Hills, Trails, Winning, and um…. some more hills – and Parkrunning

My week got off to a great start this Monday by completing my next attempt at the 100 reps challenge. I timed it this time, and it took a few seconds less than 5 minutes. It was tough on my legs following the 10km race the day before, but I felt pretty good after – and felt as though I’d worked for my dinner :-)

Running got back under way on Tuesday when I decided to try out a new 5 mile(ish) route out towards Reigate before heading to the north of Redhill and back down to home. Got a little lost, and the long drag up to the top of Redhill was a little unexpected – all adding up to a slightly longer time on my feet than expected, but a nice low heartrate was maintained throughout.

Sadly, my running week went a little pear-shaped on Wednesday when trains were cancelled from the Elephant, tube journey to London Bridge ensued, but then that train was delayed on route a little too – so I got home tired and miserable – and in no mood to go running up and down hills a billion times!

Kenyan Hills

So in the end it was Thursday that ended up as hill training day, instead of 100 reps day. My last hill session had involved 6 attempts at striding pretty hard up a hill and then jogging my recovery back down again – nice and slow, nice and easy. And repeat….

In fact, I think this is the way that most people attack a hill session in a training plan. But Dad suggested to me, that on my hill sessions I should perhaps give ‘Kenyan Hills‘ a go. Kenyan hills are simple in the cruelty:

    Jog to hill.
    surge up hill
    stride back down it again
    repeat many times for a set time period – in my case 8 minutes.

    easy recovery for 2 minutes then repeat – ensuring you complete the same number of reps in the time

    then do it all again a third time!!!

For my session on Thursday, the hill I was doing saw me back at the bottom for the third time in 7:30, so I didn’t bother going up again, but feeling knackered I made use of the extra 30 seconds of recovery time to stretch briefly before setting off again. By the end of the second set my legs were like jelly. There was no way I could complete a third set as I wobbled my way back to the top of the hill to get home.

In all honesty, it actually felt like a really good session, I almost look forward to doing it next week – but I may not feel that way come Wednesday night :-) But I need to think of a better way to get nutrition sorted before such a tough session considering I eat lunch, then snack a little between then and running, eating my dinner once I am home and showered etc…

Anyway, here is the route profile for my jaunt on Thursday night:

Elevation profile for kenyan hills session
Kenyan Hills Profile

Next week though – I am aiming for all three sets!!!!


Thursday was also a day for a wonderful surprise. I got home to discover a gift waiting for me. Sat on the table, wrapped in a grey plastic coating as a short fat tubular object addressed to me. I don’t remember ordering anything, I thought to myself as I picked it up. As I did so, the contents of the wrapper gave a few hints of the joy bundled up inside, my fingers felt the slight peaks and troughs of a ridged neoprene interspersed with small square dimples on the surface. Could it be, oh my oh my, someone has ordained to send me a present of such wonder?!?!? Tearing open the wrapping my suspicions were confirmed, bestowed upon my weary muscles was ‘The Grid‘!!!!!

But why?? you ask, as I did too, until a little unassuming note fell from the grey plastic wrap

Congratulations on winning the Running Free Competition. Please find enclosed The GRID

Woohoo, thank you kind people at the physical company, and the amazing bods of at the super, free, magazine – Running Free :-) I never win anything!!!

I’ll do a full review in a week or so perhaps once I have done a few sessions with it – but on first impressions: despite its diminished proportions it already looks like it’ll beat the foam roller hands down. It is strong, sturdy and made with good quality stuff!! And boy-oh-boy, those different shaped ‘Distrodensity Zones‘ find muscles aches and knots I never even knew I had. I think the really interesting bit about the Grid is that it’s not been designed simply as a self-massage tool – but as a piece of gym equipment with full work out routines devised to offer an amazing core workout whilst also providing the massage. I am considering a DVD purchase here!!

My working week ended with another train based debacle – but this time I had tried to eat a little better so as to complete my 5 mile run once I finally got in. The wifey however, had different plans. Not suspecting she would make my dinner I had neglected to tell her of my running plans, so the moment I strolled through the door – all psyched up to go straight back out again, a beer was thrust into my hand and dinner was on a plate :-) This is definitely a good thing – but sadly no running! In my infinite wisdom I also decided to stay up late to watch awful 90’s film Streetfighter. It was shocking, as I knew it would be, but somehow couldn’t tear myself away :-)


I first signed up for parkrun, maybe 18 months ago, when Albert Park in Middlesbrough was the closest venue – never went once. It just seemed such a trek to head over run and come back and invariable I was up late or had something else to do (especially during the trihard season). But, having missed last nights run I finally bit the bullet and headed just inside the M25 to my new local parkrun at Banstead Woods.

The long and the short of it is that they are every bit as friendly as I had heard. I got chatting to a chap, Peter, on the walk to the start from the car park – just asked him a little about the ‘undulating’ profile, and he advised the hill we were walking up was the only one – still enough to take your breath away walking at any great pace. The race director gave his briefing, safety warnings, and we applauded the volunteers. It’s a brilliant atmosphere, and I was stood listening, really kicking myself for having missed out for so long.

Banstead Woods Park Run - group infront of tree

And we’re off. The start continues up the hill a little way before levelling. The route is basically a rectangle, the start about a third of the way along one of the long edges. The left turn takes runners onto a shorter edge – basically flat, whilst the next left runs downhill before finally heading to the start-finish line. As I headed out on the second lap, at the base of the hill I was given a midway time check which was brilliant. 13:10. I was pretty happy with that. The route was muddy in a number of places, although on the whole this was mostly avoidable by going onto the edge of the path with leaves under foot, although this brought about it’s own issue as it became a little slippy, especially on the second leg. In my road shoes traction was a little issue at times.

Banstead Woods Parkrun - me runnig, at halfway
Me, at the halfway point

As I finally crossed the finish line, after a pretty good kick from the 200m sign (even if I do say so myself) :-) I think my watch read about 27mins when I stopped it.

Banstead Woods Parkrun - Me in the finishing straight
Gee Whizz, look at him go :-)

Having finished I strolled back to the car, cheering in runners as they came past to finish their own laps. There is a great camaraderie at these events!!

At about lunch time I got the text message advising me of my time – 26:17, and 67th overall!! Pretty chuffed with that!! Not a 5km PB, but given the circumstances a pretty healthy time I reckon – given my nutritional strategy was somewhat non-existent.
I’d had fish-finger sandwiches for dinner, and two cans of beer. In the morning, I had a coffee at 7:30, and then forgot breakfast leaving me to guzzle an energy gel 20 mins before we started. That was it!! so I am surprised I didn’t burn out mid race.

The best though, was yet to come. Later on – having checked my emails, I got the full official break down from parkrun and to my absolute shock it said:

You finished in 67th place and were the 48th gent out of a field of 114 parkrunners and you came 1st in your age category SM25-29

1st!!! 1st I tell you!! Well, I couldn’t believe there was no one else there in my age category, so I had to check!! And lo-and-behold, there I was – fastest Senior Male aged 25 – 29, with three others in the category!!!!! I don’t think I have ever expected to be fastest in my category for anything – so I was absolutely made-up :-)

We’d headed up to London for the Lord Mayors Show – well we actually went to the galleries and then went to watch the fireworks which were pretty super :-) I know where our tax-dollars go to now!! But all that walking and standing around absolutely f****d my knees, and my back and I was pretty tired by the time we got home! Was not impressed when some pillock in the road behind us decided to set off a barrage of fireworks in his garden at just past 11 o’clock last night!! Furious does not do it justice.

Finishing the week

So, having missed my 5 miles on Friday I was a few short this week – so rather than the planned six I decided to go a smidge further and topped it up to 7 with a glorious run out of Redhill via the lanes towards South Nutfield before heading back up and over the M23 to Bletchingly and then turning back for home along the A25. Weather conditions were perfect, and despite the route profile I managed to keep my heartrate within a fairly suitable level. Absolutely great day for it.

Came home, helped the wife tidy the house, and my little sister paid a visit to our new house with her fiancee! All very nice :-) Now I just need to have an early night as I realised at about 8pm that I forgot to go and get my train ticket today so I am going to have to get to the station uber-early in the morning :-(


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