Harder, Faster, Longer

10 mile run

Want to go harder, faster, longer? If so, you have come to the right place, get ready to receive some advice that will change your running for the better.

1) Believe in yourself

It sounds simple but so many runners needlessly¬†doubt themselves, I include myself in this category. If you have your trainers on and are getting out of the door you’re already doing great. Our bodies were designed to endure incredible physical stress, our minds on the other hand are prone to the odd wobble. For example this weekend at mile 7 of my run I thought I was literally done for but I got a mouthful of water and ended up running miles 7-10 quicker than miles 4-7. It was my mind that was playing tricks on me, my actual body was more than up for the challenge.

2) Get your carbs in

I am not a doctor or a nutritionist but this much I know. A high-carb vegan diet rich in fruits and vegetables of over 3000 calories a day has seen me lose 7kg and this weekend I ran 10 miles in 1:17.23. I am still 10 weeks away from the Edinburgh Marathon and currently my recovery and energy levels are great and the PB’s keep coming my way.

3) Swing your arms

It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing, isn’t that how the song goes? Well anyway, swinging those arms really helps especially when tackling hills. You want to have your arm bent at a 45 degree angle and push them right back it shouldn’t feel forced, just find a rhythm that works for you. I did some work with the amazing Ade at Fit City and I have seen some massive improvements in my times and running form as a result

4) Hydration

Get up drink a litre of water. Before breakfast, before radio 4, make it the first thing you do everyday. Hydration is essential to maintaining a health digestion. A well hydrated runner will start to come into their own in the later stages of the race. I made a mistake of under hydrating in my December Ashford Marathon and I will never do that again. I aim to urinate at least once every 2 hours making sure my urine is clear (I can’t believe I talk about urine in blogs).

5) Smile

Runners smiling at me lifts my spirits and keeps my pace up, runners who saying hello actually make my day. Runners are a special breed; we only really understand each other the very least we can do is smile at each other.

In 10 weeks time I will be running the Edinburgh Marathon, I literally can’t wait now Spring has arrived, I am getting faster, starting to dream about that 3:30 perhaps it is possible. After my 10 miles in 1:17.23 perhaps it isn’t a pipe dream after all.

Let me know your tips for great running. Thanks for reading, you’re all superstars I appreciate all of you very much.

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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

My first Parkrun

Damien and Kasia post run

Well I didn’t finish in the top 10 but I thoroughly enjoyed my first Hackney Marshes Parkrun this morning. I went along with my friend Kasia and for some reason I was a bag of nerves. So much so that I got a stitch during the 30 minute walk to the park, not ideal to say the least. But once at the run my nerves evaporated the volunteers were super friendly and I bumped into an old colleague Adele who was also running her first Parkrun.

Again I didn’t have a watch to monitor my pace but used RunKeeper without headphones, so throughout I didn’t have an idea how fast I was running. I knew that I was pushing myself so I guessed my time would be reasonable. I started off really strongly in the lead group and settled down into a nice consistent pace.

But today I just seemed to have one gear, throughout the race about 6 people went past me they obviously nailed the negative splits. Which is something I definitely need to work on. I suppose I am just afraid I will not be able to accelerate when the time comes. Does anyone else worry about this? And if so what is the secret to overcoming it? Racing is a new experience to me and I am definitely running with the fear of burning out at the moment. With how far to go should I be sprinting to the finish? 500 metres?

Despite this I was happy with my result. I came in 18th place overall (2nd in the 25-29 age range) with a time of 22:12 which was a race PB. My friend Kasia who is also vegan and has an amazing new food blog called The Pink Vegan ran her PB with a great time of 26:46.

Parkrun time

Before we left Kasia made banana, nectarine smoothies which were delicious and a perfect pre running snack. I would love to hear your pre race smoothies recipes.

Did anyone else take part in Parkrun this weekend? If so how did you get on?

Damien not in the actual race