With the heatwave we’re currently experiencing what better way to spend a weekend than doing a 24 hour running relay!
This weekend I took part in the Spitfire Scramble in my local country park. The event starts at 12pm Saturday and ends 12pm Sunday and consists of 5.6 mile laps. Although 5.6 miles doesn’t sound like much, anyone who has done it will tell you the course is not easy! It’s undulating and the night laps can be quite scary!
I entered with 7 team mates but it can be run solo, as a duo, or in teams of 4. My team, Scrambled Legs, are very easy going and we go to have fun. There is no pressure to get a certain time on Laps and the support you get is amazing!
My first lap was at 3.30pm and it was already a scorcher. I set off with my headphones on enjoying the scenery of the country park. It’s also nice that members of the public are cheering you as you go round, although initially they just be thinking what are we doing! There are a few big hills on the course which are never easy but in 30 degree heat they are very exhausting.
This year they changed part of the course to include running through the campsite half way through the course. This can be daunting as you always want to look like you’re breezing through it so people don’t realise the struggle! You also get the feeling of ‘so close but yet so far’ to the finish line but I dug deep and carried on towards the big hill. Once at the top it’s only a kilometre to the finish line which is a satisfying feeling! I ran back to the finish line through the campsite to hand over the snap band to my next team mate. My time was 58.12 which I was happy with given the heat!
There is then a lot of waiting around until the next lap. This would be at midnight for me. I’m not a fan of night running through a park and neither is my bestie Lisa who would be running after me. We had an idea to run both laps together so we wouldn’t be on our own. I run with Lisa a lot so we both feel comfortable with each other’s pace and if it turns into a run/walk were quite happy.
We set off for the lap and we’re quite pleased with our pace but with each step we knew we would be having to do this again in roughly an hours time. Ok so it was midnight so it was dark but our head torches didn’t give us much reassurance- it’s very eerie running around a countrypark at that time of night I can tell you!
We got back from our lap in 1 hour 12 and went straight into our next lap. This was was mentally and physically challenging! We can only describe it as feeling drunk! I think dehydration had kicked in so we called this the walking lap! It was gone 1am and it was now cold! All we could think about was getting back to base camp and getting a few hours sleep! Every step seemed to feel painful. There were blisters, chaffing, cramps and general muscle acheyness. We finished in 1:30 and was relived the night naps were over. We also agreed that doing 2 back to back was probably the most stupidest ideas we’ve had!
Despite the pain, tiredness and weather - would I sign up again? Of course! The encouragement from other runners and spending the weekend with friends is amazing!
I just need a few days to recover then training will be resumed!
About the author: Emma Vincent is a personal trainer and Sundried ambassador.
Life seems so much simpler to me when I have clarity and clear direction, so I recently sat down and wrote some plans which included a desire and a come-back to a healthier and fitter me.
I turn 28 this year and although I’ve not raced in two years, I feel like I have spent my time well on other areas of personal development and as a result, I feel mentally and physically ready to commit to life in a much better way. By life, I mean everything, especially the ability to take negativity and turn it into positivity and I truly believe life is what you make it. I have made a promise to myself to never become complacent and to always follow my own path. With this in mind, four weeks ago I decided to commit to a six month training plan with the aim of qualifying for the Sprint Duathlon World and European Championships in 2019.
I am a month into my six month plan, and Clumber Park Sprint Duathlon seemed a fun tester event to set a benchmark of my fitness and to experience a race again. I finished runner-up in my age-group, qualified for the European Championships a lot earlier than I had thought I would, felt strong and in control and I am happy with the early progress I have made. I also noticed the guys who finished ahead of me in other age-groups and I now know how much work I’ve got to do to be right up there in the overall standings. My ambition is well and truly alight and I’m using this to keep me in a good mental place by having a clear focus.
Moving on from this race, my aim is to stay motivated, consistent, sensible and take each day as it comes.
Things that I have learned over the last couple of years:
- Never ever set myself limits. There are no limits.
- Train and race smarter; not harder. There’s a time and a place for kick-ass hard sessions, just not every day.
- Make a plan and stick to it.
- Discover the entertainment value in ‘everything’ I do.
- Set goals as possibilities and not as expectations.
About the author: Alister Brown is an avid runner and represents Great Britain as an age group duathlete.
It’s that time of year when most of us have finished racing for the year and we are spending our time recovering, reflecting, and reviewing.
It’s always easy to be critical when it comes to our own performances and much of the time we over-focus on what we didn’t do rather than what we actually did. However, it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate our achievements, however small they may be, in order to feel rewarded, fulfilled, and motivated to carry on.
Achieving The Sub-5 Dream
For me, I achieved a huge milestone this year; something I had been chasing for a number of years. The coveted sub-5 hour half Ironman triathlon. Having only started triathlon in 2012, at the time unable to swim even a length of front crawl, it has been a pretty arduous few years to get myself up to an even remotely respectable standard.
I am a fan of an early-season race. As someone who likes to race quite frequently to keep the fire alive, I have, in the past few years, opted for a January race to kick start the season. This year I flew out to Dubai to race the IRONMAN 70.3 the day after my birthday. Hoping a flat course and warm weather would play to my strengths, I worked hard to see what I was capable of.
I felt like I would be very borderline when it came to the sub-5 hour goal, however on race day, I managed a 4:54 finish; a full seven minutes inside my goal time. I was ecstatic. Finally, something I had dreamed of for so long had materialised.
Ironman 70.3 Texas
Repeating that, in my head, was highly unlikely due to the extremely favourable bike course in Dubai. But three months later I was heading out to Texas to race the notoriously flat IRONMAN 70.3 course.
During the bike leg, I knew something wasn’t right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I felt like I had nothing. I battled on and during the run I was close to quitting; I felt like I was just jogging round in survival mode. I was bitterly disappointed, even with a 5:01 finish time, which I would have been over the moon with the previous season! It was time to find out what was up.
Under Active Thyroid Diagnosis
After a few weeks of recovery back in the UK, I was still feeling awful: exhausted, mainly, and as such, I ended up having blood tests. We quickly got to the root of the problem when the blood tests revealed that I had an under active thyroid – and had done for years.
I was prescribed thyroxine as a hormone replacement, and gradually started to pick up. Before I knew it I was back to normal training again. Not without missing a race though. I had signed up for IRONMAN Mallorca 70.3 but decided to head out there and just train and support friends instead. It was the right decision to manage my health first and foremost, and ensure I was back up to consistent racing again. My training was consistent, and I had also lost 5-6kg as a result of the thyroxine helping to boost my metabolism. A month later, it was time to race.
In June, I raced IRONMAN Luxembourg 70.3 and I couldn’t have asked for a better race. I got a huge swim PB, a power PB on the bike, and a run PB. What’s more, I managed to go sub-5 again with a finish time of 4:56. It was so rewarding to see all the hard work paying off, and I knew that my sub-5 in Dubai wasn’t a fluke, because I had managed to repeat it. I was also coming around top 5 in my age group every time, but that was almost secondary to the result.
Fugitive Olympic Distance Triathlon - Marlow Triathlon
In July I raced in Marlow. I was feeling great, hitting all the numbers, and was excited to go for a shorter sharper race to test the water before my next 70.3. I managed to take the lead half way through the bike and hold onto it for the remainder, including the whole run. I finished eight minutes ahead of the second place female – this was such a result for me – someone who was coming close to last in triathlons only a few years ago.
I knew I was in good shape and it just seemed to keep getting better. I had not only managed to retain my power despite losing weight – I had actually managed to increase it slightly.
Ironman Gdynia 70.3
I’ve raced IRONMAN Gdynia 70.3 the past three years, and it’s a firm favourite in my race calendar. In fact, it’s my favourite race ever – there’s just something about it that ticks all the boxes. I was back in 2017 with my parents there to support me, I couldn’t wait.
Everything mostly went to plan and I was seeing some year on year improvements throughout the course, until I got onto the run. I suffered from stomach cramps on the first lap and wondered if my race might even be over at one point. However, it seemed to subside after the first lap so gradually and tentatively, I pushed on. I carried on increasing my pace, knowing that somehow, miraculously, I was on for a very good (for me) run split. I ended up getting a run PB of 1:37 and was absolutely flabbergasted. Plus, yep you guessed it – another sub-5 and top-5 AG positioning. I couldn’t have been happier.
Ironman 70.3 World Championships Chattanooga
Everything was building up to my A-race of the year – the coveted IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It felt like ages away but as always happens, it sprang up on me out of nowhere and after a hop across the pond, it was suddenly race day.
I felt like I was in the best shape of my life so there were no excuses here.
A slow swim. A slow bike. And an even slower run.
The course was brutal (is that an excuse!?) – but everyone was in the same boat. Most people were a lot slower than other races – in fact only six females in my age group went under five hours (and there were about 150 of us in total).
My time of 5:13 wasn’t what I expected – my plan had been to go sub-5 here too but the toughness of the course was reflected in most people’s finishing times. I can’t say I was hugely happy with this result, but on dissecting it with my coach later on, we realised that I couldn’t have got much more out of myself on the day. My coach was really happy with the performance and it proved true to where I was at physically.
It had been a year of ups and downs, but on reflection, it was mostly ups. It’s natural to always strive for better but as far as triathlon goes, I would say it has been by best season ever, and I am going to hold onto that.
I have worked hard to see the results transpire and cherishing that is important – it’s why we do what we do and it’s what keeps us motivated to carry on and do more.
I’ll be going into next season with a huge confidence boost and even more energy to push towards the next big goals. But for now, it’s time to absorb that feeling of contentment and enjoy a well-deserved off-season.
Jim Doughty is an athlete ambassador for Sundried. He is an Ironman Triathlete as well as an ultra runner, so a marathon is a walk in the park for him! He talks us through his experience at the Edinburgh Marathon, his first marathon run that hasn't been a part of a triathlon race.
"So it's 6am and time to have breakfast before the drive to Edinburgh; I have some porridge and a banana washed down with my favourite coffee. We set off in plenty of time to park and soak up the atmosphere at the start of the race, I take along my pre-race fluids and energy tablets dissolved in ice cold water, which I continually sip while I'm waiting to start. I spend 20 minutes warming up with some stretching, then the loudspeakers start the 10-second countdown, and I'm away.
The route starts in the centre of Edinburgh and works its way around some of the landmarks of the city before heading out towards Musselburgh and past the racecourse.
The sun is shining and the temperature is close to 20 degrees but the miles are passing by as expected and I feel good. I complete the first 10km in around 50 minutes and pass a friend who started 10 minutes before me. We run together for a few minutes chatting before I say my goodbyes and push on along the seafront at the far end of Leith.
I run past the finish line, I won't see it again for another 22km so try not to think too hard about it and get lost in my music. The route is flat and fairly uneventful until you reach the turnaround point where it takes your through a country estate near Prestonpans onto rough ground for a couple of kilometres before rejoining the road back.
At this point you see all the other runners coming towards you as you run the last 12km back to the finish line. I see my friend again and realise I'm about 10km in front of him. I run towards the middle of the road and high-five him which gives me a much-needed boost as I realise I'm running at a fairly consistent pace and I press on.
I drift into a world of my own for a few kilometres and when I come back down to earth I only have 5km to go. I dig deep and increase my tempo, I remove my earphones so I can really enjoy the atmosphere of all the supporters lining the road and shouting my name, I suddenly realise I really am looking forward to seeing my wife daughters at the finish line.
I cross the line in a time of 4:27:02 and am over the moon with my time, my family are waiting and are all smiles, and I missed my goal by 7 minutes but as this was my first standalone marathon it's fine.
I know that next time I will be faster so am looking forward to Wales in July when I complete the Welsh marathon as part of the Long Course Weekend Iron Distance Triathlon.
My friend finished in a time of 6:16:32 and is a seasoned marathon runner; it doesn't get any better than that for me."