Come in Number 12,778

Please sponsor me!

Just over a month to go and on my return from a so-so run along some quite windy Hastings and Bexhill promenades (and the cycle path that links them up over Galley Hill and Glyne Gap) I found a big envelope waiting for me.  The envelope that reminds me properly what I’m setting myself up for.  The envelope containing my race number and all other information for the Great North Run.  As in previous years, and despite my knowledge that this will be a much slower run this year, I’ve been allocated a number in the ‘Orange Zone’ (albeit towards the rear of that area) which is the first of the four coloured starting zones (behind the elite runners – yes, Mo Farah is given a head start!).

So how have things been since my last, rather downbeat entry in this blog?  Whilst I can hardly say that I’ve been setting the world alight and am suddenly back on 2006 form (far from it) I’m feeling a lot more confident again than I was then and think that with a good few week training ahead I should be able to finish OK.

As I suggested I was going to in my last entry here, I started out by getting back on the bike a bit and had a great 20 mile blast around Battle and Bexhill and home last Sunday.  It was just what I needed to get the lungs opened up and get the legs moving after the previous leaden couple of weeks.  I followed that the next day with an easy cycle ride to Bexhill station, a steady 3 mile run around Lewes Priory (one of my regular routes) and the 6 miles ride back again (at a good pace) from Bexhill to home.

Tuesday I had a day off work as I was heading into London in the afternoon to watch Surrey vs Somerset in the cricket twenty twenty cup quarter finals at the Oval.  The result was rather disappointing, however before getting on the train I managed to complete a good 10.2 miles along the seafront from the Hastings branch of Argos (an inspiring place to start) to the De La Warr pavilion in Bexhill, and back again.  It was slow and tough going but I made it.  I had to stop to replenish my water bottle a couple of times along the way which I thought a bit odd at the time; however in the evening when I saw the sunburn I’d acquired under my lovely lifeboats running vest I appreciated how hot it had been and felt a little better.

Another few blasts on the bike to Bexhill and another, four minutes faster(!) run on the same 10.2 miles course followed that week and so far this week I’ve had another good few cycle rides (a new best time from the Eastbourne office to home) and another good few miles running this week.

I’m saving the next big run for next week – wish me well!

So in all its all going well but you know how I’m going to finish this blog.  During the period written about here, Hastings Lifeboat have been out on another two shouts; one on the all weather boat to rescue a stranded yacht and tow it back into harbour in Eastbourne; and the other with the inshore lifeboat  rescuing a dinghy in trouble on rocks by fairlight cliffs.  Please therefore help me to help them and make a pledge at my Great North Run sponsorship page.  You can find it at:

Thanks. Rich

Come in Number 12778

Six weeks to go and struggling

Last time I wrote everything was going well.  I had just finished the best week of training I’d done in several years and was feeling good about my self and my prospects at the Great North Run.  Since then its been downhill and I really feel like I’m struggling at the moment.  I’m hoping that by logging this in this blog it might help me turn things back around again.

I’ve had bad weeks before and got through them but this is a particularly nasty feeling one.  I’ve had quite a tired and tight left calf for the last week or so and that was the start of my problems.  Now however I fear I’m getting trapped in a psychological rut as well and far from completing 6-7 mile runs without issue I’ve been struggling doing just a couple.

So how do I get out of this rut?  Well any suggestions greatfully accepted.  I think I’m going to try and spend this weekend healthily relaxing.  Last weekend was great fun but consisted of a wedding, a fair bit of booze, quite a bit of food (German sausages!) and 900 miles of driving – with a hell of a lot of sitting in the car.  None of that was probably helpful.

I’m also going to make sure that I do plenty of stretches on the calves over the next couple of days to try and ease them off.  I might just try and get on the bike a bit as well; I’ve not done much cycling the last couple of weeks and doing a few miles might just be a good way to get some fitness work without worrying those troublesome calves in quite the same way as running.

Fingers crossed that leave me ready for another good burst next week.  Fingers crossed!

Tell you what also might help. Having some more lovely people sponsoring me.  Nothing like knowing that there is a good pot of cash waiting for a good cause (Hastings Lifeboat) at the end of my efforts!

Many thanks!


Two months to go!

2 Lifeboats

A check on the calendar, and an email reminder, led me last week to the scary recognition that, as of today, I only have two months training left until the start of the Great North Run.

With that in mind last week I started to properly ramp up my training. Just my luck that coincided with the first properly hot week in about 5 years.

The weeks exercise started pretty well. I was up early on Sunday morning and, for the first time in a couple of years, extended my Seafront route to the eastern end of Bexhill (in a few more weeks I’ll be aiming for the west end!). It was a slow run. Only 9.29 mins/mile; but 7.5 miles is quite a step up in distance than on the past few months.

Tuesday and Wednesday were about trying to increase speed by reverting back to 3-4 miles and rather pleasingly I got speeds of 8.57 and 8.3 mins/mile over the shorter distances. Just what I needed and great preparation for Thursday.

Thursday 11th might just be one of my best days training. Up in the morning and onto the bike to cycle the 6 miles to Bexhill station in a new record time. Then lunchtime was out running again. 6.25 miles and at 8.50 mins/mile. Damn good progress. The cycle ride home was tough with legs now tired and a strong headwind but still managed a new best way up the west hill at the end of the ride.

I was pretty shattered on Friday morning but decided to go for a final Seafront run. However after a short distance i felt the legs were pretty tired so completed an easy steady mile to St Leonards, relaxed a bit and stretched the legs a bit more and then went for a faster return mile. Into the wind but sub 8 minute mile (Roger who?). A pretty good end to the week and worthy of a weekend off.

And now its Monday. I’m writing this on the train to work. Kit bag next to me. Planning on another 6.25 miles today but its already too damn hot out there. Ho hum! I just need to remind myself. It is now 2 months today that I’ll be standing on the central motorway in Newcastle heading towards South Shields in the company of about 50,000 others.

And of course I need to remind you all that I’m doing it to raise funds for the excellent team at Hastings lifeboat. The RNLI are all volunteers and receive no government funding. Hastings lifeboat has been called out ten times in just the last two
weeks. I’d therefore love it if you’d help me to help them by sponsoring my running. You can do so at:


Bedgebury 10k

18 March

So finally, and for the first time since October 2011, I found myself on Saturday morning standing on a start line preparing myself for running in the same direction as a number of other folk in the name of….? Well for me fitness mostly; but (perversely) a bit of enjoyment as well.

At the start of the Bedgebury 10k

This was quite a different event to previous outings. Although shorter (10km as opposed to the 10 miles or half marathons that I’ve previously run) the circuit was around some forest trails rather then on the streets of Tyneside, Hastings or Portsmouth. Conditions we’re nasty too. It was cold, wet and windy and quite muddy underfoot. But hey, this would be fun!

It was also an earlier start. A 9am gun time meant being up at 6am for a light breakfast, drive the 20 miles to Bedgebury Pinetum, and get set to go. After the obligatory mass warm up (which I hate as it exposes my lack of coordination to the general public) we were off.

The course was quite mixed and, its fair to say, quite different to running along Hastings Prom. The first 1k was up a fair incline and slow going as people of varying paces worked out their relative places in the pack. I was content enough seeing the proper athletes head into the distance whilst still managing to overtake quite a number of people as I got up to speed.

The course comprised a 7k loop with a 1.5k spur at the start and finish. As the course broke onto the loop it was nice to start heading downhill and to be able to make some time back on the first slow stretch; however I couldn’t help but notice that the return leg of the loop could be seen rising quite high the other direction.

However for now I had quite a few fairly idyllic km ahead of me. Although quite undulating the general direction was downhill, the track was mostly in good condition with just a few properly muddy patches and despite the intermittent rain I was enjoying myself. I got into a good rhythm and settled nicely in with a few others of similar pace. I wasn’t exactly racing away but from 2k to 6k was at a good speed. If I could keep this up I might be pushing to aim for 50 minutes, and would certainly be well inside 55 min

And then as we reached the turn in the loop the hill reversed also.

From that point to the 9km mark the it was all very much an uphill struggle! The track go muddier, at one point we had to clamber under a gate (or run around the side through a huge deep puddle). I wasn’t the only one struggling. I did have to break and walk for a few short bursts (never more than 100 yards) just to give my legs a brief respite. Most of the people in my group we’re doing the same. We we’re all
encouraging each other on with a group of three of us in particular seeming to take it turns to stop for a bit, get egged on by the others as they passed us before they then took turns to break. Thus it was that we kept going until we joined the start/finish spur, went past the 9k mark and entered the final downhill stretch.

By this point the 50 minutes had already passed and I’d have needed a helicopter to make it inside 55. I was already resigned to being outside the hour mark which was a big disappointment but probably not surprising as the last few weeks training had not been great.

As the downhill got a bit steeper however, I decided to go for it. Maybe I could beat the hour yet? At least I’d damn well get as close to it as possible. And so despite the them burning quite well by now I managed to turn up the pace and open out the legs. Where was that finish line? It was hiding somewhere in these trees. Surely I’d see it soon? How about now? And now? Ah there it is, and not too far – just
hiding around a corner. Really open up. Sprint finish. Over the timing mat. Stop the watch….

59.50. Get in. A slower time than I’d hoped for but much better than I thought I’d manage from the 8k mark. So that’ll do me for now. Think I’ll find another 10k race in a few months time and see how I can do then.

Completed the Bedgebury 10k

At the time of writing I’ve managed to raise £90 for the British Heart Foundation which has also well beaten my target so all in all a good result.  Thanks very much to those of you who sponsored me.

Also thanks to Nash for once again getting up early so she could stand around in the cold and wetvIn a muddy wood. Your support is always greatly appreciated.

Run through the woods

September, Newcastle and the Great North Run feels like a long way off at this time of year.

Today was another difficult run. After having done a good 4.5 miles on Wednesday my run this lunchtime felt like a step backwards.  The temperature was around the zero mark; for some stupid reason I’d packed only shorts and a short sleeved running top, and I couldn’t find my running gloves anywhere before leaving the house.  The first mile was uphill and into a fairly stuff chill breeze and the cold air started hurting the lungs.

So why bother in February?  There is plenty of year left to prepare myself. Do I really need to be start training now?  Well yes I do.  Each year as I start training I find the first couple of months to be quite difficult and invariably a niggle at some point in the summer stops training for a few weeks (something I’m even more paranoid about with the ankle just about finally repaired). Getting a good start in the winter and early spring months therefore is vital in order to be able to ‘hit the ground running’ when it comes to the serious summer training.

In 2011 the Hastings Half Marathon was a great late winter run but after a year off there is no chance I’d be ready for that in a months time.  So instead I’ve signed up for a 10km run on 16th March.  Primarily I’m doing this as a definite staging point on the way to the start line on the Newcastle Central Motorway.

However this is a charity element!

The race is the British Heart Foundation Bedgebury Pinetum run.  Bedgebury, just on the Kent side of the Kent/Sussex border off the A21, is Forestry Commission Land and houses the national conifer collection.  Its a lovely site and should make for a great circuit; although if weather is not good the tracks can get very muddy.

The Great North Run, which I will be running for the RNLI and Hastings Lifeboat in particular, will be the main thing that I will be asking people to sponsor me for. However anyone who might be able to encourage me in March by sponsoring me and the BHF will be doing me a great favour by encouraging me through the pine forest.

If you would be so good as to consider sponsoring me in this event it would be greatly appreciated.  You can do so by visiting the below web page.

Many thanks all.

Running again…

Hi – this is my first blog entry.  I’m setting this page up to record some thoughts initially based around my training for the Great North Run in 2013.

Last night I received the email from the event organisers that my name had been picked out of the ballot for the half marathon on Tyneside in November.

This will be (fingers crossed) the fourth time that I have entered the event having run in 2006,7 and 8. Since then I have been running the shorter (but more local) Great South Run instead.

However, having done something nasty to my Achilles in training for the 2011 event I spent almost all of last year slowly gaining weight and losing fitness.

Thanks to the magic hands of Reza; a Hastings based Iranian Body-building sports masseur, I’m now ready to start again.

Having had a year with no events at all I was keen to make a return to the biggest and best mass participation run in the world. (I’ll explain why I agree with that in a later blog).

And here I am. I wasn’t really expecting to get in on the ballot and thought I’d need to get a guaranteed charity place instead. But here i am, straight in and accepted. That doesn’t mean I’ll not be pressing you for donations though (my WordPress avatar might give you a hint…)

Watch this space!