Training: Weekend Running – 10k + 5k

Friday first! I fully intended on going for a run on Friday however the weather was lovely , I’d been in an office all day and I live 30 minutes from the beach…you do the math!

A Saturday 10k

I have two races this week, one on Tues and on Friday, so although I haven’t done a long (70mins+) run for a while, I opted for a 10k yesterday (Sat) and 5k today. The 10k was really warm and humid, sapping all the energy from my legs. I planned to do about 15k but couldn’t go on! Also watched my wife run a Parkrun PB in 21:14 – very proud!

Fast-ish 5k on Sunday

Today I ran 5k in a fairly pacey 19:53. I intentionally pushed myself as there is a 5k race on Tuesday, so needed a bit of tuning up. I ran today in my Newton MV3′s which, I’m pleased to say my calves have finally got used to! They really do throw you forward, but with zero drop I’d still be wary about wearing them even for a 10k.

I liked this photo of me and my wife walking toward the start line for a race last week!


Next Training
A race on Tuesday – The Corfe Mullen 5k followed by a race on Friday – the Purbeck 10k.

Race: Kingston Lacy 10k

This race was a first for me, set in the grounds of 17th Century Kingston Lacy house.


Every race these days seems to be a ‘festival of running’ rather than just a plain old group of races! So today there was a family fun run, a half marathon, a 10k and a 5k – probably more, but those were the ones I counted… And of course a stall selling running shoes – it wouldn’t be a running festival without that ; )

Me and the wife walking down to the start!


I’m always very positive about running events as they are usually put on by clubs or charities, with volunteers giving up their time to marshal. This ‘festival’ however is run by professional sports events company VoTwo as a money making enterprise so I feel justified in pointing out a few areas for improvement. I welcome their response in the comments…

1) The race is advertised as chip timed. It’s not.

2) The man organising the start was pretty loud, abrupt and verging on rude. Everyone lined up at a flag saying start (as you would do?!) but apparently this WASN’T the start.

3) The kilometre markers were way off. I’ve corroborated this with a couple of other runners. At the 4k mark, my Garmin said 4.2k – quite a difference.

4) A lot of people’s official times were 20-30 seconds slower than their watches.

5) The ‘live results’ was actually a TV screen that you had to queue up to see for 15mins, at a time. It didn’t even tell you your race position. I’ve known races to have initial results printed out on to paper and stuck up on a board for all to see, whilst the race is still finishing

6) The results site didn’t work on my mobile.

Other than those points, the setting was beautiful, weather pristine (if a little hot), atmosphere really nice, great crowd lining the finish and the announcer lady talking all through the event was actually really entertaining and engaging!

The race itself was tough as it was very hot, even at 9:30am when it started. It meandered through a bit of grass, some gravel paths and then country lanes and was very scenic.

All was fine until a massive hill at 4k which, in the heat, seemed to suck the life out of my legs. I finished the race in 7th place and in a time of, ha! 40:43 on my Garmin and 41:01 in the official results. Think I’ll go with the Garmin!

Race: Poole Festival of Running – 10k


Two or three years ago I did this race in 28ish degree heat. It was horrendous and it was all I could do to struggle home in around 50 minutes. So for the last week I was tentatively checking the weather for signs of another heatwave…

Well it wasn’t as bad as a few years ago and residents of hotter climes may thing nothing of it, but my car thermometer hit 25 degrees (77f) on the way to the race. I ran alongside my son in the 400 metre minithon earlier in the day and it was hot!

A Festival of Running

The 10k is the main event in the day long ‘Poole Festival of Running’, with capacity for 1200 entrants. There are various children’s races in the morning, plus a 5k for those preferring a shorter distance. Add all the rides and expos and it was a very nice day!

This is the only race that I know of that begins at 2pm in the afternoon. I always find this a bit annoying as a) if it’s a hot day like this was, it’s hottest at 2pm in the afternoon and b) it’s hard to know what/when to eat at that time! (I opted for a bowl of porridge and banana at 12pm, but was STARVING by the end of the race.)

The Route

The route takes you around the beautiful scenery of Poole Park and the Whitecliff area of Poole. Half of the run is around a lake and through the park, and the other half takes you out on to a path running directly alongside the gently lapping sea.

At first glance this is a flat course however, as anyone that did it today will tell you, there are some innocuous looking but potentially tricky hills along the way!

The Race

I started in the 34-37min section and so got swept along at quite a fast pace (3:35 min per k) for the first couple of kilometres. In fact, I looked at my watch at 5k and realised I’d done it in 19:08 – a time I frequently do a full on 5k in!

It was at around 7-7.5k that the heat really started to get to me – praying for the next water stop, before realising that the next one was post-finish line! Crossed the line in 39.53, frustratingly 1 second slower than my PB.

A very enjoyable day – with my son, my wife, mum and dad all racing throughout the day, lots of entertainment for the kids and a nice ice cream van ready and waiting near to the finish line. A very organised day and race.

Next Training
Day off tomorrow, followed by getting back to the speed sessions with Poole A.C. at Ashdown on Tues evening.

Race: Southbourne Fast and Flat 10k

The Southbourne Fast and Flat is a fast, out and back course which is usually primed for PBs. Starting at St. Katherine’s CE school, the route makes it’s way through surrounding streets before hitting the promenade. The only problem in this race however was the wind! Running out for the first 5k felt amazing as the wind was behind us. Thinking I’d better take advantage of it, I upped my pace to 3:35m kms however turning around into the wind, I realised I should have saved my energy for that part! Shoulders hunched and head bent in an effort to become more aerodynamic, I shuffled to the finish line in 40:55 – a very disappointing time but still a minute and a half quicker than last year at the same race.

Next Training
I’m away with work in Hamburg for two days now (writing this on the plane 3000 feet up!) so going to try and run with a colleague while we’re there!

Training: Upping The Mileage, Keeping The Speed

I always try to maintain a balance between long runs and short runs, easy and hard pace, flat and hilly, for both endurance and speed.

Wednesday was club night and this was a gently paced but hilly 9k. The mist on top of the hills was so bad, at one point I could barely see 20 metres ahead of me! Fortunately it was in the National Park that I grew up in, so I know my way around pretty well… This easyish but longer run followed a pretty high tempo speed session the previous evening so worked well to keep the mileage up and so allow my legs to recover.

On Thursday my wife and I ran in shifts! Her club nights begin at 7:15pm and I get in from work at just after 6pm, giving me 30 minutes to go for a run! As I take 10 minutes to warm up and stretch this left me with around 20 minutes left to run, so I decided to do a fast but hilly 5K. This I did in 21 minutes – a short but intense workout. I then took Friday and Saturday off running due to no time and as I have a race on Sunday a 10k entitled the ‘Southbourne Fast and Flat’. The weather is meant to be appalling so whether it’s fast or not, we shall see!

Next Training
10k fast race tomorrow, recovery 8-10k on Monday.

Back To It: A 10k in the Sun

One thing I’ve learned this week is how, when you’re running regularly you take it for granted how used to running your body is. After not training for 10 days, I went out with Purbeck Runners on Wed evening which involved a bit of a hill climb and 10k of running – crickey my legs hurt the next day!

So it was with still achy legs that I set out on Friday morning in to the sunshine for what I intended to be an 8k run. The weather and views were so nice though, I wound up running 10k again! Took some pics as it was so picturesque:

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Next Training
Parkrun 5k today (Saturday). Not going for any PBs due to lack of fitness, more as a training run.

Back to it With a 10k Trail Run

Back To Running

So from mid February until the end of March I used every piece of floundering will power I have to adhere to my five-days-a-week training motto. Through rain, wind, freezing cold temperatures and under dark starlit skies I ran through all in a push towards my championship 10k race on March 3oth. I did ok in the race but ignored the fact that I was feeling under the weather…

That was two and a half weeks ago now and I believe I’ve now had two separate colds since then, one after the other! This second one is still hanging around like an uninvited guest, but last night was club night with Purbeck Runners so after getting in from work I forced myself into my running gear and jumped into the car, before my mind had time to make up excuses why not to run!

A Lovely Evening Run

Was it worth it? Too right! Swanage is a town nestled in a valley, with rolling hills to the north and south and the sea and beach to the south-east. At 7:15pm our group set off, the sky a dying blue and the low sun casting long shadows, towards a particularly large hill to the north called Nine Barrow Down. A 2km jog took us to the foot of the hill where we began a steep climb up a rocky path to the top. Rounding the corner at the top, the sun blazed in to view and even the most dedicated, focused runner would have joined us to take in the view across the valley.

The View From Nine Barrow Down

The View From Nine Barrow Down

The remainder of the run took us along the hilltop for about 2km before the lovely long downhill, through farmyards and winding country lanes back to our start and finish point. Possibly a tougher workout than those hoping for a gentle, post-London Marathon recovery run but just what the doctor ordered for me. Feel much better this morning and ready for another easy 10k tonight as I ease back to running five times/30 miles a week.

Entering Race Season

May-Sep is race season in these parts – my favourite time of the year and why I need to get back to the increased training load – a pleasure on bright summer evenings. Good riddance winter!

Next Training

Gentle 10k this evening.

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!

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!