Category: Sport & exercise

London to Brighton

With my last day of freedom before starting my next new contract, I wanted to do something memorable. Checking up on the weather all week, Friday seemed clear enough to do a jaunt down to Brighton. I’ve done it a few times before, but it’s always been with quite a large group of people quite a bit slower – I decided to do it today with a mate at a bit of a quicker pace (although not as quick as we’d initially hoped).

The morning didn’t begin particularly positively, with a stop just 10k into the ride to check my mate’s right shifter. It had jammed, leaving him in the easiest rear cog in the back. We paid a quick visit to Dean’s Garage in Beckenham, where a lovely bloke called Chris helped fit a manual shifter to the crossbar – he didn’t have any old school 9-speed shifters in stock.

After an hour delay, and a train to catch at 1432 from Brighton, we set off at some pace, following the initial route of the Dulwich Paragon intro ride loop that we’d done back in Jan 2014 and then heading west at it’s most southerly point to join the ‘official’ L2B BHF route. It was a great route, and a much better way out of London that the official L2B route.  I’ve set the route on Strava if you want to try it:

The shifter wasn’t quite as ‘tight’ as we’d hoped – with the gears jumping at each bump unless the lever was held in place – so we couldn’t really get up much of a rhythm.  There was also a pretty horrible headwind through most of the way, and with greasy wet-roads and 16% downhill, there wasn’t really much benefit gained from the brief downhill.

Once we’d joined up with the L2B route I realised I was finding it a bit tough – just before Lindfield I had to get out of my saddle to get up a short-sharp hill – even in my lowest gear I couldn’t stay sat down.  Had I lost all my cycling fitness that badly?  Eek.

Just as we got past Haywards Heath and could seen the Green Monster approaching I had a bit of a revelation.  I was finding the uphill surprisingly difficult, even at a relatively slow place.  Checking my rear dérailleur just before getting to Ditchling, I realise that my indexing was out and I’d been missing my three top gears for the whole ride.  Muppet.

Brighton Pier

It was a pretty poor ascent up the beacon.  At this stage I didn’t have much in the legs, and crawled up like a snail.  It had been a pretty dry ride, but once at the top there was the ominous threat of rain pulling in – and a chilly breeze hitting us off the sea.  We made our way down to the seafront and arrived with just under 94km covered in 4h30 of moving.  Back to work on Monday!

Tempo Run – 3 small laps of Battersea Park

Tonight was my first ‘Tempo’ run with the Clapham Chasers.

I had to look up what a ‘tempo’ run actually was, and got pointed to a resource that Karly had been given by Bryn: It’s essentially around twenty minutes of running at a pace 24 seconds slower per km than your 5k pace.

For the chasers, this translates to three laps around Battersea Park, with short, medium and long laps so that people running different times still get to see each other (albeit briefly) at the lap marker.

Battersea Park Gazebo


I want to blame switching from km to miles, but I ended up running at a far quicker pace than advised in the article above.  I’m still (quite optimistically) aiming for a sub-3.45 marathon, and to do this I was looking at 8 min/mile.  That easily translates to 5 min/km so I had that as a target in my head.

I ended up running with a few others at a pace of just under 5, and kept the last two laps to 4.42/km and fairly consistent.  My heart rate also looked nice and steady – so at least I got that part of the programme correct.

I’ll wait to see what impact this has on my running – I either need to run a 5k quite a bit quicker when I do the parkrun on Saturday (to justify my speedy tempo run) or drop the pace next week.

#TrackTuesday – (5 laps of 1k @ 5k pace)

This was my second time at track.  The first time had been a bit of a failure, as I’d turned up late and managed to pull my left calf as we were setting off on lap 4.  I was also acutely aware of the injury I’d picked up on my NYD #parkrun – so treated myself to some new running shoes in case that was part of the problem.

The format for the track session led by the Clapham Chasers is pretty straightfoward.  The group splits into multiple groups, based on 5k times.  There’s sub19,sub20,sub21, sub22 & 22+ most weeks – and I still fall into the 22+ group,  Who knows when that may change?

The format this week was 5 x 1000m (2 1/2 times around the track) with 90 seconds of rest between each 1000m.  The aim was to go at 5k pace, which for me would be around 4.30/km, but I ended up going a little faster.  I’m told the key is to make sure that your splits are as even as possible and consistency is the target. Mine were fairly consistent, but need to work on keeping them within a few seconds of each other:


1 4:23 /km 4:23 /km -0 m
2 4:27 /km 4:26 /km 0 m
3 4:19 /km 4:18 /km 0 m
4 4:14 /km 4:14 /km -1 m
5 4:15 /km 4:14 /km 1 m

Bonus!  No injuries.

#Tadworth10 @ Epsom Downs

To get really underway in the marathon training (and to make sure that I wasn’t too lazy over Christmas) Karly and I had signed up for the #Tadworth10, along with our #DFSG4 pals Hanna and Kate.  It was the first 10 mile run I’ve ever done, and the only knowledge of the race we had was that it was quite ‘hilly.’

We arrived at Epsom Racecourse in what can only be described as a torrential storm.  The rain was bucketing down, and the prevailing wind over the downs was not adding to our enthusiasm.  I was just glad I’d brought my thermal top and tights, and had a decent pair of trail shoes to run in.

The run itself began just inside the finishing post of the racecourse, and after a few hundred metres of wet, thick, muddy grass moved onto the gravel path.  After splashing in quite a few puddles, it was clear this wasn’t going to be a dry day – and with raindrops stinging my race I realised it wasn’t going to be particularly pleasant either.



The route took us over the racecourse and down the southern side, only to be greeted by a climb of just over a mile on a very uneven and broken up road.  Small rivers formed either side and with a big group of runners tussling for position on the bits of tarmac that were above the water it got my feet even wetter.

Once at the top of the hill, there was a bit of a false summit until the race turned back on itself, past a lake with ducks laughing at the stream of runners braving the elements, and then a left turn onto a muddy track.  This was probably my favourite bit of the course, as though the shallow mud and leaves sapped the energy from your legs, it’s was unusual enough an experience to keep me focused on staying upright and distracted from the task in hand.

Coming out of the other side was a relatively nice downhill section, followed by a much steeper downhill that was just too steep to be able to run comfortably.  As we were nearing the end of the downhill I felt a small twinge in my right quad – hoping upon hope that it wasn’t going to end my race prematurely.  At the end of this we passed through a much smaller muddy path with a sharp right onto the gravel path up the western edge of the course to begin lap 2, yet a mile away from where we’d started (this was good planning by the organisers, because had we gone much closer to the start/finish I’m sure people would have been tempted to call it a 5 miler instead!).

The second lap wasn’t particularly eventful other than being much wetter, but with more space due to the runners now being more spread out.  This meant that the climbs were easier as it was possible to take the high ground without competition from fellow competitors.  I was a bit nervous about my quad going into the downhill section, but it held up fine.  I think it was even pretty happy to find the new ‘water feature’ that had presented itself at the bottom of the hill – 30 metres through 6 inches of water rolling in off the downs from the recent downpour.

The final stretch was a bit of a struggle, but I was still on track for completing the course in under 1h30.  The last mile was all along the gravel tracks interspersed with puddles twice as wide.  Whilst on the way out I’d ran around the puddles, now I just wanted to get to the finish as quickly as possible so ran straight through. Coming up to the finish I didn’t have anyone immediately behind me so didn’t finish particularly strongly, but managed to come in just under 90 minutes, a race time of 1.29.23, and a chip time of 1.29.09.

First run of the year #Parkrun

Thanks to Louis Sattherwaite for the photos.
Thanks to Louis Sattherwaite for the photo!

Back in July my girlfriend Karly managed to convince the whole family to head into Solihull to complete the Brueton #Parkrun.  She and I have been to a few #parkruns and wanted to get the rest of the family to come along and get engaged with the phenomenon.  Quite a lot of us did, and we even took my littlest bro Charlie along to the Dulwich #Parkrun when he was in London the week later.

What better way to start 2016 than with the NYD #Parkrun special.  For those of you unfamiliar, over the Christmas period there are a few extra parkruns put on by the volunteers on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, some of which are deliberately staggered (so you can complete two in the same day!).  We didn’t go for the ‘two in a day’ option, but still had a cracking #parkrun with six of us taking part.

I wanted to start the year on a positive, so pushed myself pretty hard to get my new #parkrun PB of 22.38 (although on a slightly shortened course due to ice issues).  In recent fashion I also managed to finish with a slight injury – pain on the outside of my right knee.  It was worse when walking down stairs at home, so I applied a bag of peas and made sure to stretch my upper leg with some hamstring and quad stretches and rolling the outside.

Happy New Year!

Why I’m running the London Marathon

I’ve always enjoyed cycling; it’s been a big part of my life for the past 4 years as I’ve gone from a novice on a £200 Viking ‘bicycle shaped object’ through to completing ‘Chase the Sun‘ last year on a new carbon steed.  Running, on the other hand, has been something of a personal challenge.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, but that my enjoyment has historically only lasted for a few minutes before finding the repetitive movement either tedious or boring.

One of the things that I’ve been acutely aware of is the mental boundaries that we set ourselves, not only in limiting our achievements, but in preventing an attempt in the first place.  I remember in my first few times on the bike often falling off due to the “bloody clipless pedals” – yet at the end of my 330km ride I was very glad to have them with me.


I’m very fortunate in that I’m physically able to complete these challenges.  Many close friends will have a little chuckle when I hark back to when I broke my leg, but I’m incredibly lucky to have survived with few physical and mental deficiencies.  I remember the frustration of having to rely on someone else to do everything for me, and the freedom I got from being able to get quasi-mobility from even driving a RC racing car.

Back last year when me, Karly and a few of our friends put into the ballot, my girlfriend Karly and I made a pact that were one of us to get into the ballot, then they’d help fundraise for the other to run for a charity.  When Karly’s magazine arrived first to say she hadn’t got in, I thought I was off the hook – only to receive my “You’re in!” magazine the day after.  As quick as a flash Karly got on to the charities and selected the Duchenne Family Support Group as our chosen charity.

I’m not personally connected with Duchenne disease, but the work of JoiningJack has been prevalent in the #rugbyfamily for the last few years and I know that I have at least another couple of friends who do have a personal connection to the disease.  Duchenne is a horrible disease, and having worked with charities over the past few years the value of their support services to people who just need information is priceless.  I hope that the #DFSG4 team can raise a decent amount of money, but also the profile of the charity, through our training over the next few months.

I’m also going to be documenting my training (though not necessarily posting all of the posts onto facebook/twitter/linkedin .etc) on my blog, so that runners who are new to the Marathon can get some insight into what kind of training is required to get round, and hopefully act as a diary to let me know what I did well/badly (delete as appropriate after the marathon).  If you want to follow just these posts, visit 

If you do wish to support us, and can’t necessarily donate, then please either share our posts on social media (using #DFSG4) or if you can donate, we’ve got a page open at JustGiving (and please claim GiftAid if you can!).