Tuesday 11 March 2014

Bolton Hilly Marathon Double 2014

A really well organised trail marathon with about 800m ascent, it's fairly local to me and the nearest thing you  could get away with calling a 'hill' to where I live. I could remember the course from last year (it was only a single marathon last year, had a good race then too, set the course record with 3 hours 22 min) so this year they made it TWICE AS MUCH FUN with 2 days! There was a stronger, larger field and it was a bit more muddy, same great organisation, Phil and the team were perfect as far as I could see! Lots of support at the finish as runners jogged/ skipped/ sprinted/ collapsed over the finish line! Thanks to everyone involved with making it a great event!

Since the Spine (268 miles along the Pennine Way)  in January, training has been going great, most weekends have involved a Saturday trail race of about 10km and a park run in the morning on heavily fatigued legs, totalling around 30km and a Sunday run around 25-40km around the Bolton Hilly route and surrounding area. Adding to a midweek 30-40 km run and some shorter faster runs seems to have worked well.

As for the race, on day 1 I started out in about 5th as the first 5km climbs up Coal Pit road towards the mast on Winter Hill before a good quick descent down the mast road to the first CP about 10km in. I didn't check the watch at all during the race on either day, I figured if I felt good and was running well and I know the course and how far to go, I don't need to see any data from the watch. After the CP the course follows Georges lane which is cobbled and quite exciting to run on, I moved up a place here before crossing Sheep house lane and the muddiest part of the course across the moor for a short distance to hit a farm track where I had now jumped up a few more places and was feeling good.

There's a small hill before hitting the 12 mile CP (and 16 mile checkpoint - runners do a loop to arrive back here after White Coppice) still moving well I had an incredible urge to check the watch for time but resisted, quite a quick section here before arriving back at the CP where I was apparently 4 min 30 away from the lead I grabbed a bottle of water, how exciting.... next up the course weaves along a couple of reservoirs in the trees and is pretty scenic once again, it's a relatively fast section.

By the time I hit the 21 mile point passing the cafe and nearing the school below the Pike I had closed down the gap to 60 seconds and a friendly cheer from Jo and Mia who were doing a great job cheering some of us runners on course! There is a bit of a climb back up towards Georges lane and I could see the leader and seemed to be closing him down. After the climb I put a good pace in towards the aid station at 22ish miles before a short muddy climb to cross the mast road and the final descent/ last couple of miles to the finish. I put a good pace in on the down hill and was moving really well after taking the lead at the aid station, the downhill training seems to have paid off recently too! It's a fun descent where you can let the legs roll before hitting a set of steps and the final 800m along a road and into the park where the finish line awaits.

After day 1 I headed to the gym for a shower and did a mobility session which left the legs feeling great and ready for....

Day 2.

Day 2 was the same course exactly and started in a similar fashion I was a few places back from the front initially with the addition of some runners doing the single day to keep us double runners on our toes.

It felt like my heart rate was up slightly compared to Saturday although my legs felt better on day 2.
Looking back on day 2 I should have consumed some more energy during the race perhaps as I actually noticed there was a bit of a climb at the 21 mile point this time! ;)
I think time wise I was 3 mins down over the first half and 2 mins down over the 2nd half  compared to day 1.  Happy with that.

As I mentioned the marshals were great and the route was well marked there was a lot of people dotted  around the course supporting friends and family which was great to see! Looks like a great time was had by all (perhaps aside from one or two people with achy legs) Well done to all involved! Great to catch up with a lot of friends and share the weekend!

Post day 2 finish. Overall winners trophy on the left! A WHOPPER!
Double results here

Legs have coped well, a steady running week before getting the intensity up for some 'proper' races (haha... I mean ultras) soon!

Monday 3 March 2014

Learning to run faster... Want quicker race times?

I get quite a few enquiries from runners looking to increase their mileage from 5 and 10km races who are progressing up to marathons and half marathons, a question that often crops up is how to get faster and break through the rut they seem to be stuck in, in terms of speed. Let me introduce you to a great way to get started. Here's a snippet from this weeks eNewsletter.

What are Strides?
You accelerate smoothly from your normal run pace to run at a controlled but fast pace for a short burst 5-10 times (approx 20 - 40 seconds). NOT FLAT OUT.

Why do Strides?
Prepare body and mind for faster running eg after warming up but before an interval training session or race. In time will help to improve your speed. Good introduction to faster running.

Who are they for?
Anyone who has already begun to run regularly and is thinking about trying to improve their speed or regular runners and elites as part of pre race warm up or to spice up an easy run. As with anything new, if you have any medical conditions or injuries it's best you ask a relevant professional first if it's appropriate for you.

How to do Strides?
Warm up FIRST as normal.
Smoothly accelerate from a normal run speed to run at controlled fast pace for APPROX 20 - 40 seconds before decelerating smoothly to your normal pace. About 60 - 90 seconds later repeat.

They should be done while legs are fresh but warmed up so maybe during an easy run or as a pre race warm up. If you currently only seem to have one running speed but have been running regularly for a few months or more then try about 5 reps once or twice per week for a couple of weeks, listening to your body seeing how you get on.

If you have done speed training before and are more advanced you could add these into a couple of easy runs keeping around 5-8 reps. Any more and you risk turning an easy run into a hard training session.

Over time they'll help (in combination with other aspects) to improve your speed, coordination and efficiency whilst running.


P.s You obviously wouldn't want to do these if you have a niggle or injury now would you. Any questions drop me a message! 

Charlie is a sponsored ultra distance runner and specialises in helping busy men and women aged 25-50, over come the challenges of a busy lifestyle, run further, faster and get a body they are proud of, along with the confidence boost and sky high energy levels that come with it!

Charlie has extensive hands on experience working with busy professionals and on-the-go parents, from losing that last couple of pounds to losing five stone or more. He has helped people through their first session in a gym and others through multiple marathons.

In his own training Charlie has become UK ULTRArace Champion 2012, completed many running events ranging from 5k to 268 miles with many wins and podium finishes. He has had past success in rock climbing and wakeboarding, all this since deciding to 'get a bit fitter'

As a result Charlie's clients have confidence and support whilst they are guided down the path to a lean and healthy body that's ready to smash PB's and for anything else life can throw at it!