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My Top Five Big Running Weekend Activities

 

Big Running Weekend promises to be packed with running related activity.  So much going on for the bargain price of just £10 (Book here).

With so much on offer, it makes sense to prioritise, being sure to attend those activities which might be considered ‘unmissable’.

Here then, is what I consider ‘unmissable’…  A ‘Top Five’, if you will…

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1.

The Run Talks.

Not one, but two inov-8 supported athletes at the top of their game.

Ben Mounsey:

  • Represented Yorkshire x 3 (2009, 2011 & 2015),
  • Represented England x 3 (Snowdon International 2011 & 2015 (3rd) and the Home international (6th) 2015)
  • Represented Great Britain in the World Mountain Running Championships 2015 (31stoverall)
  • Represented Great Britain in the Tre Refugi Relay (6th), Italy 2011 and Snowdon GB team at Trofeo Vanoni (2nd & 2nd team), Italy 2015
  • Yorkshire Fell Running Champion 2014 & 2015
  • Bronze Medallist in the World Mountain Running Championship (Great Britain team) 2015
  • Gold Medallist in the English Fell Championship (CVFR team) 2015
  • Gold Medallist in the British Fell Championship (CVFR team) 2015
  • Gold Medallist in the British Fell Relays (CVFR team) 2015
  • 8 x West Yorkshire Winter League Cross Country Champion 2007-2016
  • Winner of Black Combe Fell Race (English Championship) 2016

Damian Hall:

  • In the UK, has placed on the podium at the 268-mile Spine Race
  • The Dragon’s Back Race (5th OA)
  • 2016 British Athletics Ultra Trail Championships
  • Represented Great Britain (Team) for the IAU Trail World Championships
  • Abroad, has placed in the top 20 at 105-mile Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (x2)
  • Top 20 at Marathon des Sables
  • top 10 at the Lavaredo Ultra Trail
  • Also completed: Bob Graham Round
  • Charlie Ramsay Round
  • Holds the record for the Fastest Known Time on the 630-mile South West Coast Path
  • Winner of the 230km Ice Ultra in arctic sweden

PLUS!

Women in Running:

The Panel:
Jen Scotney:

  • Recently completed the Spine Challenger coming 3rd lady in a distance of over 100 miles.
  • Jen, is a vegan runner and happy to answer questions on her running nutrition too.

Laura Inglis:

  • Accelerate Performance Centre Coach.
  • Has coached beginners, through to high performance club athlete’s.

Also an ultra runner and last year won the Ladybower 50.

Margo Duncan:

  • Wood Run Leader and GP who is a very experienced runner.
  • Turned her attention to Triathlon and has since competed for GB within her age group.

Also has a wealth of experience at Trail and Road Racing.

Debbie Smith:

  • Climber, turned adventure racer turned ultra distance mountain biker and then runner.
  • Has won every UK Adventure Racing title and was consistently in the top 3 for 24hr mountain biking.
  • Turning her attention to Ultra Running she has completed the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc, taking a top 10 spot in her age category.
  • In Mountain Marathons, such as the OMM she has also been a regular winner or podium finisher.

All of these inspiring runners will be sharing exciting tales about their training and racing.  Plenty of laughs I’m sure, along with some golden tips for those looking to try similar exploits in future.

2.

The Led Runs.

It’s all about the venue.  Ecclesall Wodd is the location of the weekly WoodRun session and is where all of our Leaders started out.  Coached sessions that teach the fundamentals of running while exploiting the lush surroundings of this natural beauty spot.  They don’t come more runnable.  As a bonus, the local authority installed a collection of Run Routes across Sheffield, meaning that from Event HQ we can quickly access two of the very best.  The Accelerate Red Route & inov-8 Black Route, each of which reach parts of the Peak National Park, before returning home.

So…

Whether you intend to ‘dip your toe’ into off-road running, or have your eye on one of the Outdoor City Run Routes, you’re in safe hands with the Run Leaders from WoodRun & Accelerate Trail Runners.  Groups will be led out around courses ranging between 5km & 24km throughout the weekend, at a pace which is suited to those preferring the ‘slow & steady’ approach.  Emphasis is on fun and safety.  The routes involve the Ecclesall Wood itself, as well as parts of the Peak District (on the longer Red and Black routes).

The Leaders know how to control the pace, allowing everyone to enjoy a chat while they run along and take in the sights.  To ensure that all are safe, we’ll be insisting that people are realistic about their ability to take on the distance and conditions on the day, but also have with them a basic list of essentials*, listed at the bottom of this blog.

I will – myself, be leading you around the Blue Loops within the Ecclesall Wood, for upto 9.5km worth of oustanding wooded trail.

3.

Saucony Hill Sprint Challenge.

Running Powerhouse Saucony are a brand who know their onions.  When it comes to speed, they have footwear for the job.  So with the option of testing their shoes, you can attempt the Hill Sprint Challenge.  A steep path on the side of the hill within Ecclesall Wood, only a short walk/jog from Event HQ.

Once there, you’ll be given three attempts to summit the hill (section) in the least amount of time you can.  Then your best time will be recorded on the Leaderboard so that people can see where they rank (just for fun).

What’s more – everybody who has a go will be entered into a prize draw for a chance to WIN a pair of Saucony running shoes.  There will be a Men’s and a Ladies’ pair awarded to the first Male & Female drawn from the entries upon close of the event.  Well worth sticking around for.

4.

Wood Run Sessions.

The showcase for all that is WoodRun.  Sessions specifically designed to deliver useful and fun techniques to runners of all abilites and experience.  Drills and exercises for runners to practice, so that they can become stronger, more efficient and less prone to injury – all of which is put into action while running around the splendid Ecclesall Wood, with post session refreshments provided by the Woodland Coffee Stop.

For anyone tempted to visit one or more of these sessions, there will be a particular theme for each one and a specific benefit for the individuals taking part.  Regardless, everyone will have a good time and discover just how much fun it can be getting ‘strong to run’, rather than ‘running to get strong’.

5.

Junior Runners Workshop.

Often overlooked, but definitely as important as anything else on offer during the weekend.  The young runners get the focus they deserve during this 2.5hr session on Saturday afternoon.  Team Accelerate’s Anna Hoogkamer (inov-8) and Megan Wilson (Scott) deliver a coached session with plenty of information being shared, about their transition from the Junior circuit into full blown Adult Racing.

With a RunTalk of their own, some Q&A and practical work being demonstrated by these highly accomplished young athletes, for any aspiring young runners, this session should be top priority.

So there you have it.  If you can’t make it to the entire weekend, then these are my suggestions for a ‘Top Five’, but feel free to choose the sessions which for you, hold the greatest appeal and don’t forget your spending money for that hard earned cake!

 

*Essential kit list expected of every participant on the Led Runs, as per FRA guidelines:

Pack/BumBag containing the following –

Waterproof outer layer with taped seams.  (including long tights or over-trousers if conditions threaten to remain cold/wet/windy).

Spare warm long sleeved top.

Hat & Gloves.

Whistle if possible.

Personal snacks & drink enough for upto 3 hours, on the move in open country.

Suitable footwear with grip on wet or lose surfaces, such as deep studded trail shoes or fell shoes (don’t forget that our sponsors will be supplying test footwear if you’d like to use then during the Led Runs, subject to availability).

Leaders will have with them Blankets, Survival bags and Map/Compass on behalf of the group.

Don’t forget your sense of humour!

 

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A Strange Nemesis

 

(clever little logo that looks like a person riding a bike)

ofo

A recent addition to Sheffield’s streets.  And a mighty fine concept.

Yellow Bikes, thousands of ’em – for people to borrow, having downloaded a free app and paying 50p per 30mins.

Check the location of your nearest bike and take it for a spin.  Leave it in an appropriate place for the next person, or in a designated parking area, in order to gain a free borrow next time.

Genius.

Healthy.  Affordable.  Convenient.

You want this, don’t you Christopher….?

And the beginning of a psychological battle.  Constantly passing bikes that would make my journey easier…  Quicker…

Take Monday evening, close of business and my run home from work.  It’s dark, raining and I’m pressed for time.  My girlfriend has an appointment and I’ve already left my colleague (also running home in the same direction) behind, in order to get back ASAP.

But I’m currently trying to regain fitness and stability while increasing the frequency and intensity of my runs.  All thrown out of the window with barely enough time to get home.

Then appears the first of many bikes.  Taunting me.  Internal dialogue –

“If I were to stop here and quickly download the ofo app via 4G, I could hop on and ride home in a fraction of the time”.

But no, that would be weak.  So I continue, only to pass another bike, not 100meters down the road.  Then another.  Another.

So many, so frequently in fact, that I suspected that the fates were trying to tempt me into submission.

Then another.

They were virtually lined up end to end every step of the way, I’ve never seen so many.

But I completed the run, on time and have, as yet, not been seduced into taking the easy option.

Not yet….

Boooooo!

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Life gets in the way.

 

I’ve recently spent time off my feet, having been injured.  I also then spent time at home looking after poorly girlfriend and two young sons.  More time away from running.

Add to this, car trouble, overtime, social calendar, anniversaries and so on….

Life just gets in the way at times.

Which leads me to thinking about the elite runners of this world and the chances that to properly maintain a successful training regime, they have to be supremely selfish in order to reach their potential.

And before you take that wrong, think about it….

There’s the individual, who perhaps feels motivated enough to dedicate him/herself to the task of conditioning their body until truly world class.

There’s the people in the background, without whom training would be scuppered in an instant.  For example:

Coach & clinicians – assessing and tailoring the workload to suit the talent on offer, developing the skills (proper application of said talent) and experience to gain maximum benefit out of the training, while minimising injury.

Family & friends, dedicated to driving (literally) and supporting, but almost more importantly, freeing the athlete from obligation at key events, anniversaries, get togethers, parties and celebrations.

The discipline with which an athlete focusses on the priorities, resisting all ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities or occasions that stand in the way of their objective.

It’s a tightrope.

So not selfish in a mean spirited, mailcious sense, but realistically, one which sees them pausing to consider each and every move that the rest of us might take for granted.

It can mean the difference.  Refusing and resisting, expecting others to compromise and sacrifice in order for your progress to continue.  It’s heavy toll for all involved at limes.

So while I’ve certainly lost form and fitness for all the time spent babysitting and nursing those around me, I’ve satisfaction in providing the ones I love with the help they need.  And a relatively minimal loss when all is said and done.  I’ve been there/done that with each of my children being born, but have bounced back with PBs in all of my events, making better progress into my 40s than I did in my younger days.  It’s a minor set back  for somebody who expects to finish outside the top ten and enjoys the activity for its own sake.

For the Elite Athlete, or Olympian – there can be no compromise.

It makes so much sense that they would burst into tears, win or lose, after say – 4 years (at least) of abstinence from frivolity and ‘fun’ and having negotiated their way through a minefield of social/political agenda, with an entire network of people affected either way.  The sum total of all that hard work and sweat, now redundant as an interviewer thrusts a microphone in their face and yells “how does it feel?”.

I’m surprised there haven’t been more murders.

I just get back to my running as soon as I can, happy to be back.  For the elite, that small delay might well be what cost them the prize.

And there’s an even greater question springs to mind…

What if, the most gifted athlete of all time was out there, but never had the support, opportunity or inclination to even begin training?  Maybe unaware of their natural genetic advantage or potential, simply because their life was in the way from day one.  For every hopeful who fell to corruption, ill health or tragedy, there might be somebody who at a young age, discovers a nack or passion for sport.  Then crosses paths with the right people at the right time, free from constraint and willing to go the distance.

We might yet still see records being smashed and human achievements surpassed, so long as life affords people a window of opportunity and the world around them doesn’t slam it shut.

In the meantime, I’m back to it and raring to go.

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Fundamentally Speaking

 

In just about every sport I can think of, coaching is part of the improvement process for the participant, yet not so often in running.

I suspect because it is so much more of an individual sport and everyone can run, can’t they?

Well, therein lies the question, there is running… And there is running.  And I am not talking about who is the faster.
There does appear to be one very common thread throughout what people talk about, with regard to Running Objectives. This occurs across the spectrum of running participation, regardless of time spent running on a daily or weekly basis:

“I don’t want to be injured”.
Yet, inevitably, injuries do happen. It’s associated with movement and with being human.  I’d be a rich man for every time I heard something along the lines off, “I have an injury so it must be time to get some new shoes”.  There so often appears to be an anticipation that the new shoes will somehow fix things…yep, they can sometimes help, especially if the old ones are badly worn out, yet for the most part they must, I reckon, also come with a sachet of fairy dust.
This whole process of looking for items which can help once injury strikes is all to common. There is a ‘Rule of 1%’ whereby external items can aid in the process of injury prevention.  An item of Compression clothing would be one such example.  Tweaking an already healthy diet would be another.

The fundamental thing is this, there comes a time when we should stop looking for external answers and look at ourselves. Turn the search for solutions toward fewer injuries (prevention), upon yourself.  Look inwards if you will.

Be more Anna – Strong with good stability and running technique.

We’re right back to the fundamental requirements that make you a ‘better you’ and a runner less likely to suffer an injury.  For example, if you are looking to reduce the risk of landing flat on your back whilst out running, take a look at your own off road technique and have that checked.  Agreed, a grippy pair of fell shoes will help, but they are not the whole of the answer.

Core stability, running technique and general strength for running are all key things that each and everyone one of us should be doing something about on a regular/ongoing basis. They form part of the fundamentals and indeed, the foundation for all types of running.  So too does planning your training effectively, taking time to think about what you need to do in order to make you a more resilient runner. In doing so, you may just find it easier to run further or faster.

We will at some point injure (ourselves) and we are always keen to ‘get back out there’ so we go see a physio. Some would argue money well spent – others would argue our time could have been spent more wisely in getting the fundamentals of our running sorted, ahead of time.  Prevention being better than cure.

It often does come back to taking the time to speak with a good running coach. Not just someone newly qualified, someone with experience and know-how to join the dots. The fundamentals of running are so important and can prevent so much, enhancing our own running even more.

Good planning, strength, stability and good technique. These are things you can do something about.

Accelerate Performance CenterThe Accelerate Performance Center offers 1 to 1 coaching for running plus strength and stability coupled with running technique. Alternatively we can help with your run technique at Thursday morning’ Continue reading

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Running off into the Unknown #Hello2018

 

Reflections on 2017, the ups, the downs and the near-death experiences:

2017 has been a very exciting year for me in terms of running. Here are a few of my best (and worst moments) as I look forward to what 2018 might have in store!

My 2017 fell season started off with one of the local fell races, Wolf’s Pit. I dragged my housemate along for her first fell race and I’m pretty sure she enjoyed it!

Lesson learned: although it is not ideal preparation, sometimes being covered in glitter from the night before can help motivation during a race!

 

 

 

 

 

Then came the Trunce, a local trail/fell series. I had a cracking race and managed a massive PB, also getting at time which I think puts me in the fastest few women ever in a race that’s been going for years and years!

Lesson Learned: it’s always best to splash straight through the puddles/rivers (it may or may not be quicker but it’s infinitely more enjoyable)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that I had an embarrassing race where I was beaten by a 14 year old and also smashed open my knees after falling off a gate (Wirksworth Incline)

Lessons Learned:

  1. Don’t accidentally die your hair ginger
  2. It was not a fell race

 

 

 

 

Inter Counties time! Here I am racing for Norfolk (flattest county ever) in the British Mountain Running Inter Counties. I was 3rd U23 which is an improvement from 2016!

Lesson Learned: I’m still asthmatic and need to take my inhaler with me on longer races!

Next up I started on the English Champs races – first up: Barnoldswick Weets

2nd Under 23 and just outside of the top 10 senior ladies on a scorching hot day. Pictured below with Ellie Crownshaw who was 3rd U23.

P.S. I’m brunette again wahoo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson Learned: smiling makes you feel less like you’re burning up in the million-degree heat:

 

 

 

Next up was another local race, part of the Gritstone Series – Castleton Fell Race. Here I took 3rd, just not quite able to outsprint Zoe Procter (pennine) after letting her get away too quickly up the hill! Lesson Learned: Castleton Fell Race gives really good prizes

Another championship race (this time and English and British counter): Tebay Fell Race. Again, temperatures reaching boiling but an incredibly beautiful day with amazing views. 3rd U23 and 16th lady.

Lesson Learned: making friends with your competition makes racing so much more enjoyable. (Pictured here with Hannah Russel, English U23 Champ)

 

Team Accelerate outing to Hope Wakes Fell Race (Gritstone Series). Total chaos ensues as everyone takes different routes. Read my blog post about the race to hear more about this! 1st Lady despite taking an extra detour up the hill!

Lesson Learned: It’s amazing how much time you can gain even if you get sent the wrong way and end up right at the back of the race. I kept pushing and fought my way back through the field to take the win!

This is the part where I run the Hodgson Brother’s Relay with team mate and bestie Megan Ellen and fall over and break my coccyx. Oops. In true fell runner style we battle it out to the end and come in first female team having set off on our leg in 3rd place.

Lesson Learned: Broken coccyx is very very very painful and everyone gets very panicky when you get funny pins and needles in your legs, but it’s okay because I’m fineeeee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Gritstone Series – Curbar Commotion. Featuring a broken coccyx but some fab new, extra grippy, shoes from Inov8 to stop me falling over and making it worse! 1st Lady.

Lesson Learned: You might want to give up but it’s amazing how much time you can gain on someone on a downhill finish – Sorry Caroline!

Time for a photo shoot with Accelerate Run Store and Inov8.

Lesson Learned: There are some really cool parts of Sheffield if you want to run on the roads (which mostly I don’t!)

 

Nearing the end of the end of the season and time for another relay with Megan. British Fell Relay Champs. Another fall and another trip to an ambulance.

Lesson Learned: maybe it’s not the best idea to continue to race with a broken coccyx but if you’re going to do it, make sure you race with someone who will sit in the ambulance with you afterwards!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then came our infamous adventure at the OMM. (read OMMbelievably we survived if you want to hear about us nearly dying but generally enjoying ourselves anyway)

Lesson Learned: The most beautiful of days come after the hardest (and in this case coldest and also soggiest) of nights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final fell race of 2017: Dark Peak Fell Championships. 1st U23 and 2nd Lady

Lesson Learned: Dark Peak Dinners are fun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last ‘race’ of the year – Christmas Day Parkrun with Daddy, complete with tinsel.

Lesson Learned: it’s worth getting up on Christmas Day to spend the morning running around a park with 798 other mad people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s it for 2017, thanks for all the support from Accelerate, Stuart Hale (what a brill coach), Issy (for the best massages ever), and Inov8 and SilvaGlobal for their support with kit.

Here’s to 2018! Happy New Year and Happy Running!

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