Monday, 19 March 2018

Flyte energy drinks - providing a boost to marathon training

Only a few short weeks ago I received news of a last minute entry into the London Marathon, cue much excitement and frantic training preparation.

Luckily at a similar time I was also approached by Flyte to try some samples of their energy drink. What good timing, what a good combination, marathon training and energy drinks.

When I first started running I wouldn't even contemplate going out for a run without swigging a bottle of lucozade beforehand. I eventually weened myself off these but ended up moving on to energy gels as I tackled longer distances. 

Then as I got older and the pressures of adulting started to hit home I grew to depend on coffee, with its warm caffeinated glow to get me through life, work and training.

However my search for an ideal energy drink to fuel my running has continued.

Flyte sounds promising, its natural, it contains caffeine, its fruity and it isn't a regrettable horrible experience such as a red bull or monster type energy drink.
On the flip side Flyte comes in a glass bottle which isn't ideal as it makes it less convenient than a plastic bottle or even a can.

Trying it pre run it definitely gives you a nice energy boost and without the sicklyness of most sugary sweet energy drinks on the market.

The word that comes to mind when tyring to describe how Flyte tastes would be 'clean' it tastes exactly as you would expect it to with crisp, fruity flavours from a drink that doesn't feel overly carbonated and fizzy.

Tasty as it might be, the drink being used for the London marathon is lucozade sport so I will be going back to my old sugary friend for my last few long training runs as I prepare to get my body ready again for drinking the sickly sweetness that will hopefully power me through 26.2 miles.

I am running the London marathon for PARC Essex and you can sponsor me here:

Flyte drinks were supplied to me for free but all opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Ten weeks until London

Ten weeks until London.

First off I hate it when people refer to a marathon just by the name of the city it is in but predictably I have become one of those people.

The London marathon, a race I will be running in ten weeks
Ten weeks until the Virgin Money London Marathon then.

London, it is a city, it is here, it is not ten weeks away
The headline news is that I am actually following a marathon training plan, it's quite a change in my whole running ethos.

I always had the notion that if I ever got into London (FFS I've done it again) then that would be my impetus to follow a plan/train harder/lose weight/eat properly/do more strength and conditioning, all the things I feel would improve my marathon performance but haven't quite had the motivation to implement before.

So far it's working.

I'm following a training plan, the asics target 26.2 sub 4 plan (there would be a link to the relevant webpage but it has been wiped from the internet and now replaced with asics frontrunner) to be precise.

I'm eating a bit better, not loads better but trying to cut back snacking and controlling my portion size.

And I'm putting an emphasis on incorporating some strength and conditioning work into my routine, mainly plank based exercises and techniques from James Dunne @kineticrev.

Time will tell if they all make a difference but early signs are encouraging.

Training recap:
I really enjoyed a great interval session on Tuesday hitting 5x10K paced 1K intervals.
Last night I tolerated a bitterly cold steady paced 14 miles, so demanding maintaining a slow pace when it's so cold!

The week ahead:
Some marathon paced running and maybe a hill session mid week.
Greenwich 10K on Sunday, following the plan this will be HM paced.

So far so good.
Trust the process.
Enjoy the ride.

Thank you for all the sponsorship so far, to donate to my fundraising efforts for PARC (Essex) please click here: Thanks!

Friday, 2 February 2018

A long overdue update and exciting news

Well it's been a while since my last post, so what's been happening? 

Running has kind of taken a back seat or at least had to just squeeze in here an there. The demands of an increasingly busy job, an energetic 16 month old and moving house 6 months ago have meant that I have not been so free and easy to run whenever I wanted. 

I have still been running though, Chelmsford marathon in October and I had runs planned for December but ended up not doing any due to bad weather and ill health. 

Moving to Colchester last August has affected my running in a number of ways. Firstly I'm more limited with my running options as my days start at 5am to get to work for 8, so no more pre-work runs. And getting back later in the evening means it's tougher to get out in after work. However on the plus side Colchester has a really vibrant and active running community in the form of running group Running Colchester. They are a group not a club, and are really just a way of local runners to come together both virtually via the Facebook page and physically through a number of organised runs through the week. Both these factors were instrumental in my decision to kick off 2018 with 100 miles in January challenge. A great way to get some mileage in at the start of the year and as many members of running Colchester were doing it as well it was a great way to stay motivated. I even madly volunteered to help manage the spreadsheet for tracking everyone's miles! So a busy start to the year, all being well I will finish nicely just over 100 miles. 

But all this intro and catch up on the last few months pales in significance to my real reason for writing this post. ***I AM RUNNING THE LONDON MARATHON***
Yes that's right! How I hear you ask? Well about two weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook I think in the running Colchester group looking for runners to fill some last minute marathon spots for a local charity. So I got in touch to find out more, expecting the places to have all gone but no a few days later my place was confirmed! So here we go, yesterday was day one of my twelve week training plan building up to London. (I have been training for a half marathon this weekend so I'm in decent shape)

To be honest it hasn't even began to sink in, I have always wanted to run London but after several ballot rejections and sky high fundraising targets I could never see myself ever getting the chance. But here I am planning to run one of the greatest marathons in the world, I will be running through the crowds around the Cutty Sark and will be part of the iconic scene of runners passing over tower bridge. 
I think I'm going to need twelve weeks to get my head around it, so stay tuned for following my training and my journey to the London marathon start line.I am fundraising for PARC Essex, who provide support to families who have a child or children with special needs. All donations gratefully received: Thanks!!!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Spitfire Scramble 2017

As a runner returning for the fourth year since the inaugural event, this time in a team of four, I was looking forward to seeing what was in store from an ever growing race that continues to grow from strength to strength. 

Spitfire Scramble is London's (using the terms fairly loosely as it is based in Hornchurch country park in the city's Essex outskirts) only 24 hour trail race, offering runners a unique experience to run a multitude of miles either solo, as a pair or in a team. 

Logistically the event has moved as it has outgrown its original home so the campsite and start/finish line is now homed in a larger field. Plus points; so much more space and better parking. Downsides; some of the most scratchy grass and uneven ground known to man, which meant irritated legs from sitting on the grass and a crooked back from sleeping on some really uncomfortable ground.

Running wise this meant the course, although the same started at a different point the main difference being the killer Ingrebourne hill now came towards the end of the lap followed by a downhill descent for the last kilometre or so. 

So how did the race go?

I was part of team 'Running in (bob) hope' a name in comedy reference to running hero Tony Auldenshaw as opposed to anything to do with the deceased American comedian. 

Following previous years where I was part of UKrunchat teams and last year where I ran solo, this year I was part of a team of four consisting of family members I have at least partly been responsible for infecting with the running bug over the last few years. As a four man team in the 3-5 man category we were always going to be at a disadvantage and so it proved as we finished sixth in our category somewhere adrift of the five other teams. 

As a team we gallantly fought through a variety of individual injuries and ailments to complete 20 team laps of the 5.6 mile course within the 24 hours. I myself managed to notch up 7 laps while struggling with a wrecked back after my first nap. Few things dampen my enthusiasm for running but a sore back that ricocheted with pain whenever I ran more than a few hundred metres just about managed it until a second more comfortable nap and pain killer eased my afflictions. 

Being part of team didn't fail to inspire a good amount of comaredie, frivolity and general banter that you would imagine would ensue when four chaps camp out together for a weekend. 

That's the beauty of this event though, it's not all about the running, it's the camping, the chilling in the campsite, the eating (mostly soreen banana loaf, malteasers and chocolate covered coffee beans), drinking (mostly iced tea and coronas) and chatting to other runners (great to meet Will @Wilberf0rce and Ant @RunEatCleepRep). 

The weekend does involve a fair amount of running though, I clocked up 40 miles which wasn't a bad effort and I was inspired by team mates Dan and Tony who stuck their hands up to run more laps than they had originally volunteered for and ran further during the event than they ever had before. 

Spitfire Scramble is a pretty special event, how many other events let you run through a country park in the middle of the night allowing you to enjoy the peaceful solitude? 
Which other event gives you the opportunity to ascend a steep hill to then be rewarded with watching the sun set over London? 

So my fourth year, still loving what is a great event, another year to look back on another unique set of experiences and I'm already making plans to come back in 2018 for my fifth event. 

The only question is in what format do I enter in next year? I'm liking the idea of going solo again or perhaps looking for a partner to share 24 hours of running with....

Thursday, 29 December 2016

2016 My Year of Running

So it's that time of the year to look back and reflect on the year that is coming to an end.

On reflection I struggle to summarise the year as successful as I didn't achieve my aims of smash any PBs but at the same time I look back on a year of running which I have probably enjoyed more than any other. 

In summary the highlights for the year were that I ran my first ultra (110K at Spitfire Scramble in August) and I became a dad! Two pretty awesome achievements!  

2016 looked something like this....

The first quarter was dominated by half marathons, three in three months, but my first running event of the year was a UK fitness bloggers 5K in support of RODS on 30th January. Great fun and great to meet some online friends in person. 

The run earned me my first but of bling in the shape of this rather cool little number. 

The very next day I celebrated my birthday with a half marathon, not the PB I had hoped for due to illness over the New Year period but an enjoyable run none the less.

February saw another half marathon and an improvement on my time but my sights were set on a great run and PB attempt at my third half marathon of the year in March.

March saw my entry into the North London Half Marathon promising the 'greatest finish line in the world' with the final few hundred metres being inside Wembley stadium. I felt in PB shape but a dodgy back the day before put pay to that idea meaning I ran the first few miles in trepidation missing out on PB pace, still my second fastest Half Marathon time wasn't too bad. It was actually really beneficial to run the same distance a couple of times in quick succession so I could work on my race strategy and targets. 

May saw the first marathon of the year with my first (but not last) running of the excellent Halstead marathon. I felt in or around the best marathon shape I had ever been in but the hottest weekend of the year quickly sapped me of any PB possibility. Still I received  a nice lobster skin tone and a giant medal for my troubles. 

The start of July brought around the years big event, the St Petersburg Marathon in Russia, my first marathon abroad and my biggest event in terms of participants.

I never felt in brilliant shape so wasn't expecting a great time, hot and humid conditions punished me and the other runners meaning a difficult race but a terrific experience.

Unexpectedly the Spitfire Scamble in August became an even bigger event the I anticipated, instead of running a few laps as part of a team I ended up taking the plunge and running solo covering 11 laps and 110K in total. In hindsight easiest my best and most enjoyable running event I have taken part in. 

The summer ended with a highly anticipated run at the Bacchus marathon, in fancy dress with my running buddies. I wasn't really in marathon shape but a brilliant event, so much fun and a great way to run my slowest marathon ever! 

Then come October thoughts of running went out the window as life changed completely with the arrival, all be it slightly earlier than anticipated, of this little chap.

So come my last race of the year, a 5 miler in a local park I had only managed a handful of runs in several weeks and although I felt pretty rusty my legs were fresh and energised. 

The Harold Wood Running Club 5 mile event was a great event to end the year with as it started less than a mile from the flat, took place around the parks where I usually train and gave me the opportunity to meet a few online running buddies in person. 

The best thing of all was being able to hang my finishers medal around the little chaps neck when I got home. 

So the year ends with a massive change to life and running but one I wouldn't want to go back on! 

I suppose my competitive side is disappointed to not have a PB this year, unless I manage to pull one out of the bag at New Years Eve Parkrun, but looking back on ten events, three marathons and my first ultra all packed full of fun and great experiences is no bad thing at all.

I hope your 2016 has seen you enjoy your running and achieve your goals and 2017 brings you plenty of happy miles!