Getting back on the horse

Training blog by OnVenture co-founder Sam Richardson

Like many people, Christmas was a time for festivities, family and a little too much indulgence of great food & drink!. However, I managed to get a couple of runs in around the Peak District whilst visiting family and kept this momentum going into January, aided by an improvement in my diet and reigning in the ale intake, I managed to get in regular jogs…occasionally breaking into a run and rapidly saw my stamina rise.  

The dark, damp & cold mornings are not hugely appealing to drag yourself out of bed first thing, chuck on your running gear & get out of the door, but it does help when you have a wealth of country roads to explore and a cocker spaniel who loves to get out & about whatever time of year. 

training partner
Training Partner2

My training partner & I on an early morning run

I do like to put some variety in to my training not only to keep myself engaged but to spread the training load across my body to avoid stress injuries and work on other muscles groups to build up whole body strength.  

Despite setting out at Christmas just running for fitness & a bit of fun, by mid-February, confidence was up and I fancied racing again, so set about searching for a half-marathon in the next month and settled upon the Stowmarket Half Marathon in mid-March.  

As the weather became a little better and to mix up my training a little, I ventured on a few off road, cross country runs, taking in some local sights along the way, including Trench Farm (recreation of British & German trenches used in plenty of TV & film you will have seen) just outside Ipswich and Alton Water reservoir…which turned out to be a bit of an 8 mile mud bath!. 

Trench Farm
trench2 farm

The recreated trenches at the aptly named ‘Trench Farm’

This is where many seasoned runners will realise that I have a very unique build-up to a race, but after running competitively for the best part of 16/17 years, I have tried many different approaches and I now have a pretty settled idea of what works for me, so I stick with it, so hold on tight & enjoy the ride!. 

In the weeks leading up to a race, I prefer to run at least the distance so that I know that I have got the legs under me to at least finish & give me the confidence to add some pace into the mix on race day. However, on this occasion for one reason or another I only went to 9.5 miles a couple of time but I was happy with this as on both occasions I felt like I could have gone longer and I was running at least 4 times a week, often at a faster pace and the odd cycle ride & gym session thrown in for good measure.  

As I headed into the race weekend, diet & hydration was all I was really worried about, as the running would take care of itself. Carb loading needs to be done well ahead of time to allow your body to absorb all it needs to keep the engine going on race day, so I suitably enjoyed a lovely pasta bake and garlic bread on Friday night, with leftovers making the perfect lunch on Saturday. In the evening, I prefer to have something very safe & tasty, so that if I enjoy my dinner, I know I will be relaxed, the combination of which means I will have a nice evening without too many nerves and importantly, get a good nights sleep. My go to race-eve dinner is pizza and over lockdown I got into making my own, which makes it easier to know exactly what has gone into the pizza so I treated myself to a homemade pepperoni pizza and slept like a dream. 

My interesting diet continues on race day, I have had endless ribbings for it, but my default is porridge & a bacon sandwich, washed down with a Lucozade, it works for me, it probably wouldn’t work for you but try a few things out and you will find something that works for you & consistently results in optimal performance for you.  

Diet of Champions
OnVenture Suffolk Weekend Breaks Sam

My self-proclaimed ‘Diet of Champions’

Not my greatest outing and a strange one for me, as I am used to early doors start times & I prefer that, however, this race kicked off at 11am on a sunny, soft Suffolk day. After a relaxed warm-up, we lined up on the start line & enjoyed a confused start, as the marshall played a siren to signal the start but failed to make anyone aware on the start line of this being the signal so had to usher us over the start line.  

After only a mile or so, I felt good & didn’t like the busy road around me so decided to wing it and kicked on with the thought in mind that, as and when I blow up, as I knew the pace of 7:10-7:25 per mile wasn’t sustainable, I had the physical & mental resilience to hold on for dear life to finish the race!. I kept in & around this pace until mile 5 & unfortunately had a couple of issues, which resulted in a few minutes lost. When I got back into a rhythm, I settled down to an average of around 8:20 per mile, enjoying running at a comfortable pace to manage the dry hear and take in the beautiful Suffolk countryside with seemingly endless blue skies and flowering daffodils.  

Once I ticked past mile 10, I was into unknown territory for this year, as I hadn’t run this far as part of my training, but I started to feel good, like I was running within my ability, which I am not such a fan of, as I like to push myself, as you don’t do all that training to get to race day and run within yourself. I promptly pushed on, setting myself little targets of getting past the next target on the road and before I knew it, I was flying at a 7.15 per mile average and it felt great, albeit I could have done with a bit of hydration.  

It felt like an average race at the time of finishing in 1:47:20, as I have raced quicker, kept to a pre-considered race strategy and maintained my pace more consistently, but having reflected on it over the days gone by after the race & factoring in my mid-race issue, I am happy with my effort and certainly enjoyed many parts of the race & course.   

Thank you for reading


Discover OnVenture

Speak to the team at OnVenture about booking an active weekend break in Suffolk. There is plenty to choose from, from road and off-road cycling to running, hiking, walking, swimming, and triathlon themed adventures. Plus, we also offer specialist coaching camps, so if you are training for that special event, get in touch.
Call: 07810 646569