Category Archives: Running

Increase your speed: 60 second sprint protocol


I attended my second Farnham Runners speed training session yesterday evening and it was great fun.

Here is the 60 second sprint protocol that was used. I’m not so good at doing this sort of training on my own as it is hard to stay motivated when it is so tiring! However, it all changes when in a friendly, welcoming and inspiring group.

A running track is ideal for this.

WARNING: This is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Be sure you are medically cleared!

WARM-UP: Gentle jog (5 minutes) followed by 10 minutes of dynamic stretching. Build running speed up to 60%, 80%, 100% (only over a short distance). Heart rate clearly elevated by end.

INTERVALS: 60 second sprint on the track. Place marker at your furthest point. Walk back to start. When all participants back, go again. FOUR INTERVALS. Your marker only moves if you manage to go further. After the 4th one, stay at your marker and rest 60 seconds. Then it is a handicap race back to the start (60 second time limit).

REST: Four minutes.

REPEAT INTERVALS: Marker stays put from first set!

COOL DOWN JOG: Very light jog (5 minutes).

STRETCHES: 10 minutes.

This was exhausting and my quads were ready to cramp all over the place at the end (the stretches were super-important as a result). I am proud that I managed to get the furthest distance but my sprint speed has always been good: It is just my endurance I need to work on.

I had to slow for some of the intermediate intervals but managed to beat my best distance on the final one! Yay!

Hard As Snails 10k: Fitness starts here

Run from the zombie... run run run!

I courageously / foolishly took part in the Hard As Snails 10k this year. I did no hill training whatsoever for this event which was an interesting strategy as the race description overtly stated “Features hills”.

Leading up to this, I had been neglecting my running training and was not hitting the roads as much as I should have been. All part of the closed season lull!

It was exciting, draining and fun. Perhaps a strategic mistake was that I was too happy ‘ghosting’ other runners rather than taking the initiative of setting my own pace. The downhill elements were very interesting as well as I could not slow myself down and I was thinking, “Don’t fall over, don’t fall over, don’t fall over…”. Thankfully, I didn’t as the First Aid crew were all the way back at the start!

I hit a time of 58:31 which is okay but I was ultimately disappointed: It put me squarely in the bottom half of competitors in my category and I REALLY suffered with the hills. To be expected considering my ‘preparation’ but it has helped me give myself a huge kick to get the fitness sorted.

I’m now determined to get my fitness back to my peak levels and beyond! I attended a fantastic speed training session hosted by Farnham Runners (5 x 800m) and the welcome, support and kind words have given me a huge boost. I was straight out today on a 6k lunchtime run, will be doing a speed test run tomorrow and have two games scheduled for the weekend.

I am looking forward to feeling the improvement (the weight loss will be handy too as I have gained recently) and a good benchmark will be the Alice Holt 10k next month.

Bring it on!

My first 10k: Clandon Run 2010

The happy smiling 'Before' pose!

I would never really class myself as a ‘proper’ runner. I mean, I enjoy running (as long as it is outdoors). I run around a lot when football refereeing. I run around a fair amount in some forms of judo training or circuit training. However, I have always hit some form of mental block when considering entering an actual running event.

My girlfriend gently persuaded me to enter the Clandon Run. I couldn’t really find a legitimate excuse to avoid it, especially considering the start line was within five minutes’ walk of her house! It was also looking to be a beautiful day out in the sunshine.

The most I had ever run in one go was 7k (my typical lunchtime run at work). Most of my recent training had been refereeing oriented. My strategy was to keep a steady pace and not push myself and everything would just work out.

The organisation of the event was absolutely first class. Registration took seconds and included nifty timing chip bands! There was even a fun aerobic-based organised warm-up. Then it was a short walk to the starting line…

The start!

A few final stretches and off we went. I probably kept a faster pace than I should have done but I wanted to avoid the early bottlenecks that we had been warned about. This I managed! However, by the first km marker I was aware my heart rate was running at anaerobic levels (182 bpm). It was a warm day and the sun was beating down and I have historically suffered in these conditions when training… but I love a challenge!

Although I shouldn’t have been able to sustain that, my average heart rate stayed at 182 bpm the whole way round. The adrenaline and boost from running with everyone else must have sustained me somehow. I’m used to having to dig deep from judo competition where you pretty much run on your anaerobic system throughout.


The course was beautiful. It took in woodland, green fields, gravel paths and a lake (no swimming required). Some of the narrow paths made the whole event more challenging. That said, I’m used to uncertain footing in my training so this did not cause much of an issue although I noted that about 25% of starters in the 10k did not finish! Heat? Terrain? I wonder…

Now, I started pretty much at the front so I was mentally prepared that I would be overtaken throughout the event. This happened! However, by about the 5k mark this stopped happening and I guess I had found my place. It then became a bit ‘cat and mouse’ with runners I targeted for my own pacing: They might go ahead but then I’d catch up with them later when they had stopped…rinse…repeat!


The last few km were hard but I struggled through and before I knew it I was on the finishing straight! I had enough in the tank left for one final sprint which meant I made up a few places, even if it spiked up my heart rate to perhaps the highest I have ever known it. Oops. Still, I made a time of 54:01 which was faster than my ‘realistic target’ and I got a free banana. [10k PDF results]

Nicky and Tasha successfully completed the 4k and were exceptionally supportive as well which I appreciated more once I regained the ability to speak properly.

It really was a wonderful event. Fantastic organisation, great atmosphere and a challenging course. You know what? I’m already thinking about the next one…

Bringing up the fitness and now… STRETCH!

I recently rejoined the gym on my work campus as running outside was just not happening any more. The current weather in the UK has put paid to that. I was soaked through just walking back from the gym to the office (30 seconds!) due to the lashing shower that suddenly appeared.

The adage which applies is “Get fit to referee, don’t referee to get fit”. Absolutely true and my ‘judo fitness’ has very much helped me hit the field of play running. I have yet to struggle to keep up with play but of course most of my games are at ‘parks’ level until I climb the ladder a bit more.

However, my body has not adjusted to the style of exercise too well. Lots of changes in speed (walk..jog…SPRINT…walk…stop…SPRINT) and direction have put quite a stress on my hamstrings and achilles. The achilles in particular forced me to rest but is now mostly under control. My hamstrings are tight as anything as it is due to my years of computing so this needs resolving. Some Asics Gel Lethal 11 boots are helping there!

Firstly, I’m working on running in the gym, working towards the Cooper test. I have no need to take this test for a long time but it is a nice benchmark. Starting point is 2500 metres in 12 minutes which I can manage fine on a treadmill but of course that is easier than doing it outside (even with a 1% incline). It’s good to start teaching my body the pace though. I’ll be mixing that up with interval training.

Secondly, lots of stretching. I’ve been neglecting this FAR too much. Obviously this is concentrating on my problem areas as mentioned above but I’m making sure I do EVERYTHING so I don’t just transfer the problem somewhere else. Early days but so important.

There we have a mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercise and stretching. I haven’t thought about core strength much yet but it will need to feature to help keep things balanced… hmm…

Neck, Tiger Balm and the cold outside

I’m not sure whether my neck is any better or worse, compared to how it was prior to the injection. It has certainly been better the last few days, but of course it was more sore after being poked, prodded and stabbed.

Tiger Balm has been working really well for me. Sticky warming ointment. Perfect. Plus I guess it forces me to give the neck a good massage, or it is just going to ruin all my shirts! There have been a few occasions when I’ve pressed on a point and the pain has mysteriously totally vanished for a while. So sudden it was to the degree that I was scared to move my neck for a bit in case I had done something serious. Acupressure? No idea. But I remember my consultant tried something similar in my first appointment as a test to see if it relieved the pain. Something to ask about…

As yesterday it was pretty good, I decided to go for a run outside at lunchtime. It was six degrees Centigrade outside. I only had my t-shirt and shorts. But, hey, that temperature seems to fall within safe limits. I did two miles and it was just fine. Although my shoulder did twinge a bit, mostly my fault for pretty much storming out the door at a rapid pace (no proper warm-up) and pounding up the road before settling into a more sensible stride. The whole thing was really invigorating.