Monday, 17 May 2010

Race Report: Bracknell Half Marathon

After my first half in March, I was buoyed up so entered this race. But my enthusiasm quickly waned, and along with discovering cycling, I ended up only running a total of 12.5 miles in April (not the best prep!). So half of me was panicking that I was completely unprepared and under-trained, but the other half was being pragmatic - I knew I’d done the distance already and it meant I had no expectations of a PB - I just wanted to finish.

I was quite excited when I receive my race pack in the post to see that they list the runners in the race programme - how exciting - my name in print! :)

My name in the race programme!

So it was with a bit of anticipation that I approached the start line last Sunday. But I'd fully accepted that I would drop out if need be - I've read enough horror stories of runners who push on when they shouldn't. I often have trouble with one of my achilles for the first mile or so of any run, mainly due to tight calf muscles, so I took extra care to really stretch it out before the race.

Before the start of the race

The first few miles flew by, lots of subways and water stations (felt particularly virtuous running past the lines of cars at McDonalds and KFC drive thrus!). I got a stitch around mile 4 and had to walk for a bit, but it wasn't going away, so decided to run through it and it eventually disappeared after 10 minutes or so.

Around mile 3

There was long incline around miles 7-9 to keep things ‘interesting’! Then suddenly it was mile 10, then 11 and I was nearly finished. Last half a mile was a real struggle (lack of training showing here!) - had to have stern words with my legs at this point!

I finished it 90 seconds slower than Bath (2:20:25), so not a PB, but was pleased with that. Although I wasn’t expecting a PB, this is the first race I’ve run where I haven’t PB’ed, but have reliably been informed that I can claim this as a CR (course record), so all is not lost! :D

Anyone who knows Bracknell will understand what I mean when I say it’s not the most picturesque of places (:P), but I’d heard lots of praise for this event, and having run it, I can’t fault it. The route was interesting, a few hills (natural and subways/under-passes) and lots of twists and turns and parks to keep things interesting.

The marshalling was excellent and for a relatively small race (1500), the public support was brilliant - lots of residents on the way round and the children at the water/sponge stations (each one was organized by a different school) were very enthusiastic - competing with each other as to who could get the water to the runners the quickest! Organisation was great - got a car parking space no problem, route signposted all the way round, started bang on 9am and there were plenty of toilets!

Content of goodie bag (minus cereal bar - I scoffed that as soon as I got it! :P

Goodie bag was good (:P) too - t-shirt, medal, re-usable drawstring bag, drink, water bottle, Sweatshop voucher and cereal bar. Results and photos were up by dinner time as well. Great value race - I would definitely recommend. :)

So how did my lack of training affect me? Not very much during the race actually - I was quite surprised. I felt more tired towards the end, but as everyone says - half the battle is mental, and knowing that I'd completed a half before was a realy help to me. There's no way I'd have been feeling half as confident with that little training for my first half. However, the lack of training showed through the next day - I was *sore*! It took 2-3 days for my muscles to recover - despite lots of stretching, gentle walking and self massage.

I guess there probably is some truth when people (non-runners I hasten to add!) boast that they could run a race without any training. As long as they're reasonably fit, they probably could. But the point of training isn't just to get your body to the point where it can cover the distance, its about getting your body *used* to covering that distance on a regular basis, so that come race day, your body knows what to expect, and more importantly, is to recovering from longer distances. :)

Friday, 7 May 2010

Running Tour: Richmond Park

So for something a bit different, I thought I'd take you on a running tour around one of my favourite running spots: Richmond Park.

Richmond Park is an amazing place to run - its huge (about 7 miles around the perimeter and countless routes within that!) and its also very scenic. There are lots of pretty paths...

...beautiful gardens...

And the views are amazing!

One of my favourite points is King Henry VIII's Mound. There's a specially protected view, between a carefully cut hole in the bushes where you can see 10 miles to St. Paul's Cathedral. Below is the view with the naked eye...

And this is the view using the telescope:

Of course it wouldn't be a proper visit to the park without seeing lots of deer!

This guy even posed for a photo! ;)

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Running Tips

I found a list of running tips via Ashley's blog, and wanted to share some of them with you. I think they are good advice for beginners and seasoned runners alike. You can read the full list of 100 tips here, but below are a selection of my favourites.

  1. Accept and appreciate the fact that not every single run can be a good one.
  2. Remember that you will have plateaus in your progress and tough days along the way.
  3. It gets easier.
  4. Remember to say “Thank You!” to race volunteers and family and friends who support you.
  5. Don’t carry loose change. It will annoy those who are running with you.
  6. Do not compare yourself to others. Run within yourself and for yourself first.
  7. Even a bad run is better then no run at all.
  8. Running is not an excuse to triple your intake of doughnuts because runners gain weight too.
  9. To aid recovery the most crucial time to eat and drink is in the hour immediately after you run.
  10. Do not increase your mileage more than 10 percent per week.
  11. Log your mileage for your legs and your Shoes. Too much on either will cause you injury.
  12. Ice aches and pains immediately.
  13. Cut your Training by at least 30 percent to 50 percent every 4th or 5th week for recovery.
  14. Race day is not the day to try new shoes, eat new foods, or wear brand new clothing.
  15. Do not try a marathon as your first race.
  16. For races longer than 5k start out slower than you think you should.
  17. Run facing traffic and never assume a car sees you.
  18. Always carry I.D. because you just never know.
  19. Buy yourself some actual running shoes from an actual running store because running in junk “sneakers” will destroy your feet and your legs.
  20. No amount of money spent on gadget training programs or funny food can substitute for minutes, hours, days and weeks on the road.
  21. There’s no shame in walking.
  22. Speed work doesn’t have to be scientific. Try racing to one light post and then jogging to the next.
  23. Do speedwork after you develop an endurance base.
  24. Build rest into your schedule. Rest is just as important of an element as exercise in your fitness plan.
  25. Dress as if it is 10 degrees warmer than the temperature on the thermometer.