Friday, 17 June 2011

New Balance 1080

I was recently received a pair of NB1080 trainers, which are the first pair of NB's I have had since I ran in a pair of 851's in the 2001 London Marathon, so with the chance to see how they had progressed exactly 10 years on I set out testing!

Initially the shoes appeared very large and looked heavy, but on this occasion  looks proved to be deceptive (actually had to check my backpack when I took them to work, to run home, to make sure I still had them with me) and I was soon slipping them on for my first run (Testing mileage of 145 miles in 1 month - well, work has been hectic - as I build up for the Shotley 55 mile challenge in September!

The fit was perfect and initially, like all new trainers the cushioning was plush and ride very springy, but unlike others after a good month of running there was no reduced performance! The cushioning still felt new and although the heel is well supported the ride is still responsive and the shoe grips well in all but even the wettest road conditions (thanks to the rains finally arriving).

Although a road shoe it still gripped reasonably well on harder trails and tracks, but would not be good for proper off-roading - will be good to get an NB trail shoe and see how that compares!

In all a very good shoe for all but the severest of pronators, and one I would heartily recommend and one that has me believing that New Balance have not changed massively in the last 10 years, but stuck with the tradition of producing great running shoes across the running spectrum for runners of all abilities!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Buff in The Saddle

The title doesn’t relate to a strange habit I have got into (or maybe it does, depending on your lifestyle), but it refers to the new bit of clothing I have received from Buffwear UK - The Buff Pro Bib cycle shorts.

I started riding again in August last year, ahead of the London Duathlon and Sevenoaks Triathlon , and after several months off over the winter period decided that with the reoccurring lower leg injury that cross-training was the best option and cycling fitted best – so now I am hooked, to the point of rather riding than running and have even joined a local cycle team - Interbike Schils - based in Marks Tey. Now to compliment my riding (which I am told is very good for my age - should I be insulted????) I need the kit, and have tried DHB shorts and baggies and found that nothing was that great until Sarah at Buffwear sent me a pair of the Buff Pro Bib cycle shorts – and were they worth the wait!!

The shorts are slightly shorter than standard cycle shorts, but the feel and comfort is excellent, to the degree that it is easy to forget they are on, which is exactly what you want from running/cycling clothing, rather than worry about chafing, pinching and feeling uncomfortable. The material is made from very elasticated material, which clings to your body, moving with rather than against you, ideal for a fast cadence, but still adding support to the leg muscles, without being restrictive! The bib straps over the shoulders are tight, again without restricting movement, and the cycle pad inside the shorts is of ample size (no comments please), without looking like a baby’s diaper!

All in all, I was very satisfied with the shorts and they are now a key item of my cycling kit, along with my  Buff socksZebra UV Headband and Buff BOW 08, so I can truly say that I love cycling in the Buff!!

Hopefully i will start getting a few races under my belt over the coming months, although i still have the Shotely Challenge (55 mile ultra) to run in September, so i can't spend too much time on the bike, but, as i start a new job on Tuesday next week, it will hopefully keep me fit until i can sort out training plans (must get a Turbo Trainer - can anyone help???)

Until next time - stay safe - stay seen - stay Buff!!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Will I ever race again!!

Another couple of very hectic weeks have passed and running again has bit the bullet. Since my last post I have been offered a new job, based in Docklands in London, starting on May 6th, with Nuplex Resins Ltd – all very exciting and an extremely good career move and more responsibility, however I will miss my current employer, Wilkin & Sons AKA Tiptree Jam, makers of the best preserves and marmalades in the world -  available at all good supermarkets and deli’s (if it’s not there, ask them to get in touch and stock it!!).

Anyway, all this upheaval in the last few weeks, has meant that energy at the weekend has been limited and with only limited mid-week training time running has borne the brunt of it, meaning that another race will be cancelled (Halstead Marathon), but then with nothing planned until September (Shotley Challenge) I will have time to get back into the swing of things and sort out training that suits me and my new lifestyle. Conveniently my new employer has showers at work, so lunchtime runs will be a must and with the Crowne Plaza Hotel nearby, with its 25m pool I can get some swimming in – just need a turbo-trainer for the bike and I can train for triathlons still (talking of cycling - great new pair of Buff Pro bib cycling shorts received - review coming).

Also I can now set my sights on going back to do the Marathon Des Sables (don’t tell the wife!!!), probably in 2014, due to the waitlist in the UK being 3 years, and also look at doing the 6633 ultra (definitely don’t tell the wife!!!), either in 2013 or 2015, so bigger thing on the horizon. As for an Ironman place - still nothing and to be honest probably a good thing now, although I may look at doing and Ironman 70.3 instead if I can get a place, as these sell out very quickly, and training will be easier to fit in.

So that’s it for the time being – I watched the London Marathon with envy and admiration (I’ll be there next year, regardless) - Well done all who finished, especially Zoe Orrin-Mumford, as part of her 1000 Miles in a Year for Breast Cancer Also a big mention for the unstoppable Mr Alex Flynn, who ran in the Brighton Marathon the week earlier (with a heavy cold) as part of the 10 Million Metres Challenge i started with him in 2009. Alex has now completed 1,150,000 metres, with a massive run across Europe in June to come, as well as the Challenge Henley Ironman in September and then many miles more over the next 3 years, go visit his website - - and donate some money please - Simples!!


Monday, 4 April 2011

Striding Out

A few quiet weeks after the disappointment of having to pull out of the London Marathon, so training has been low key, although I have managed to put in a couple of 4 milers in the lighter evenings and 2 runs to work and home (15 miles each), but, with the left leg still causing a few problems, it’s obvious that I made the right decision – so the bike has been getting a good outing and I am getting a some good mileage in the legs, in anticipation of some triathlons and duathlons (and hopefully an Ironman, if I can get a place). Running will hopefully increase as things progress and with the Halsted Marathon still 4 weeks away, I have yet to make a decision on whether to run or not – I will, however need to increase the Sunday morning runs, if I want to finish in a reasonable time.

Looking further ahead, I would love to do the South Downs Marathon in June, and will hopefully be joining Alex Flynn on the first stage of his run across Europe, although I will need to be a lot fitter than I am now. Further on I am still eyeing the Grimsthorpe 105 Ultra and Shotley Challenge 55 mile ultra, in August & September respectively, before ending the year doing the Beachy Head marathon in October – but as I have found, so far this year, best laid plans ……………. etc. etc.

But, as promised, here is my review of the new Polaroid Strider Sunglasses. When I received these I was surprised at how light and supple they were, almost to the degree of feeling too flimsy, but it was quickly apparent that these were a lot sturdier than appeared. These glasses have been used whilst both running and cycling and I have found that they suit both admirably. The rubber nose grips are a good size (without being over generous), meaning that the glasses sit very comfortably, and the arms grip well, without squeezing, and being cushioned on the inside feel very stable.

Perfectly polarized lenses, that didn’t fog up, on either bike or run, filtered out a lot of sunlight, yet didn’t seem too dark on the odd cloudy runs I had, meaning could keep them on. All supplied in a very snazzy Silver and black check design and coming in a sturdy carry-case, ideal for sticking in your pack, should you not need them later.

All in all a very good product that can be used for more than just running and riding and sports, and looking just as cool being worn out and about in the park etc (cool if worn by someone better looking than me that is).

Given the choice on the current market I would definitely recommend these to anyone looking for a good, light, yet strong pair of sunglasses – top marks from me!!!

Hopefully in my next update I will have a clearer picture of my expectations in the Halstead Marathon and the year ahead and hopefully news of an Ironman place too.

Enjoy your running!!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Out and definitely Down

Another weekend has passed and with it the Fleet ½ Marathon, the 3rd race this year I have missed, and not the last, due to a re-occurring left calf strain that won’t go away, which means I have missed a fair bit of training and therefore have had to make the very hard decision to pull out of the London Marathon (deferring my entry for another year). Although the calf issue is only a minor one and I could have probably done the marathon in 5ish hours the annoying niggle seems only happy when I am cycling, and with other races ahead (Halstead Marathon could also be a victim of this) it was common-sense to say “forget it” and save myself for another day. To say that I was disappointed is an understatement!!!!

However this also made me realize how much this is all costing me, as race entry fees are still rising, which, with the increasing costs of petrol or train fares, hotel bills and restaurant bills to consider for both me and my wife (in the case of London Marathon) it make racing extremely expensive, and that’s only basic road races! Once you start getting into Ultras (most are £40 entry) as well as Triathlons/Duathlons and even further then you can quite easily spend over £500 just doing a handful of races each year.

With new trainers being required once you get past doing 350 miles in a pair and kit wearing out (luckily I have great Compression gear from CompresSport – which is lasting well), the cost of racing rises quicker than a politian’s expenses sheet and surely this must all start to impact on race organizers soon, as turn out starts to dwindle.

However I am lucky in that I am doing the Shotley Challenge in September – 55 miles of countryside, woods, fields and estuary bank in “Constable Country”. It comes with 10 Check-points, all stocking cakes, tea, coffee, biscuits, rice pudding and hot food (at half-way) and all for only £11 – why, because it is organized by the Long Distance Walking Association!! OK there are no shiny medals or t-shirts at the finish (badge and certificate available), and it doesn’t have the razz-a-ma-tazz of big road races, but having done it 2½ years ago, and enjoying the whole thing (even after 50 miles), being able to be alone in the middle of the night in moon-lit stunning countryside makes being a runner a hobby worth doing.

As with all sports there are always highs and lows and yes! I am currently experiencing an extreme low (hence the grumble) and looking forward things hopefully will get easier (robbing a bank isn’t the solution I have been told), but with the greatest show on earth coming to London next year surely race organizers and sports councils could take note of how the LDWA can do their events so cheaply and so well and learn from them!!

Oh well lets be positive - spring is here so the old push-bike will get plenty of use so I can keep fit that way, and with petrol prices still rising there won’t be as many cars on the road – Happy days!!!

Next post will have a review of the Polaroid Stride P7123C Sunglasses, which i have been given to test by Polaroid, and with limited running ahead will see how they perform on the bike - watch this space!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Out but not Down

Its been a frustrating few weeks, after seeming to be doing so well on the training front (only 6 weeks until London). With plans to do plenty of extra training during the school half-term break I managed to end up with an aching ankle after the long Sunday run, so I thought I would do shorter runs and swim and cross-train just to keep things moving. However a very long day in London on the Monday and then a few appointments later in the week put paid to anything happening until I fought my way round an 18 miler last Sunday (thankfully with no ankle pain).

So with all this in mind I decided that I would be better off abandoning the Dunmow Duathlon, in favour of a split-day training run on the Friday (19 miles) and a nice slow run on the Sunday. Friday mornings run (11.5 miles) was a bit of an ordeal, more due to a lack of food from the night before (I usually run to work and then have breakfast, that way I can start earlier and not wake the family up crashing about cooking porridge), once there a decent day of re-fuelling meant that I was fine for the run home (7.5 miles) and once showered made full use of my Compressport Full Legs to make sure I would be fine for Sunday. I did look at entering the Essex 20 miler, but with no entries on the day settled for a nice countryside amble, and feeling happier with the ankle and the fact that with only 6 weeks to go that I was making progress towards getting round the marathon in a reasonable time (aims for a PB are long gone now)!

Looking further ahead I am planning to sign up for South Downs Marathon in June for my 3rd time at this great race – very challenging and stunning scenery, as well as a well-organised race and top goodie bag. I want to do the Braintree Duathlon in May, now that I have pulled out of the Grand Union Canal Race, however time with family is very important, but with the race only 10 miles from my house, I’m sure I can get way for a few hours.

Big ones for this year now are the Grimsthorpe Ultra (either 70 or 105 miles) and Shotley Peninsula Challenge (55 Miles), in August and September respectively, although with other matters to consider training time may be an issue, but I will cross that bridge when I get there. Also i may be getting an entry into the Outlaw Ironman - but more on that when i know!!

Next up is the Fleet ½ Marathon on Sunday 20th, and report the next day, so until then enjoy the spring mornings!

Monday, 14 February 2011

50 by 50

Another few weeks training have come and gone and fitness is returning to where I need it to be to take on the next few months (Duathlon, ½ marathon and Marathon all by middle of April), and now that a large distraction, which would have seen me doing the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon, has been removed I have been able to throw more effort into my training and concentrate on the task in hand. I am still using a 3-day-a-week training programme, with a short (5 mile) effort session mid-week, a run to work and home “split day” on a Friday (anywhere between 13 and 18 miles in total), with pack and the standard 15 mile+ LSD run on a Sunday, which will see me right for the London Marathon. Once the Marathon is over I will then be adding an extra weekly run and pushing the Friday run up to 30 miles in preparation for the Grand Union Canal Race in late May, including running to, running in and running home from the Halstead Marathon in May.

Other plans for the year have changed slightly, now that the Loch Ness Marathon is off, and i have signed up for the Beachy Head Marathon in late October, to run with and support Zoe Orrin Mumford as she attempts to do 1000 miles in a year for Breast Cancer!!

I am also looking at doing the Rutland Marathon a month later, which will make 4 marathons for the year, starting me back on the way to hitting 50 by my 50th birthday (10 done so far and 6½ years until D-Day). This means I will need to average 6 marathons a year, which isn’t a great deal, but I am also now looking at doing the Marathon Des Sables again in 2013/2014 and hopefully the 6633 Ultra as well, finances pending of course. I last did the MdS in 2009 and still watch highlights of last year and hear of other doing this year’s race (and have a documentary interview to do with a local BBC reporter doing the race this year), with immense envy, but with entry fees now over £3500 it’s a lot to “stump up”, and justify, without getting some serious sponsorship (all offers accepted), so dates may change accordingly (saving £10 per month should see me there by my 70th).

Other races (all raising money for Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity) planned are Grimsthorpe Ultra in August (70 miles), Shotley Challenge in September (55 miles) and hopefully another Duathlon as well as some local Triathlons along the way too!

It’s going to get busy!!!

Until next time (After the Dunmow Duathlon) - Stay safe - stay seen!!!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Rear in Gear

Finally an update, after almost 3 weeks of little or nothing on the running front!! After trying to do some runs between Christmas and the new year it all dropped off with the return to work and on-set of an inconvenient heavy cold hat had me off work for 2 days and off running until last Monday (17th). I did return in typical fashion by running to work and the home again in the evening, making the whole day a 15 miler and did I suffer afterwards! My legs felt great (combination of using the Compressport socks and R2's for recovery), but core was a mess and sitting up straight on Tuesday was a workout in its self - new plan formulated to sort that bit out!!
After a few days to recover I repeated the Monday run on Friday and finally finished the week off with a 13 miler on Sunday - so 43 miles for the first week back, but with only 12 weeks to go until the London Marathon I need to get my "rear in gear"!!

I have a ½ marathon due on Feb 6th, and then nothing until March 5th (a Duathlon - so better get the bike out too), then another ½ followed by London - so quite a busy period over the next few months!

Hopefully this will get me ready for the Grand Union Canal Race in May, which I have been mentally running, during training and already planning food and kit and will soon start testing foods for the run, on my longer runs. Somewhere along the way I need to plan a night run, either at the local running track or point to point with another runner, preferable in early May - distance isn't an issue, but its time on my feet after a day’s work and creating a bit of sleep deprivation, and still keep going (my wife is going to love that!!!)

Finally I am now looking for a new shoe sponsor, after Adam Smith left Fitness Footwear, and they stopped supplying me with shoes to review for them. I am still looking to promote Compressport and Buff as much as possible, and stand out in the crowd with my new Rainbow Trust Children's Charity Buff, and once I can get out on my bike will be making full use of the Compressport Quads !!

Still onwards and upwards on the mileage front!!!