Monthly Archives: February 2012

Hasta la Vista, Baby

I had a superb time on The Terminator, today. It’s an 11.5 trail race based in Pewsey, Wiltshire. I said in my previous post, “That’ll Teach Me!”:

I had a poor Dursley Dozen last year and went on to run a really good Terminator (start/finish in Pewsey). I’m doing the Terminator again this year, so maybe it’ll work out well for me once more.

That hope turned out to be well founded.

Conditions were as good as they could be. The weather was glorious: sunny, almost still and quite mild. The course was very dry for February.

The race Starts and finishes at Pewsey Vale School. The first mile is a nice warm-up, through some streets to the edge of Pewsey.

The next few miles cross rolling farmland, again without serious climbs. Although this is a good way to get into your groove, this section rudely messes with your mojo when you get to the first stream crossing: there is no question of picking your way across, you’re up past your ankles in muddy water. Immediately after this comes a bog of the ‘shoe swallowing’ kind! I’ve done enough of this sort of thing to be able to find my way across most bogs by the line of least resistance (the middle line of this one is a kind of Bermuda Triangle, not recommended). I don’t understand why anyone should lose a shoe in a bog, actually: fasten it onto your foot properly!

The race changes character quickly after the rolling section: you get onto a well established path, running up a steady climb, then turn a corner and you’re on the first of four steep climbs. This part of the race takes you up and down the edge of the escarpment of the downs overlooking Pewsey from the south. It includes some fairly technical descents, which are fun if your core muscles still have enough resilience in them. There are sections of rough, rabbit hole-strewn downland and easier tracks in between the ascents and descents.

The approach to the final steep climb is particularly challenging, crossing along the lower part of a steep scarp slope, with no ‘good’ line and various hawthorns to snag you if you’re not paying attention. After this you stagger up the last steep slope, run around the Pewsey White Horse, then go straight back down the only seriously steep descent of the race, which is mercifully short, saving your core muscles too much grief.

Getting to the finish is then only a case of a mile or so of level straight, starting off as a dirt road that turns into a minor road at the edge of town, another stream crossing (again, wet feet guaranteed), a path between a housing estate and fields and a dash through the school sports fields to the finish.

My time was 1:35:19, and I was 59th out of around 600. Somewhere around the top 10% is good for me. More importantly, I passed more people than passed me, meaning my pacing was good (not getting off too fast) and I felt strong at the end.

It feels like I’m reaping the benefits from my training. The long and fartlek runs are improving my stamina and speed. The regular core strength exercises helped me keep it together on the descents (as the name would suggest, your core anchors your legs and keeps you stable), and have brought a really welcome benefit: this was the first hilly race for ages where I’ve not had cramps in my right-hand gluteus medius muscles afterwards. This has been a big issue for me, I think mostly caused by spending hours sat in my van, and exacerbated by my lop sided body (my hips sit well off the horizontal when I stand, because my right leg is longer than my left). Cramp-resistance and more consistent descending were my aims for the strength training, so that’s very pleasing.

This good result has given me greater confidence in my ability to achieve my aims for London.

My next race, on 11th March, is The Grizzly, a real biggie.


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Mixing It Up

I’ve had a varied end to my week. Four (admittedly short) runs in two days!

I tried the frog feet (green toe socks), Merrell ‘racing shoes’ combo on a 5-mile fartlek out of the house yesterday. I worked hard, really went for the ‘dashes’ (‘sprints’ is overstating it a bit) and felt the strain! The socks and shoes felt great.

A couple of hours later I was out running with my club, the Chippenham Harriers: just an easy paced ‘social’ run.

Today I had a lovely trot around Morgan’s Hill and Cherhill, at the western end of the Wessex Downs, east of Calne. The mud was sticky, but there wasn’t too much of it, and the route included two decent climbs, the first of which ramps up to a really nasty gradient! It’s a lovely area and I took it easy and enjoyed myself.

Then finally, as the light failed, I was out again with Geoff on our usual short run.

Phew! Best rest up tomorrow, so I can make a good job of The Terminator of Sunday, which is a bit like yesterday’s ‘Wessex’ run on steroids!

I now have a Virgin Money giving page –, as well as my Just Giving page – – take your choice and give!

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Ticking over. Loving the green tea socks!

The green tea socks have arrived and look great. I got them from Suka Sport, via Amazon. I can’t wait to try them with my Merrell racing shoes, but that won’t be until my next speed session, which should be in the next couple of days.

I did take it easy, like I suggested I would in my last post. Maybe a little too easy actually. On Monday I ran 4.5 miles with a friend from my village, Geoff, who pulled a muscle in his upper leg around new year and is just easing back into running.

I was really tired yesterday and had a 5 am start this morning to look forward to and so didn’t run at all.

I was planning on a long slow one after my relatively early finish today, but Geoff called and we did a short, slow one instead!

Got to get a bit of speed back in now (more fartlek!) Then it’s The Terminator, a race based in Pewsey, on Sunday. I had a really good one last year, so here’s hoping.

Oh and I’m past £200 now (£238). If you’ve read this, and you haven’t given, please give!

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Fantastic Fartlek (“You at the back, stop laughing”)

After yesterday’s punishment, I consolidated my training benefit by doing a 5-mile fartlek run today in the lanes near my home.

After our tough run yesterday, Helen and I had a curry with her friend, Richard. He is an ex fell runner, now natural bodybuilder (South West Champion, I believe), and a mine of information on training and nutrition: he really knows his stuff. One of the things he told me was, “What you really need after your run today is some speed work tomorrow.” Gosh, there was me thinking of an easy recovery run.

So out I went late this afternoon, and gave my legs and lungs a hammering on a fartlek. This method is really just incorporating fast, anaerobic sections in a run, interspersed with slow, ‘recovery’ sections. It was also an opportunity to give my new, super light Merrells a proper spin, and they felt great.

The fast bits hurt every bit as much as you’d think after yesterday, but I’m sat here, a few hours later, feeling good, legs working nicely.

I’ll probably have a proper easy day tomorrow!

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Green Tea Socks?

Bought some Injinjis (toe socks) to go with my new shoes. Green Tea running socks, whatever next?


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Super Tough South Coast Training

My fell running friend, Helen Bennett and I did a 22.5 miler along the Jurassic Coast today. Oh, and it had roughly 5,500 ft of ascent.


Helen’s friend Bex travelled down with us, having kindly offered to drive Helen’s car to the end of our route to meet us. After an early start and a 2 hour drive, we set off from Osmington (on the A353), south to the coast path, then east into a fairly pleasant winter’s morning. The first few miles were good underfoot and fairly gentle, then Helen warned me that the easy bit was over and we’d be tackling some real hills from then on; and she wasn’t wrong.

It was dry and breezy and there was no haze, so we could see for miles. The hills, lined up eastwards along the coast, looked lovely, even with the knowledge that we were running all of them! Helen had her smartphone, which she used to photograph some of the views. She gave it to me at the top of a couple of hills and asked me to get a picture of her coming down when I got to the bottom. I can run steep descents pretty fast, so she didn’t have to wait for too long for me to run them. I was quite impressed that she trusted me to keep hold of her phone as I clattered down in a ‘falling with style’ manner.

The weather held for over half of our run, then turned wet, just a little rain at first, then getting heavier, although it came and went. The tracks turned distinctly tacky, greasy at times, but worse, it got seriously windy. We passed a family and the boy commented to his dad, “I’m getting blown up the hill!” On the long, level traverse of Emmetts Hill near our finish, Helen got seriously cold and I thought I was going to get blown off my feet!

The climbs had been pretty tough, including a whole lot of steps. I hate steps! The last major climb was ‘the steps of doom’. Indeed. I needed 3 cereal bars to get me up.

The final stretch up to the end at Worth Matravers was a steady climb up a dirt, then tarmac road. Helen took a fall just before the tarmac and really hurt her freezing cold hands: I could see she was pretty hacked off by this. She regained her composure quickly, however, and was soon ‘cracking the whip’, insisting that I keep running right to bitter end, despite my protestations that I couldn’t be bothered. Firm but fair.

Bex was waiting in the car park, reading her book in the car. It was so good to warm up and not be running any more. I travelled home with the satisfaction of having pushed myself hard, but not too hard, and will remember this as one of my all-time best training days.

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A grey morning, but always great to be out

I’m churning the miles out whenever I can. A friend, Matt is a teacher, on half term this week, and he runs, so we took the opportunity for a early training run. It was a pleasant 12 miles round the local lanes. I did 5 at my running club night last night (trying out my snazzy new shoes – see my previous post), so that’s a nice solid end to the week.

I’ve got a monster 22.5 miler on the south coast tomorrow (I’ll report back when I’ve done it), then I’ll need a rest.

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