Monday, 28 January 2013

Race review: A tough & muddy but enjoyable 10K

Hadleigh Legacy 2012 10K - Sunday, 27th January

Robert and I before the run

This weekend I've completed my first off-road challenge at the Hadleigh Legacy 2012 run. Despite the terrible weather conditions the week before, the race day started out drizzly and damp but eventually turned into mild, clear blue-sky day with a slight easterly breeze. Just the perfect conditions for a winter run.

Robert and I arrived at Hadleigh Country Park in good time before the race to pick up our race numbers (mine was 299) and have a look around the course. Being prepared for rain or shine, I was nicely wrapped up in three layers of clothes, finger gloves, rain coat and trekking shoes. Many runners decided to go for normal running shoes, but I had a feeling that good, waterproof shoes would be an essential addition to my kit for today's multi-terrain race.

Slowly all 350 runners arrived at the County Park and just before 10:30 everyone was lined up at the start line, jumping and stretching, anxious to wake up their tired muscles for a different kind of endurance test.

Then, the shot gun went off and 700 feet started their move along the gravel and downhill to the mountain bike course. Stretched in between the hills of Hadleigh Park, the race track is tight and windy, making it difficult for runners to keep up a constant pace. It is clear that this won't be a hunt for a new personal best. In between long up-hill stretches we have to climb big rocks, while rewarding down-hill ascends become more of a mud slide. Slaloming through trees, I have to force myself to slow down and catch up with my breath.

The race track was well sign-posted with kilometre marks along the way. However, runners might have been confused seeing a 3km mark at the second lap. The race marshals were very attentive and ever encouraging, claiming that the finish line was just around the corner (I know now that was a lie).

Playing football regularly, Robert build up quite a running stamina and left my side past the third corner. I saw him again once more running past me at the half-way water point. He crossed the finishing line at about 01:08, 10 min before I could call this challenge my own. Climbing out of the mountain bike pit, I paced up the hill back onto the gravel to pass the finish line at 01:18:00. Robert was there to welcome me with a winner's hug and my runner's medal was handed to me.

My verdict and race score: 4/5
This run is nothing for the light-hearted, mud-phobic runners. It is a tough endurance run with long up-hill stretches and steep downhill passes, but indeed very enjoyable for nature lovers. Even though I was worried of the demanding task ahead of me, I'll definitely be there in 2014.
Robert and I at the finish line
My race number and well-deserved medal

Yep, it's been a muddy race

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

65 runs and 538.5 km - my training plan

In preparation for my half-marathon I'm been browsing the internet for a well thought out training plan. Depending on commitment and budget, there are literally hundreds available online for a one-off fee. As an amateur runner my budget is fairly limited. Also, I'd like to be able to adjust my plan to my busy lifestyle and log runs on any device at any time.

Through the Runner's World website I've stumbled upon the MyASICS online training app. The MyASICS app offers to log runs but also to set up training plans from 5K runs to full marathons. The only catch is your run has to be at least four weeks away from date you set up your plan (which makes sense for any beginner, unless you're mad). MyASICS is also available as a smartphone app, which allows me to track my runs on the go and keeping trace of my performance and progress - which I personally find very handy. Sounds all very promising, so let's give it try…

I select my appropriate parameters and MyASICS does all the work for me. I can then adjust the number of runs I'm prepared to commit to during a week (3).

The MyASICS app tells me in order to complete my half marathon with the suggested time of 2:24:59 at 9th June I will run 538.5 kilometres in 65 runs. That sounds a bit harsh, I'd rather not think too much about it…

MyASICS also advises me that my training comprises of 7 phases, starting with the pre-conditioning phase. In the pre-conditioning phase I will work on my overall fitness and then gradually add speed and distance to my training. The next phase - Balanced Training - is only 9 runs away. As a novice to all that jargon, I'm be happy to go along with it.
My first 5K jog is scheduled for tomorrow, let the training begin!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

My first run for 2013: Hadleigh Legacy 10K

The first run I've signed up for 2013 is the Hadleigh Legacy 10K on 27th January, organised by Nice Work.

Hadleigh Castle Panorama © Chris Beach, Wikipedia

Date: 27th January 2013
Location: Hadleigh Country Park, Chapel Lane, Hadleigh, Essex SS7 2PP
Time: 10:30
Challenge: Suitable for runners of all standards

This run attracted my attention as is takes place on one of London 2012 Olympic venues, the Mountain Bike Circuit used for the MTB Olympic races. It is an off-road run along the MTB course, footpaths and trails on the grounds of Hadleigh Castle.
As my first off-road challenge ever it will be tough but hopefully enjoyable. Unlike my last 10K, this time I have not followed a set training plan, but continued running twice to three times a week. The cold weather at the moment makes training much harder and proves a touch challenge on my immune system. I hope the snow will be gone by next weekend and I might be able to shed one layer of clothes by the time of my run.
Hadleigh Mountain Bike Course ©
If you feel like you're up for this challenge too, there is still time to enter online at