NDW50 Wk 12: Mud ‘n’ Hills (wc 30.01.16)

So, so much mud…!

I heart parkrun…

Roundshaw Downs parkrun, 5km, 24:04, first lady, 7:51 min/mile

My next phase of training starts on Monday, I can’t believe I’m six weeks down already as it still doesn’t quite feel real! During the next phase Bea has me focusing quite a lot on heart rate training, this is a way of running pretty new to me but is aimed at getting me running longer with less effort (& I suspect it will tell me I’ve been running too hard & fast so far…!)

The only time I tried HR training before my watch beeped at me so much during one run – too high, too low, too high, too low – that I ended up stopping mid-run & turning it off!

Target HR for today’s tempo parkrun was Zone 3 or 150-162. I changed the screens on my watch so that I could see my current HR & turned off ALL beeping!

I started too hard as usual (which seems to have become my norm at parkrun as I try to make my way through a congested start) & it was tough going underfoot. After the rain during the week it was really muddy & the path was quite churned up which made conditions hard, it takes more of an effort to run on slippy mud than a nice compact path. Regardless of HR I knew this wasn’t going to be a fast run!

I felt as if I was constantly looking at my watch (maybe that’s a plus point of beeping?) & on the second lap I struggled to keep it under 165, I was obviously running too hard so dropped my pace. My splits are a very embarrassing large positive split! I averaged 161, just sneaking into target!

And first lady again! Fourth time. I did have a little internal debate with myself when I dropped my pace on the second lap, what if second lady caught me, would I be good, or race…? Thankfully I didn’t have to find out as I finished over a minute ahead ahead! 24:04, over 1:13 slower than two weeks ago (when it was pretty perfect running conditions tbf) & perhaps the first indication that I’ve been doing my tempo runs a little too hard… I think this is going to be interesting!


The Merstham 15 (aka the Merstham mudfest…)

16 miles, (+ 2 miles warm up not included in stats) 2:43:57, 10:15 min/mile (very pleased with this pace for the nature of the run), 1,255ft elevation gain

I’m picking & choosing which of Sunday Striders marathon training runs I am doing quite carefully depending on what the route is & how it fits in with my specific training goals.

I skipped last week’s ‘9 Parks’ tarmac trek through South London’s finest parks because I didn’t really want an urban road run & opted to hit the North Downs instead. This week it was the mainly off-road Mersham 15, one of the club runs I’d been looking forward to.


We started basically where I finished last weeks run in Mersham. And yes, I had to run up Mersham Hill AGAIN, (though I have to say it was MUCH easier in mile one than it was at mile 12 last week…!). I ran the first mile with Group Two so that I had a minute or so at the top of the hill to take a few photos before dropping back to Group Three (I did think about continuing with G2 but knowing how tough the route was decided on the sensible option).


The first 5-6 miles were along the North Downs Way, a section I’ve run before & so I think I am now fairly confident of both navigating this section & also knowing what to expect. From the top of Mersham Hill it’s fairly decent run for a few miles, not to many hills & hopefully by May it won’t be quite so muddy… (the mud really was intense).

By the time we hit Caterham Viewpoint we were enjoying the last of the reasonable weather & what little sunshine there was as the mist began to roll in. The photo actually makes it look better than it was!


A VERY quick panoramic at Caterham viewpoint! Love this view!

Then just past Godstone Vineyards we switched from the North Downs Way to the Waterlink Way to head back towards Croydon. I know this route pretty well having cycled & run it a number of times last summer, though always in the opposite direction. The Waterlink Way is actually a cycle route but so much it is off-road it is also great for trail running.

By now it was really misty & the temperature had dropped quite significantly. The next couple of miles were on tarmac & were not my favourite part of the run.



At mile nine, just after the last really big hill by Woldringham Golf Club the group leader had to drop out due to injury. Most of the group looked blankly at the cross roads, I confidently put my hand in the air & said I knew the way back to Croydon…  As 15 runners started following me!


The Striders Mersham 15 Group 3!

I didn’t let on that I am NOTORIOUS for getting lost & that I hadn’t actually run the ‘back’ section of this route before, but hey, jump in at the deep end I say! I had to slightly change the advertised club route as the trail I knew was different. We switched over to the Vanguard Way & thankfully we all made it back, no one got lost & whilst I may possibly have led them down the muddiest trail in Croydon no one fell over… I would call that a success!  Crazy to think that it’s less than 12 months since I started exploring off-road trails & now I am confident enough on them to not only navigate myself but also to volunteer to lead a group.

The last couple of miles were on road. I hated them. My legs had all but given up & my IT band was niggling. The group split as we approached urban Croydon & people went their separate ways home. I hit 16 miles, stopped my watch & jumped on the bus! (with a two mile warm-up jog to the station earlier I was conscious that this was actually 18 miles, my furthest run for quite a long time & with a niggly IT band I didn’t want to push too much).

Enjoyed that run. Would have enjoyed it more had my legs felt a little better at the end. And if they’d been sunshine. That was exactly my kind of run!

Managed to get a sports massage with Bea for later on today (Monday) so hoping I will catch any potential problems with the ITB area before it becomes a major issue.

My trainers the day after the run...

My trainers the day after the run…

Other runs this week included the Wednesday night Striders club run & an unscheduled 5:30am trot on Friday, simply because I just needed to run…

Week Twelve: 34.8 miles in total with 1,886 ft elevation gain. 


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