choice I had done it twice before and each time on a different route so this time I decided on a route which took the best of both and was quite happy with it although it seems there are still a couple of spots I could improve for next time. Here is the selection of trophies available for various categories.

They have a starting gun resembling an anvil and a hammer!

The eventual finish line. 9 hours 20 something mins for 56 miles. About 2500m ascent off my head. No major hills depending on what you're used to... I was happy to test out kit and have a final dress rehearsal before Poland, although I actually got to do High Peak 40 mile too!

I'm not going to drag on about the route but there are some nice spots and some highlights include Jacobs Ladder down into Edale, up and over Hollins Cross, Cave Dale, Millers Dale, Earl Sterndale and up and over near Mac Forest finishing with a couple of kms flat and fast along a converted rail line and a country lane back to the finish at Hazel Grove near Stockport.

If you're looking for a friendly run with plenty of support and food, that is great value, yet has a little variety with plenty of opportunity for navigation practice, get in next year! First full weekend of September!

Thursday 12 September 2013

Creating a Training Plan

Hi Guys, Charlie Sharpe here and I’m your resident expert at Run Geek. I’ll be doing several blogs about running over the coming weeks and also some seminars in the coming months, so let’s get started.
The first thing I want to talk about is having a training plan, why it’s a good idea to have one and how to put one together.
A training plan is important as its going to give you a structure to your training and it will keep you on track to help you make progress. So, where do you start?
Pick a race or an outcome (a GOAL), it could be anything, a 5k or 10k race, a half marathon or even longer than a marathon. Let’s choose a half marathon as an example, and say your goal is to train for it for the next three months. (We’re going to cover goal setting in detail in a future post).
First you need to consider where you are right now and what elements are going to be needed. If it’s your first half marathon, you might be more concerned about building up to the target mileage, or if you’re more advanced it could be about improving your speed and getting a faster time.
Ideally, you need to be running at least three times a week and make each run a bit different. Say you keep doing the same four-mile loop, you’ll make progress initially but then you’ll need to change things to keep progressing.
Here’s what you’ll need to consider:
Endurance – being able to run longer distances without stopping. You should increase your distance by a rough maximum of 10 per cent per week over four weeks and then have an easier week on week five perhaps. This gives your body time to recover, which is a really important consideration.
Speed – this could be the target for a more experienced runner but even beginners should consider it too. Once you’re running regularly, introduce interval sessions, running at a faster pace for a certain length of time. It gets you used to turning your legs over faster and gets the heart and lungs ready to move more oxygen through your body. For a beginner, intervals could simply be ‘strides’, or controlled but fast bursts of speed for 30 seconds with a good rest – say 90 seconds- in between. More experienced runners could consider doing intervals of varying distances from 200m to 1 mile depending on the training phase. I’m also a big fan of hill running to build strength and this can be done in interval fashion too.
It’s not all about going farther and faster every single time. You need some easy runs as well. They will help your running efficiency by getting your muscles used to the motion of running. Whilst more mileage might be a good thing initially, it’s not always a case of the longer the better; you may just tire yourself out. Sometimes you can run smarter rather than longer.
Those are your three types of run for your basic training plan. You can use variations of each of them and they should be specific to your target.
What else should you include in your training plan?
You may include non-running training – also known as cross training. This could be swimming or cycling for example. Whilst the best run training is running you can still get a workout without stressing your body in the same way day in day out. I’ve found Cycling, particularly on hills, can strengthen your legs and has some cross over to running.
Your next training consideration should be gym type exercises. Although you don’t necessarily need a gym. These are conditioning exercises that are going to build your core strength and good exercises to do are exercises that mimic the same joint motions and forces of running. I use heavily modified versions of traditional exercises such as lunges and other single leg movements both in my own training and with clients.
Now we’ve got those components to our training plan, let’s think about how you put them together.
The plan needs to be progressive and training should be consistent. You’ll not progress if you do a long run tomorrow and then hang up the shoes for four weeks before doing another run. How you play this depends on you and your running level – a beginner might want to work on building mileage more gradually while a more advanced runner might already be packing the miles in and want to build speed.
Don’t forget that not every run is going to be longer and faster than the previous. It’s good to have relaxing run from time to time, perhaps with friends, where you can just enjoy it. Running’s not all about slogging through endless miles!
Let’s recap on our training plan:
You should have three different types of run – mileage builders, shorter interval runs for increasing speed and some easy run to enjoy relax;
Cross training – non running exercise such as cycling that builds strength and works your aerobic system without putting demands on your joints;
Conditioning exercises – gym type exercises to improve your core strength, improve your muscle co-ordination and improve your flexibility that will ultimately have a beneficial impact on your running.
Any questions, just jump on my website and use the contact form –
I’ll be back soon on the Run Geek website with more topics such as what running gear to choose, goal-setting and how to run faster.
I’ll also be at the Run Geek store on Thursday 19th September at 7pm for Run Geek first ‘School of Run’ when I’ll be talking about running and answering any questions you might have.
In the meantime happy running and enjoy yourselves!

You can check the run geek store out and a video blog here. 

Friday 6 September 2013

Run to the Castle 40 mile Aug 2013

As part of a 'more relaxed' August (not running ultra distances most weekends like the past 3 or 4 months) I was lucky enough to be able to take part in the first Run To The Castle 40 mile Ultra race. It also coincided with the 9bar team weekend so most of the team were there to do some running and get together to meet new team members and catch up with the others! Also great to see my client Julie completing her first 40 miler! Now a serial ultra runner ;)  

The route was following the Welsh Coastal Path from Aberdovey (Aberdyffi?) up past Barmouth to Harlech where a castle would await us. Varied terrain, some beach, some tracks and quite a bit of country lane. Generally the route is pretty flat with some small hills somewhere after the first CP. Also perhaps the only race in the UK to cross a nudist beach? 

A very casual start all around really, nobody raced off or made any attempt to disappear so I enjoyed some chatting with Caz and Kelvin and a few other guys out on course. There was a small pack of 6 runners followed by myself and Kelvin for the first few miles upto the first CP at about an hour or so into the race I guess (didn't have the watch going - first time it let me down with the route map although it seemed to be a problem with the tcx file I used and watch is all good now it appears...)

At the CP in a lay by the group of 6 all pulled in to eat and drink which I didn't really feel like so carried on moving into the lead. A quick hello to Richard Kell and then I didn't see anyone else after that all the way to the finish in 5.21 first place. The route is pretty well marked once you get used to the signs and there was additional paint on the course too in places. All the cp volunteers were really supportive and big thanks to them for looking after us all! 

Some small hills in the middle of the course although not very big or long. There was heaps of food on the CPs ( I had a good handful of JBs but didn't stop long enough for a picnic)

After a few hours I was over the 30 mile point but not sure on the exact distance I'd run and running along the coast again trying to see where the castle might be ahead... (it's up on a hill so thought I'd see it a long way off) anyway no sign of it but along the coast what looked like miles and miles away there was a hill close to the sea. (I think it was near Porthmadog a half hour drive up the coast from the end in hindsight) I couldn't believe how far away it looked as I dropped down some big steps to a nice wide beach. I was looking ahead and going through my head trying to figure out how many hours away the hill was...
Next I saw a familiar sight... some red and white posts near a track through the sand dunes. I had seen this on the newsletter that Denzil had sent us before the race and followed the track, suddenly out of nowhere the castle was infront of me about 800m away! I couldn't believe it. Over joyed I put a bit of speed in whilst texting ahead to the finish to say I would be 5 mins... Then about 60 seconds later the finish was actually just in a car park before the castle which I almost ran past.

If you want to check the race out for next year it's on again I believe the 24th August. for more information...

BIG thanks to Denzil and the crew for putting on a great race and 9bar for feeding us and looking after us all weekend =)

WHAT A MEDAL! Well worth the run when you get a medal like that hey!?

The following day a quick hour out running near Porthmadog meeting Robbie Britton before team 9 bar breakfast in the hotel then on to Snowdonia for an afternoon of running up some real hills! 

Bank holiday Monday was a trip to Llangolen and the famous viaduct and a trip to the Cilican Fell race near Mold and Moel Famau.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Lakeland 100 Part 2

Hi Guys!

Part 2 is essentially a few notes I jotted about what went well and what could be improved on... There were no real disasters for me, the few legs from Blencathra to Dalemain I was unfamiliar with and time was lost here.

What worked well for me?

  • Lots of running long distances in hilly places this year (back to back 3-8 hour runs at weekends in the Lakes, Snowdonia, Peak District) weekly elevation between 3000m and 8000m in peak training weeks - I love being out in the hills
  • Short fast races during the Summer evenings (5-10k)
  • Gear that I use I've trained with and practiced with many times
  • Completed the event based on feelings. Ran what felt comfortable, drank when thirst, ate when hungry
  • The majority of the course I knew I saved lots of time compared to the night section which I didn't really know well.
  • Effective conditioning with run specific exercises (I created exercises to simulate the forces and motions of running) 
  • Good nutrition to aid recovery from training 

What can I improve?
  • Reduce the gear carried, I had much more stuff than I would have ever needed (even if the weather had been bad)
  • A recce on the unfamiliar sections would have saved significant time during the night
  • Avoid running 80 mile race the weekend before (wasn't sure how the legs would react thus the steady pace)
  • Train specifically for a race (entered last minute so didn't do any specific training thus the race week before) 
  • Perhaps having a little more food could have helped? energy levels were consistent throughout but would normally feel a bit more zippy up hills than I did on one or 2 during the middle, maybe a result of point 3...
  • Pay a bit of attention to timings. I had assumed leaders would be hours ahead and chose to just keep going as I was until Ambleside someone informed me of the gap to the podium. I felt a bit too energetic towards the end which suggests I didn't push as hard as I could.
I've ended up on the list for next years Lakeland 100 so it appears that I'll be there. How exciting!