Race Report: NEHL Lambton Estate

Race Report: NEHL Lambton Estate

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This race report was originally published on KR Run Club on 4th November 2021! As well as early access to race reports, joining KR Run Club also gives you access to my weekly Training Updates, Workout Library and much more. For more information check out KR Run Club here. Alternatively contact me on email at run5kfasterwithme@gmail.com. Thank you for your support!

Kev

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Following my disappointing run in the first North East Harrier League (NEHL) fixture at Wrekenton in late September (race report here), where I’d almost pulled out on the second lap, I had two simple goals for my second outing in the 2021/22 season at Lambton Estate –

  • Run free and simple allowing my body and mind to guide me around the course;
  • Improve on my finish at Wrekenton and count for my club Tyne Bridge Harriers in the team competition

Looking at my results at Wrekenton, I was 102nd overall in a field of 509 and 17th in the V40 division (36th in the overall Veterans division).

This was very disappointing and someway down on my best ever NEHL result of 26th overall at Alnwick in March 2019.

I’ve always regarded myself as a competitive cross country runner but the fact of the matter was I hadn’t run XC since that run out at Alnwick. I also hadn’t done any training off road having been focused on the Great North Run and the recent Manchester Half.

A couple of factors were at play going into the race –

  • I was still running from Medium Pack which meant I gave 2 minutes 30 seconds to the majority of the field in the Slow Pack but I had a similar time advantage over the Fast Pack.
  • I had also never run the course before so I didn’t really know what to expect.

Footwear choice would turn out to be crucial and the information was that the course was a mix of pavement, road, trail and mud. That ruled out spikes for me. Having thrown out my inov-8 mud claws a while back I actually had no other suitable options. In the end I decided to go with my Nike Pegasus 37s but more on that later.

In addition to this, I had decided to take 4 days complete rest from running prior to the race. As it was half term holidays I had a pre-planned break away. I packed the running gear and decided to just see how I felt. If I wanted to run I would. In the end I was happier just getting out for some nice walks in the Scottish borders. This served as a proper “down week” and the third in total since the Manchester Half.

There was quite a lot of rainfall on the morning of the race so it was expected to be a challenging day. For the men it was 3 full laps and approximately 6 miles or 10km in total. I didn’t have chance to do a full recce of the course but it sounded like there were some tough hills, also described as “brutal”.

There was a good group of Tyne Bridge club mates in the Medium pack and we wished each other well as we lined up. The Slow pack had set off and it was a case of trying to pick them off as fast as possible. It is one of the biggest challenges of cross country running for me, that feeling of just trying to keep on the best line. Unfortunately the most favourable line isn’t always available given the sheer volume of runners out on the course. So you have to be prepared to bob and weave around and it’s impossible to avoid the odd flying elbow! You have to be ultra aware of your footing and I have learned that “Garmin watching” is an absolute no-no.

I’d decided that I was going to set off very steady. As I said, I wanted to build on my poor performance at Wrekenton. I put a lot of that down to going off too hard, trying to run to Power. That was a big mistake. So I wanted a steady first lap, get a feel for the course and then build in laps 2 and 3. Sometimes you have to let others go off hard and have faith they will come back to you.

So I was not concerned about some Medium pack runners moving quickly away including some of my team mates. The start of the course was relatively straight forward apart from a sharp right hander around a tree with some roots sticking out which needed to be avoided. We were quickly onto a sweeping downhill road and the running trainers came into their own here. I made up quite a few places but then there was a quite unexpected sharp right hander onto a very muddy and slippy down hill section. This was my first realisation that my shoe choice was sub optimal. The goal quickly became “stay on my feet” as I saw at least two runners fall quite badly.

I simply couldn’t let myself go on the downhills and had to really focus on my balance. Arms out in “aeroplane mode” helps with this. But the brakes really had to be applied as well. Another short, downhill which wasn’t as dangerous was navigated and then we were onto a relatively nice stretch through woods and then back out into the open.

However, this was very much the calm before the storm prior to the first of the hard hills. The first was long and steep. Again my shoe choice meant that I wasn’t able to get any traction. I had to shorten and quicken my steps to the point where I probably wasn’t going much faster than a walk. Every lap was to get slower on this section as the legs and arms filled up with more and more lactic acid.

What goes up must come down however and luckily it was possible to recover from the hardest climb as we descended back down towards the next tough hill section. Again footing on the downhill was a real concern. I was still managing to pass Slow pack runners and the course was still quite congested as this was a two way passing point. Then came the second prolonged tough climb. It seemed to drag before another pavement section flattened out leading us back to the start of the second lap.

I was already starting to think: “is this definitely 3 laps?”

Rather than dwell on the negative I tried to brace myself for the second go at the steep muddy downhill section.

Getting ready for the muddy descent, Round 2 (Photo Credit: Paddy Hutchinson)

I definitely took it more conservatively this time, trying to avoid any camber that could cause the footing to slide away sideways – I saw another runner take a complete tumble. As tiredness increased the risk of falling increased, all adding to the general slow down.

I think it was around here that the first Fast pack runner caught me – Adrian Bailes of Birtley. I noticed how hard he was breathing. He definitely seemed to be working at a higher level than I was. I was moving into survival mode already. It wasn’t that I’d set off too quick. I just didn’t have the confidence to dig any deeper knowing that I still had over 1.5 laps to go with those hills. The lack of training on the off road and hill work was showing, made worse by the terrible shoe choice!

Still, I was making headway and I got the impression I was catching plenty of Slow pack runners and also some Medium pack runners who were now dropping back. So it was just a case of trying to keep moving forward positively and keeping any negative mental gremlins away.

Approaching the “brutal” hills for the second time is always tough, just the knowing that it wasn’t the last time. You naturally want to hold something back.

I noticed a lot of men were starting to hunch over, walking with hands on knees. The moans and groans were getting louder. This was a proper test.

I definitely went up the hill slower than the first lap but, again, I was able to pick up quite nicely back down the hill. I was starting to get a picture of where I stood overall in the field towards the end of the second lap as I overheard someone shout in the crowd approximate positions. I had a definite sense I was in the top 100. This was encouraging.

As I noticed more Fast pack runners coming by at this stage I told myself the fundamental truth of North East Harrier League – the last lap is where it matters… A lot of places can be picked up, every second counts.

Your choice is either – dig in or capitulate.

It is critical to go with the former. Succumb to the pain and pressure and even finishing becomes questionable. At best you will tread water. Unfortunately I felt a little adrift in the middle…

I knew I was finishing – I had absolutely no reason not to. The only thing that could go wrong was falling over and not being able to get back up! I forced a few very heavy breaths on the final concrete descent to the dangerous muddy downhills, just trying to fill the lungs with oxygen.

I sensed that Tyne Bridge as a team were doing well. And I was very keen to play my part. I didn’t have any clue whether I was a team counter or not.

I managed to successfully navigate the final treacherous descent. I noticed on the approach to the final hills that I wasn’t travelling as well. I also noticed the first sign of a headwind. I wondered to myself where it had come from. Or maybe I was struggling so bad I was imagining it!

The last ascent of the first of the hills felt horrendous. It was barely a crawl and I really struggled to pick up around the tree switch back. Legs and arms full of lactic, hunched over and almost broken.

Gravity alone got me back down the hill. I went by men’s club Captain Alisdair Blain (who started in Slow pack) who gave much needed encouragement – it made me think I might be in the 6 counters for the team. I also heard almost immediate encouragement for Paul Turnbull who had also been running from Medium. We formed an alliance from here on in.

We went by young Fraser Bigg who was having a great run from the Slow pack.

Joining us on the run in to the finish was super vet Richard Tailford who we came alongside just before the final climb. I was almost spent and I could tell Paul was gearing himself for a tough finish. We worked as a team and encouraged each other up the bank. “Come on, dig in” I said. It helped a lot having allies. I think we managed to take more places on that final hill.

Getting back onto the path I felt like I had something left in reserve, helped by my trainers whereas others were wearing spikes and trail shoes. I went by Paul who had dropped me slightly on the final bit of the climb. I shouted at him to pick up.

I was on the home straight, trying to muster whatever was left in the tank. A look round and I couldn’t see anyone closing. A look round again and there was Paul launching a sprint finish. I was able to pick up and Paul let out either a laugh or a sigh! I finished 58th overall and Paul 59th. I was fifth counter for the team and Paul 6th. It was an excellent result for Tyne Bridge, finishing second in Division 1 on the day behind Birtley and moving us up into the top spot in the league halfway through the season and with another three fixtures to go.

On a personal level I hit all of my goals in terms of running free, improving on Wrekenton and counting for the club. However, looking at the results I am still some way off what I know I am capable of. I was 66th fastest on the day and 6th Vet 40. In terms of position against all other male veterans I was 13th.

And so I now start plotting for the 4th fixture at Aykley Heads on 27th November. I have 4 weeks to prepare and my goal is to significantly improve on a course I know well. The new cross country running shoes are ordered and my training switches off road to get the specificity I need to perform as I know I can. More about this in my upcoming training updates!

Thanks for reading!

Don’t forget to check out KR Run Club here.

North East Harrier League – Alnwick – Race Report

North East Harrier League – Alnwick – Race Report

For one reason or another I decided not to race the fifth NEHL XC fixture at Thornley Hall which meant my goal of achieving my highest ever placing in the Individual Grand Prix was no longer achieveable, having only completed two previous fixtures in the 2018/19 season so far at Gosforth Park and Aykley Heads.

So I was in two minds whether to attend Alnwick even though it is probably one of the most enjoyable courses on the circuit.

Overall my key aims at present are to achieve a new 5k PB and then tune up for the Northern 12 stage relays at the end of March. After that I’m aiming to run some quick times on the track at a range of distances from 400m up to maybe 3000m.

I feel my strength as a runner could be on the track over maybe a mile and I also feel like I’ve proven some decent potential in training by recently running 2:42.3 for 1km on the road which predicts a 4:33 mile and 15:39 5km equivalent performance. That said I know I need to progress in stages as my current PBs are well shy (4:49 and 16:44 respectively). I meant it when I recently posted a comment on one of my Strava runs that “I hate all of my PBs” as I know I am better than my Power of 10 suggests but running is a journey and patience is key.

Overall training has been going well despite a few minor blips in January due to a couple of illnesses and some usual shin issues caused more by over excuberence in training than anything else.

Just after New Year I picked up a heavy head cold and then at the end of January I had a strange stomach bug. The shin issues were caused by me starting a new run work commute routine which suddenly had me doubling up Monday to Friday with a total of 8 miles per day. That flared up some shin pain which is more neural than boney and is a common issue for me when I run too much too quickly.

Training load has been much improved in February and I’d hazard a guess that it was a record mileage month (233.5 miles in total) despite it being only 28 calendar days. That included a 66 mile week which is a weekly record although I try hard to avoid focussing on a fixed 7 day block and prefer to monitor training load trends on Training Peaks.

I feel like I’ve matured somewhat in my overall approach to running and training. I’ve adopted a simpler approach whereby approx 90% of my training is easy with the new work commute forming the basis of those miles. Having a backpack to carry forces a slowing down of those bread and butter miles but it also establishes a good routine and ensures I get a good 30-35mins run in before eating breakfast which I have found to be key in achieving and maintaining a consistent and healthy race weight. Having a backpack and running slow (avg. 7:45-8min miles) also provides a good cardio workout. Running twice a day teaches the body that running is fundamental and the benefits of this are clear – I believe if done correctly the body learns to adapt and repair more quickly. Running tired and sometimes hungry builds strength and endurance and the body responds well.

The remaining 10% of weekly training volume is spent running at goal race pace. I mix this up quite a bit. Sometimes I’ll run say 2k at target 5k pace or 3k at current 10km pace. I’ve also ran some longer runs at more like HM pace (I recently ran 10 miles in 60mins which is faster than my current HM PB and felt comfortable overall). I’ve also ran some trials like the aforementioned 1k in 2:42.3 which are very much confidence boosters and confirm my potential.

I must state this program is inspired by Ernst van Aaken, the real father of Long Slow Distance (LSD).

All of this means I feel I’m in the best shape I have ever been in and I believe I could pretty much PB at any distance at the moment. So the key is to keep my feet firmly on the ground and carefully put together a race plan over spring and up to June.

It was against this backdrop that myself and Michael Hedley arrived at Alnwick castle to do battle in the last fixture of the NEHL. In the back of my mind I wondered if I could try to tag onto the back of Michael in this race although I knew he had ran well the previous week in the National XC and would probably come on for that.

As usual I didn’t feel that great in warm up and the wind had gotten up and the temperature had dropped somewhat. I have gotten used to feeling a bit “dead” before a race and just stuck to the routine of 15 minutes of gentle jogging and trying to focus on positive self talk.

Before we knew it we were lined up on the start line with an ever increasing Fast pack eagerly waiting to chase the slow and medium packs that had already got underway.

The first 5 minutes is always fast and furious and although I was keen not to burn matches I was also determined to get a good early position. My original plan of tagging to Michael was quickly put to one side although I felt like I could do worse than tracking fellow TBHer Cees van der Land. I could also pick out the likes of Matthew Alderson and Daniel Alexander who I’d battled it out with at Aykley Heads albeit some months ago now.

The 1st lap felt strong with my only issue being on the long stretch on the far side of the course which had been overlayed with large stones which were difficult to run on in spikes and it would have been very easy to roll an ankle. So I found myself alternating between that and the softer uneven ground on the left hand side. This was far from ideal and I quickly noticed I lost some ground on Cees and also a couple of fast packers I knew I was stronger than went by. So I had to tackle that section better on the next few laps. On balance I felt I’d have to carefully negotiate the stones.

The key feature of the Alnwick course is the steep downhill section which can be tricky and again I found myself not taking it as smoothly as Cees but to be fair on myself he is an experienced fell runner! Overall I felt I was travelling quite strongly entering the second lap.

The long draggy uphill section which is more a series of inclines felt naturally harder second time round and frustratingly I still didn’t feel like I had gotten through the stoney section as effectively as I needed to. I was still weaving about between the stones and the edge. I think it was at this point that I badly stubbed my right second toe. Fortunately it didn’t really adversely affect my race but I did feel like it was broken immediately after the race! As I write this on Monday the toe is still very sore as is the arch of my foot. This could mean missing the TBH winter grand prix 5k PB attempt tomorrow which would be a real shame.

I threw myself as fast as possible down the steep hill for a second time and started trying to mentally prepare myself for the last lap. I know from experience that the last lap is all important. The majority of the field will be slowing and just by maintaining a good pace exponential place gains can be made. I wasn’t really aware where I was in the field but my target was a top 62 placing to maintain my Fast pack status next season.

Photo credit: Stuart Whitman

The easy pickings have been had by this stage and the key really is to keep a steady tempo and pick the right racing line. Its important to not get lazy and allow yourself to settle in with a slower group of runners. The challenge is to continue to overtake and not to be overtaken.

I felt like I was sticking to task well and I could also still see Cees and Matthew ahead, maybe I was reeling them in?

Getting to the stoney section for a third time I felt a hint of a side stitch coming on but mentally I felt very strong. My legs also felt very strong and the only concern was my right foot, especially the toe which was sore. Spikes on the large, hard stones were far from ideal.

Coming off the stones and onto the nice slight incline I felt very, very strong and I made my move for a powerful finish. On the lead up to the last downhill I made some key place gains and arguably my last descent down the steep hill was my best yet.

On the final straight I mustered a sprint finish and remarkably I was thinking I would have preferred another half a mile to make up more placings!

On reviewing the results this is definitely my strongest ever XC result, finishing 58th overall in the field and 26th fastest on the day.

I feel like my current approach and improved consistency in training is paying off and I now turn my attention to the roads and track. Fingers crossed my right foot will resolve itself quickly although the TBH WGP probably comes too soon.

Thanks for reading.

North East Harrier League – Aykley Heads – Race Report

North East Harrier League – Aykley Heads – Race Report

I was on somewhat of a high coming into my second XC fixture of the season at Aykley Heads having run a big 10km PB of 34:49 the week previous.

To ensure a good placing in the Senior Mens NEHL XC Individual Grand Prix I need to race in all of the remaining fixtures as the top 4 results out of 6 count.

So I was full of confidence and also knew I’d put in a nice week of training up in Edinburgh, running 40 miles Monday to Thursday including a decent threshold workout on Tuesday.

I completed a bread and butter 20 minute threshold around the Meadows in Edinburgh averaging 5:45/mile pace and bottom end of my heart rate zone at 170bpm. A good marker. It didn’t feel comfortable as I’d foolishly eaten too soon to the run but that was a bigger positive as I felt I would have run even smoother if I’d prepared properly.

I’m noticing a feeling of aerobic fitness and I am especially benefitting from regular morning runs before breakfast and also a second run on some days before dusk.

Although the Aykley Heads fixture was important the real target and “A” race is the Northern Counties XC on 8th December. So the plan was for a good hard effort here and then move into a final 2-3wks of training to fully tune up for the “A” race.

The trip to Durham is one of the longer drives on the schedule and I ended up getting to the course a little early. The weather was perfect and the course was expected to be pretty firm which suits my style of running.

As has become my routine I went for a 15 minute jog at around 13:20 with the senior mens Slow pack due to start at 13:50. Being in the Fast pack I was planning to get on the start line around 13:55.

As I have become used to I didn’t feel too good during the warm up. I felt a little tired and lethargic and my legs a bit dead. You have to sort of stop the mind drifting to thinking “how am I going to tough out 10k” today.

Aykley Heads is a testing course with a few decent inclines and hills each lap. It’s quite easy to go off too hard and then pay a little for it on the second and third laps. In addition I personally felt that the course had been narrowed unneccessarily in certain key sections. I feel this made the course slower than previous years as I was unable to get passed slower runners at critical moments on the second and third laps.

I decided to continue my strategy of not wearing my Garmin, it’s definitely not worth the temptation of looking at it in a XC race.

The race got underway on time and I was able to settle in quite nicely. The first lap was spent trading places with Matthew Alderson of Blaydon and we started passing a steady flow of Slow pack runners.

I felt controlled and just tried to focus on keeping an eye on my footing. A lot of the ground is uneven and it’s easy to completely lose momentum with one badly placed foot fall.

Overall I felt like the pace was good and as we got into the second lap the congestion of runners increased. I still felt like I was negotiating the inclines efficiently. I was gliding over the ground nicely until we got to the key hills at the end of the lap. I felt noticeably slower here and Matthew Alderson got away.

I tried to gee myself up for a strong last lap. At this point I noticed I’d gone passed a Gateshead Harrier who beat me convincingly at Gosforth. That gave me comfort that I was going quite well and it gave me a second wind.

That said I found the last lap even more frustrating than the second due to some antics by one or two slow pack runners who took it upon themselves to deliberately block me coming up a narrow hill. It annoyed me but also added a bit of determination to get by and gave me the desire to finish the thing off.

I was hanging onto another Fast pack lad from Gateshead (later confirmed as Daniel Alexander who went on to run 2:44 at the Town Moor marathon the following day) who had also beaten me at the last fixture. I also noticed I’d made some ground back on Matthew Alderson and fellow Tyne Bridge Harrier (and Fell runner extraordinaire) Cees Van Der Land.

I reminded myself of my strong finish up the final hill in the 2017 race. Although I was unable to muster up anything near that turn of pace I was gearing up for a good final straight finish (Aykley Heads has a lovely long slightly favourable run in) and there was a number of runners to aim for.

Thanks to a runner from Ashington Hirst who I felt was veering in front and blocking me out deliberately I was able to put in a final kick and I managed to get passed about 3 or 4 others in the final 150m and finished just behind the aforementioned Matthew Alderson, Cees Van Der Land and Daniel Alexander from Gateshead who I’d ran much of the final third with.

Looking at the provisional results I was 31st fastest on the day and 7th male 35-39. My time of 38:02 was slightly slower than last year. Its difficult to analyse in detail due to me not having any Garmin data but on balance I felt this was a stronger performance overall. It may be that the course ran slightly longer and I feel the narrowing of the course next to the railway definitely played its part as I recall flying on that section last year whereas this year I was slowed considerably on both the second and third laps.

That all said I am still some way from my target of breaking into the top 20 fastest in the field and more work is needed on my application of effort in the second third of the race.

I now turn my attention to final preparations for the Northern Counties at Wrekenton on 8th December.

Thanks for reading.

North East Harrier League – Gosforth Park – Race Report

North East Harrier League – Gosforth Park – Race Report

Cross country has been a focus of my racing diary since I started competing again back in 2012. The months between September and February/March tend to be my most consistent in terms of both training and racing.

Critically this time round, the 2018/19 season, I am aiming to have not only a good XC season but to use it as a spring board to fast times and PBs on the road (and track!) next Spring/Summer.

The last few years haven’t quite gone to plan and 2017/18 was a particularly trying time what with the cracked rib in November and the groin injury in February. So I’m extremely keen to nail the traditional strength and endurance build up through the XC season and translate it to lifetime bests in the classic road distances of 5 and 10k. I’d also like a fast mile on the track.

Unfortunately I missed the two opening NEHL fixtures this season – the first due to a head cold and deciding not to risk it with the Northern 6 stage relays coming the following week in Manchester and the second happily skipped as the fixture came the day after our trip to Birmingham for the National 6 stage relays final.

So my anticipation for the 3rd fixture was pretty high and the plan is to compete in all 4 remaining fixtures to ensure a finishing position in the Individual Grand Prix for Senior Men. I’m also hoping to help Tyne Bridge Harriers in our Division 1 endeavours although at the moment there are plenty of lads picking out the 6 counter spots from the Slow and Medium pack so I wasn’t necessarily expecting to count for the team at Gosforth Park.

Training has been going well. For personal reasons I’ll not expand upon here I’ve had some extra time to devote to increased training and I’ve been able to get the weekly mileage above 50 miles albeit only 1 week preceding this XC fixture. The key will be consistency and I’m expecting another 50+ mileage week this week as well.

I also had chance to travel back down to Doncaster to see Dave Tune. The trip was worthwhile to just get that little bit of focus to my training. As I do the majority of my training alone (personal choice) it’s always good to get a second pair of eyes on things and bounce some ideas off someone as experienced as Dave.

Luckily I survived a nasty fall off the treadmill but the skin taken off my right knee and elbow have taken some time to heel. That said it’ll take more than that to stop me now. One of the positives of the recent injuries I’ve overcome has been to instill some more basic grit and determination that maybe wasn’t there before.

I know I’m not lacking in speed but I am lacking in strength and endurance. A big feature of the training menu over the coming weeks will be simple bread and butter threshold work. And increasing the time I can work in that zone. Although my LT heart rate has come down somewhat, perhaps suggesting a stronger heart, the pace is fairly similar to my test in October 2017. So I have some focus to work on.

Arriving at Gosforth Park I was looking to get a good 15 minute warm up in good time before the start. The rain and snow(!) from earlier had given way to bright sun but the wind seemed to be picking up.

The key decision on footwear had already been made and it was spikes for me and I didn’t regret that choice. In fact, I’d decided last season at Thornley Hall that I would never wear trail shoes for XC again. Reason being I felt liked I’d carried half the course round with me on the bottom of my shoes!

Spikes just feel faster full stop.

The grounds and course setup were perfect at Gosforth Park with all facilities in place. Its important to relax and not get stressed about silly things like parking and toilets etc but all that was taken care of and I was able to pick up my race number and get a 15 minute easy jog in on a road leading up a hill to the outside perimeter of the grounds.

I felt in a good place mentally. I’ve been reading a lot and also watching as many running documentaries as I could get my hands on. I’ve really enjoyed the Team Ingebrigtsen series (even without English subtitles!) and I also found some classic 80s race footage of the Gaymers 10km series from 1985. Finally I also discovered a Joss Naylor documentary covering his 60th birthday “present” to himself of 60 peak summits in 36hrs! The latter being particular inspiration for the XC. I would tell myself to “remember Joss” whenever it got tough!

I suppose I’ve learned to not expect to feel that good physically during a warm up. The mental part is key and to resolve to give 100% of what you have on the day. That said the legs did feel good and I was up for it. Another key decision I’d made was to leave the Garmin at home. I’ve decided it’s a training tool and not a racing tool, especially for XC. Again, watching Joss Naylor “at one with nature” influenced this but also talents like Julien Wanders who always races without a watch. Let the brain and body guide you and don’t be distracted by metrics that don’t really matter.

Getting on the start line it was noticeable that the Fast pack was quite big and generally the fixture was very well attended. This was confirmed as there were over 600 runners overall.

I wanted to start strongly and get into a good rhythm early. I didn’t know the course so the first lap was a chance to learn the best racing line, find out where particularly claggy areas were to be avoided and generally get set for a tough 2nd and 3rd lap.

As always the Fast pack went hard from the off and I probably settled in just ahead of mid div. The first couple of hundreds metres were gravelly but still good to run on in spikes. The course then headed up into a wooded area which I found to be the fastest section. I felt strong here on every lap and there was space wide to get past slow packers later in the race.

There was a water logged part coming out of the woods with a sharp left hander but once the initial shock of the first foot soaking was over it didn’t present any problems other than a bit of congestion on the 2nd and 3rd laps.

The course had maybe 2 or 3 inclines per lap but nothing you could really call a hill and that suited my style. The inclines were no tougher than what I would train on around Kenton Dene. I was cautious to keep my effort steady up the inclines and I noticed this led to me losing some ground on a couple of the Fast pack lads I wanted to compete with. On the second lap I was able to make up lost ground through the woods but on the third lap they were gone. This is my only slight disappointment from the run.

What was pleasing overall was that I had very few negative thoughts running through my mind. Usually I will be combating many. As my legs started to weaken on the third lap there were moments where perhaps I was losing a bit of momentum but “the engine” felt good and there was definitely a feeling of more robust endurance.

I felt strong and competitive and it reminded me of my run at Aykley Heads last season. Given that run was in November I’m happy that I’m feeling in good shape in late October.

Its very difficult to know where you are position wise as the end draws near. The great thing about the handicap pack system is that you always have runners to aim for. I did feel like the rate at which I was overtaking runners reduced in the last half of the last lap but there was still a number of scalps to take on the finishing straight.

Unfortunately I wasn’t quite able to muster up an all out sprint this time but again I took this to be a positive as I felt like I’d applied myself much more evenly throughout the whole race.

Overall I’d finished 143rd out of 623 runners. I think I was around 33rd quickest in the field (if the race was a scratch start) and 4th Vet 35-39. As I mentioned earlier this is very comparable with my previous best performance at Aykley Heads last season.

Critically though I’m 12mths older and wiser. As I sit and type this on Sunday I remember well that after my best ever performance at Aykley Heads I went out on Town Moor and tripped on the metal spike that led to the cracked rib.

So as I embark on my Long Run today I’ll definitely be sticking to the roads and keeping my concentration on my footing high!

Thanks for reading!

Pic credit – taken from a video by George Routledge

Week 13 trying to get back on the uptick and NEHL XC race #4

I’d call this the 2nd “proper” week of training since the beginning of December when I was forced to take downtime due to the well documented rib injury.

I was delighted to have a good chat to my coach Dave Tune this week to say finally “the rib thing is behind me”.

I figure it will be the end of January or perhaps even early February until I will be back up to where I left off at the end of November. And there will be challenges to overcome on the way, this week was no exception.

The only running I have been doing is “recovery/easy/aerobic” and I feel like I have some hard runs ahead, where the stats seem slide to a bottom before they can come back up again…

I’m OK with that (at least I try not to panic). As I’ve said before, the key to running is patience and consistency. The body responds to careful application and persuasion. You can’t just jump back into the same dose as you were before you stepped off the wagon!

That said I feel like I’m getting out and running OK in my current training. I can obviously feel that the cardio system is having to work harder and I also still have the remnants of a heavy cold clearing out (particularly feeling a bit throaty still) but otherwise I think it will be a matter of a few more weeks (probably up to 4) before I’ll be firing on all cylinders again.

I always knew that the 4th North East Harrier League (NEHL) cross country (XC) fixture at Herrington Park on 6th January would come too soon but in many ways it’s an ideal opportunity to have a hard run again and just enjoy competing and maintaining my 100% attendance this season.

In the back of my mind I felt I would struggle to maintain form from my previous outings and certainly I knew this would be the toughest fixture of the season firstly because I had never ran the course before and secondly because conditions were sure to be very testing due to the extensive rain in the area the week leading up to it.

And the course didn’t disappoint.

The build up wasn’t great as the parking situation was challenging with no option but to put the car away from the course and walk across. I took the wellies as the course was soaked and very muddy.

Mentally I wasn’t fired up for the race and I didn’t prepare in my normal way. I wanted to get round in one piece. That was the main goal. But it’s tough when you are stood on the start line in the Fast Pack, with the whole field out in front of you, and you want to perform like you did, and you don’t want to fall down the rankings from last time.

So it was difficult to feel as I did about 3 minutes in thinking “fuck how do I get round here”. The runners I’d usually be competing with were already away and I was tempted to look round and see if I was dead last.

And so it was a little bit of a relief to pass the first slow pack runner. But the main thought was how am I going to get back to the start line and do two more laps?

The first slightly uplifting moment was realising at the end of the first lap that we didn’t go back through the start and that settled me as I could envisage the run through to the end now.

But I really struggled to work out the best racing line. The quagmire was by now so wide that it was hard to tell whether to take the low road or the high road.

The only part of the course where you could establish any running rhythm was the section leading up to the forest and inside the forest itself. However, you knew that the majority of the lap after the forest was pure mud and drag and wind…

In honesty I felt like I was going backwards at times.

I resolved to just get it done and live to get out for a long run on Sunday.

Part of me didn’t want to check the results. Compared to Aykley Heads I knew it was terrible. But its important not to get down on myself and take the positives. I showed a bit of character just turning up and getting it done. As my coach said afterwards- the “old Kev” would have sat this one out (or DNF I might add).

And so I’m keen to crack on. I think I’m a runner who needs some hard running “in me” in training to go out and perform in a race. I just didn’t have the guts to slog myself on this occasion. I’m sure with some proper training under my belt the confidence will return.

On Sunday I knew I’d have another tough run as I felt pretty tired for the effort on Saturday. The plan was 60 minutes and I got it done. Struggled second half but it is in the bag. As I alluded to earlier my training stats are going the wrong way at the moment as I step the training back up. For example my Garmin VO2 Max (not something to read too closely but still an indicator of trend) has dropped from 67 end of November to 63.

My “recovery advisor” is sensing an issue and telling me I need 39hrs recovery after today’s run. I’ve been here before and it’s as much mental as physical.

That said, it will be important for me to ensure I rest and recover well and focus on my sleep, diet and hydration and make sure I let the body get back to where I was over the coming weeks.

Overall this week I completed just over 5hrs of running and just over 42 miles.

Thanks for reading and happy running to all.

Week 6 back to the country

Week 6 back to the country

“Cross Country runners are a different sub-set of the running population”, Bruce Tulloh inĀ The Complete Distance Runner

Coming out of Week 5 the knee was a concern and the focus was to truly get to the bottom of it and make sure it wasn’t going to grow into a monster. The last thing I want is to have a setback in the way of missed training.

As I’ve mentioned a few times I am feeling very strong aerobically. I am running very easy at sub 7 minute miles and the engine is there to go and run fast. That said my legs feel like a key weakness. Running is about confidence. To fire on all cylinders everything needs to be in place.

On the one hand I could get down in the dumps and complain. But that’s not going to solve the issue. I need to “grab the issue round the neck and choke it”. I am excited by the prospect of two legs beneath me that are working properly. It will come with time.

I let my coach Dave know that things weren’t quite right with the knee so Week 6 was stripped back to basics and just getting some easy runs in. Pretty standard Monday through Wednesday – a staple diet of 5 minute warm up, 45 minutes easy and 5 minutes cool down. Then on Thursday a nice easy 5 WU / 30 Easy / 5 CD with some strides to finish.

On Monday I got to the gym to use the Treadmill to avoid the harder impact of the roads. It wasn’t that comfortable but nothing much to report, getting it done.

On Tuesday I had a nice run out on my usual “Kenton Loop”, managing just shy of 8 miles in 55 minutes which included the Warm Up and Cool Down. Again I’d say everything felt good aerobically and I was able to push it up some of the inclines without feeling compromised with my breathing. I know this is an excellent sign as I have always been a runner that has noticed prominent spiking in heart rate and perceived effort at the hint of a hill. I feel much smoother now. I would liken the feeling to a Duracell bunny bizarrely, the legs are turning over at speed and the hill doesn’t lead to a lowering of that turnover speed. A magic feeling I’ve never really experienced. I felt much better about my knee…

On Wednesday I went on a familiar route around the estate, a route I’ve been using quite a lot of late. If honest the run was a bit ragged and I couldn’t help but feel the right knee issue was affecting my gait to the detriment of my running economy. Indeed when I compared my stats in terms of pace and heart rate from the same route a week earlier my suspicion was confirmed. And ultimately the knee was sticking around to torment.

On Thursday I felt very strong and was surprised to tick off some miles in my easy recovery zone sub 6:30 pace. One mile went by in 6:16 without effort. Funny going “yippee” as you look down at a split, barely breathing. Somethings happening. The strides felt strong and controlled, again not having to breath during or on the jog back.

Friday was in as a rest day pre the 3rd cross country race of the North East Harrier League. I wanted to do something about the legs so I booked in for a sports massage for an hour. It was great to get some of the aches and pains dealt with. Overall a worthwhile experience and something I will be looking to accommodate more often in my schedule.

Going into the race I felt good.

I was pleased with how I had opened my Account at Wrekenton and Druridge Bay in the first two races. Although very early in the season still I was lying 17th in the Individual Grand Prix and I wanted to build on that. I am very keen to improve. I feel I belong in the Top 20 and that’s where I want to be in terms of quickest times on the day as well.

My goal overall was to start confidently. If I want to be Top 20 it means I have to be Top 20 at least in the Fast Pack runners and therefore that was my goal from start to finish.

Aykley Heads in Durham has been a thorn in my side to date. Having run the course twice I have never really excelled. It is 3 laps of about 2 miles so 6ish in total. There are a few draggy hills and at the end of each lap an awkward hill that can get pretty muddy.

Therefore the conditions were important but in the back of my mind I went into the race very confident that I had come along way fitness wise since the last race and I just had to believe and be confident…and positive.

On arrival at the course it was clear that it was in excellent condition with no real mud to speak of. I was pleased as it meant the pace in the Fast Pack would be strong which I feel suits me.

I managed a short warm up and felt good. The right leg wasn’t 100% but the rest day and massage had done it some good.

The race was a little late getting off and, being in the fast pack, I waited for the slow and medium pack to get underway. It was pretty cold waiting around and we were finally called over. For some reason the Fast Pack handicap versus the Slow Pack was 5:10 rather than the usual 5:00.

The pace was very hard from the off and I tried to settle in somewhat sensibly. Everything felt smooth and under control and I was keen to get one full lap under my belt to assess things from there.

Coming to the end of the first lap I felt like I was decently positioned. The hills at the end of the lap were tough but I dealt with them well. I was careful to keep my effort fairly level on the hills and felt like I could pick up nicely once at the top.

The course is tough but it does allow space for recovery where needed. The only issue is how to efficiently pass the Slow Pack runners and that was most challenging on the second and third lap. During the second lap I was trading places with Kevin Connolly of Gateshead Harriers and Rob Walker running for Sunderland Harriers. A runner from the Fast Pack for Sedgefield Harriers (I thought South Shields at the time) was always just slightly ahead it seemed.

It was ebb and flow as we negotiated runners. The hill at the end of the second lap was the first point where my legs started to bite. The calves and thighs started to burn and it’s here that the mind starts to wonder how you can keep the high intensity for one more two mile lap.

Actually once I was up the hill and coming round for the start of the third lap I felt good again. But Kevin started to pull away. I decided to maintain my rhythm.

 

Working through Slow Pack runners

 

It was around here that I annoyed a Slow Packer by barging through…

The problem was he was glued to another runner and tight against the race ribbon on the right hand side. I knew Rob was going round strongly on the left and in a split moment I felt I had no choice but to go through the middle of the two of them.

“You fucking prick! You’re supposed to run round” came the cry.

I didn’t feel the need to acknowledge that or indeed apologise. Cross country is a tough sport. I wanted to do my best and that meant making some decisions with the aim of getting to the finish as quickly as possible. Basically I would do it again with no apology.

 

A rare moment alone…

 

I was well on my way with 2/3s of the race complete.

The business end to come. I’ve learnt that this is where the best runners excel, where every second per mile makes an exponential difference in placings. Very easy to take the foot off the gas here and coast in. Very difficult to dig in or indeed pick it up. I was very keen to never allow myself to settle behind the pace of slower runners. Keep on passing! Keep on passing!

Rob was proving to be a very tough competitor and I was glad to have him there to work with. We ran neck and neck back out into the undulating fields.

Part of me was wishing it to end and the other trying to focus on some key points I had read the night before in Alberto Salazar’s book.

1. Keep a level effort on the hills and work the crests of the hills;

2. RELAX!!!

The first point was actually contrary to how I have always run hills in XC. I always increase my effort. This resonates with me now as I have always felt I have been good at passing runners uphill but then often they would come back afterwards. My plan this time was to maintain effort and attack the very last of the hills on the final lap.

The second point, to focus on staying “relaxed” proved to be dynamite and I was enjoying this. It was all building to the final set of hills.

I knew I had gauged my effort well and I was just setting it up for a kick up the last hill.

The hills leading up to the last were the hardest. Thighs and calves were screaming and undoubtedly this was the slowest I had navigated them. But coming to the bottom of the last hill I had a couple of Fast Pack runners in my sight, one from Sunderland and the other from Sedgefield.

I kicked and was quickly passed them. I also caught a fellow Elswick runner at the top. I also felt like Rob had been dropped but I knew there was a danger he would have more energy if he took it more conservatively.

There was still maybe 200-300m to the finish and it felt a little like wading through treacle.

The thing that kept me pushing was a few runners in front looking around and also some closing hard who I had taken on the hill.

Pleasingly nobody got passed me and I finished strong.

The results are still to be finalised but I think I finished 84th in the field from Fast Pack and also 31st fastest on the day which will be my best ever position if confirmed. Still work to do to get near Top 20 but very pleasing.

What was also pleasing was the fact that I felt quite good afterwards on the Cool down. I had given it a hard effort but I didn’t feel destroyed like I used to. I even looked forward to Sunday’s long run!

Sunday came with a crisp frost.

I decided on another run off road on the Town Moor. I was aiming for 1hr 15 – 25. I left the HRM at home and kept the mile splits switched off. I just wanted to run on feel.

The right knee was still giving me some signs that it’s persisting but overall I felt good. I ended with 80mins around 7:18 miling which was pleasing. Only real thing to report was a pretty nasty trip and fall on my way back for home…

I didn’t see a metal spike sticking out of the ground. It caught on the material on my Innov8 left shoe and I went flying. I was able to shield the fall with my left arm and came out OK with just a few grazes…

 

Not sure how I didn’t see this?

 

 

I’m hopeful I can get a few more XC races out of these yet!

 

Overall about 50 miles for the week.

Onwards and upwards.

Thanks for reading.

North East Harrier League 2017/18 – Race #2 Druridge Bay

Two cross country fixtures in two weeks and I was keen to build on a good showing at Wrekenton.

I was able to qualify to Fast pack from Medium at the first time of asking which was pleasing off a relatively small base of training.

Granted I had the Great North Run in the bank (something I’d never had before a cross country season) and was feeling fresh and fit.

The plan for the week leading up to the second race at Druridge Bay was to get another couple of decent thresholds in the bank also. I wanted to have a toughish weekend of training by doubling up with a parkrun on Saturday and the XC race on the Sunday.

The reason for this is to get a bit stronger both physically and mentally. There is only so much wrapping yourself up in cotton wool you can do. Sometimes you have to tire yourself out and build yourself back up.

The thresholds were just OK to be honest. The first was done on the treadmill. Treadmill thresholds are challenging for the monotony more than anything. It’s difficult to know fully where you are at so it pays to just focus on heart rate and get in a rhythm. I built the speed up to 15-15.5kph and held it there, keeping my HR in the high 170s and not passing the 181bpm mark which is my last measured lactate threshold level. I went for a standard 20min effort.

I was pleased when it was over!

Later in the week I went for a second threshold of 30mins this time looking to hold at around 175bpm. I think I averaged around 6-6.05min miling which is OK. Generally I would say I was feeling over tired this week.

Consequently I decided to take it easy on Friday and drove across to Riverside Parkrun on Saturday morning. In planning I was looking for something like a 5:38-5:41 first mile and then try to wind it up for a 5:32ish second mile and then just dig in for the last mile.

As it happened the first mile felt very easy, the second slightly down on schedule and the 3rd mile very tough as I struggled to pick up and got a little hampered by lapped runners on narrow pavements. I finished in 17:33 and no harm done. I turned my attention to the XC.

The weather was very unseasonal for October in the North East of England. The sun was out and no mud to speak of.

The last time I had ran the course it had been a quagmire. Not this time. Again, like at Wrekenton fast times were possible with no real hills to hamper.

My loose plan was to try to track Elswick super vet Lee Bennett who had finished ahead of me a week earlier. I had gone off quicker so my thinking was to try to work off Lee and his superior pacing experience!

Unfortunately that plan only worked maybe the first mile or so. We went off fairly quick and the first few miles were done in 5:43 and 5:54 – if anything still a little quick.

That said there was no need to panic and I still had Tyne Bridge Harrier Tony Carter to work with. I was aware I had beaten him a week earlier but of course he is a quality runner and could easily have come on for the run.

The 2nd lap still felt strong and I was able to throw in a few fartlek type efforts to negotiate through packs of runners. The challenge of getting passed runners, looking for little openings and taking them is what I enjoy most about XC. You don’t get that in road racing.

That said, about half way around the second lap I got a little bit excitable and tried to steal a march over Tony. In hindsight it wasn’t really necessary at that point in the race and I suffered for it a little bit mentally as well as physically.

It reminded me that I still had more than a couple of miles left to race and it was shortly after that I felt I had lost a bit of umph.

This is where I need to improve if I want to be the runner I think I can be. I need to toughen up and improve my “self image”. I need to change from “it doesn’t matter if he beats me cos he’s a good runner” to “there is no way he’s beating me today”. I am capable of a tough mindset but as I’ve gotten better I’ve also gotten quite placid. Something I need to work on. I used to be able to get angry in races quite easy, now I just go quite quiet in my mind…

Unfortunately the quiet side of me won over today and I let Tony get about 10-15 yards on me. To my credit I felt like I did tough it out in the last quarter of the race and overall I finished 137th out of 547 runners from Fast pack. Pleasingly I was 37th fastest overall versus 38th last week. In my mind I felt I’d ran a bit softer but the results tell a better story.

There is a bit of a break in the XC fixtures now as I will be unable to do the scratch race Sherman Cup. So I’ll be focussing on the next phase of my training where I feel I’m ready to up the mileage a little and introduce some slightly faster running.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your running!

North East Harrier League 2017/18 – Race #1 Wrekenton

North East Harrier League 2017/18 – Race #1 Wrekenton

My very first memories of running are Cross Country at school.

When I started running again in 2011/2012 I was very keen to join a running club so that I could remind my self of the pleasure and pain of Cross Country.

The mud, the sweat and the tears.

Unfortunately the last couple of seasons have been disappointing and I’m very keen for the 2017/2018 season to be a good one.

With that in mind I turned my attention to the first race following my debut half marathon in the Great North Run. I was pleased with my outing despite a less than satisfactory build up and it gave me confidence that I could get on the start line at Wrekenton in good shape on Saturday 30th September.

The first couple of fixtures can be quite forgiving weather wise and this one was no exception. The weather theatened rain but it stayed away until after the end of the senior men’s race.

I arrived in good time to get to the Elswick Harriers tent whilst the senior women were out on the course.

I had the pleasure of bumping into Jim Alder, running legend and world record holder and still coach to a few at Morpeth Harriers. I was blessed to experience the ongoing passion of a man who has a marathon Commonwealth games gold medal to his name. Very inspiring.

I felt very calm about race 1. I felt good, well rested and raring to go despite a week away in Cyprus with work. I’d only arrived back home late on the Friday but slept well.

The plan was to bank a good hard training run.

Starting in the Medium pack meant I’d give a 2 minute 30s head start to the Slow pack.

Wrekenton was the venue I had last qualified for the Fast pack a couple of years earlier and I felt like I had it in me to do it again.

My plan was to start sensibly and build. No reference to pace, just run hard and try to pass as many people as possible.

As usual with Cross Country the plan quickly goes out of the window as the other runners fly off.

I was probably sitting in the top 10-15 of the Medium pack a quarter mile in and I noticed we passed the first Slow pack runner at the first proper hill.

Wrekenton has a few hills but overall it is benign and almost defenseless with good footing. Indeed there was no mud to speak of and fast times were on the cards.

Lap 1 and most of 2 felt strong and I had made good progress through the field. There was well over 500 runners in the race and I think I heard none other than Jim Alder himself (who was keeping count of runners) shout high 90s as I passed him towards the end of lap 2.

Finishing in the Top 10% of the field from Medium pack would mean a promotion to Fast pack and it was on.

I was currently 3rd team counter for Elswick and I could see super vet Lee Bennett about 20 yards ahead.

I was running well but needed to dig in as things got tough on lap 3. The hills felt harder and the opportunities to pass runners less and less.

I was pleased overall with my attitude and application although I still felt like I was holding something back. I was reminding myself that I was after a hard training run and not a hard race at this point.

I dug in well and getting onto the final straight I was able to summon a strong finish.

Although hard to compare I ran a course PB in around 34 and a half minutes for 5.6-5.7 miles. Overall in the race I finished 49th and qualified for Fast Pack. Ranked on time I was 38th. Looking at my Power of 10 this is my best Harrier League performance which gives me confidence going into the next fixture at Druridge Bay next Sunday.

The provisional plan is to run a decent effort at a parkrun and go into the race slightly tired for another hard training run from Fast pack.

As Jim Alder told me – standard Cross Country fixtures are for training and can be run #2 of a double run training day – “the North Easterns are another story”.

Thanks for reading.

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What a difference a week makes – Druridge Bay XC

So last week I reached new lows of negativity at Aykley Heads XC.

Strange in many ways but not in others.

I’ve always been a glass half full type of guy. But since I took up running I’ve always deep down known how powerful a positive mental attitude can be. PMA got me a long way in those early days running and competing.

At the end of the day, when I started running in 2012 I wasn’t very fit. But my grit and determination always showed through. I wasn’t afraid of “running ugly”.

As I’ve got fitter and stronger and faster I feel like I’ve lost a bit of that edge. And that came to a new low last week.

Maybe it’s the power of blogging, but I was lucky enough to have someone read my blog and care enough to give their point of view. And I really needed it and appreciated it.

Now, last week’s blog was a true reflection of the demons that had been going through my mind. But perhaps the blog was overly dramatic for effect…

That said the person picked up on a number of points and challenged me to think again about my attitude and approach.

The person shall remain anonymous but, long story short, the exchange really made me realise how negative I had allowed myself to be.

Having spent Sunday to Wednesday in Barcelona on a work trip I had some “me” time to write a daily journal and set about sorting out my bad habits.

At the same time I was reading the self help book “The Compound Effect” and a lot of the advice in there was resonating…

So I put in place a positive morning routine –

– get up 6.30am
– drink a pint of water
– think about 3 things I’m grateful for
– complete a 5-10min strength exercise routine
– run
– shower
– breakfast
– write daily journal

I felt better on Monday having merely set about improving my daily routine.

To be honest, running and training wise this week has been nothing to write home about.

On Wednesday I was looking to complete my only harder running session of the week which was to be 4x 5mins at threshold with 1min rest.

Unfortunately the hotel gym had other ideas and the treadmill kept on cutting out above 16km/h!

So I had to finish the workout short.

Not to worry – PMA. One curtailed session is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Fast forward to Friday night and the usual pre race demons were surfacing…

What’s the matter with my right hamstring? Probably just the squats I’ve been doing for the first time in over a year!

Why have I got athletes foot appearing the day before the race! Who cares, it won’t stop me running well!

Day of the race and the weather warnings come out! Oh no, wind and rain! Who cares, everyone will have to deal with it, I’ll deal with it better than most!

PMA, PMA, PMA

Start line, Fast Pack gathers. Last week’s attitude – “I’m not worthy, may as well cry and not try!”. This week’s attitude – “I deserve to be here, I have earned my place, I am grateful to these guys for bringing out the best in me”

Gun goes off…

I am running with intent.

Last week’s attitude. Don’t feel great. Hold back. Slow down. This week’s attitude – I’m in the thick of it, I’m in the Pack, I’m loving this!

What a difference a week makes.

I really ran properly this week. Yes it got tough. Yes it got very hard in the really muddy sections, especially the back end of the second and third lap.

But I dug in. I stayed grateful for the Fast Pack guys that I was racing against and everyone giving their all competing.

I concentrated on a few positive self talk ideas. The word “compete” was repeated at times. And I tried to focus on my breathing.

I felt like I ran well. Yes I slowed in miles 5 and 6 but…

I just hope I can keep up my routine, keep with the positive thinking, remain grateful, keep believing in the compound effect of consistent endurance running training and fully realise my potential in racing.

But just don’t mention the fact the Fast Pack had to run further than everyone else! It’s the taking part that counts!

Any frustration that I feel on that will have to be taken out on the Norman Woodcock 5 miler next week where I will be looking to smash my PB of 31.16 from 2012.

Further reflections on Aykley Heads XC…

Last week I set myself up for a “fail” at Aykley Heads cross country.

Mentally I was beaten before I woke up in the morning. I wanted to fail. I had given up on myself for that race, on that day…

The power of the mind, whether positive or negative, cannot be ignored. To be your best you must believe 100% in yourself.

You must never limit yourself or underestimate your true abilities.

What if you’re capable of a lot more than you could ever imagine?

The average person will have a belief about what he or she can realistically achieve.

The mere use of the word realistic suggests that the person does not dream wildly about what they could be capable of.

Last week I displayed the worst of the worst in terms of putting myself down, defeating myself, underestimating my ability and destroying my confidence and belief system.

So destructive was the negativity that the brain was even saying to give up and never try ever again.

But sometimes you need to hit a low to realise that the only way is up.

It’s a chance to right some wrongs, do things differently and rebuild the belief system back up.

And so having licked the wounds and having received some valuable support and reminders about what I am capable of achieving I am ready to truly turn a corner and get back on track. 

I’ve been reading The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy and I need little steps every day to get back on track…

I love running no less for one bad day in the mud and I’ll be back fighting for every yard next time round…Saturday.