Race Review: Bournemouth Autumn Open (Track & Field)

This seems to have become my month of trying new things! Last week it was my first triathlon and this week I partook in a little track and field. Athletics seems to generally be split between two types of event; invitational and open. Invitational is as it sounds, whereas for an open event, ANYONE can turn up! This had to be entered into prior to the day and each each you enter costs just £3. Seeing the entry form and the list of events I was swayed to enter three; the 200 metres, the 400 metres and the long jump. Seemed like a good idea a the time…

Bournemouth Kings Park Athletics Track

Bournemouth Kings Park Athletics Track

Track & Field

The first event on my list was the 200m which began at 11:10, I was then set to do the long jump at 12:45 and the 400m at 1:45.

200 Metres

Me mid-200m!

So arriving at the track for 10:30 I registered, stuck my numbers on the front and back of my vest and went for a warm up. Rather than the light jog I’d usually do to prepare for a 10 mile run, I did the warm up properly as a) my body is not used to sprinting and b) I had a whole day’s events to get through and didn’t want any pulls, sprains or other injuries. So I jogged for 10 minutes, before doing a series of dynamic stretches (heel flick, knee raises, high jumps etc) for another 10 minutes, followed by 30 metres fast, 50 metres fast and 30 metres fast. Feeling warmed up and ready I jogged around to the start area.

The vets were called first and before long, off they zoomed. I then had a panic about blocks! Did I have to use the blocks, should I have bought my own, would I be loads slower without them. We were called up to race and a number of the other competitors suddenly appear with bags carrying their own, customised running blocks! They deftly pinned them to the track in their lanes whilst I walked over to the trolley I’d discovered holding a load, saw how complicated they looked and opted to go without. To my relief I saw the guy on the inside lane to me was going ‘block-free’.

ON YOUR MARKS… we all walked forwards to our lines. GET SET… we crouched into the ready position. Click. Yes, that’s click not bang! We had three false starts as the gun wasn’t firing! I thought I was going to die of an adrenaline overdose!

Finally the gun went off. Head down for the first twenty metres looking at the ground and powering my legs as hard as I could, gradually raising my body to the upright position. Fully upright, I hit my stride and headed for the finish line, finishing in 23.8 seconds – not bad for my first sprint in about 15 years since school! Here’s the proof results.

Long Jump

This was the one where I felt like a rank amateur. The four other lads in the long jump had special track spikes for this event and they used tape measures to precisely mark the start point of their run up. Before each one started they did the strange pose that long jumpers do before doing that slow-getting-faster run up that you see them do on TV.

Haha look at that face – CHEESE!

We had four attempts, with me being variously way over the board, way short of board or in jump three, doing a quite big jump before toppling backwards (I got sniggers from the judges on that one).

Anyway, my best jump was 5:11, about 20cm behind the others but at least I now have an official long jump distance to my name!

Long jump results here

400 Metres

Ok I performed so dismally in the 400 I feel I need to give it some context! First off, the long jump is surprisingly tiring. Four lots of 40 metre sprints, each with a big jump at the end – after the 200m all out only an hour before my legs were feeling pretty empty by the long jump’s close. Looking at my watch I saw I had 20 minutes until my heat of the 400 so I ran off for a jog. I knew I needed to raise my body temperature and get my heart rate up ready for the 400 so this seemed like a good idea! At this point my legs were really complaining about having to do more work but I gently upped the pace, so after ten minutes I still felt heavy legged but aerobically ready to run. With ten minutes to go I figured I’d go and sit down for a few minutes to get my breath back after the warm up and register. Jogging round the the track and official clocked my number and shouted at me “You! 487! Get in lane 8, you’re on now!” Due to the small amount of competitors for the 400m, they decided to bring it forward and put everyone together

So all this explains why, at 1:40 I found myself legs hurting, out of breath lining up for the 400m. ON YOUR MARKS, SET….. GO!

I knew as soon as I kicked off from the start line that it wasn’t going to be good. I managed to keep up with most of them for 200m but being in the outside lane, on the final curve I dropped behind  and the usual ‘kick’ that I have in my legs for a sprint had completely deserted me. By the time I crossed the finish line I was pretty much walking.

Lesson learned – don’t enter loads of track and field events right next to each other when you’re a 33 year old doing said events for the first time!!

Time for the 400m – 56 seconds. Next time, I’m just going to do 400m and I’m SURE I could get it down to 53-54 seconds… we’ll see!

What a fun day though! I’d recommend anyone give it a go. Next time I’m just signing up for one event though : )


2oom in 23.8
40m in 56.4
Long jump in 5m 11cm

Full results on Power of 10 here

Now back to my long distance training, what with all these triathlons and track meets I’ve been neglecting my longer runs – so back to it!

Bournemouth Kings Park Athletics Track1

Running Training: Try Something New – Athletics Track Competition as a Speed Session

Kings Park Athletic Stadium

Kings Park Athletic Stadium

Of all the advice I’ve digested over the past couple of years around running training – varying what you do has to be one of the consistent suggestions. We’re only human and if you run the same routes and the same distances week in, week out you’re going to get bored. With my short attention span this happens sooner rather than later, particularly through the long, dark winter nights. This is why I always try and mix thing up with track sessions, club nights, long (boring) runs and cross training. I’d rather try something different than let my running career fade into repetition induced decline. This was part of the reason why I did my first triathlon last weekend. It’s also why I’m competing in an athletics open meet this Sunday – what better way of doing a speed session than entering a track competition?!

There will nearly always be an open track competition somewhere near you between the months of March-September. Check Power of 10 to see what events there were the previous year, then apply!

King Park Athletic Track

King Park Athletic Track

Doing the Triathlon scared the sh*t out of me, giving me a near enough sleepless night before. This track meet is doing the same – but I love it! It’s exciting and something I’ve never done before. My heart races with adrenaline when I think about slotting my feet into the starting blocks, waiting for the gun, as it did when thinking about jumping in to the swimming pool for the Triathlon.

So Sunday is looking like this (full timetable here):

11:10 – 200 metres

12:45 – Long jump

13:40 – 400 metres

I have absolutely no expectations of times or distances for any of the events and fully expect to by lapped by the youngsters (yes, lapped in the 200 metres, that’s how slow I’ll be). I don’t even own a pair of running spikes! I’d be happy with the following outcomes:

1) To not come last in the 200 and 400 metre races.

2) To make a jump that isn’t a foul! Bloody tricky getting your long jump run up right and I haven’t done it since school!

If you HAD to pin me down to a time/distance then I’d be over the moon with:

200 – 26 secs

Long jump – 6 metres

400 – 55 secs (I ran 56 seconds midway through a 12x 400 metre repeats training session a couple of months back).

All of this of course is just different types of training for my regular longer distance club running : )


Running Training: Back To Winter Sessions with Fartleks / Hills

Nothing makes me feel that winter is approaching more than leaving the woods, fields and cliff-tops behind, and instead running through the concrete jungle in street-lamp lit twilight. After the fun and games of relays in the park last week, we were now back to pounding the pavements under the watchful eye and guiding voice of Coach Ross AKA ‘Ross The Merciless’. This was an ‘if it aint hurtin’, you aint workin” kind of session and believe me, by the end, my legs were a hurtin’.

The Session

As per usual I forgot to start my watch until just after we’d finished the warmup but I was reliably informed by Doc that   the total session was 6.77 miles (10.8k). My watch made it 8.9k so we must have been running for around 2km before I switched on…

Soooo…. we did a 1.5km warm up of gentle jogging, before starting the intervals. Looking at the stats from my watch, I make it a total of 28 fast paced intervals in 47 minutes. The session was obviously carefully planned by Coach Ross as the elevation (and so the intensity) gradually increased throughout the session, going from warm-up pace, to a flat stretch of intervals, to huge, horrid, hard hills and then graduating downhill to the flat promenade.

I spent 45% of the session in my ‘sprint’ heart rate zone which tallies with a hard hills/intervals session. I could not force my legs to run any faster during the final few intervals – I was spent!

It was also nice to do a few all out sprints in preparation for this Sunday’s athletics meet, where I’m running the 200m, 400m and long jump.

Pace during intervals session

Heart rate zones during intervals session

Elevation of intervals session



Race 2014: The Littledown 5 Mile Run

The Littledown 5 is a five mile road race in Bournemouth that begins at a leisure complex (The Littledown Centre) and takes place mainly along urban streets. This was one of only two races in the annual Dorset Road Running League (DRRL) that I’ve never done, the other being the North Dorset Village Marathon. I’ve got so used to knowing the routes of every race, having done them multiple times before, that it was quite a change to have no idea where I was heading! The pro of this was that it kept the race interesting however the down side was that although there were, of course, mile markers and my watch, I held back slightly until the finish was in sight.

The Race

This is the route:

Littledown 5 route

Littledown 5 route

As you can see, it’s very winding and crosses lots of roads and junctions although there were plenty of marshals en route to control the traffic and help shepherd us runners in the right direction!

The race starts at a place which immediately turns into a narrow pathway, funnelling everyone together and resulting in a lot of ‘ouch, that’s my foot’ and (accidental) elbowing! After around half a mile, the route then climbs steadily for a couple of miles. This caught me off guard as I tried to maintain pace up the hills and paid for it with a slow third mile. By mile four the route is mainly downhill, before opening up with 400 metres to go on to a park, with the finish line in the distance – a nice sprint finish! I like the fact that there was a large digital timer over the finish line and their was a medal, plenty of water and chocolate bar in the finishers’ bag.


Distance: 5 miles
Time: 30:29
Average Pace: 6:09/mi
Average heart rate: 149bpm
Max heart rate: 193bpm

Mile splits:

Mile splits

Next Training:

A 30 minute swim today (approx 700 metres) followed by an easy run tonight I I have the energy. Been on the verge of coming down with a cold the last three days but it seems to be holding off, it had better go away for triathlon numero uno on Sunday! May ride to work tomorrow (16 mile round trip) IF I can fix the gears on my NEW(!) bike.

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.



Running Training: 1k Intervals Session

I’m going to try and temper my fury at my TomTom GPS watch. It froze midway through this session, started working again only to now refuse to upload the session to the app. Technology eh! So I will have to recount the session from memory…

I’ve really been feeling the benefit of speed sessions recently, I love how you can almost feel yourself getting fitter as you do them! Whenever I can, I go to Poole AC’s track session however I can’t make that this week so had to do a self imposed speed session using my watch as a guide.

Intervals – 1k Fast, 500m Slow

The TomTom has a ‘training’ section that includes intervals – you just set a time or distance for the warm up, each set, rest period, number of set repeats and cool down. This was where I made a small error that resulted in me running 11k instead of 8k! I set the warm up for 2km, following this with 5 sets of 1k repeats at 3:30 m/km pace. I then set the rest periods between each at what I thought was 50 seconds, but what turned out to be 500 metres. So instead of a 50 second stop-and-rest between each 1k sprint, I ran at a slow pace for 500 metres between each. I then finished the session with a 1.5km jog back home/cool down and some static stretches.


Distance: 11k
Time: 55 mins
Average pace: 4:30 m/km

Next Training

After a long run on Sunday and a speed session last night, my legs are noticeably tired so I’m still deciding what to do. I need to use some different muscle groups, so may do some really short sprints OR go swimming… Will see how the evening pans out!