Race: The Bournemouth Bay 10k 2014

The Bournemouth Bay Run

This is an annual 10k race held in my hometown of Bournemouth in the UK, by the BHF (British Heart Foundation). It’s a mixture of athletes running competitively with club vests, Garmin watches and racing flats, and those who are running running to raise money for charity and just happy to complete the distance. It’s all relative though; I saw a couple of friends there, both of whom were over the moon to have gotten in under the hour mark – and rightly so as they’d both trained hard for it. They were impressed with my time, which I shrugged off, and I in turn was impressed with the times of those who had come in ahead of me…

Bournemouth Bay 10k 2014

The Bournemouth Bay Run 2014 (photo from the Bournemouth Echo)

The Course

The start line is at Bournemouth pier with the first 4.5k then taking you along the nice flat promenade, with golden sand and the English Channel sparkling away to your right. You then run up a zigzag slope (killer!) for about 1 minute before turning around and running back along the overcliff to Boscombe pier. The great thing about this race is that the last 2-3k are along a flat promenade with the finish line clearly in sight – a good opportunity to open up the legs and sprint to the end!

Bournemouth Beach

View from the start line

Psychologically, this race throws me a bit. In my head I’m thinking, “ok, this is just a nice easy ‘out-and-back’ flat route”! In reality, although it’s flat enough for the first 4.5k, there is the zigzag killer followed by a long incline before you drop down on the the promenade again. Tougher than I expected (even though this was my 5th time doing this race!)


The dreaded Zigzag!


I stopped too early. There was a blue line 20 metres before the actual finish and with my head down sprinting, I stopped here! Fortunately, the crowd all shouted at me that I’d stopped too early and I jogged across the actual finish line in dead on 40 mins. 8 secs off a PB. It was lovely weather, with a slight wind against us for the first 5k but the sun on our back for the return.

Full results here

Next Training

Been feeling under the weather the last couple of days so I’m going to take a few days (hopefully just that!) off from running…

Investigation: Does Drinking Red Bull Make You Run Faster?

Running Elixir?

A couple of people have recommended drinking a can of Red Bull before a race for a bit of an extra kick. The trick apparently is to pour it out in to a bottle and shake vigorously, releasing all the bubbles to give you a belch free run! I didn’t think much of it as one hears so many of these ‘tips’, but at the weekend I happened to have a can in the fridge before a 10k race so I downed the lot. Psychosomatic or not, I definitely felt a little more energetic than normal… so I thought I’d look in to Red Bull may actually have a positive effect on your running performance.

Firstly the ingredients of Red Bull; Caffeine, B-group vitamins, sucrose and glucose (sugar), taurine and Alpine spring water (who knew!).



This is the most instantly recognisable as a performance enhancer, there is around the same amount of caffine in a can of Red Bull as in one cup of coffee (around 80mg). As Red Bull state on their website:

“One of caffeine’s primary sites of action in the human body is  its stimulating effect on cognitive functions. Caffeine helps to improve concentration and increase alertness.”

So this may help you remain focused on your run, your time and the finish line.

Runner’s World tested the effects of caffine and found:

  • Runners who have caffeine sprint faster than those who don’t have caffeine. Researchers think the stimulant enhances reaction time and running speed.
  • Helps with recovery – Researchers found that having a drink with caffeine rebuilds glycogen stores 66 percent more than a carb-only drink.
  • Cyclists who have caffeine ride farther and think faster on cognitive tests


Vitamins, B1, B2, B3 and B6 help variously with energy and endurance, longevity, joint support and muscle gain and recovery. all good for runners! This is cited by a brand that makes supplements for runners so take as you will…

Red Bull themselves (again they have a slight sales agenda) say

“B-group vitamins contribute to normal energy-yielding metabolism, such as the build-up and break-down of carbohydrates and proteins and contribute to normal mental performance (pantothenic acid) and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue (niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, B12).”

Careful though, the Institute of Medicine warns that more than 100 milligrams of B-6 each day – what you’d get from 2 1/2 bottles of 5-Hour Energy – may damage nerves in the arms and legs.

Sucrose & Glucose

I won’t go in to this too much. Basically sugars, one type that the brain particularly likes (glucose) and one the muscles like (sucrose), that give you energy.


The magic ingredient?
Again, here’s what Red Bull say:

“Taurine is an amino acid, naturally occurring in the human body and present in the daily diet. It is involved in a wide range of biological processes.

Taurine is found in high concentrations in muscle, brain, heart and blood. A person weighing 70 kg has approximately 70 g of taurine distributed throughout their body. Put another way, a 70 kg person naturally already has in his body 70 times the amount of taurine contained in one can of Red Bull Energy Drink.”

A study named ‘The effect of acute taurine ingestion on 3-km running performance in trained middle-distance runners’ by Balshaw TG, Bampouras TM, Barry TJ, & Sparks SA in 2012, tested the effects of taurine on runners and found that seven out of the eight tested runners performed better with taurine. Their results concluded that there is a 99.3% chance that taurine was beneficial to performance.

All mixed together with Alpine spring water!


So in conclusion, Red Bull does have a lot of ingredients that have in some ways been proven to have a positive effect on running. However, a lot of those ingredients are present in our daily diets anyway, so the act of drinking something that contains more may have little to no effect if you’re already at 100% RDA.

I’ll have a can before my proper 10k race on Sunday and give an anecdotal report!

Training: Track Session


Ah, the last track session in the dark before the clocks go forward on Sunday! It was VERY hard to leave the house for training last night… Dinner was bubbling on the stove, TV was on and it was freezing cold, raining and dark outside. All I have to do though is visualise myself getting a PB and remember how great it feels! That was enough to get changed and get out of the door.

The Training

This was my weekly speed session at the local athletics track. I arrived early so headed to the track to begin my warm up and stretches, running five gentle laps (2000m) before even starting the speed work. The session itself was intervals with roughly a one, to one and a half minute rest period between each. The total distance for the speed work was 5400 metres, divided into three sets of 400m x 600m x 800m. With ‘The Big Race‘ coming up on Sunday I resolved to take it a little easier than usual. The 400′s I ran in around 1:10, the 600′s in 1:55 and the 800′s in 2:50. Of course having not pushed myself as fast as I usually would in preparation for Sunday, it felt like I had loads left in the tank after but this is a good thing – plenty for Sunday!


Next Training

An easy to tempo paced 10k with club tonight #tapering

Diary of an Ultra Runner – Total Inspiration!

Marathon? No Thank You!

When you’re known as a runner, the first thing most people ask is, “ever done/going to do a marathon?” My answer is always a categorical, non-hesitational, emphatic NO! The thought of running 26.2 miles fills me with dread, not to mention the hours and hours of training required… I have massive respect for anyone who has completed a marathon, regardless of what time they did it in.

Ultra Running

Ultra runners even more so. These guys run races with the kilometers ticking over into three figures and with it, do the training needed to reach such levels of endurance. A name that features regularly at the top of the results page of many races I do is that of Steve Way, a local runner who won the Stockholm Ultra Marathon (100k) in 2013.

Steve Way

Steve Way

Just reading his training diary makes you feel tired, however it definitely helps put my mileage in perspective and perhaps inspires me to do a little more that I would otherwise do.

You can see Steve’s diary/training schedule at www.steveway.co.uk – a great (if exhausting) read!

Next Training (for me)

Poole A.C. track session tonight for some speed work. Not too high intensity though as have a race on Sunday…

Race: Sport Relief 10k

Sport Relief

Whilst on a family holiday for the weekend in Cornwall we (Mum, Dad, my wife and me) took part in the Sport Relief 10k. Now, of course this was for charity and that was the most important thing… but when you’re a runner, you’re a runner – you feel bad not giving it your all, right?!

Bodmin Sport Relief

Bodmin Sport Relief

Give Us a Clue…

So it was that Dad and I found ourselves a good 1k ahead of the nearest participant, in the middle of no-where outside of Bodmin, literally at a crossroads… did we take the left path, the right path or the muddy track straight ahead. More to the point, where was the flippin marshal?! We chose the right path and hoped for the best and luckily it was the correct route. My Mum however wasn’t so lucky, choosing the muddy track straight ahead , getting completely lost and having to have a search party sent out for her (she was found eventually!).

Dad very kindly let me finish in front of him for the win, with photos for the local newspaper following. All capped off with a nice roast dinner and a pint of my favourite Doombar ale at the pub (surely the best part of running?)

Scenic Hills

A very enjoyable, hilly and scenic route however sub-par marshalling and directions. We had to run slowly with some locals for the first mile just to know where to go! All for charity though *he says through gritted teeth*!

Next Training

An easy run tonight as I taper off this week ready for a Championship race this Sunday – the Bournemouth Bay 10k!


Training: A Rare Morning Run!

After two days of intense speed work on Tues and Wed, I didn’t go for a run last night. It certainly didn’t help that it was tipping it down with rain!

Usually the mornings are a whirlwind of getting everyone ready for school/nursery/work, rushing out of the door with toast in my mouth. This morning however everyone left at 7:30am and I found myself with a rare hour before I had to leave for work. Looking out of the window, the sky was the kind of fresh blue that you only get in spring-time – so on went the running gear and out of the door I went!

Spring time running

Spring time running

The run itself was a hilly loop totaling 5k in 21:40. Nothing to write home about but just nice to get out before work!


Training: Fartleks & How to Maximise Your Running Training

The Training

Now this was a lesson in the mantra ‘Listen To Your Body’! After Tuesday night’s track session, my legs were feeling a little tired as I stepped out of the car to join our Wednesday night club session. As we warmed up for a couple of km they were still feeling heavy. By the time we’d run 7k’s worth of sprint/jog, sprint/jog fartleks they felt like lumps of lead! Felt alright this morning though so no harm done…

The training itself was exactly 9km, including warm up and warm down and lasted precisely 44:07 (thanks Garmin!)

Two Things I Realised

There were two interesting things that I noticed last night on how to maximise a training session:

1) Include some horrible hills

Sprint up them, as fast as you can. Don’t think about the next one. So I guess it was a fartlek hills session (Swanage is a hilly place1)

2) Get Competitive

In a nice way. From personal experience even though I think I’m pushing myself as hard as I can when doing a solo speed/hill session, I’m usually not. I know this because when doing a group session I run much faster (to keep up), much harder (I’m not the one choosing the hills) and for much longer (no chance of ducking home early).

The moral of the story? Running clubs are great – join one!

Next Training:

An easy-verging-on-tempo run tonight after two evenings of speed work in a row! Then off to Cornwall for a weekend’s relaxing (spelt ‘running’!)

Training: Track Session with Poole A.C (400x400x800 x3)

Ah the track session, highlight of my running week even if I do feel ridiculously nervous before it! I always get nervous when I know I’m going to really hurt my lungs. anything over 5k is fine, no nerves, but speed session, hill sessions and Parkruns hurt and they make me nervous!

The Speed Session

The speed session itself was 4800 metres of fast running, split into three sets of 400x400x800. There’s nothing like running with other people to push yourself harder! When I was unable to go to the club speed session last week I tried to replicate my own on a flat road near my house. Even though I tried to push myself, I didn’t get anywhere near to the same intensity as I do on track.

Beginning with a 2k warm up and then stretches, I then did the first two 400′s slowly at around 1:15 and the 800 in 2:37. The middle two 400′s however, I pushed myself to about 80% and ran each of these in 1:05 with a 2 minute recovery between each. I then died in the following 800m, before repeating again for the final set of 400x400x800!

“It’s only working if it’s hurting!”

N.b. as I was warming down on the concrete path around the edge of the track, I really noticed the difference in feel from running on the track. SO much softer on your legs/ankles/hips on track!

Next Training
Club night tonight with Purbeck Runners. I will be something horribly, painfully good for us like hill repeats or fartleks!

Training: The (Not So) Long Sunday Run!

Blue Sky Running

After the elation of a 5k PB on Friday night and a busy Saturday that didn’t allow for any running I looked forward to my Long Sunday run this week. The sun was shining, with not a cloud in the sky. The trees and bushes that lined the country lanes were all beginning to show signs of life, and new born lambs bleated from unseen fields beyond.

Sunny Lytchett

Sunny Lytchett

Nice Day For It!

My aim was to continue the theme of recent Sundays and run for 90 minutes, trying to ignore the mileage, enjoy the run and keep on my feet for the full hour and a half. It started off well in t-shirt and shorts, the sun feeling warm on my face from the very beginning. As the miles wore on though my neck and should began to KILL! I tried relaxing them, shaking them, rolling them – I must have looked mad to an observer, but nothing worked. I then tried adjusting my running posture as I’m aware that I lean forwards slightly when I run, trying to position my head/neck/spine in a straight line and this did help a little.

The final part of my route took me past my house and I gave in to temptation! Instead of doing the final loop that would have taken my time to 90 minutes, I’m embarrassed to say that I ducked home early with the clock at 74 minutes!

Then off for a lovely family meal and an afternoon in the sun!

Wareham River

Wareham River

Next Training

A 45 minute easy run tonight before two speed sessions in a row Tues and Wed.