Crystal Palace 10k – Race Report – 13th January 2019

Distance – 10k over 2 laps
Course – Various (concrete, trail & gravel)

Another week, another race. Since my valiant running the week before at Stratford, my training hadn’t necessarily gone very well – in fact, I hadn’t done any at all, despite my best intentions. This will be the key for me in our upcoming programme and the driver for how much pain I’m going to be in. To start getting fitter, you need to be training at least a few times a week (running, cross-training, stretching, etc) rather than just a single outing at the weekend.

Today’s race was the Crystal Palace 10k, which incorporated two laps of Crystal Palace’s picturesque park. So not only would I get a look at some pleasant scenery while flitting between fellow park goers, I could also test myself against the substantial hill the park precariously balances on.

I took a different tack relative to the race at Stratford. Rather than start at my 10k pace and try and hold it, I thought I’d take it easy over the first few kilometres before pushing it. This strategy ended up working quite well as, ignoring an initial climb, it was pretty much downhill for a few kilometres. I managed to run my quickest kilometre (mildly proud) according to my new watch, assisted by my substantial bulk & gravity. Running downhill is definitely an acquired taste and something I took a while to get used to. I don’t think my knees necessarily agree. Either way, it was funny to uncontrollably rush past better runners and then see them run past me again on the hills.

My tactical (read lazy) approach allowed me to conserve my energy for the second lap, which I ran quicker by about 30 seconds per kilometre. I just had enough gas to have a cheeky sprint at the end as well.

Conserving energy mode

After such a strenuous run, it was only fair to treat myself. There is a fabulous café at Crystal Palace station called Brown And Green that I heartily recommend.

Nom nom nom…

Just like the Queen Elizabeth 10k, this was a nice, local run, but a bit of a step-up because of the hill. But hills are good!

Organisation – 10/10
RunThrough staff were nice and the race was well stewarded. Free photos published on facebook as well.

Race goodies – 4/10
Some low pH water. Not quite sure what’s going on there.

Race route – 6/10
I enjoyed the route and the hill was challenging…both times.

Adventure status – 3/10
Crystal Palace is slightly more adventurous than Stratford.

How about two runs?

Episode 8 – The Hadleigh 2012 Legacy 10k

This week we discuss the first event we actually ran together this year – the Hadleigh Legacy 10k – and moaning way too much about the coffee situation at West Ham station.

Mentions

Events mentioned in this episode:

The Hadleigh 2012 Legacy 10k – Event Link
13 The Hard Way – Event Link
Richmond Park Half – Event Link
Street Child Craft Half – Event Link

Episode 7 – Queen Elizabeth and Crystal Palace 10Ks

In this episode we discuss what we have already changed in our events planning, our (lack of) training progress and titular events we have done to date! Note: Tunnock’s Caramel Bars seem to sell for about £1.75 for 8, not £1 – inflation sucks.

Mentions

Events mentioned in this episode:

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 10k – Series Link
Crystal Palace 10k -= Event Link
Steyning Stinger – Event Link
Spartan Race – Series Link
Silverstone Half Marathon – Event Link
Ultra Tour of Arran – Event Link
The Wall – Event Link
Ultra Tour of Edinburgh – Event Link
Beer Lovers Marathon – Event Link
Dirty Weekend – Event Link
Costa Rica Coastal Challenge – Event Link
Mighty Deerstalker – Event Link
Cambridge Harriers 10 Mile XC  – Event Link
Hadleigh 2012 Legacy 10k – Event Link
Richmond Park – Event Link
The Street Child Craft Half-Marathon – Event Link

Other media mentioned in this episode:

Brave Wilderness – YouTube Channel Link

 

Podcast Episode 6 – 2019 Events, Part 6

The final episode in the series covering our initial outlook and plans for events in 2019!

Mentions

Events mentioned in this podcast:

Adventure Challenge – Event Link

City to Summit – Event Link (Not running in 2019)

Saltmarsh 75 – Event Link

Survival of the Fittest – Series Link

Hellrunner – Series Link

Ultra Tour of Edinburgh – Event Link

Druids Challenge – Event Link

Escape from Meriden – Event Link

City to Sea – Event Link

Daft Training – The Road to Arran

Disclaimer: This is not a guide on how you should train. Rather some thoughts on how I might train.

In previous years I have mostly relied on my normal fitness levels to get me through races. Sure, I’ve added in training runs, but I’ve never actually followed a guide to get to an ‘optimal’ training level. This has served me pretty well – whilst I’ve not really been hitting quick times, I’ve still been able to complete the majority of the events I’ve entered. Those I haven’t attended have mostly been down to logistics – I.e. getting time and money to get there in time for the start. Exceptions to this have been pulling out at ~80km of the 100+km Isle of Wight Challenge as my feet were so ruined I wasn’t able to manage much more than a shuffle and… it being cold and wet for an obstacle run we were in wave 13 for and electing to go to a pub instead of queuing in the rain to climb over a wall or whatever. 

Coming to this year of Daft Running, this was going to be my approach again – work out more, work out longer and make sure to get a training run in that is close to the distance(s) covered at some point before the race. Alas we are two weeks into 2019 and I have been out with the flu for most of it. It is still lingering and going to impact my daft over-training regimen I had planned – and Jamie has completed 2 more events than I have this year. 

As the first big challenge this year is the Ultra Tour of Arran (UTA) – one that was on the borderline between ‘daft’ and ‘stupid’ to start with, I thought it would make sense to find out how one is ‘supposed’ to train for such an event. 

Utilising all my skills of googling I have discovered… I probably don’t have enough time to training properly. 

Shocker. 

Let me stress here, before someone reads this as ‘well, this guy is doing it without training, I’m gonna go from my couch-to-5k app and sign up for the same event!’: 

  1. If that’s something you want to do, then sure. But I’m not accountable for how that works out for you. There’s plenty to be said for mental toughness, but remember even David Goggins struggled through his first 100k and he was a Navy Seal at the time (or recently retired). If you’re reading something about training expectations from me, I doubt you’ve been part of some elite military unit.  
  2. I have been doing marathon+ distances every year since 2014; including events where I have been particularly ill prepared. Granted others have been doing this for decades, all I’m saying is that at this point I have some idea of what I can do and how my body feels in certain states of distress whilst running! 

What I’ve learned: 

  • Searching for ‘back-to-back marathon training’ seems to identify training for marathons a few weeks after the first, which is swell but doesn’t help when it’s the next day. Unfortunately, being camped in the middle of an island off the coast of Scotland does not seem to be the most likely place to be taking “an epsom salt bath”. 
  • Training plans are often focused on getting the best outcome on the day, and expectation that this is the ‘one big event’. Whilst that may be fine for someone aiming to do and run a good race, this isn’t really the style ‘Daft Running’ focuses on. We are more focused on experiencing the various races and locations – and beer. 
  • Training plans for 100k-ish races assume around 20wks of preparation. 

Ok, so the UTA is in 13-weeks. I am still ill recovering from the flu… Ok, let’s assume I can get 12weeks of good training in. 

I have narrowed down the ones I can stomach reading (I.e. the ones that don’t throw in lots of science-y sounding words in an attempt to appear smart), and focusing in on the training plan for the wall[https://ratracethewall.co.uk/training-plan/] and one on the Marathon Handbook blog[https://marathonhandbook.com/essential-guide-to-running-your-first-100km/] which actually both reads and seems sensible (the plan itself is an xlsx link within the blog post). 

Whilst I haven’t run much since my last marathon in September, I am confident that I could run around 20-30miles/week if I broke it down to 6mi (10k) segments 4-5x a week. The Wall training plan has this distance around week 8 of 20 and the Marathon Handbook (I’ll refer to this as simply MH from here in) seems to have it at around week 14 of 26. So, on these plans I think I may just scrape by.  

Both plans focus around including both cross-training (swimming, cycling) and core training (stability, yoga). One thing missing from the plans, but strangely enough highlighted as important in the MH blog, is strength training – it may come under the ‘gym work’ heading it the MH plan. In my opinion (stress on the word – opinion) a key thing is learning to run with tired legs. In the last third of any race your legs will be getting tired – if you are running it as a race – and in an endurance event having tired legs in the first third-to-half of the race is not unusual. Getting used to running on tired legs is pretty key so you don’t freak out when your legs are starting to moan yet there is still another 20miles to go. I think the MH plan undersells the importance of core and strength training – alternating between yoga and ‘gym work’ each week for an hour, the wall’s numbers for these sessions are more like it – but to be honest I’d rather say I’d be doing yoga-style stretching or core-strengthening every day (15mins-1hr). 

Now, I don’t plan on following either plan to the letter – but key things I am taking from this will be: 

  1. Assuming I can manage 20miles/week on my first week back comfortably I should be fine. If I’m really struggling then there will need to be some re-consideration on my part. 
  2. I will probably need to up my distance more rapidly than the guides stipulates three weeks in to ‘catch-up’; but this I’ll have to keep an eye on. 
  3. Get some actual yoga sessions in. 
  4. Get a flu shot.

Now getting past the first point above will be my main indicator for how I will proceed, but needless to say I’d be more comfortable with 15+ weeks that I thought I had when I agreed to do this event in the first place – which I thought then was a pretty daft thing to do over a period that included Christmas.

To re-iterate, this is what I think I will be aiming to do. I will likely not do this as I am lazy and daft – but will keep you up to date. I would also not recommend people take this as ‘advice’, I’d actually expect that a decent trainer would be saying something more along the lines of “cancel the races, work on postural alignment and functional movements” – but “YOLO” right? (do people say YOLO still?)

For more updates on this please listen into the podcast or visit back in a month or so!

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 10k – Race Report – 5th January 2019

Distance – 10k over 3 laps
Course – Gravel/Concrete path

In some ways this race was the epitome of my approach to running. I stayed up too late drinking, woke-up with a hangover, had to run for my train without any breakfast and somehow found time to get really cold pre-race. However, post-race I still felt like I enjoyed myself?!

For those of you who don’t know (i.e. everyone), I’ve dabbled with running for over 10 years. I got some decent times under my belt early on, but have never quite ascended to those great heights since. 2019 was going to be different. Right?

Right. So I’ve decided with some friends to do something different. 2019 is going to be a year of daft adventure running. And not the kind where I nearly die during each race (like previous years). I am going to run and conquer all before me, from the snowy knolls of Scotland to the verdant hills of the South Downs.

Either way, I was relatively excited for my first race of the year. With much larger challenges awaiting, this would give me a chance to evaluate exactly how fit I was. I’d had a few training runs before and after the new year started, but nothing that would put pressure on my clogged arteries like a cheeky 10k tour of Queen Elizabeth’s park at speed. Well, speed might be exaggerating it a little bit.

The race was well organised and nearby public transport, so was easy to get to, despite the large security presence before a West Ham match. I had booked this race with some trepidation (not because of the West Ham fans of course!) as I’m not necessarily a fan of doing laps. I’m very much of the opinion that having a visual cue of how much I’ve got left to run is slightly miserable. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The park was nice with a number of small hills and the weather was perfect for running: not too hot nor too cold.

The first lap passed by with the usual panicked gasping for air before I settled into my 10k running pace (with slightly less panicked gasping). There was a bit of headwind along certain parts of the course, but despite this, the second and third laps quickly followed the first. I initially thought I’d started too quickly in terms of my pace, but somehow managed to keep it fairly consistent. For future reference, I might try and copy some of my fellow runners and have a quick jog before I start. The pre-race ritual has always seemed an arcane art full of superstition and rumour, which I’ve never particularly engaged with. The one relatively challenging part of the race was a twisting path up a hill near the end that allowed me to eyeball those in front and, retrospectively, my pursuers.

As I stumbled over the finish line, my attention turned to picking up my medal and the post-race snacks, which were plentiful. However, unsated and still hung over, I turned to the Stratford Westfield food court. Much to my chagrin, the West Ham game was soon to start with hungry fans and the normal Saturday morning shoppers gathering to feed. I’ve genuinely never seen a queue that long for KFC and I’ve experienced my fair share of waiting for fried chicken. Maybe next time.

I’ve also put together an arbitrary and senseless rating system, which I’ll be using as we run more races. I reserve the right to change, delete and generally mess around with it as the year progresses!

Organisation – 10/10
The race organiser arranges over a hundred events each year and it shows.

Race goodies – 5/10
Good for a 10k race. Caramel bar for the win.

Race route – 5/10
While the route was varied and the park pleasant enough, you’re still running laps on concrete.

Adventure status – 2/10
It is in Stratford – sorry!

In summary, this was a fun race, great for first timers or those looking to get a regular 10k run under their belts. I’d certainly run it again if I needed to register some kilometers at speed. I wouldn’t if I wanted KFC after the race. I always want KFC after a race.