A run in the "Garden of England".

Tue:PM 5.15 miles (:38) Hornchurch Country Park.,  Fartlek run today after resting on Monday @7:37 min/mile pace

Wed:PM 5.2 miles (:46) Hornchurch Country Park., Nice recovery run today due to legs feeling slight ache after previous session  @8:55 min/mile pace.

Thu:AM 9.1 miles (1:12) Hornchurch Country Park., Great run today. Perfect conditions, beautiful sunset and got into the flow very quickly with this one. The miles seemed to just fly by that I felt I could have sustained this for a few more miles but darkness set in so decided to head home from the park  @7:56 min/mile pace.

Sun:AM 23 miles (4:13) Vanguard Way Trail., Long run today was again the highlight of the week. I met up with Jerry after talking the day before about running a stage of the London to Brighton ultra race in Kent/Surrey with an out and back run between Westerham and Forest Row. We ended up parking the cars at the Grasshopper Pub near Westerham around 6:45am and proceeded to catch the trail literally across the road, perfect. We started off at a healthy sub 9 minute mile pace chatting about all the normal topics two runners talk about when first meeting. We were very much enjoying ourselves then we came across the first of many dog walkers who said to us "The London Marathon is the other way". We smiled and carried on but every time we met another walker they would say the same thing. Did no one have anything else to say!

I don't know if it's a British thing yet it appeared that everyone we met wanted to crack the obvious joke in the hope they get a response. Are us British that predictable! However we made fun of it and made a bet of how many times people would ask us. Neither of us won :-). Jerry gave me my first lesson in map reading and I thought I had some success although we did lose our bearing a couple of times resulting in bonus miles! The time did seem to go quickly though and as I had to be back by 11am we didn't quite make Forest Row but none the less it was an absolutely brilliant run with the perfect opportunity to get some quality miles in and run with a like minded individual amongst the beautiful Kent countryside. I wish I had taken pictures but I am sure I will get another opportunity soon to do so.  Even though we had walking breaks, hills and stopped to read the map we still held a healthy pace @10:56 min/mile.  

-Miles 42.6
-Hours 6hr 50min


Overall the week turned out to be a good one despite overall mileage dropping down however when looking at my sessions this week there is a lot of quality in there especially the Long Run. I loved the fact that I did my long run in a different location and with another runner as it seemed to make the run more vibrant and it felt that the run was quite manageable especially as I felt strong towards the end of it. I feel quite fresh today and the legs are feeling very good indeed. I think that some credit is due here to some new supplements I was trying out both during my run and for my post run recovery drinks.

The supplements were kindly supplied to me by Wayne at YourSportsFuel and I will be providing a full review of these later this week on my blog later but I quickly have to say that if you haven't heard of or tried their products I advise you to visit their site and make an order. More on that later this week.

This week I plan on doing more of the good quality runs this past 3 weeks and ramp the mileage up to around 60 miles. The long runs will probably either be a 5-6hr run on sunday or a back to back session on Sat/Sun (4hr and 3hr run). The North Downs trail is not far from me however I only intend on doing a 25-35 mile run once or twice before the Lakeland event in July so maybe I might have to wait a few weeks before returning. After the weekend my confidence in running has reached a new high this year as I feel good even after almost 4.25 hours on the move and I certainly feel that I can bank a 5-6hr run. 

Viva la Long Run! Happy running guys.

Volcano Chaos

Consider this: at its most powerful, Iceland’s most irritable volcano is sending 750 tons of ash into the air every second…enough to fill an olympic sized swimming pool in just 3 seconds. The giant cloud is grounding flights in more than 20 countries. The total number of stranded passengers is in the millions…all over the world. That pretty much sums up the chaos Europe has been experiencing these past few days but at least my running week wasn't impacted in the same way.

Mon:PM 5 miles (:37) Hornchurch Country Park, Speed session averaging @7:34 min/mile pace including a repeat up Ingrebourne hill (200ft ascent)

Thu:PM 8.25 miles (1:08) Hornchurch Country Park., Weather was amazing with clear skies all around. 2 loops including x2 Ingrebourne hill repeats @8:20 min/mile pace

Fri:PM 4.5 miles (:35) Hornchurch Country Park., Decided to do a fartlek session today with 5 mins fast and 1 min recovery and a 1 mile warm up, 1/2 mile cood down but cut the hill section of my usual loop. Very gusty wind conditions made this feel tougher than it was @7:48 min/mile pace.

Sat:AM 13.25 miles (1:57) Hornchurch Country Park., Due to missing out sessions on tuesday/wednesday I decided to pack in the miles at the weekend. Did this great run on the reasonably flat 3.5 mile loop of the country park @8:52 min/mile pace. Felt very comfortable throughout and the legs felt good after.

Sun:AM 22 miles (3:19) Hornchuch Country Park., Long run today was the highlight of the week. A friend of mine joined me for 5 miles from the13 mile mark so average pace was a little slower for those miles than the rest but still averaged @9:04 min/mile pace. All done before breakfast and felt pretty good afterwards.

-Miles 53
-Hours 7hr 39min


Another great week all round. Given that I have now averaged over 50 miles for the last two weeks and feel remarkably fresh I am fully intent on pushing things further to see where my limits are. I am having a rest day today however to ensure I am fully charged for another 6 sessions this week.

The highlight of last week was definitely the weekend sessions. I haven't run 22 miles since the "50 mile challenge" last year and have only done 20 miles this year about 3 times (a few 18's as well). This distance will become my standard long run over the coming months however with the Lakeland 50 and Ridgeway 85 races coming up in the summer I do intend to bump the long run up to between 25-35 miles every 3-4 weeks to ensure that I get at least 4-6 hours on my feet.. I also am planning to run the Tunbridge Wells Circular Path in May as a great training run with a few other runners including Jerry S 

Finally before I leave I have to say a big "Well Done" to both Alex Flynn and Jonathan Hall for successfully completing the Marathon Des Sables event finishing 528th and 180th overall. A massive challenge and in my top 5 races to do. Both Alex and Johnny are taking part in some amazing events in the near future so take a look at their plans.
Also I want to also bring to your attention Mark Cooper who will be shortly embarking on his 50 marathons in 56 days journey across Europe starting on May 1st. A truly epic challenge so do visit his site for more details on this.

Have a great week guys. Richard

The road is dead. Long live the trail.


It has been a great week in my short running life as I managed to break 50+ miles a week for the first time and physically feel pretty good I have to say. Having had this week off from work I have been lucky enough to pick anytime throughout the day to enjoy my running and the very pleasant weather.

Mon:PM 8 miles (1:05) Local Roads., Run was mainly set around local roads near where I live with 5lb backpack.

Wed:PM 8.3 miles (1:11) Hornchurch Country Park., First time in the Country Park for an off road run since January. Have put together a great 4.25 mile loop consisting of a 200ft hill in the middle of the route.

Thu:PM 8.3 miles (1:08) Hornchurch Country Park., Another glorious day and slightly faster run on the same route as wednesday.

Fri:AM 6.4 miles (:53) Hornchurch Country Park., Decided to shorten today's efforts in preparation for the weekend mileage but a solid run at a steady pace and cut out the hill section of my usual loop.

Sat:AM 5.3 miles (:51) Hornchurch Country Park., Very easy run today with a friend who is just coming back to running. Felt very comfortable throughout and the legs felt fresh.

Sun:AM 15.4 miles (2:12) Hornchuch Country Park., Long run was supposed to be a very steady run however I felt so comfortable that I managed to easily maintain an 8:37 minute mile pace throughout the run. No hills today.

-Miles 51.7
-Hours 7hr 22min

Since returning from the Lake District earlier this week it opened my eyes to the fact that I really need to train on the surface I intend to race on so I decided at the beginning of this week that I should switch full time to training on trails/grass and fortunately for me I have a local country park on my doorstep. So I put on my Inov-8 Roclite 315 shoes and headed out on a warm and sunny wednesday afternoon to get the miles in. Every run since then has felt great, my legs feel fresh and  I don't have any of the aches or niggles that I usually get from the road plus I have realised how much I love running off-road.

Running through the local country park has proven to be liberating. It has dozens of potential routes, great hills for repeats and varied wildlife (apart from the dog walkers who cannot control their canines). I don't look at my watch (as much as usual) or take my Ipod. There's no cars, no persons to avoid knocking over on the pavement and no roads to cross in order to get to the next section of pavement. I keep thinking that the only downside to this could be that I will meet a snake out there and it will cause me a different sort of injury from ones I have had previously on the roads, a scary thought indeed.

I love the thought of running out there so much that I experimented this week with 6 runs instead of 4.  This has contributed in me clocking up 50+ miles this week and it could seen as something to worry about as I haven't broke 40 miles a week since January. Time will tell eventually whether I can sustain this however now that I am in the zone I intend to give it my best shot and am determined to keep the number of sessions up there to around five or six a week.

This week has been a revelation for me and having come to the realisation that I need an indefinite break from the roads I am looking forward to all the events in June-August. I have enjoyed running so much this week that it has given me a real boost to how I feel about things everytime I have stepped outside the door. I have managed to recover much faster from each run and I hope that this is the start of a new chapter in my running journey.

Finally, as the number of running session's increases and the mileage goes up, the time I spend on running will need to be offset by some other means. This will be a challenge as I want to ensure that I continue to try and balance all areas of my life. A lot of runners have this predicament and with the fact my family are my number one priority and I am back to work this week, I am not setting a running schedule in place of any kind with the exception of a long run at the weekend. It will be a matter of taking the opportunity to run when I can. A lot of my running usually takes place before the family wakes up but of course if my wife get's woken up by the kids that balance maybe shot!

Enjoy your running this week everyone and always ensure that if you have a support crew like mine that you always put them first.

Good Fortune & Fat Feet

Don't you just love it when good fortune shows up when you least expect it too.

Now I know that most of you are privy to using Facebook on a regular but to actually win something for free through the site is probably a rarity. A few weeks ago I added to my illustrious list of friends a company called Fat Feet Blisters. The company organise some great physically challenging running events located in some pretty spectacular settings right here in the UK. At the beginning of the week they launched a new promotion on Facebook by giving away a "Free Entry" once a month to anyone of their events. The process is simple and is described right here on their blog - http://fat-feet.blogspot.com/

The first question of the month was - The "Marathon" legend is that of a Greek solider running from the battle of marathon to Athens but what was the name of the Greek solider who ran the distance?
The correct answer as most of you know is "Pheidippides".  

Amazingly enough I was randomly picked out to win a free entry to one of their events! I couldn't quite believe it to be honest when I received a congratluatory email. Now I'd already read about their events and unfortunately my first pick The Grimsthorpe Ultra 70 was being held on the same day as the Lakeland 50 race that I had already booked. So I will more than likely enter the Rutland Water Marathon  that is being held in November.

I just want to say thanks again to Fat Feet for picking me out of the hat. Now to everyone who reads this blog go and check out their website as they really do have some cracking events lined up. See you next time.

A Taste of the Fells

Since my last posting the family and I had took a trip to Lancaster to see extended family over the Easter weekend. Of course this would be the perfect time to plan a quick trip to the Lake District to experience the wonders of the Fells given the fact that the Lakeland 50 race was some 3 1/2 months away. I had been meaning to arrange a trip for some time to do a recce for some of the course.

With running time limited as this meant to be a family holiday (2 hours max) I decided that Coniston would be the best place to experience the Fells as it was within 40 minutes of our base in Lancaster and it was the last stage of the L50 race. I left all the family by Coniston water itself with a picnic and I set off around the lake towards Coniston village.

I set off at a relatively comfortable pace of around 8:45 minute miles and as it was only a mile or so to the base of the Coniston Fells I was quickly there and looking for a way to start my way up into the valley. As I didn't have an Ordnance survey map this was going to be a run based on exploring things as I went along without knowing what was coming.

Sure enough I reached though I saw a sign for the Coppermine Valley so it was easy to decide where to go  and shortly after I entered the valley I started to climb up the nearest Fell, it turned out later it was the Yew Pike. After climbing for a few hundred feet my legs really were feeling the strain as the gradient in some places was at least 15-20% easy if not more. After climbing for about 5-10 minutes I had a drink and scout around to see the view. Well I couldn't believe how quickly I had climbed and in front of me I could see in full glory Coniston Old man, a 2,500 ft mountain.

I continued to climb upwards and was fully intent on reaching the summit. This took about another 10 minutes or so but once I reached it I was somewhat apprehensive of looking out at the view as I am a little afraid of heights (yes this is true). Given I wouldn't have this moment again I took a look and was mesmorised by what I saw and took a picture of Coniston village and Coniston Water. The feeling I had on top of this hill was amazing, so peaceful, so calm, everything so clear.

After a brief stop I moved downwards back to the valley floor there was still much to explore, in fact there was so much that I wish I could of spent many hours there but that would have to be for another day. So instead of exploring farther afield I ran mostly around the surrounding valley with the exception of the eastern side where Coniston Old Man is situated and took as many pictures as I could so that I could savour this running experience forever.

I descended back down to Coniston Water through the village and met my family almost 2 hours after I left them by the waterside. I took advantage of the fact that although I couldn't get a nice cold shower for my legs I would walk into the water itself just as my kids had done moments earlier and boy was it refreshing.

As I left the water and was standing there on the bank I thought to myself that although I was leaving today I would be back here in July for a full 50 miles of running through this inspiring and amazing terrain. This had merely been the appetizer before the main course and I just cannot wait to come back for more.

If you want to see more pictures of the run please visit my Flick gallery here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/richard_s1/sets/72157623653327705/