My First Race Prize For Running (and how I got there)

So back in 2012, I went along to a few races that my dad was doing to try and get a bit fitter, I was technically a member of Purbeck Runners but never really took running seriously. At some point towards the end of 2012 the running bug bit me. I realised that the more I ran, the happier I was. It really was that simple a correlation! Running gives me more energy, a better general mood and it makes me feel more positive about life in general. Sounds a bit hippy-ish when I write it down, but it’s true and I really notice it now when I don’t run for a long period of time (like, 3 days!)

Running Bug Bites

Once the running bug had bitten me I started to make sure I was entering ALL the runs my dad was doing and, eventually, trawling the Runner’s World events section for any others I could do… I was hooked. Unfortunately I then got tonsillitis for three months in Spring 2013 which put a dent in my progression, however it was this enforced break that really made me be able to appreciate it when I WAS able to run. So, back to it in June 2013 I began upping my weekly runs from 1-2 runs a week totalling 10 miles, to at least three per week and 20 miles. My times started improving, for example my Parkrun went from 22:18 in 2012, to 18:46 at the end of 2013.


So to 2014 and the commencement of Training a Runner to record my trials and tribulations. More structure was added to my running again as I began doing speed sessions on a weekly basis, either on the track with Poole A.C or on my own on a flat road. Hill sessions were added to the mix with intervals and the long run on a weekend. My run count went up to 4-5 per week and by June my Parkrun was down to 18:17.

Category Winner

In May we saw the beginning of the annual Upton Summer Time Trials. A 3.5 mile race around a country park, where runners from all the local clubs come along on a Friday night to compete. The series consists of six runs and the person with the fastest time and has run a minimum of four races is then wins their category. Last year my best time at Upton was 22:10, in the first race this year it was 21:51. In the very last race of the Upton series I managed to somehow run 20:27, so winning the 20-39 age group category! A certificate and £20 voucher are all mine. I didn’t even realise I was in contention as we stayed to watch our son pick up his category prize and then left, not knowing that my name would shortly be read out!


Ok so I didn’t win the WHOLE race, just my category but a prize is a prize and when you’re halfway through the year, it’s a nice reward for all the training and some good motivation for the rest of the year.

Improve Your Times with a #Running Strategy! Here’s Mine…

Some people run to lose weight, some for a challenge and some as a social activity. However, if you want to keep running and keep on improving then it helps to have a strategy. What is is you want out of running and how our you going to achieve and then measure that? Having a set of goals within your strategy will help with your motivation as you reach and then surpass them.

Here’s my strategy:

Insight (why I run):

I’m a very goal orintated person. I like to have targets and challenges and feel satisfied when I meet or exceed these. I’m also a very active and energetic person – I NEED to have some form of sport or activity to counter balance sitting down in an office all day. When I was younger I played a lot of football and hockey, but when I broke my nose badly playing hockey, I turned to running (although this still has it’s dangers!) I enjoy all the friendships I’ve made through running however I am just as happy to head out for a run by myself, so the social side isn’t a huge priority for me.

BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)

You gotta have a BHAG, something just at the very edge of reality. something that could maybe one day happen if you just put your mind to it. Like when you first pick up a guitar, your BHAG is to play Wembley Stadium or you first kick a football and dream of playing up front for Manchester United.


…is to win an affiliated road race and I don’t care what distance or what time I do it in. It might happen in 6 months or 10 years but that’s my dream and what keeps me going out into the sleet after a long day at work in the middle of winter.


These are more realistic and you can have a few of them, although still keep them pretty high level though. These objectives will contribute to reaching my BHAG.

               My Objectives

1) To come in the top three in my club championship
2) To come in the top three in the Dorset Road Running League
3) To do an Olympic length Triathlon
4) To run at an organised athletics meet

Goals / Tactics

Your goals are shorter term and will help you towards reaching your objectives

My Goals

1) Run at least 20 miles per week
2) Do at least one speed session per week
3) Do one long run of 70+ minutes each week
4) Run a 5k in under 17:30 minutes
5) Run a 10k in under 37 minutes
6) Run 10 miles in under 65 minutes
7) Run a half marathon in under 90 minutes
8) Run 400m in under 55 seconds
9) Take part in three sprint triathlons followed by an Olympic distance triathlon

That should just about do me for the time being! See how my goals link directly back to my insight. I like targets and challenges so my goals are very time based. If you run for social reasons then your goals may be around attending running club events or even marshalling for a race.



The Search For a Sub-38m 10k

The Quest

Me running in the recent Lytchett 10

Me running in the recent Lytchett 10

OK search isn’t quite the right word. It’s not something I’m actually on a search for; I know where it is. It’s the other side of around 3-4 months hard training, following a very specific routine!

Looking at my race calendar, I have almost exactly six weeks until the next biggy which is the Bournemouth Bay 10k. The last 10k I ran was in 39:52 at the Boscombe 10k in November last year. I’m definitely a little less fit than I was then and think it will take at least two weeks to get back to where I was back in November. So that leaves 4 weeks to improve my fitness by enough to knock a whole minute off my PB! It’s not fun if it’s not hard!

Lots of Schedules

A quick search on Google brings up all manor of schedules for achieving a sub 38 10k:

1) Here’s a good one by ‘Run Midlesborough’

2) And another good one on the CoolRunning website

3) This is a good schedule By Run Britain to run 10k in under 40 minutes too

DIY Schedule Required!

But I know what I’m like with these rigid schedules, I just don’t stick to them. With two young children, a wife training for the London marathon and dark, unlit village streets in the evening I just have to do the best I can.

I know that I need to do more speed work and I also know that I need to up my mileage to around 40 miles per week, plus a hill session or two.

So here’s my own plan (I can let you know if it works or not  in 6 weeks!) Creating my own might not be scientific but at least it allows me to make the best use of the time I have available:

Week 1 – 16/2/14 (this week) = Around 32 miles inc swimming

Sunday – Long run 10 mile race
Monday – Break
Tuesday – Swimming, 1 hour/80 lengths ( 4 miles equiv)
Wednesday – Club night –5 miles with hills and intervals at 100% effort with warm up and cool down either side.
Thursday – Easy 7 miles
Friday3 miles
Saturday – Poole Parkrun 5k (3 miles)

Week 2 – 23/2/14 = 35 miles

Sunday – Long run 13 miles
Monday – Swimming, 1 hour 80 lengths (4 miles equiv)
Tuesday – Speed session. 5k (3 miles) broken down in to 400, 800 and 1k circuits with 2 min rests.
Wednesday – Club night – 5 miles with hills and intervals at 100% effort with warm up and cool down either side.
Thursday – Easy 7 miles
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Poole Parkrun 5k (3 miles)

Week 3 – 2/3/14 = 37 miles

Sunday – Long run 14 miles
Monday – Swimming, 1 hour 80 lengths (4 miles equiv)
Tuesday – Speed session. 5k (3 miles) broken down in to 400, 800 and 1k circuits with 2 min rests.
Wednesday – Club night – 5 miles with hills and intervals at 100% effort with warm up and cool down either side.
Thursday –  8 miles with 4 miles at 10k pace
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Poole Parkrun 5k (3 miles)

Weeks 4 and 5 as per week 3 pushing harder on speed, hill and Thurs session.

Week 6 as per week 3 with rest on Sat.

Here goes… wish me luck!

How a Break in Running Training Affects Your Fitness

Not running for two weeks

Not running for two weeks!

As you may have noticed from my recent posts, I haven’t been running much over the last couple of weeks due to blisters sustained in a half

marathon. No training and no races, with just a couple of swimming sessions to keep things ticking over.

With my next championship race upcoming this Sunday, I began to panic about if and how my lack of running may have affected my fitness. My last ten mile race was in November 2013 where I got a PB of 66 minutes, so this time I was hoping to go sub 65 (one of my targets for this year).

So off I went to find out how not running for two weeks affects your running fitness!

Cardio / Breathing

Geoff Gaudette on Runners Connect says that when it comes to your breathing (measured using VO2 Max):

“There is little reduction in VO2max for the first 10 days following inactivity in well-trained athletes. It is prudent here to mention that all of these guidelines assume you are a decently trained runner, having trained consistently for a 4-6 month period. Beginner runners will lose fitness at a slightly faster rate since they have a smaller base of fitness.

After two weeks of not running, studies show that VO2 max decreases by 6%. After 9 weeks VO2 max drops by 19%. After 11 weeks of no running, Studies demonstrate that VO2 max falls by 25.7% from peak physical fitness.

So according to Geoff I’ll be running my 10 miles 6% slower – so should finish in about 70 minutes.

Mental State

There’s also evidence to suggest that having a two week break in your running can lead to increased symptoms of depression such as anxiety or insomnia, although I can’t say I’ve noticed this in general. Only the depressing thought that my times will be getting slower the longer I don’t train for!

Two Weeks Off Running is Fine (yey!)

Matt Johnson at Runners Academy says:

“You won’t lose your aerobic capacity or muscle power as long as your time away from running is less than two weeks.”

He even goes on to say:

“There are times when a week or two away from running is actually beneficial, such as after a strenuous marathon performance.”

Well my Blackmore Vale Half Marathon run was probably the toughest run I’ve ever done, mentally and physically so perhaps a little break has been of benefit. My dodgy ankle niggle that I couldn’t seem to lose has certainly disappeared!

Basically it’s largely about confidence. Think you’re going to run a bad, slow race and you probably will. Go in to it thinking “I’ve had a nice break and now my muscles are full of fuel and energy!” and all should be ok.

Next Training

Blisters feeling better so will attempt a leisurely 5 miler this evening. Need to do something before 10 miles on Sunday!

To Enter First Marathon…Or Not?

Time To Overcome My Marathon-a-Phobia

I have always sworn that I would never do a marathon. The number of hours of training it seems to take, the sheer distance of it and the worry of whether I could even FINISH a marathon have never seemed worth the worry. But the trouble is, I like a challenge! 5k, 10k, 10mile, half-marathon – check, check, check, check! The only distance left to claim is that fabled 26.2 miles. If truth be told, I’m actually a little scared of doing a marathon as it’s the only distance where participants seem more likely to run in to difficulties or worse. So I decided – TIME TO FACE MY FEAR!

My wife Jemma is doing the London Marathon in April and her training is going very well. She has a very supportive running club at Lytchett Manor Striders and they all help each other through the marathon training schedule.

Which marathon to run?

So what is a good marathon to run? I once tried to enter the London Marathon 5-6 years ago but was unsuccessful (luckily!) Various people I know have done the Dublin, Berlin, London, Brighton, Bournemouth and Portsmouth marathons so the choices seem to be endless.

However, I have stumbled across a relatively secret marathon. A hidden gem in the marathon calendar! Reading the reviews on Runner’s World it’s not too hilly, has a great atmosphere, is well organised and leads you through 26.2 miles of beautiful country lanes. You’re allowed to send your own drinks ahead to two water stations on the course, it’s limited to just 400 runners and, best of all, every finisher gets a beer at the end…


The North Dorset Village MarathonNorth Dorset Village Marathon

This is the one i’ve decided on! A nice relaxed run though countryside and 50 minutes from home – perfect. At £21 it’s also a fair price compared to many others, for example the Bournemouth Marathon which is £49.95.

So today I shall enter and etch the 4th May firmly in to my mind.



Was going to do a 10 mile run last night in preparation for this Sunday’s Blackmore Vale Half Marathon but I felt cream crackered after my 10k race the day before. They say it’s best to listen to your body and recovery is just as important as training so I left it. Plus it was freezing cold and raining outside and my trainers were still soaked from the previous day!


Tuesday night speed session with Poole A.C.


Training a Runner

This blog is called ‘Training a Runner’ because I am already a runner – I just need to train to be a better one.

We only get one life and one body for the journey, so I thought why not push it and see just how fast a regular Joe can run. I’ve written my goals on the about page, more for myself to be able to refer back to them. I have to admit that after seeing the Purbeck Marathon being named as the No.1 marathon in the UK by Runner’s World, i’m pretty tempted. Starting in my hometown of Swanage and taking in the amazing scenery of the Isle of Purbeck, it’s one of my secret 2014 goals. I’m not saying I’ll definitely do it, but if the opportunity arises, well…

Mo FarahLets put things in context. The world record for 5k is 12:37, set by Kenenisa Bekele in 2004, with Mo Farah doing 5000 meters in 12:53. Mo runs 10k in 26:46 and the half marathon in 1:00:10. THESE ARE SUPER-HUMAN TIMES! Not achievable without out the right genetics, talent and intense training.

But the great thing about running is that although you race with lots of other people, and there is a winner, it’s just as much about individual achievements. I feel just as knackered at running 5k in 19 minutes as Mo does running it in 13, so the sense of effort and subsequent achievement is the same.


Last night’s training was 5 a side football, in torrential rain for an hour.

Tonight’s training is rain dependent so it will either be Fartleks at running club, or some hill resistance work, both for an hour.