Hackney GoodGym go to Parkrun

Hackney Marsh ParkRun

Hackney Marsh ParkRun

It was a crisp but beautiful Winter morning which was for the setting of my latest Hackney Marsh ParkRun. I had only previously ran one ParkRun 7 weeks earlier and recorded a time of 22:12. This week I cycled along to the race with a bunch of friends from Hackney GoodGym (Aimee, Lauren, Phil and Shaun).

Running has been great for expanding my social circle and I have found the organisers/volunteers of all of the races I attend brilliant and friendly. It really is a great way to get to know people living active healthy lives in your area.

I was definitely attending this weeks race expecting to run a PB. I decided that my tactics would be to start fast and hang in there. I haven’t really been running 5K’s in the past 6 weeks with training being more geared towards the 10K races of the previous couple of weeks and my upcoming half marathon. Therefore I wasn’t confident of being able to consistently put down 7 minute miles.

ParkRun Splits

ParkRun Splits

The pace at the start of the race was blistering I wasn’t surprised when I peaked at my Garmin to see my 1 mile split was 6:30. The cold air was tearing through my lungs and my legs felt heavy; the fear had set in at this point. All sorts of crazy notions flashed into my head, including getting overtaken by everyone and dropping out. Race confidence is definitely something I need to work on.

Anyway that didn’t happen and despite a slight dropping in my pace I was still able to put in some fairly decent miles and end up with a PB of 21:04 with a placing on 17th and knocking 1:08 off my previous 5K PB. I finished with a strong sprint going past two other runners and was slightly aggrieved to not have gone under 21:00 minutes but I am confident of doing this in the not too distant future.

ParkRun results

My GoodGym friends and I had a fun time and I think ParkRuns are going to become a more regular fixture in our running diaries.

Lauren (on the right) goes head to head with another runner

Lauren (on the right) goes head to head with another runner

Afterwards Aimee and I went for breakfast, I had some tasty avocado on sourdough bread and decaff coffee. All in all it was the perfect way to start the day.

Aimee gliding along

Aimee gliding along

Did you run a ParkRun this weekend? If so, how did you get on? Leave your comments below.

Until the next time…

Damien x

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Run to the hills: Greenwich Park 10K

After the race picture

After the race picture

It is amazing how quickly the mind can conveniently forget about something. Having attended University in Greenwich I was well aware of the steepness of the hills which ran throughout the Royal Park of Greenwich; the venue for my second ever 10k race.

I awoke after hardly any sleep to a crisp morning across London. I ate a banana at 6:30 as soon as I was awake and dashed out the door making my train with 3 seconds to spare. Whilst on route rummaging through my bag I also realised I am starting to become a serious runner. I had packed extra plasters, spare blister plasters, toilet roll and bananas for my post run snack.

I was also excited to be running with two of my best friend Pete and John, I have known both of them since the age of 3. We have literally grown up together, John and I pretty much played all of our football in the same team. We even had supporters in the shape of John’s parents (who I know well) and his girlfriend.

Anyway we arrived far too early and spent sometime hanging around on the bench running through all the anxieties runners have before a race. These mainly concerned our choice of clothing, whether the chip will fall off, even whether we would be capable of finishing. I felt like the wise old hand advising John and Pete (Both doing their first race) to be wary of getting caught up in the inevitable lightening pace start. Which was hilarious as I always fly through the first mile.

Beautiful Greenwich

Beautiful Greenwich

It was truly a beautiful setting for the race and the competition looked fierce. Basically everyone looked pretty serious, anyhow I took Durian Rider’s advice and really chilled out whilst we observed the Remberance Day silence before the race trying not to waste my nervous energy. Then Boom!  We were off. As predicted I flew out the traps, the temperature felt perfect for racing and before I knew it I was flying down the hills. At one of the first marshall points I spotted my friend Hannah who was volunteering marshalling the race. This was totally amazing and gave me a real boost- Hannah also writes a brilliant running blog (Red Head On the Run) which is packed full of great training tips.

Hannah took this picture of me on the second lap of the course

Hannah took this picture of me on the second lap of the course

Descending the steep hills I kept thinking of Paula Radcliffe analysis of how Mo Farah didn’t go hard enough on the hill decent at the Great North Run. I was going to repeat the mistake of Mo as I flew down the hill, I could really feel my glutes working but I felt good. I have been practising balancing with my arms out when running down hill and this really helped me.

The course was a 2 lap affair with the finish at the top of the park. Before today I rated myself as a hill runner which was ridiculous because I leave in Hackney, London which is basically the Belgium of London. However believed a childhood growing up on a hill made me a mountain man. Predictably on the first big hill I got dropped by about 5 people. Thankfully I seemed to improve or other people faded as I didn’t really get overtaken again. In fact I picked off a few people on the hill climbs throughout the race. I was especially delighted with how quickly I recovered from what were short but brutal climbs.

Despite the tough hilly course I was able to record a PB with a time of 47:31 knocking 1:17 off my time at the Bushy Park 10k recorded 3 weeks ago. This placed me 73rd in a field of 293 runners I suppose I squeezed in the top 25% 🙂

Race Splits Greenwich Park 10K

John came through in 1:03:27 and Pete in 1:14:46 a great achievement on their first 10k runs of what hopefully will be many.

Only 3 weeks until the Ashford Half Marathon, I am growing in confidence but need a to throw in 4 or 5 of long runs over the next 2 weeks to make sure I get a time somewhere near my 1:45 target.

How was your weekend running? Please let me know in the comments or via Twitter. And any of your tips for tackling hills would be much appreciated.

Damien x

Burning fat as fuel

Recently I have been experimenting with training in a fasted state. Like most people I never know what to eat on my morning runs, I always feel tempted to have a banana smoothie or some other high energy food packed full of carbohydrates. Often I will do this and find that after around 30 mins of running I will start to receive a mild stitch in my side. Not pleasant and not the recipe for recording some quick times.

So just incase readers are not aware of ‘fasted training’. It is essentially undertaking exercise without consuming carbohydrates beforehand. The reason to do this is to get my body used to burning fat as its primary source of energy on longer runs. The idea being that I can prepare myself to run a marathon using fat as my primary fuel. Our body only has a limited amount of glycogen this is around 90 minutes for most people but an unlimited supply of one energy ‘fat’. By training in this way I am hoping I will be able to get my body to switch to primarily using fat to fuel long runs.

Like I said this is a bit of an experiment for me at the moment and tomorrow I will be doing a 9 mile run with my friend Clare again without eating. However I will take some dates with me incase I bonk if we decide to go a bit further. Actually according to Tim Van Orden who has previous been US Trail Runner of the year; you can eat carbohydrates after 30 mins of running as your body has switched over to a fat burning system.

Last week I did my first longer run in a fasted state and despite a bit of a drop half way I picked it back up and was fairly happy with my performance as it was the first time I have gone this distance since returning to running.

8 miles plus

I highly recommend checking out this video by Tim Van Orden talking about the reasons behind fasted training. He gives so much great advice here. And don’t worry when I get in from my run I will be eating plenty of carbohydrates and hydrating.

Durian Rider also recommends fasting before short/mid distances up to 21km. Two slightly different angles but both well worth watching.

I will let you know how I get on as I look for the perfect formula to help me achieve my best possible time at the Ashford Half Marathon in just over 3 weeks.

Running with the deers

Damien Clarkson and Aimee Harrison in GoodGym gear

Bushy Park by Hampton Court was to be the venue for my first 10k race. I met my friend and fellow Hackney GoodGym member Aimee bright and early at 7:30 in the morning. The weather for the race was set to be mild if slightly overcast, I decided to stick to my routine of fruit smoothies for breakfast to fuel myself.

For my race fuel I opted for a straightforward banana smoothie Durian Rider would approve of with 4 bananas. Hoping that the potassium would help keep me hydrated and the bananas as always provide plenty of good clean carbhoydates.

I had never been to Hampton Court before and I was delighted to discover the park has wild deers roaming and I found the scenery to be truly stunning. We dodged the pre race shower and set in the blazing sun, in fact it felt hot with temperature at around 17c.

Today was also the first time I wore my new Garmin Forerunner 210, I really enjoyed being able to monitor my average pace throughout the race. It made sure I kept things nice and consistent in previous runs I have been guilty letting my pace drop and not really realising until someone whizzes past me.

I set off pretty briskly with a first mile pace of 7:29 in my head I had my race strategy all planned out. It went something like this ; position somewhere around 50th place, run the first 5k in about 22/23 mins, then negative split and speed round the second half in around 21 mins picking off people as I go.

In fact I went round like this:

Bushy Park 10k splits
My time of 48:53 placed me in 59th place out of 197 finishers. I am fairly pleased with the result, I thought I would place somewhere in that region. The time was slightly slower than I hoped and I am a bit upset I didn’t negative split. There were a couple of factors which definitely contributed to this these were:

  • It was wet and a lot of running was on grass or muddy uneven trails. I definitely was struggling for footing several occasions
  • It was hot, probably the hottest weather we have had in a few weeks and humidity of 88%
  • I am stupidly inexperienced and again should have put the foot down earlier on

However the run was so enjoyable and two really heartwarming things happened during the race which just makes me love running even more. Firstly a part of the course at around 4km and 9km went through a narrow muddy trail surround by fern trees. As I passed through the trail I heard a rustling on my left, I looked over expecting to see a runner who overcooked it being sick instead a massive stagg deer reared his head from the ferns. It gave me and the guy behind me a bit of a shock but wow it was amazing. I don’t think I will forget that moment for as long as I run.

The second heartwarming thing was of a more human nature at about 5:40 miles a guy pulled over in front of me and let out some frustration. I had seen him start running again after stopping earlier, he could obviously run as he was ahead of me. I just gave him a pat on the back and a few words of encouragement urging him make it the half a mile to the finish.

At the end of the race he came over to me thanked me for my words of encouragement saying he overcooked and I helped him get through the end of the race. That was really nice and made my day. The more I run the more I discover the running community is filled with wonderful people.  Afterwards I went for a lovely post run coffee with Aimee and her Mum. Aimee who hasn’t eaten meat in a few months and is interested in going vegan, did brilliantly running a time of 50.23 in her first 10k race. We both felt on such a high after the race and are already plotting out next races.

Bushy Park